Entrepreneur

STOP re-inventing the wheel.

Growing pains Business coaching

Across all of my clients, all of whom are business owners, there are similar frustrations relating to their businesses and growth challenges. They have all adopted the “innovation “ hype and are desperately looking for new ways to re-invent their companies, products and systems.

 

There is nothing wrong with innovation but not a single company has checked all the basic boxes that every company, regardless of service or product, should have.

 

You see, every retailer, manufacturer, agency and professional needs to have accounts, measurement, sales and/or marketing, procedures and systems for themselves as well as legal compliance.

 

There is an unwritten law that states that 80% of every company is the same and the remaining 20% is made up of product, service and culture. 80% is the same. Eighty percent!

 

So why are you spending so much time on getting the 20% right when the 80% will keep you alive and thriving for longer? Getting your accounting in order, your sales in order and your internal communication sorted will allow you to sell an average product with B-class employees for a long time, freeing up cash to allow you to work on the 20% that matters in the long term.

 

Now I’m not saying you should employ B-team staff and sell second-class services but having an amazing product offering and the world’s greatest team won’t automatically mean you will have a successful business.

 

What you don’t know, you don’t know, but why are you spending so much time, energy and often money, trying to work out new systems which have been refined a million times over by a million other businesses? Stop trying to re-invent the wheel when all you should be doing is peddling faster and beating the opposition.

 

Your business has the following major functions in some respect regardless what you call the roles:

 

  • Finance and accounting

  • Reporting

  • Human resources and culture

  • Sales – New business and retention

  • Marketing

  • Public relations

  • Production

  • Procurement

  • Distribution

These make up the 80% I mentioned earlier. If you can get these running well for your business and best arrange the right people around this, you have a business that will make money often in spite of the product and related market. There are very few, truly unique businesses out there, yours included, and that is okay. I would rather back a “me-too” business that has great structure, concise reporting, a strategy that is implemented and staff that get things done than a business that has the smartest business model and service, that lacks the other 80%.

 

Take a look at your 80% and ask yourself:

“Why am I always trying to re-invent this wheel when I could ask someone to show me how to do it?”

8 Ways to Make Your New Staff Onboarding Process better.

Growing pains Business Coaching

Hiring is good–it means you’re growing. But when a company doubles or triples in size in a short timeframe, onboarding new hires can quickly derail the schedules of your managers and existing employees. How can you make sure you’re training hires to make the right decisions without slowing down the entire team?

 

1. Record your foundational materials and assign each employee a mentor.

The biggest thing is to record the foundational training that repeats for each new employee. There’s no reason to have your company’s trainer do live trainings one-on-one or even in small groups when a video can do just as well. Transcribe these video and audio recordings. Reading is still the fastest way to take in information, so organize your training library so that employees and contractors can go back through multiple times at their convenience. Repetition is the mother of all learning, but repetition has to be done right–otherwise, it’s a waste of your company’s resources.

Once the employee has gone through the foundational training material, assign them a mentor. They’ll address unique questions and give insights into the trainee’s specific role and how best to fill it.

2. Create a web-based one-stop shop for new hires.

A membership site is a great way to get new hires acclimated quickly. This should be a destination for new employees to find everything they need to know about working at your company, including standard operating procedures, what technology the company uses (e.g. performance tracking apps and communication tools), company values and even the most popular post-work hangouts among coworkers. You can also include quizzes for tracking progress.

The idea is to make the onboarding process as smooth as possible and set new employees up for success by giving them vital information before their start date. By the time they do get started, they should be able to hit the ground running.

3. Slow down and test before you hire.

Hiring is difficult. The best answer is to slow down. If you try to take on too many people too quickly, you will inevitably hire people who are not in sync with your organization’s mission and values. People are the life force of any organization, and if you make a mistake it can cost you far more than if you slow down the process to find the right people.

At my company, we rely on a best-in-class intern program that is operated in association with institutions such as the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The interns have access to the executive team, the board and our partners. The program allows us to field test potential employees by offering each intern a real-world problem to solve.

4. Clearly articulate your vision on day one.

Be very explicit about your company’s vision, values and culture. By doing this you’ll know that new team members align with your vision, and they’ll be able to contribute more quickly. You need to give new employees a good foundation based on your vision and then empower them to make decisions about how to achieve that vision.

5. Train your employees to train others.

Time is the most important asset we have in our lives, and especially in the business world. Highly skilled employees can transfer their knowledge to new hires, expediting the process that it would normally take a new employee to get up to speed if they are only trained by management. Allowing new hires to “pick the brain” of senior employees is beneficial to both the employees and the company as a whole.

6. Hire multiple people at a time.

As an entrepreneur, there is nothing more important than your time. So whenever my company hires, we hire in multiples of at least two. By training multiples of the same position, you maximize your time and provide an environment that promotes sharing and learning together. We have found that these employees make a much quicker impact than hiring/training one at a time.

