How Do You Take a Working Vacation and Still Catch a Break?

how to take a working vacation

When you’re standing at the helm of a thriving small business, stepping away for a quick vacation often seems impossible.

As a result, less than half of small business owners opt to take any time off work at all. Yet even those bold enough to get out of the office every so often grab an average of just five days’ vacation per year. Believe it or not, that inability to switch off is hurting your business — not helping.

According to a recent Gallup poll, small business owners who don’t take any vacation days are far more likely to be unsatisfied with their standard of living, and also struggle to maintain any sort of balance between their work lives and personal lives. Work relationships and daily performance will inevitably suffer, too.

Bearing that in mind, it’s crucial that you get yourself out of the office and enjoy a semi-regular change of scenery. Even if you’re unable to unplug completely, it’s totally possible to take a relaxing vacation while still getting a bit of work done.

To help you get started, here are a few tips on how to take a working vacation:

How To Take A Working Vacation

1. Rearrange Your To-do List

Big projects tend to be a huge vacation barrier for small business owners. After all, any big marketing campaign, research and development exercise or production cycle requires constant attention — and so it can be nearly impossible to manage those projects from abroad. That’s why you should be planning your vacation well in advance in order to work around thorny projects.

Pick some dates you’d like to escape from the office, and ensure those days don’t interfere with crucial projects you may have scheduled. Likewise, don’t be afraid to push an important exercise back until after you’ve had your vacation.

2. Get Stuff Done Before You Leave

Unfortunately, current deadlines aren’t going to magically disappear just because you need a bit of fun in the sun. In order to make the most of your time off and minimize the time you’re going to have to spend working on your vacation, it’s important to get as many tasks done as possible prior to your departure.

If you’re not going to have constant access to WiFi, get all of your online research done before you leave the office. Likewise, if you’re going to need access to files on a shared drive, be sure to transfer them onto your personal devices beforehand. These sorts of little tasks will make a world of difference when you’re away.

3. Limit Yourself to Basic Tasks

The whole point of taking a working vacation is to relax. If you’ve brought a gaggle of stressful and time-consuming tasks to do, you won’t enjoy a single minute of your time off. Bearing that in mind, you’ve got to limit yourself to basic tasks like checking emails, following up with key employees or checking analytics. Whatever you do, don’t get sucked into a long conference call or trying to chase down a lost delivery.

4. Pick a Schedule and Stick To It

If you can’t get around doing a few more complex tasks while on vacation, be sure to stick to a firm schedule. If you need to check in with the office, do it at a set time every day. More important still, let employees know this is the only time of day they will be able to catch you in real time. Likewise, you should set out a strict deadline each day to drop what you’re doing and get back to enjoying yourself. This is particularly crucial if you’re away with family members. Kids grow up fast, and so you’ve got to let family time be family time.

5. Choose a Dedicated Work Space

In order to maximize your productivity while working on vacation, it always helps to choose a dedicated work space. Visiting the same coffee shop each morning, or consistently using the kitchen table in your hotel room will help to simulate a more typical working environment. In turn, that simulation should go on to increase your productivity and get you back to enjoying yourself that much quicker.

6. If You Can’t Provide Good Feedback, Don’t Provide Any

When you are checking in with employees every so often, one of the worst things you could possibly do is to respond to their work with a two-word text message or a short and cryptic email. Complicated employee tasks may require complicated conversations; therefore, if you haven’t got the time or the will to walk your team members through detailed instructions or subtle mistakes, don’t bother trying at all. If feedback can wait until you’re back from vacation, don’t try to get to it before.

At the end of the day, no two businesses are alike. Bearing that in mind, no two working vacations will be the same, either. It’s crucial that you set some time aside beforehand in order to think about what it is you’d like to achieve by going on vacation, and what you’ll need to accomplish while you’re away.

But either way, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot by locking yourself in the office all day. Do yourself a favor. Get out there and get a bit of sun. Your sanity and your business depend upon it.

Do you have any additional tips on how to take a working vacation, maybe something that’s worked for you?  Please share in the comments below.

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7 Summer Retail Scheduling Headaches and How to Prevent Them

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As every retail store owner knows, summer is typically a scheduling nightmare. You may be using part-time, seasonal workers, such as high school or college students, who may be less than reliable. Even if you’re relying on your regular employees, scheduling around their vacations or desired days off — which tend to multiply in summer — can cause unnecessary headaches.

