Managing the change from Employee to Entrepreneur

Managing the change from Employee to Entrepreneur

Moving from the stable life of a full-time employee to the uncertain and chaotic world of owning your own business requires a change in mindset, something that many new entrepreneurs don’t realise. In fact, the habits that you worked on to build to be a successful employee may not necessarily bring you the same benefits and success as an entrepreneur.

Your mindset and attitude is probably the major determinant of success in pretty much every walk of life. The thinking patterns you habitually adopt largely govern the results you achieve. But different circumstances and situations require different ways of thinking, something that anyone looking to leave paid employment and make it on their own, must be aware of.

Here are a few tips on how to manage the move from an employee to an entrepreneur, and the shift in thinking that is required.

1.Put money aside – While success as an entrepreneur often boils down to mindset, there are practical aspects to be considered, like cash. You’ll be going from a salaried employee to wondering when your next check will come in. If possible, before you leave your job, put away an entrepreneur fund with 3-6 month’s worth of expenses (perhaps more, depending on the nature of your new venture). Having a solid safety net will allow you to focus your energy on building your new business, rather than worry about how you are going to pay the bills.

2.Not agreeing to every request – As an employee, you probably got used to saying “yes” to any and all requests that came your way. It meant you were reliable and a team-player. But, this approach won’t get you far as an entrepreneur. As you will be pressed for time, agreeing to and doing everything just isn’t possible. But more importantly, as an entrepreneur, you need to set the agenda, not just follow everyone else’s wishes. Get used to saying “no” to everything but your main priorities.

3.Responsible for all decisions – good and bad – Entrepreneurs have an incredible opportunity to create something from nothing, in a way that’s not possible working for someone else. But this means making big decisions about what must be done, when and how. You can’t wait for things to happen, or for someone to tell you what to do, you must make them happen. Successful entrepreneurs also understand that opportunities may be short-lived, and so develop a sense of urgency that helps them achieve their goals.

4.Short and long term vision at the same time – Work for others and you are mainly responsible for ensuring that what needs to be done now, is done. As an entrepreneur, you have to think ahead and see the bigger picture. You have to consider the potential pitfalls and opportunities, and make decisions based on uncertainty. This requires you to come to terms with the fact that your actions today, will have an impact on your business in the immediate and even far future.

5.Breaking out of your ‘comfort zone’ – As an employee, you’re used to working within set boundaries and rules. As an entrepreneur, there is no box to limit you. You see what others don’t, test new ideas, seize new territory, take risks. This requires courage, a thick skin and the ability to keep going despite rejection and scepticism.

6.Long hours will be common occurrence – The typical entrepreneur often finds that he or she needs to work longer hours than back at the office. This is why it’s important to start something you love. Also, as an entrepreneur, while you might not be tied to a desk or computer 24/7, you will always be thinking about your business, what it’s doing well and what it could be doing better.

7.Constantly upgrading yourself – As an employee, you have a job description, requiring a specific skill-set. Being an entrepreneur involves learning many new skills, unless you have the funds to outsource what you’re not good at or don’t want to do. That could be learning to set up a spreadsheet, getting investors on board, marketing your ideas, crafting your perfect pitch, or using unfamiliar technology. What needs to be done, has to be done – there is no other way.

8.Being familiar with important numbers – Where numbers are concerned, it’s enough for most employees to know what’s coming in and what’s going out. As an entrepreneur, you have to delve deeper, because your cash flow is what will keep you in – or out of – business. Ultimately, it’s your sales, costs, profit and loss that will either give you sleepless nights or an enviable lifestyle. But without the guiding light of those numbers, you won’t be able to track where your business is going.

9.Being a multi-tasker – As a company employee, there’s someone to call when the server stops working. And you probably don’t think about if the office was cleaned or the plant was watered. But, when you start your own business, you’ve now got to fill a number of different roles – from tech support one hour to sales and marketing the next, and accounting, even cleaning. Before setting off on your own, ask yourself if you’ll be comfortable wearing all these hats, including the less-than-glamorous ones

10.Social life may have to take a backseat – As an entrepreneur, and being in charge of everything and everyone under you, there is a lot on your plate. The concept of weekends probably won’t exist anymore because you are hard-pressed for time and need to sacrifice days off. This is something you need to be prepared for, and at the same time find ways to work around. You don’t want to overwork yourself and get burnt out in the initial stages of setting up your company.

