Business

Profile image Nov 2015

Say the word leader out loud, notice the first syllable is ‘lead’? While it sounds like an obvious trait to possess, not all leaders have a natural ability to lead by example, but it’s imperative if you want to inspire your team and earn their respect.

Good leaders do exactly that, they lead by example. By walking your talk, you become someone people want to follow. When leaders say one thing, but do another, they erode trust – which we all know is critical to effective leadership. Here are some ways you can set an awesome example for your team – let’s face it, you can’t expect people to do something you are not prepared to do yourself, so if you want your team to take ownership of their actions, you need to do the same.

Create a clear vision; know what you want to achieve, and why. Communicate this to your team frequently. Your actions have the potential to affect everyone around you – so don’t dabble in mediocrity.

Take responsibility. Know when to accept that a mistake has been made and take it upon yourself to fix it. It doesn’t matter if one of your team members messed up or you did. If you are the leader, you need to take responsibility. This encourages everyone around you to accept responsibility and be accountable.

Give credit to your team. The more your team feels appreciated, the more enthusiastic they will become. Communicate your mission, vision, values, and goals – then step back and let your team innovate. Listen and seek regular feedback from your team. If someone needs extra guidance, keep it for private one-on-one discussions.

Look after yourself. Exercise regularly, eat well and take breaks. A balanced team, mentally and physically, is a successful team. The more you take care of yourself, the more energy you will have and the clearer your mind will be.

Roll up your sleeves. Show that when a job needs to be done, everyone at every level needs to chip in and participate.

Leading by example does two very important things; it inspires people and it earns you respect. If you can observe your own behaviours and understand the impacts they are likely to have on others, you can use this information to make gradual changes that have a lasting positive impact. Personal growth can be challenging, but don’t feel that you need to do this on your own.  I’d love to hear about your goals, challenges and successes.

Having the right systems in place can change the way your business operates. This month’s ‘All About Awesome’ column is all about how to run your business like a finely oiled machine.

Profile header - Aug 2015You chose to go into business so you could live the life you’d always dreamed of, but instead of you running your business, your business is running you. Hmmm. THAT won’t work for long now, will it?

So, then you put some staff on to take off the pressure, but you didn’t get the results you’d hoped for. Did you hire the wrong person you wonder? Nope. You didn’t have your systems in place. Your team will work with your systems, and your systems will run your business for you. Here’s some steps you can take towards automating your business today:

Get it out of your head – now! Great systems and processes can, not only save you time and money, but increase your income. And a funny thing happens when you write things down, you often think of even better ways to do them! Sounds like some great reasons not to procrastinate, right?

Be prepared to document everything. Write down how to answer the phone, how to save a file in your computer, how to process your payroll – even how you make big decisions. Your aim here, is to be able to ‘drop’ any team member into any role, give them a process, and have them be able to run with it.

Be proactive. Understand that what is obvious to you, may not be to someone else. Anticipate problems, and create pathways for a solution. Revisit your processes regularly with the people who are using them to understand if they are effective or if they require modification.

Share it. Put all your processes together in a manual, and have your team members access it regularly. Train everyone regularly. Make sure there is a process in place that clearly shows how to update these documents so you have the most recent evolution at your fingertips, should it be required.

Having great processes is an awesome way to leverage your current resources. There’s no denying that this can be an overwhelming task when it is in front of you, so just take it one step at a time.
You know the quote – “Tip toe if you must, but take the step”. You will thank yourself later, I promise! And remember, there’s no reason you need to do these things alone, so do join in the conversation. I’d love to hear about your goals, challenges and successes.

 

When you’re in the midst of a busy week at work, sometimes it can be difficult to keep a clear head and focus on what’s important. Here are three helpful things to keep in mind and help keep you on track to achieve what you want.

Profile header - July 2015I’ve met a lot of people in business who are fantastic at what they do, but they don’t seem to be doing the one thing that they are in business for – making money. There’s a lot of talk about doing what you love and never working a day in your life (don’t get me wrong, I’m all for that!) but interspersed with your passion, needs to be a healthy dose of ‘down to earth’ and focus.

So, here’s three ways I stay clear:

Ask yourself the hard questions, and keep asking them: What do you want? Why do you want that? What are you NOT changing that is stopping you? Where are you NOT moving outside of your comfort zone? Each of these questions will reveal multiple layers, so you will need to ask these questions over and over to truly drill down and reveal meaningful answers. Consider keeping a journal, and revisit your answers once you have made some progress and are ready to move to the next level.

Write a list, and tick it off: You’ve got your answers now, all you have to do is break it down into bite-sized steps. This process will refine your answers and give you a further degree of clarity, ensuring your focus is crystal clear. If you get stuck, look at that – why is it hard to move through that particular point? Is this a point you falter at regularly?

Revisit daily. I have a daily list of successes, outstanding items and priorities. This inspires personal accountability. I understand that there’s never enough time to do everything, but there’s always time to do the important things. So at the end of each day, I email myself a short list of where I have succeeded (this is SUPER important – otherwise we can become bogged down in what we still have to do and we forget to celebrate our wins), what I have outstanding and of those outstanding items, what my top priorities are. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy, and sometimes – we just need to get out of our own way. Getting clear is the first step. We all want to achieve a million things, but if we aren’t clear on what those things are, it will never happen.