7. Don’t skimp on having a leader do some training too.

Your other team members can help a new hire get up to speed, especially with company culture and day-to-day basics. However, you or a manager should spend some time in the first week or two orientating the employee and drafting up the first order of business for the new hire.

While you don’t need to hand hold, it’s imperative that you invest a little time upfront to help them fit in. You’ll waste much more time and money with a high turnover rate, so it’s worth a little extra time at the beginning. In fact, many HR and retention research validates this point. After they’ve got some orientation, make sure to draft up some work they can get started on so they’re busy and feel like their work is meaningful.

8. Develop a comprehensive training program now.

Give every new employee a ramp-up period to get up to speed with your product, the market and the nuts and bolts of their specific role. You should also have comprehensive training materials ready for every employee you bring on. These materials should include information about the competition, functional learning and Q&A sessions with other relevant members of the team. Having a great training program also helps attract the best employees, as these are the ones who want to learn and grow along with your company.

 

This article originally appeared on http://www.inc.com/

What Do Your Agency Staff REALLY Want?

When a digital agency head, asked his team what they wanted the most from him and the business, he was surprised to find out it wasn’t money.

This survey was sent out anonymously and the donut clearly shows that Training and Development is what millennial’s in the agency space really want.

Culture spillly growing pains business coaching

Are you brave enough to ask your staff? Are you paying your team well enough to get these results?

Maybe you need us to help with the hard stuff.

21 Signs You Should Invest In Business Coaching.

Growing pains Business Coaching

How many of these 21 points resonate with you?

  1. You cant determine what’s really important on a daily basis and aren’t even focusing on the ones you feel are. You are unsure what to do next and even what sequence to follow.

  2. You aren’t seeing the blind spots and feel you need someone to clue you into things you don’t know exist

  3. There is no one that you are accountable to and feel that having to answer to someone will keep you on track.

  4. You say yes to every opportunity and aren’t chasing the most fruitful ones.

  5. There is no focus on your weaknesses and you aren’t developing your strengths further.

  6. Your company lacks a differentiating factor that will advance your growth quicker and separate you from the pack.

  7. Your team are looking for a strong leader with powerful techniques to improve their own skills and keep them motivated.

  8. The business is treading water and just not growing fast enough and not reaching the potential you knew was there when you started the company.

  9. On a daily basis you are not happy at your workplace and are making excuses to not engage with clients and staff. You are looking for clarity, joy and increased success.

  10. There is no objective soundboard in your life that you can bounce ideas and frustrations off.

  11. Decisions are being made with no confidence and you are tired of making these choices alone. You know that what you are doing has been done before and just want someone to show you how.

  12. There is still passion in the business but you are finding it impossible to articulate this to potential clients and often find that people don’t really understand what it is you do. You lack a clear message and a juicy desirable brand.

  13. The constant “No’s” have bruised your ego and confidence. Getting new business is harder than you thought and you are too exhausted to keep trying.

  14. Your income is a roller coaster with great months and terrible month back to back, making it impossible to plan for stability and giving your team a feeling of insecurity.

  15. You really want to make more money and don’t know why its taken this long and aren’t sure if its meant to be this hard. Questioning yourself has become almost a daily occurrence.

  16. Marketing and cold hard sales are not your friend, but you would like them to be.

  17. You have heard of this myth called “work-life balance” and are desperately looking for a little of this.

  18. Comparing your business to other businesses has become a pastime and opposition are always quicker off the mark than you are.

  19. Your version of success has become muddy and your goal dates have come and gone more than a few times.

  20. There are no set processes in the daily operations and you keep repeating yourself to your team and making the same mistakes over and over.

  21. You’re serving everyone but yourself and you want better clients and don’t even know what your ideal client looks like.

If you don’t know how to build a business and are looking for the Ah-ha moments that will make your company a great company and getting a job is not an option, then you are ready for a business coach. Invest in your business and receive incredible value and freedom.

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What the hell is a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)?

SOP spillly Growing Pains

An SOP is a procedure specific to your operation that describes the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with industry regulations, provincial laws or even just your own standards for running your business.

 

Any document that is a “how to” falls into the category of procedures. In a manufacturing environment, the most obvious example of an SOP is the step-by-step production line procedures used to make products as well train staff. An SOP, in fact, defines expected practices in all businesses where quality standards exist.

 

SOPs play an important role in your small business. SOPs are policies, procedures and standards you need in the operations, marketing and administration disciplines within your business to ensure success.