These are just a few basic changes that you should expect when you make the jump from employee to entrepreneur. The earlier you adjust to a business owner’s mindset, the better for you and your company.

Inspiring Creativity at work

Inspiring Creativity at work

Before getting into how to inspire your employees to be create, and think beyond the traditional ideas let us first determine why it is important for your employees to be creative, even if your don’t consider yourself a business that requires it. It’s simple: Creative people tend to be more motivated because they’ve achieved something. They’ve discovered a better way of doing things or they’ve solved a problem by thinking outside the box. By successfully finding solutions, they’re more motivated to work. And the more motivated they are, the more productive they are. And the more productive they are, the more satisfied and motivated they are. The cycle endlessly recreates itself.

Here a few tips on nurturing and encouraging creative thinking at the workplace.

1.Identifying the problem – Before you can increase creativity in your employees, you need to figure out why they’re not creative now. Once you know where to look, the answers are usually obvious. If you decide your employees don’t have the best knowledge, skills, abilities and resources, then you need to decide how to get them further education and training, hire better people or provide more challenging experiences.

2.Encourage Free Thinking – It may seem obvious to promote free thinking, but it’s not always the way that businesses work. Often we stick to the tried and tested route, simply because it works. But free thinking helps keep your business sharp, relevant and profitable. It’s all about leaving behind old, outdated models, and discovering new ones. Create a culture in your business in which employees are encouraged to think freely and express their ideas.

3.Schedule Brainstorming Sessions – Sometimes the best way to encourage creativity is to schedule it into the day. Set aside time for a weekly brainstorming session that involves all your employees. Encourage employees from different departments to interact with each other. These kinds of cross-workplace discussions can lead to ideas that are better simply because diverse viewpoints are taken into consideration.

4.Set an example – The best way to encourage employees to be creative is by setting the tone at the top. Display an appetite to be creative and bold, by straying from the usual path wherever it can be done. They will be more likely to follow your lead with confidence.

5.Adequate Break Times – The best creative thinking comes when the brain has time to relax. Frequent and scheduled breaks can actually boost the creative spirit in the workplace.

6.Take Field Trips – Get out of the office and take your employees to visit other companies, conferences or even just parks. Field trips can get them—and you—out of their everyday comfort zone and into a space where new thoughts and ideas can take hold.

7.Communicate Openly – No matter how creative your employees are, you’ll never know about it if you’re not talking with them about their ideas. Talk openly with them, both formally and informally, about what can be done better, what can be improved, and what their overall ideas are for changing the business.

8.Evaluate, Measure, Track – When your employees come up with creative ways to improve the business, boost sales or bring about other improvements, make sure to evaluate the changes. The evaluation process is just as important as the implementation stage, since it can give you and your employees a sense of what works, what doesn’t and why. It can also give you the chance to fine-tune new procedures in order to make them work even more effectively.

Creative business practices can seem abstract and out-of-reach, but in fact, they’re accessible to any business owner who’s willing to foster them. Once you make creativity an active and important part of your working culture, your business—and your employees—will flourish.

Creating a Strong Culture in a Small Business

Creating a Strong Culture in a Small Business

When discussing business culture, what comes to mind? To different people it can mean different things. It can be a “brand, motto, values, uniforms, or behaviours. It could also be service level, company policy, or customer relationship management.

Culture can be a set of attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, and customs. These cultural cues are ingrained in the members of the business, team, or group, and then accepted as the norm. Beliefs about the role of the business, and how business activities fall into this understanding of culture, is typically dictated by how employees interact within their own cultural boundaries. Small business culture will determine what kind of customers it attracts, the service it delivers, and its growth.

In a small business the employees tend to be more invested. Small businesses can pride themselves on customer intimacy, less bureaucracy, and flexibility. Employees in small businesses are likely to share the same understanding of goals, processes, and expectations. Considering this, it is very important to build a strong company culture that guides the actions of the employees, to reflect the values of the company.
Company culture should begin in the early stages of training, train to retain employees who align with the culture and believe in it. If employees don’t buy into the company culture, everything else is wasted.

How do you build a strong and unique culture that will inspire and motivate employees to follow? Here are a few pointers:

1.Define and document your ideal company culture – Consider your business’ values, mission and contribution to customers. Using this as a starting point, think about what kind of culture fits best. Every business is different. Once you have defined the culture you would like your company to have, document it – in the form of company vision statement or a dream map to show where the company is headed. By creating a set of shared beliefs, everyone has a framework for how to set priorities, make decisions, treat customers, and treat each other. And having it in writing acts as a reinforcement of the common goal everyone is working towards.