Remember, there’s no reason you need to go through this alone, I’d love to hear about your goals, challenges and successes.

 

Originally published in Profile Magazine, July 2015

Time management is a crucial part of running a business, family household and your personal life. Whether it’s a few notes scrawled on a piece of paper so you don’t forget important  appointments, or something more elaborate and detailed, it pays to be organised. Small business mentor Fiona Roberts shares some of her helpful hints for dealing with time management.

Profile header - May 2015What does time management look like for you? Is it a to-do list (or a ‘ta-da’ list as I like to call it – you know, when you’re done you get to say ‘ta-da!’). Is it a calendar in the kitchen with everyone’s commitments pencilled in? Is it a phone that syncs with your online calendar and reminds you that you have to be somewhere in 30 minutes? Or do you simply wing it and go with the flow?

Regardless of your personal time management style, it’s worth considering these few things when you are planning your calendar:

Understand what is important. When you have limited time, you need to be clear on what is really important so you can focus on that alone. If you struggle with this, investigate Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important principle.

Know your intention. What do you want to achieve for the coming day, week or month? Depending on the day, and indeed the time of day, my intention can change substantially. Once you are clear on what you want to achieve, your whole mindset changes, and other things fall away. Which brings me to my next point…

Be present. Remember the quote “Wheresoever you go, go with all of your heart”? I reckon Confucius was on to it. When you are fully in the moment, you are more effective and you are more likely to get it right the first time. And let’s face it, having to do something over because you weren’t paying attention is ridiculously frustrating.

Delegate wherever possible. Are you the only person who can do this ‘thing’? Or can you delegate – to a team member at work, your partner or a family member? Consider how you can free up your time to focus on what you are good at and enjoy.

For me, I’m still learning to find the balance between being super organised so I can fit in everything I want to do, and having time to stop and smell the roses when the mood strikes. Remember – taking time out is just as important as everything else on your list. Sometimes the best things happen when you’ve not planned it!

 

Originally published in Profile Magazine, May 2015

It is absolutely essential to nurture a superior culture of customer service within your business and team. Happy clients assist with the growth of your company through repeat visits and greater spend, and word-of-mouth referrals are hard to beat. Small business mentor Fiona Roberts addresses the importance of customer service and how your business can effectively maintain positive client relationships.

Profile header - April 2015In our businesses we are supported by some wonderful professionals who we outsource certain aspects of our operations to. Mainly things like bookwork, IT, legal, accounting – essentially, the things we aren’t experts at or we don’t have to control. We love these guys, because they let us focus on what we are great at. Outsourcing just makes sense.

On the whole, I can (and do) recommend these professionals as shining stars in their field. But recently something tarnished my glowing opinion of one of our support professionals. One team member, in one of the companies we outsource to, began to exude a “not my job” attitude and was incredibly difficult to deal with … and unfortunately, it affected my relationship with an otherwise amazing company. It was nothing huge, and was easily rectifiable, but it did get under my skin, and I wasn’t happy.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have an excellent relationship with several other team members in this company, and when I picked up the phone, they were: a) embarrassed by what had happened; and b) proactive in terms of finding a solution. And if we are being completely honest here, THEY were lucky too. Because of the strength of our relationship and how they handled the situation, they retained our business and our respect.

The awesome thing about having something like this happen, is it gives us the opportunity to reconsider our own attitudes in similar circumstances. And I’m all about awesome. No-one can escape the reality that poor customer service will damage a business. And unfortunately, clients who have had a bad experience, will usually talk about it. Never ever forget that your clients pay your salary and make your job possible.

So, ask yourself some questions: Do you LISTEN to your clients? Do you treat them as individuals and make them feel appreciated? Do you look for ways to help them and anticipate their needs? Most customers will listen to their heart over their head – they buy good feelings and solutions. Treat them as individuals, make them feel loved, and above all, be sincere. Everyone values sincerity. People know when you are just going through the motions. Do you give your clients more than they expect? Do you have systems in place to ensure all of this happens? And – in the worst case scenario – do you know how to apologise and take ownership of an issue? Saying sorry is easy, and customers appreciate it. Make sure you deal with any issues immediately, and let the customer know what you’ve done to fix the problem. Like it or not, when things go wrong, it gives you an opportunity to improve and raise the standards of your business. Value customer complaints for what they are – pure gold.

And one last thing to consider – how do your clients interact with your business? Do they have more than one person who they can speak to? In my case, there were at least two other people I felt comfortable talking to – which allowed me to raise my issue, rather than remain frustrated. Do your clients have alternatives?

Asking these simple questions of yourself and your team, and actioning the answers, can help your business really excel. And while you are asking yourself these questions, consider your team. Showing your team appreciation and respect is probably going to improve their attitude towards customer service. Make them feel important too! Let’s face it – the easiest customer to find, is the one who you already know – all you need to do is make them feel special!

 

Originally published in Profile Magazine, April 2015