 

These can create:

  • Efficiencies, and therefore profitability
  • Consistency and reliability in production and service
  • Fewer errors in all areas
  • A way to resolve conflicts between partners and staff
  • A healthy and safe environment
  • Protection of employers in areas of potential liability and personnel matters
  • A roadmap for how to resolve issues – and the removal of emotion from troubleshooting – allowing needed focus on solving the problem
  • A first line of defence in any inspection, whether it be by a regulatory body, a partner or potential partner, a client, or a firm conducting due diligence for a possible purchase
  • Value added to your business should you ever wish to sell it

 

Developing an SOP is about systemizing all of your processes and documenting them. Every business has a unique market, every entrepreneur has his/her own leadership style, and every industry has its own best practices. No two businesses will have an identical collection of SOPs.

 

Below is a listing of just a few typical SOPs, which you will want to consider writing for your own small business.

 

  • Production/Operations
  • Production line steps
  • Equipment maintenance, inspection procedures
  • New employee training
  • Finance and Administration
  • Accounts receivable – billing and collections process
  • Accounts payable process – maximizing cash flow while meeting all payment deadlines
  • Marketing, Sales and Customer Service
  • Approval of external communications: press releases, social media, advert, etc.
  • Preparation of sales quotes
  • Service delivery process, including response times
  • Warranty, guarantee, refund/exchange policies
  • Acknowledgment/resolution of complaints, customer comments and suggestions • Employing Staff
  • Job descriptions
  • Employee orientation and training
  • Corrective action and discipline
  • Performance reviews
  • Use of Internet and social media for business purposes Legal
  • Privacy

 

 

Tips

  • Establish prior to opening; review at least annually
  • Develop procedures in the language style and format best for the establishment (your industry/operations knowledge is crucial here)
  • Write SOPs in clear, concise language so that processes and activities occur as they are suppose to
  • The level of detail in SOPs should provide adequate information to keep performance consistent while keeping the procedures from becoming impractical
  • Keep written SOPs on-site and in the cloud so that supervisors and employees can use them
  • Drafts should be made and tested before an SOP is released for implementation
  • The more decision makers, employees and complexity in the business, the more SOPs are required
  • SOP’s should be developed in existing businesses by all the stakeholders in each process.

 

In my experience, companies with well built, managed and maintained SOP’s are far less likely to make the same mistake twice and are often more resilient internally. An SOP can often be the difference between getting new work and not as clients can see the value of a well-run organisation.

The real cost of Influencer Marketing

Spillly influencer growing pains

Having received more than my fair share of branded disposable pens and matching lanyards over the years, I feel its my duty to inform brands and agencies to stop trying to buy my loyalty with cheap plastic gifts and branded promo-gear.

My loyalty should be curated, nurtured and rewarded.

Let’s be honest, you are looking to use me as another marketing channel and hoping that my mid level influence can help grow your brand or deliver your campaign objectives. It can, but only as long as I already believe in your purpose and buy into your marketing message and most importantly, love your product.

Influencer marketing is a very smart way of using a third parties voice to authentically portray your brand in a way that would only seems paid for and fake, if it were coming directly from the brand. Influencer marketing has been around before the dawn of social media, before the web and before traditional marketing was even dreamt up. Storekeepers would ask patrons to spread the word, and if the customer had a good experience, would do just that. Nothing has changed except the medium on which we spread the word.

I understand what you, the marketer, want to use me for and feel that I should be fairly rewarded for my part in your process. It is paid-for media and the reward should be cash.

My voice to my followers is far more powerful than any other medium you have in your vast arsenal of marketing channels. The consumer of today no longer believes your polished message and scripted values. The consumer of today wants to hear an honest message, one that is unique to the influencer but the truth no less. Consumers want someone that will answer the questions asked, with deep insight into the product and will kill for the brand if he is truly an ambassador.

Would you rather have a message being broadcast to thousands of people that don’t necessarily care or a conversation between an ambassador and a few real potential clients of the brand, who will most likely spend money with you? Influencers who believe in the brand will not only drive awareness but will drive an action that is valuable to the brand.

Involved affiliate marketing has proven to be hugely successful in industries like travel, fashion and restaurants. This is because people will trust the voice of a virtual stranger over the “your call is important to us” tone of taglines. Influencers have taken the time, often over years, to build credibility with their audience and have their own authentic voice and tone, which resonates with their own audience.

Influencer’s audiences are often incredibly niche. Understanding whom their audience is absolutely key to using an influencer to sell the right product to their niche audience. My personal online audience has evolved drastically from a comedic one to an entrepreneurial business base in the creative and tech industries. You can’t expect me to promote food brands or fashion, as my listeners know that this is not what I talk about and it won’t appear credible. I have taken years to have the right followers for my brand, my business and my messages, and if you want to gain access to this market and put my own credibility at risk, then you should pay for the privilege. If you are financially compensating someone then you also get the right to guide the conversation towards your own goals and expect certain clear deliverables to be executed by the influencer, in the influencers own unique tone and fashion. Giving the influencer the freedom to express your message intheir incomparable voice will deliver the greatest results for your business.

You want your influencer to feel rewarded, acknowledged, loved, important, or any combination of those and ensure that they are partners in your communication strategy.

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