2.Hire for Attitude – Employees are the messengers of your culture, and benefit from the culture perks. Hire with an emphasis on attitude (does their attitude fit the company culture, do they exude the vision?) and worry less about their weaknesses. You can manage to fix or minimize weaknesses. Add personality traits that fit best in your culture to your job ads so you get candidates that are suited to your company’s style. One bad hire can have a huge effect on your team’s morale, productivity and ultimately your bottom line.

3.Create an Enjoyable Atmosphere – You don’t need to be the next Google with slides, sleep pods, free food and massages. Small gestures can make big differences. Having a neat and clean office with comfortable furniture can make a world of a difference. Healthy snacks, tea and coffee, can be small, yet effective morale boosters. Create a list of small perks that you can offer your employees and try to incorporate one each month. Perks create happy employees; and happy employees are more productive

Also, sprucing up the workspace to reflect your culture is one way to go – through music, art, sport, games; whatever adds some fun and life to the space. Get feedback from employees about the kind of environment they’d prefer. Small changes like this can liven up the workspace, especially one in which you spend so much time.

4.Empower Your Employees – It’s great to have processes and procedures, but sometimes it’s also a good idea to give your employees a chance to use their initiative. Trusting an employee to make decisions can be a big leap of faith, but it can also make that employee feel empowered and own their work. Listening to your employees and taking their views into consideration is a way to make them feel like they belong, and respected. Usually employees are just as keyed in – if not more keyed in – to the company’s real culture.

5.Team building Out of the Office – Team building is about taking time outside of the business to interact with your co-workers and supervisors on mutual territory. Simple things like arranging a summer picnic, going to a relevant speaking event or even doing some small scale volunteering, can help employees feel refreshed and excited to work. They will come back with increased focus and productivity. If a company expects employees to love its customers, the company must love its employees.

6.Opportunities for Continuous Learning – Learning does not need to be in a classroom environment. Think of creative ways for employees to share their knowledge. For example, create a library of books or encourage job shadowing each other. These small things will create conversations and improve awareness of what else is happening in the business.

7.Clear communication – Now that you’ve identified your company culture and hired the right people, communicate it regularly both internally and externally. Also, within the company and with customers, keeping channels of communication open and simple help in creating a more open and transparent culture.

8.Provide feedback – To engage your employees, you have to build a structure that allows for regular and constructive feedback. There should be a way for both the employee and supervisor to offer each other feedback. This holds true for family businesses, too. Have weekly or monthly check-ins before or after shifts where you encourage free flowing feedback. Consider implementing monthly or quarterly reviews, and ask employees to fill out surveys about their supervisors to gather unfiltered feedback.

9.Be patient – Company culture takes time. While the tips above will get you started, a business culture has to evolve naturally. In time, you’ll be able to define your culture to anyone that asks. For now, work on the little things and let the process grow.

Culture acts like a foundation that has the strength to see the business through tough times, while keeping it grounded during good times. Creating a sustainable and unique culture doesn’t have to cost thousands, and can really affect how a team interacts with each other, building stronger relationships, and a stronger business.

Using emojis in e-mail marketing

Using emojis in e-mail marketing

E-mails with special characters aren’t just a blast to write, they could potentially help your e-mails get more opens and clicks – if you’re using them correctly. Why are emoji becoming popular in e-mail marketing campaigns? Because they grab your attention much quicker than plain text, plus they convey a sense of fun or something special as you’re scrolling through your e-mail. Also, emojis save space and manage to convey emotions that sometimes words can’t.

Here are a few pointers on how to use them to your best advantage:

1.Use online sites to find emojis/emoticons – There are a number of websites where you can find emojis/emoticons that can be used in e-mails. Simply copy the emoji that you want and paste it into your subject line.

2.Tone – Will emoji fit your tone? If you have a serious brand, say one that handles financial data, emoji might seem unprofessional to your customers. Ask yourself if quirky symbols or smiley faces fit your brand and make sure you test on small segments of your audience to measure how your larger subscriber base will react.