Here are seven common summer retail scheduling problems that retailers face and suggestions for solving them.

Fixes For Summer Retail Scheduling Issues

1) Being under-or over-staffed. Whether you have too many or too few retail salespeople on the floor, neither is ideal. Too many salespeople, and you’re spending money unnecessarily on payroll. Too few, and you’re (at best) hurting your reputation for service, and (at worst) losing sales if customers get so frustrated they walk out.

To solve this problem, use historical information about your store, such as the busiest times of the week or the day, to predict when you’ll need more or fewer employees. Your point-of-sale (POS) system or employee scheduling/time-tracking software should be able to provide this type of data. With a better idea of what staffing level you’ll need, you can schedule more accurately.

2) Poor communication. Employee schedules tend to change frequently in the summer, when people call in “sick” on a sunny Friday or bail because they got a last-minute opportunity to do something fun. If you’re still scheduling your employees using pencil and paper or even an Excel spreadsheet, constantly updating the information is a major pain — not to mention sharing it with everyone every time you make a change.

To solve this problem, look for employee scheduling/time-tracking software that enables you to keep employee schedules in the cloud. That way, whenever you update the information, your team can quickly access it no matter where they are. Of course, employees may not check the schedule in time to note a change, so choose software that offers a range of alternatives for alerting them, such as sending schedule updates by text, email or voice message depending on the person’s preference.

3) Employees trading shifts. It’s great when employees take it upon themselves to cover a shift by trading with another worker — that is, unless you don’t know about it because they forget to tell you. Or maybe they switch with a worker you don’t want in the store at that time (such as someone who’s not great at checkout working during your busiest time.)

To solve this problem, use employee scheduling/time-tracking software that lets employees communicate among themselves to trade shifts, but then alerts you or your manager so you can approve the shift change.

4) Accidental overtime. When your retail employees’ summer schedules change on a dime, it gets harder and harder to keep track of overtime, which can lead to big problems for you — and pay issues for your employees.

Solve this problem by using time-tracking software that alerts you whenever an employee is getting close to their overtime limit. You won’t have to worry about counting hours or shorting someone on their paycheck — it’s all handled for you.

5) Payroll pains. When employees’ schedules vary from the usual hours, as they often do during summer, generating payroll becomes more complex and it’s easier to mess up.

To solve this problem, avoid manual data entry. When you or someone on your staff has to enter payroll data by hand, there’s a big chance for human error. Instead, look for time-tracking software that automatically uploads tracked hours to your payroll and records system.

6) No-shows. As anyone who’s worked with seasonal employees knows, no-shows are an inherent risk, especially during summer. If you are not actually in the store when the person fails to show, you may not even know about it — and the remaining workers will have to struggle on their own.

Solve this problem by using scheduling and time-tracking software that alerts you when someone fails to clock in. Even if you’re on the go or at home instead of in your store, you’ll be able to quickly reach out to your team to find a replacement.

7) Managing multiple retail locations. If you have more than one store, your summer retail scheduling headaches multiply accordingly. Keeping track of who’s working when at two or more stores (and whether they actually show up) is enough to make your head spin.

Solve this problem by choosing time-tracking software that allows workers to clock in on their phones and uses GPS technology to show you where they physically are. That way, you know if they’re actually at your store or kicking back at the beach.

Do you have a summer retail scheduling solution you use?  Please share in comments!

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This article, "7 Summer Retail Scheduling Headaches and How to Prevent Them" was first published on Small Business Trends

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10 Tips for Growing Your Small Business Team

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Whether you’re building out your sales team or just your staff in general, the quality of your small business team can determine your company’s success. To ensure that you put together the best possible group of employees, check out these team building tips from members of our small business community.

Overcome Objections When Building Employee Advocacy Programs

Employee advocacy can be a great way of reaching new audiences and communicating your brand’s message. But there are some things you need to overcome if you want an employee advocacy program to be effective. Michael Brito discusses more in this Content Marketing post.

Rely on Business Process Outsourcing

In today’s business world, there are ways to get help with your business process without hiring actual hourly employees. You can outsource various functions to professionals who can make you and your business more productive overall. In this Redbooth post, Jennifer Riggins explains why many entrepreneurs rely on business process outsourcing.