3.Audience demographics – If you market to millennials, emoji may hit the mark because they’ve become part of their daily life. That’s not to say that older customers won’t embrace them, but if you market to an older population who may not find them engaging, be sure to test before you implement them.

4.Make it relevant – With so many emoji, you can usually find one that will complement your message. You don’t have to rely on the most popular emoji every time.

5.Test to make sure your audience responds well – Before using emoji, run split tests to see how your customers react to them. In a split test, you’ll send one group of customers an e-mail with an emoji in the subject line, and send another group the same e-mail minus the emoji. You can use the difference in open rate to decide whether emoji are a good fit for your audience.

6.Test to make sure emoji display properly – Before you send your e-mail out to a large group, you’ll want to see how emoji render in different e-mail clients, and on different devices. It’s better to catch the problem early and troubleshoot before you send the e-mail to your subscribers.

7.Your e-mail should live up to its subject line – It should go without saying, but fill up your e-mail with good content that’s relevant to your subject line. Emojis can be considered micro-microcontent. In other words, teasers to micro-content. So, if your e-mail is a flop, an emoji isn’t going to help the situation.

8.Don’t Overuse Emoji – Don’t use an emoji just for the sake of using it. Make sure it is relevant to your campaign. Adding a bunch of happy faces and hearts is probably not going to get you great results. More than likely your reader will be annoyed and delete your e-mail before opening it. Especially if you do it frequently. It can also convey a lack of professionalism if people are seeing cutesy symbols that have no relevance to your brand or message.

These are just a few pointers to get you started in using emojis, so that you stand out and grab attention.

Financial Tips for Small Businesses

Financial Tips for Small Businesses

Accounting is usually a dreaded task for most small business owners. It’s one of those back-office tasks that never cross your mind when you decide to run your own business, and yet it sucks up your day and makes running a successful business that much harder. But there’s hope, and it starts with getting organized.

Here are a few tips to help business owners trying to tackle their accounting:

1.Keep it separate – To avoid things getting messy and complicated separate your personal and business accounts. By keeping separate bank and credit card accounts for business and personal, you’ll save yourself hours of work and make it easy to keep track of deductible expenses in one place.

Separate your personal and business bank accounts. It’s easy to lose track of your cash reserves and keep funding your business expenses from your personal account. Pay your business expenses from a dedicated-for-business credit card with a fixed credit limit. This gives you the flexibility and control to plan your cash in-flows in order to meet your cash-outflow.

2.Budget your spending – The best way to run your small business is to know how much money you need to make in order to break even and how much you have to spend to run your business on a daily basis. The key to financial discipline is realistic balancing of needs versus wants.

3.Consider HR costs – When you’re looking for insights into your businesses spending, don’t forget to properly track what is likely one of your biggest expenses: labour. Whether you’re paying a full staff or you’re the only one on the payroll, make sure you’re tracking the costs of wages, benefits, overtime and any other costs associated with labour. By tracking your spending on labour, perks and benefits, you may find you have more money to incentivize your employees — or that you’re outspending your budget. Either way, doing the calculations now can help you make better decisions later.

4.Schedule time – Set aside about 15 minutes every week to organize your finances, and don’t let other things take priority during this time. You’ll have more insights into your business, be able to make more informed financial decisions and have everything organized when tax time approaches. Something always feels more pressing than your finances. But when you find the time every week, you’ll feel your stress levels — now and at year-end — fall fast.

5.Don’t Spend, invest. – Spend your hard-earned money on things that will reap long-term benefits. Every expense has two faces: current benefits and long-term benefits. Businesses that spend on a long-term investment nature reap its benefits much longer. But remember to balance the cost versus the benefit. If your expense doesn’t directly help you in increasing your business or quality of your work, don’t spend on it.

6.Maintain Records – Keep all receipts, organized, in a safe place where you will be able to find them when you need them.

7.Be lean and efficient – A business has two types of costs – fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are like body fat. You have to bear the weight whether you make money or not. Instead of buying expensive, proprietary software, try working with free and open source software. Try Skype meetings instead of travelling long distance. Maybe try even bartering for much-needed services with professionals (for example, help an accountant with their marketing material in exchange for a free tax return, etc.). Be lean without diminishing customer satisfaction.