Find and Interview the Right People for Your Dream Team

Building your dream team means finding the right people and conducting your interviews in a way that will help you really flush out the best candidates. Karen Repoli of Hit Virtual shares more here. And members of the BizSugar community share their thoughts on the post as well.

Use These Employee Retention Techniques That Actually Work

Building a great team isn’t just about attracting talent. It’s also about keeping it. To learn more about some employee retention techniques that actually work, check out this SteamFeed post by Steven Scheck.

Understand the Power of Business Attraction

When you’re passionate and knowledgeable about your business, people are able to sense it. That can even have an impact on the people who you might want to work with or make deals with. In this Social Marketing Fella post, Vince Baiera explains the power of business attraction.

Hold Remote Team Meetings That Aren’t a Waste of Time

With more and more employees working remotely these days, it’s important that you know how to communicate and hold meetings with remote workers. Benjamin Brandall elaborates in this post on the 15Five blog. And BizSugar members weigh in too.

Show Your Employees That Your Small Business Cares

Employees want to know that they are not only doing good work and getting paid for it, but also that they’re working for a company that actually cares about them. In this SMB CEO post, Ivan Widjaya explains some ways you can show employees that your small business cares.

Use Effective Training Methods

No small business owner or team is perfect. You have to constantly learn and train your team to improve and keep up with the times. Brigg Patten shares more about effective training methods on the Cirrus Insight blog here.

Build a Culture Like Google’s

Having a positive workplace culture can actually help you attract the best possible team members to your company. In this post from Select International, Bekah Regan details how you can create a culture like Google’s, even when you’re not Google. You can also see further discussion over on BizSugar.

Include Internal Culture in Your Branding

Branding involves more than just designing a new logo. In fact, the actual internal culture of your company is part of your overall brand. Nick Davies discusses more about building transparent brands and taking that internal culture into account in this post on the Pretty Pragmatic blog.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to:  sbtips@gmail.com.

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20 Tips on Public Speaking

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Everybody’s scared of something. It doesn’t matter how big or brave you may feel — there’s definitely a deeply-embedded, irrational anxiety in there. Statistically, one of those anxieties probably centers on public speaking.

According to researchers, a majority of people are actually more afraid of getting up in front of a room and delivering a short speech than they are of death. If you’re a business owner, that could turn into a bit of a problem. Staff, clients and customers will constantly be looking to you for insight and guidance, and so you’re inevitably going to find yourself addressing groups of people on a regular basis.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tricks you can try in order to calm your nerves and deliver an effective speech. To help you get started, here are 20 simple public speaking tips:

Public Speaking Tips

1. Exercise Beforehand

You may not always have a fair warning before you’re thrust into the limelight — but if you know you’re going to be speaking in public, you should always exercise beforehand. When you get stressed, you secrete high levels of a steroid called cortisol. This limits your ability to process information, which makes it difficult to think on your feet and respond to a crowd. In order to burn off your supply of cortisol, try working out or taking a brisk walk before your speech.

2. Develop a Routine

If you find yourself repeatedly getting up to speak in front of others, a pre-game routine can drastically calm your nerves. Come up with a set of rituals that will help you center yourself and clear your head before stepping up to a podium. Practice your speech, have a cup of tea, exercise your vocal chords — whatever you feel may be beneficial. Once you’ve found something that works, etch it in stone and do the exact same routine the next time.

3. Make Sure You’ve Eaten

It may sound obvious, but a hungry public speaker is almost always a poor public speaker. When your body is low on protein, it struggles to produce enough dopamine in order to maintain the mental alertness you’ll need to captivate a room full of people. As a result, you should always try and include some form of protein in the meal you eat before your speech — even if you need to force it down.

4. Prep First, Speak Later

You should never try and make last minute speech preparations after audience members are already finding their seats. That’s a rookie mistake, and it can turn a fantastic speech into a painfully awkward experience in the blink of an eye. If you need to check your microphone or make sure your projector is on, do it beforehand. Time is precious, and you’re going to lose the room quickly if it’s clear you haven’t bothered with the basics.

5. Start with a Bang

Whatever you do, do not start off your presentation by asking audience members to turn off their phones. They won’t do it, and it will make you look old and irrelevant. Instead, think about how you can kick start your speech in order to instantly earn people’s attention. If you want your audience to listen, give them a reason to lend you their ears.