8.Don’t forget to get paid – This one seems pretty obvious, but you would be shocked at how many small business owners don’t properly track invoices and customer payments. If you’re not keeping proper records that you can make sense of at a glance, it could be months before you realize you have outstanding invoices. You could be collecting payments late, or missing some altogether. Make sure you’re properly tracking all payments due and recording when each invoice is paid, how long customers generally take to pay, and which customers you’ve had difficulties collecting payments from in the past.

9.Hire an expert – Get an account. Their intimate knowledge of the profession as well as tax laws will save you money almost every time. It can be tempting to save some money and do it yourself, but it’s almost never more cost-efficient in the end. An accountant will be able to guide you and keep you penalty-free. When things get technical or taxes are due, save yourself the money, time and headache and call in a trusted professional.

These are just a few basic tips that we hope will inspire you to take on the task of accounting and get organised

Tech tips for small businesses

Tech tips for small businesses

Technology and small/new business go hand-in-hand. Technology can really help with managing business efficiently and handling growth. The premise is fairly simple — most technology solutions offer a level of automation that can handle increased workloads, giving you the ability to take on new business, expand to more regions and enter new markets.

With limited funds at your disposal, how do you make the best use of your resources when spending on technology, and more importantly how do manage the use of technology. If you are grappling with such issues, here are a few handy tips to help you.

1.Don’t compromise on quality technology – Your business might not rely on state-of-the-art kit but your productivity does rely on your communication channels not breaking down. Computer and network glitches can cost you financially and in manpower. Find out exactly what you need and get a second opinion.

2.Ensure your website is in top shape – Sometimes it is the only contact your client or customer will have with you. Often it’s the first and last point of contact. Make sure it’s easily navigable, know your traffic sources and ensure you have an efficient data capture form.

3.Outsource if needed – As a growing small business, make use of the expertise and economies of scale that vendors can provide when appropriate. Instead of building additional departments, you can orient your workforce around your business expertise so that your long-term human capital costs align with your long-term sales strategies. By utilizing strong service-based outsourcing firms for operational needs — like IT, accounting or HR — you’ll spend less time hiring, maintaining and evaluating fringe staff. This will give you more time to focus on your strengths.

4.Data collection and analysis – Advances in computing technology have driven the growth of large-scale data collection and analytics. Gain key insights into your business by utilizing the right tools — a proven strategy for creating greater value from the same set of resources.

•Web Optimization: A strong web presence is mandatory for the majority of today’s small businesses. Site monitoring tools like Google Analytics allow you to monitor web traffic, view patterns and better-understand your most effective Internet marketing strategies so that you make the most of your Internet reputation.

•Project Tracking: Understand resource expenditures on business projects by utilizing various project management tools available to track time and cost allocation.

•Sales Monitors: Spreadsheets are familiar and straightforward but leave a lot to be desired in terms of providing actionable insight. Cloud-based solutions such as Salesforce can show you when, how and where your customers are spending, leading to better knowledge about how your business development team is doing.

5.Make sure you’re mobile – Business won’t wait for you to be back in the office. Smartphones and tablets are rapidly overtaking desktop use in the workplace. The workforce is more mobile than ever and your business practice needs to reflect this. Ensure you are contactable and can do your transactions on the run.

6.Security is key to tech success – Data breaches can cost you a lot – in terms of money, time, reputation, brand value and more. Ensure that you have a strong password policy, secure networks and that utmost importance is placed on protecting data. Your employees should be made aware of how vital it is to keep data secure.

7.Take advantage of teleconferencing – As geography becomes less and less important and travel more expensive, reliable teleconferencing services are more and more vital. There is a range of online services, some free and some with paid-for add-ons, such as conference recording, presentation sharing and moderation controls.

When implemented correctly, an innovative technology strategy can play a key role in helping small businesses take a step towards their next phase of growth, and increase their size and scale of operations without overstretching resources. Technology helps small businesses and start-ups do more with less and better positions them to compete with larger organisations.

Social media tips to save time

Social media tips to save time

Social media is a great way for small businesses to promote themselves as it is fairly inexpensive and very effective when done right. But as a small company or start-up you have limited resources to devote to this important platform. Very often you struggle to keep a basic Facebook Page up and running, as it requires constant time and effort.

Here are a few tips to help you better organise your social media efforts that are will save you time:

1.Understand how social media will benefit you – There are dozens if not hundreds of ways to use social media for business. Not every strategy will fit your business goals. So first of all you need to step back, look at your marketing plan, and pick two or three ways that social media can fit into that plan.