6. Take Dramatic Pauses

It doesn’t matter how exciting your speech is — chances are, you’re going to lose a few listeners along the way. One way to pull them back into the room is to throw them off with a meaningful pause. If you pause for a few seconds, your audience will naturally assume you’re lost your place. Pause for ten seconds or more, and you’ll have necks craning out of curiosity. From there, you can confidently carry on knowing you’ve roped the stragglers back in.

7. Don’t Give All the Answers

When delivering a speech, it’s almost standard operating procedure to ask the audience a set of simple questions that you all know the answer to. Don’t give in. Instead, catch your audience off guard by asking them a question that neither of you can answer. Then, explain why you don’t know the answer — and go on to share what it is you do know. Not only will this help to humanize you, but it will captivate your audience.

8. Don’t Apologize

Far too many speakers like to begin presentations by apologizing for their poor public speaking skills or their lack of preparation. Don’t even bother. By doing so, you will only lower an audience’s expectations to the point where they don’t even want to listen to the oncoming speech. Just keep calm and speak confidently.

9. Answer Questions

Anxious public speakers tend to get frazzled when hands start to go up mid-speech. Do yourself a favor, and don’t postpone questions until the end of your presentation. Let your listener speak up, and address that question. After all, the most engaging speeches always feel more like conversations than monologues. An engaged audience is always a happy audience.

10. Repeat Questions

When you’re lucky enough to get a few questions, don’t forget to repeat what you’ve been asked for the rest of the room. If audience members can’t hear the question you’ve been asked, chances are they’ll tune out the answer. Likewise, repeating the question aloud will also arm you with a few more crucial seconds with which to formulate a succinct answer.

11. Get Personal

Another way to vastly improve your public speaking is to share a personal story. Don’t just come out with an insincere, self-depreciating joke. Spare a minute, talk about your feelings and showcase your true emotions. This will result in a genuine connection with your audience members and generate a far higher level of engagement.

12. Keep Slideshows Brief

Plenty of speeches revolve on a slideshow, and that’s okay. But you can’t allow those slides to detract from your stage presence. In order to avoid PowerPoint stealing the show, make sure you’re keeping your slides concise. Don’t overload them with loads of text, and never include visuals that will prove overly distracting.

13. Don’t Rely on Slides

Visuals are hugely important in delivering a great speech — but that doesn’t mean you can hide behind them. Far too many speakers lull their listeners into a dumb stupor by simply reading from a slideshow in verbatim. Text on your slides should only be used to accentuate your core points. Do yourself a favor, and turn away from the projector. Show your audience there’s a lot more to your speech than what they’re looking at on the screen behind you.

14. Tell Your Audience Something New

Nobody wants to hear a speech filled to the brim with ideas they’ve already been learned all about. In order to really engage listeners, you’ve got to tell them something they’ve never heard before. It could be a personal anecdote, relevant bit of trivia or an opinion they’ve never been exposed to. Either way, you owe it to your audience to teach them something.

15. Don’t Try and Sell Something

A lot of great public speakers like to close their presentations with a shameless, four-minute sales pitch for their latest book. Nothing clears the room faster. Worse yet, you’re only going to erode all of the trust you’ve just built over the course of your speech by insinuating the connections you’ve forged were only being made for your own, selfish gain.

16. Have a Back-up Plan

Sometimes, even the most well-planned presentations flat line. You’ve got to be able to read the room and think on your feet in order to salvage your speech — so when in doubt, plan accordingly. Don’t be afraid to skip ahead a few slides and cut out parts of a speech you don’t think will be well-received. Likewise, always have a couple of extra personal anecdotes ready to toss in your presentation just in case.

17. Always Repeat Yourself

If you’ve got an important point to make, repeat it. Even the most earnest of listeners will tune out for a minute or two; therefore, it’s up to you to adequately repeat your points in order to ensure they leave the room with all of the information they need. It always helps to list out the key points of your speech in your introduction, and then briefly summarize them once more in the conclusion.

18. Hand Out Homework

Quite a few of your audience members won’t remember your speech unless you give them a reason to. Use the key takeaways from your presentation in order to challenge listeners. Ask them to apply the lessons or knowledge you’ve covered in their daily lives the following day. There’s no better way to ensure the lesson sticks.