2.Have a schedule in place – Despite what you might think—or have read or heard—you do not have to add a new post to every social network every day. This can eat up a lot of time from your daily schedule and leave you feeling just plain overwhelmed. The important thing is that when you do post, make sure it is valuable content that will generate a good response from your fans and followers.

Figure out what is going to work best for you. Know what time of the day/week you can expect to get more interaction from your target audience. If you know that the majority of them are only online in the evenings, then make sure you are posting in that window. Otherwise, your fans will likely miss your latest update because they’re at work.

3.Limit to Two or Three Platforms – Target and master a couple of platforms, rather than dabbling in many. Social media has become complex. Each social platform has more features and the learning curve is steeper. Focus on the platforms your customers spend the most time on or that fit your industry. The 80/20 rule applies here. By focusing on just two or three, you use your time efficiently and you’ll have a bigger impact on the platforms because you can learn more about how to use them

4.Create a content stockpile – As a part of your social media schedule, set up a time during the week where you or a chosen employee sit down and brainstorm content ideas for blog posts, status updates, tweets, etc. This will eliminate the stress of having to come up with something on the spot from one week to the next. Then, when the time comes to update your posts, you can just select something from the pile and post.

5.Link your networks – When you are doing things on your own, it can be hard to find the time to post to multiple accounts. You can link each of your profiles so that when you post on one account, say your Facebook page, then it is also sent out to the others and vice versa. Tools like Buffer, Tweetdeck and even Facebook Scheduled Posts can make this happen in the background for you.

6.Use social networks for customer service – Take advantage of social media as a way to provide better customer service. You can quickly and easily respond to any issues or comments that customers leave on social networks rather than having to wade through e-mails or have customers waiting to speak to someone on the phone. This can be done by offering a specified time of the day for any customer service issues on your Twitter or Facebook accounts, and letting the customers know when that is.

7.Get automated – Use tools that allow for automation and scheduling posts in advance from your content stockpile. This will save you a ton of time. You can schedule certain things, but you still need to go back and make responses where needed and take time to actually interact with your followers when needed.

8.Combined engagement – Other tools make it simple to monitor and update your accounts from one spot. You can use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to create a dashboard that lets you handle multiple social media accounts from a single platform, saving you time. Create alerts for important topics such as your company name, product names and competitors. Create Twitter Lists of your most important customers, partners and media contacts so you can monitor their activity in real time.

9.Set up topic alerts – Save yourself time from searching for industry news articles by setting up a Google Alert for specified topics. You can search through the results for news that relates to your business. When you find something of interest, you can share it with your followers.

10.Measure — but Only What Counts – Social sites like Facebook and Twitter keep adding increasing amounts of social analytics. Pick a few metrics that directly impact your business. For example, track which types of posts get the most click-throughs to your product pages or lead capture form. When deciding which metrics to track, ask yourself: how does this benefit my business?

Social media is going to be an important marketing tool for businesses for a long time to come. With useful tools and planning, you can save plenty of time on social networks while still getting the most benefits from them.

How to motivate employees in a Small Business

How to motivate employees in a Small Business

Employees are your most valuable asset, thus they need to be managed well for the success of your business. Employee motivation is a major concern for any business owner, as employee satisfaction plays a key role in boosting productivity which has an impact on the company’s bottom-line. Motivated and engaged employees will go the extra mile; they contribute more ideas and work harder to achieve your business objectives. And good workplace morale also improves staff retention.

As an employer you play a significant role in motivating your employees. As a small business owner, you may be concerned about how to motivate employees without having to incur heavy expenses for the same. Several surveys have shown that money isn’t the biggest motivator. While a bonus may provide a short-term boost, praise, recognition, and career advancement are all far more powerful influencers in the long term. This is good news for small businesses functioning on a tight budget.

Small firms have certain advantages like flexibility, less hierarchy, clear and open communication, more rewarding and interesting jobs, and faster career growth and development opportunities to boost employee morale.

Here a few simple, yet effective ways to motivate your employees that cost little or nothing at all:

1.Respect your employees

It is highly important to treat your employees with respect and dignity irrespective of their position. Treat each one as an individual and try to understand their personal situation. Ensure that their well being is paid attention to and they feel taken care of. During a period of heavy workload, provide solutions for distributing the work, so no one person is under undue stress. An atmosphere of equality and fairness will be created if you ensure to treat all the employees the same, without preferential treatment.