19. Know When to Zip It

When in doubt, you should always run short. Not only will this force you to sharpen your presentation and cut out all of the unimportant information, but it shows your audience that you value their time. Finishing your speech a few minutes early will also leave more time for questions and discussion.

20. Try and Have Fun

Okay, so you don’t enjoy public speaking — we get it, and that’s fine. But if your audience can clearly tell you don’t want to be standing up there in front of them, why on earth would they even bother listening to you? At the end of the day, you’ve got to do your best to try and relax in order to prove to your audience that you belong on that stage.

Finally, this list is by no means exhaustive. Different tricks work for different people — and so if you’re still in need of a few extra public speaking tips, you might find what you’re looking for here:

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How Effective Leaders Deal With Hard Decisions

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When it comes down to it, the primary role of a leader is that of decision maker. You’ll be making decision on behalf of the group, establishing direction, coordinating your team, and in the case of entrepreneurship, shaping the entire organization. The trouble is, some of these decisions are harder than others. You may blaze through the majority of your decisions, noting the obvious choice in low-stakes, but eventually, you’ll encounter one that you just can’t figure out.

It’s in cases like these that your true abilities as a leader will show. How do you deal with hard decisions effectively?

How To Deal With Hard Decisions

First, you have to recognize that there are two types of “hard” decision, each with their own unique circumstances and challenges. Identifying which one is plaguing you can help you come up with the strategies necessary to overcome it:

1. Equal choices. Equal choices boil down to two (or more) possibilities that can’t be distinguished in terms of absolute value; in effect, you’ll have multiple options, none of which seems inherently better than the others. For example, you may have an option to hire one of two people in a key leadership role in your position. One is more enthusiastic and less experienced, and the other is less enthusiastic and more experienced. Overall, their strengths and weaknesses balance out, but they’ll both offer different things to your organization.

2. Undesirable, yet obvious choices. Undesirable choices are objectively better on paper than their alternatives, but are undesirable in some way. Usually, this boils down to a decision that’s smart, practical, or even necessary in the long term, but carries short-term drawbacks or challenges. For example, you may debate firing one of your employees for the good of the company, even though it will be a hard hurdle to overcome.

The Complication of Stakes

Either of these two decisions can be complicated by the stakes involved. For example, choosing between an apple and an orange for breakfast maybe an “equal” choice for you, as there’s no clearly objective answer, yet the stakes are very low. On the other hand, choosing between long-term vendor partners may appear equal when accounting for their different advantages and disadvantages, but the stakes there are very high.

Higher stakes generally lead to higher levels of stress and decision paralysis. However, you have to filter out the pressure of stakes as much as possible to remain objective. You have to trust your logic and best judgment in any scenario, regardless of how much is at stake.

Logic Over Emotion

There’s certainly a value to emotion, so it can’t be dismissed entirely. For example, you may lean toward a certain stylistic choice for your office environment because it makes you feel calmer and more at home. But for the most part, the best business decisions are made based on logic, rather than emotion. This is because businesses are logical enterprises; they depend on mathematics, such as attaining more income than expenses, and objectively favorable exchanges between organizations.

Filtering out emotion isn’t easy, but it will help you make better decisions, or break a tie in the case of an equal-choice decision. For example, you may be reluctant to terminate an employee you’re personally close with, but try to imagine the perspective of someone outside your organization. How would this employee look on paper? What’s truly best for the long-term development of your organization? Reduce your arguments to numbers if you can.

Seeking and Handling Advice

It’s important to challenge your assumptions when you’re having to deal with hard decisions. make a making an especially hard decision. Unfortunately, most of us have a natural form of tunnel vision that limits us to viewing things in terms of our own biases and experiences. The best way to overcome this hurdle is to ask others for advice and guidance — especially if those others are people who know more than we do, or have been through this experience before.

However, you’ll need to be careful here. You shouldn’t base your decision on any one person’s input, or let anyone else make the decision for you. This is your decision, and these outside perspectives are meant only to help you see a broader vision of the problem at hand. Take all the opinions you gather with a grain of salt, and apply them to the context of your own line of thinking.