2.Listen and communicate well

A simple yet beneficial way to motivate employees is by listening to them and keeping the lines of communication open. Their opinions and suggestions should matter. Involving them in the process of solving problems is a great way to show that they are valued, and also benefits you as an owner, as diverse solutions can come out of this process.

Let your employees know what you are approachable, that they don’t need to be struggling alone with a problem, you are there to guide and help out. This will give them more job satisfaction and also keep errors in check.

Honesty and transparency go a long way in building a good rapport and trust with your employees, especially during tough times. Be upfront if there are problems, as they would be concerned about losing their job, and might even consider leaving if they don’t feel secure. Not knowing what the future holds for them at the company is bound to make them anxious, and could impact the quality of their work negatively.

3.Growth and development of your employees

Invest in developing your staff through training programs that increase their skills and enhance their career. Not only is this beneficial to them, but also works to the advantage of the company. Having employees who are skilled and prepared to handle the constantly evolving business environment is a must for any business to thrive.

Developing your employees for long term projects and goals is showing them that you are committed to their growth along with that of the business. Regular feedback and appraisals is a good way to track their progress.

Create an environment that encourages growth and creativity. Some employees may be more inclined than others to acquire new skills, support this drive of theirs and provide them with the opportunity to exercise their abilities.

4.Recognition and appreciation

Sometimes all it takes is a simple gesture of appreciation to make your employees feel valued. Recognize your employees for the good work they do and publicly appreciate their accomplishments. It increases the employee’s sense of self-esteem, and makes him or her feel better about his or her job. The result is usually improved productivity.

Encouraging high performance can sometimes be as simple as rewarding it. Programs such as employee-of-the-month or other initiatives that recognize and reward high-performing employees not only make the worker feel more satisfied with his or her job, but they also set an example for other employees and encourage them to work harder.

The accomplishments of a team or a group should also be rewarded, whether it’s for their ongoing work or for a special project. Employee certificates, small bonuses, or even giving the team Friday off, can show them that you have recognized their efforts.

5.Giving Feedback
Criticising and blaming employees for errors occurred is far from motivating. Avoid this as much as possible. This will directly impact their confidence in their abilities and quality of output. A better approach is to find out why the error occurred and what can be done to fix it, while also ensuring it doesn’t happen again in future.
Similarly, merely criticising someone’s performance may not motivate them. Instead, work together to figure out what is causing the problem, and what can be done to improve. People learn from mistakes and that is how they build experience and expertise.

6.A great company culture

An environment that is positive and nurturing is conducive to productivity. A friendly and helpful culture ensures better and stronger employee relationships. Even when times are hard and the workload is piling up, people don’t lose their motivation because of the upbeat vibe around. This is possible if you as the business owner set the tone at the top, through your attitude and actions. Be an example that your employees can look up to and follow, by putting into practice what you preach.
It is not illogical to say that the more satisfied the employee, the better he or she will perform. It doesn’t take much to achieve that, just an ongoing and sincere practice of valuing, appreciating, and rewarding your employees.

Free Email in India – End of Lifecycle

Free Email in India – End of Lifecycle

Free Email

Free Email was the first service I used on the web in 1998. It was then called Hotmail. Sold at 400 million and made an Indian very rich. Why ? Simply because it was the best way to acquire customers. You could always monetize it with advertising, so give it away free. New medium. Let users adopt. Why create any friction.

Free email monetized with advertising is a myth

Before the rise of messaging apps Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, Viber,WeChat etc, Snapchat there was still revenue to be made. Even if we do use the mail service, most of it is on the phone. First to make personal messaging redundant was Twitter, followed by all the messaging apps. Now if personal messaging becomes redundant on email, you stop generating page views and banner inventory that leads to revenue.

Personal Email continues to grow and acquire users, but usage, of the medium i.e page views and Ad banner views continue to drop per user.

This is especially true of fast-growing Internet markets like India. It’s likely that the 300 Million plus with have 900 million email ids between them. This market is growing 30% CAGR per year, so the overall email number growth on a large base will be huge. The number of redundant email ids to manage will also be huge.

This is a leaky bucket situation. There is a cost of user acquisition and a monthly cost of user services to the service provider. However,the advertising inventory generated by existing users and new users is shrinking. Users want an email address to sign up for a number of services on the net, but prefer to message on the messaging services. So they are a cost and not a revenue stream.

Over the Top of Email

This is the same problem telecom companies have of messaging services eating into their voice and text revenue. Messaging services over the top are also eating into email advertising revenue. All messaging services use email for registration and notifications.

Will Gmail be as valuable as WhatsApp? $100 Billion?

In India, all this growth is adding to the losses of the email service providers. No email service is a stand-alone application. How do you justify losses for this as a valuation business? WhatsApp was acquired at $19 Billion and is seen as the $ 100 Billion Unicorn.

Gmail is on mobile, has messaging, file transfer, voice etc – Android and IOS. Yet we will we not give it the same valuation as WhatsApp. Incidentally, it has higher reach too. The reason is that it’s FREE. If it changed to a paid subscription model, your valuation perception would change too for Gmail.

Free Email services will have to charge or go out of Business to applications like WhatsApp

Like telecom companies, Free Email services will have to charge or go out of business to WhatsApp. In the future, they cannot sustain themselves on advertising. If users grow and revenue does not, your valuation will also drop and services like WhatsApp will take over. Now is the moment to do a shake out. Better to have 10 million paid users than 30 Million free registered users.

Will you pay for Free Email?

The answer is a resounding yes! I will pay for my primary and maybe a secondary service. I need this to register, for notifications. Need it for bills and newsletters. It’s my digital address.

Article Credit : As published on LinkedIn by Mr Arvinda Kanwal


How  to turn a bad customer experience into a win

How to turn a bad customer experience into a win

Mistakes are an inevitable part of every service. Even with the most rigorous systems in place, the best companies can’t prevent the occasional late flight, wrong order or delayed delivery. The fact is, in services, often performed in the customer’s presence, errors are inevitable.

While errors in services can’t be entirely eliminated, companies can recover from them such that a disgruntled customer turns into a loyal one. A good recovery can turn a poor customer experience into a win for both, the customer and the company. Sometimes it can create more goodwill than if things had gone smoothly in the first place.

Customer service recovery can be defined as the ability to recover from a mishap with a client, to recover so successfully that you actually may improve relations with that client. This process involves certain steps that are outlined below.

1.Apologize – It is important to acknowledge the customer’s grievance and offer a sincere apology that conveys that you understand their problem and are genuinely sorry for the inconvenience caused. They want to be heard and taken seriously.

2.Review – Go over the complaint with your customers. This is an opportunity to get feedback from the customer and their idea on how it should be fixed. They could provide a solution that is effective and efficient, from their perspective that might not have struck you.

3.Fix and follow up – Fix the problem at the earliest, if that is not possible make sure to follow up with the customer and explain to them the actions being taken to address their grievance. Also, check in with the customer after the problem has been solved to convey concern and appreciation. It shows that you really do care about them.

4.Document the problem in detail, to allow you to permanently fix the defect by identifying trends. Also, you will be better prepared in case the same or similar problem arises in future. Treat it as a useful learning experience that helps in improving your service.

While the above steps guide on what should be done when a service error occurs, the following are a list of Don’ts:

1.Don’t give excuses – A customer places trust in your service, giving excuses about a failed service is not what they want to hear. They will be willing to accept that things go wrong sometimes, but actions taken to fix them are what they are interested in, not excuses.

2.Don’t panic – When dealing with a customer grievance, don’t panic. Address and resolve the issue calmly, remembering that this is an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with the customer. With most customers and in most situations, customers’ sense of trust and amity increases after a problem is successfully resolved, compared to if you had never had the problem in the first place. This make sense, since you now have a shared experience: You have solved something by working closely together.

3.Don’t make assumptions – Don’t assume to know what the customer wants. Ask them instead. Even if the request seems absurd, taking the customer’s view into consideration conveys that you value them and their opinion.

A bit of common sense, empathy and creativity is all it takes to ensure that your service recovery process is a success. Mistakes being unavoidable, it is especially important to know how to turn a customer’s unpleasant experience into a delightful one. Service recovery is a very important aspect of customer retention, as you don’t want to lose a loyal customer because of a service failure. It is easier and more cost
effective to retain existing customers than acquiring new ones.

Thus, it is crucial to have a culture and system in place to handle customer grievances successfully. Also, employees that interact with the customers directly must be trained and empowered to handle complaints that arise, in an effective manner that leaves the customer feeling pleased.

Exceptional service recovery is what separates a great company from an ok one.

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