Making the Call

There’s only so much you can do to obtain new information or new perspectives. Eventually, you’re going to have to pull the trigger and deal with hard decisions. In the business world, things move fast and intelligent risk takers are, eventually, rewarded. Because of this, it’s often better to make a questionable, or even a bad decision, rather than not making a decision at all. Keep this in mind as you continue debating your options, or remained paralyzed by the choices that lie before you. Go ahead and make the call — even if it’s a bad one, you’ll at least be able to move on faster.

Not all decisions you face are going to be easy, and there’s no way around a hard decision other than to make it. How you deal with hard decisions will speak volumes about your ability as a leader, and dictate your chances of success. Remain calm, logical, and open to outside perspectives, and you’ll find yourself making the best decisions under the hardest of circumstances.

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How Your Leadership Mistakes Can Fail New Employees

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According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, companies plan to increase their recent graduate hiring by 11 percent in 2016. To many hiring managers and recruiters, significant benefits come from recruiting fresh blood.

Paying lower salaries, off-setting pending retirements, diversifying the age range within the office and the allure of molding new talent into future leadership are just a few motivators for actively recruiting entry-level personnel.

However, statistics tell us that entry-level hiring is often plagued with turnovers and frustration, as some hiring statistics tell us that recent graduates carry a turnover rate exceeding 50 percent.

Who is to blame? It doesn’t matter because each circumstance is different.

What matters is strategizing how to best lower the new graduate turnover rate. This begins with a fundamental understanding of the common leadership mistakes managers make with entry-level employees.

Identifying Common Leadership Mistakes

— Failure to build self-confidence from the get-go. Self-confidence in many younger individuals is much lower than many employers believe it to be. In order to help recent graduates produce to their fullest capacity, it’s imperative that a manager lead them via convincing the individuals of their potential.

Often, a manager will see the potential in a younger employer, however their opinion is meaningless if that person does not make the employee believe in their abilities. When they fail to build confidence, the recent graduate often focuses on why work can’t be done, why a task is impossible, why it’s too difficult to finish.

The negative mindset hinders the recent graduates performance and, after a while management finds themselves with an employee who had potential but has now given up.

— Failure to convey overarching company goals. Every strong leader sets a goal and does whatever it takes to make it happen. They openly inform others as to what those goals are, which allows recent graduates to feel as if their work is meaningful.

Expecting younger employees to figure out the overall vision is one of the most common leadership mistakes and miscalculations that often leads to lackluster performance on the part of recently graduated team members.

Belief that their work has impact and meaning is highly important to young professionals today. Without this, their ambition and focus suffers tremendously.

— Failure to provide formal training and on-going education. According to a report released by Accenture, along with low salaries, recent graduates often complain about a lack of education.

Due to ever increasing schedule demand on the part of employers, this aspect of personal growth is often overlooked. Inability to educate is viewed differently by graduates than it has been by past generations.

Often, recent graduates view lack of continuing education as a sign that advancement is not possible. At the same time, managers view the need for continual education as a sign of lacking autonomy. It doesn’t matter who is right. What matters is that the disconnect and lack of continued growth results in withdrawn, unproductive and often resentful workers.

In the End

Recent graduates view the work environment differently than their parents, or even their older cousins. The graduates entering the workforce this summer will look to their managers to instill in them a sense of purpose and forward movement.

Rather than brush off that desire as generational or beside the point of a functioning company, hiring managers would do well to look at their own methods and see where they can make adjustments to help their new employees rise to the top.

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5 Tips to Make Your Small Business More Profitable

how to make your small business more profitable

Profit is how we keep score in business. Just because you can pencil profit into the financial section of your business plan doesn’t mean it automatically will happen. As an entrepreneur, you have to commit fully to “minding your own business” to generate the profits that you seek. Here are several strategies I encourage you to follow as you look to make your small business more profitable.

How To Make Your Small Business More Profitable

Use Good Resources

To operate a profitable small business, you have to constantly evaluate the productivity gains from people and resources. I don’t hire someone without knowing the potential return on investment for my business. You can’t afford waste with a small company. Before buying equipment, inventory, or supplies, consider the direct or indirect impact the investment has on your bottom line.

Use Monthly Sales Goals

Putting pen to paper and analyzing profit potential doesn’t take a lot of painstaking effort. However, putting hands to dirt to execute your weekly and monthly sales goals is an exercise that you want to start early.

It is rare to find profits without hard work. If you always focus on monthly sales goals then you will focus on weekly sales objectives. By doing this on a regular basis you will always stay focused on marketing. Too often business owners focus on the job at hand and don’t fill their pipeline.

Always Look for Efficiency Gains

The key to maximizing profit potential in a small business is to always look for efficiency gains. Look for ways to save $100 per month. Check your fees that are deducted monthly from your business account. Are you using that club membership? website app? or email marketing program? Reduce banking fees and consider leasing equipment to improve profitability. Use a bit of humility to do what is necessary to reduce costs. Profitable small-business owners often change light bulbs, do routine plumbing, clean and perform other laborious tasks. Hiring someone to do these things is naturally more expensive. Efficiency isn’t just about cost reduction, find ways to get the same or greater value with a lower investment.

Increase Revenue

The key to optimizing your profits lies in your ability to increase your revenue at a higher ratio than your costs. In the short term, you need to generate the maximum value from each customer and upsell them additional products and services to get more business. By focusing on your customer experience that will lead to word of mouth referrals and repeat business. It’s much cheaper to keep a loyalty than to go out and secure a new one. You also want to have a lead magnet and sales funnels to attracting new customers as an additional growth strategy as well.

Pricing Strategy

Evaluate your pricing strategies to enhance profits and make your small business more profitable. Make sure you evaluate all your hard and soft costs in your pricing model. Don’t undersell your products and services to drive a high-volume. Precise pricing attracts the right buyers who are willing to pay for quality. Regular discounting establishes a price orientation with buyers and minimizes gross margin.

The path to profitability includes an emphasis on optimizing revenue and reducing costs. Eliminating waste and controlling costs are important as well. Profitable small-business owners create business strategies that are driven by sales.

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Manage Payroll Effectively with Core Employee Solutions

The Core Reconciler app

Colossal overhead can be enough to kill even the most promising of small businesses – and staff-related costs tend to be one of the biggest culprits.

When starting up a new business, quite a few entrepreneurs will inevitably fail to budget in mandatory employee benefits like medical insurance. Worse yet, a lot of business owners are actually over-spending on these sorts of benefits.

Firms like Core Employee Solutions are working to eradicate needless expenditures.

According to co-founder Christian Brim, clerical errors account for over four percent of the total costs that businesses spend on employee benefits. That means a small business with a health insurance bill of $5,000 per month could be losing around $2,400 every year in overcharges or missed employee deductions.

But health insurance isn’t the only place where companies are running into trouble with their accounts.

Typical errors include termed employees not being dropped from insurance coverage in a timely manner, rate changes not being adjusted in an employee’s payroll deduction or employees being given payroll deductions for benefits they aren’t even enrolled in. Business owners also often fail to communicate changes in eligibility status to their workers.

That’s why Brim and his Oklahoma-based team have launched a brand-new app designed specifically with small businesses in mind.

The Core Reconciler App Spots Errors, Saves Money

The Core Reconciler app is geared at businesses with up to 50 employees that provide any type of benefits to those employees. Planned integration includes payroll, time and attendance, 401k and various types of insurance.

Coming in at a cost of just $1 per active employee per month, the Core Reconciler app ensures employees are notified of their eligibility status changes, confirms that only eligible, active employees are being covered and confirms all payroll deductions match the benefit invoices. Business owners are then sent alerts whenever the app spots a potential error.

“This app will save the employer money on employee benefits and maintain goodwill with employees,” Brim says.

“By making sure that the employee is getting all of the benefit coverage that they are entitled to, and not paying for something they didn’t receive, it not only builds trust with the employer, but saves them the potential legal problems of discrimination claims.”

This Core Reconciler app is only the latest development to come out of Core Employee Solutions.

Last year, the company launched its flagship Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, which allows business owners to review and manage all of their employee-related services under the same roof.

According to Brim, contemporary small business owners benefit hugely from consolidation – which is why the entire employer services industry is headed for this simple, one-stop-shop model.

“Virtually all of the other providers, large and small, are trying to do a one stop shop and provide all possible solutions to the small business owner,” he said. “We believe that the market is much better attuned to meeting those needs, while we will provide a place to integrate those individual solutions as well as provide additional value through custom features we develop.”

Image: Core Employee Solutions

This article, "Manage Payroll Effectively with Core Employee Solutions" was first published on Small Business Trends

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