Running An SME: Advice, Hints, and Tips

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Small Business AdviceSmall businesses account for most of the revenue and jobs in today’s UK economy. In 2014, just over 99 per cent of private sector businesses were classified as small firms. Owning and running a business is a dream come true for millions, but it comes with a number of challenges.

Here we’ve put together some helpful advice to help your SME thrive.

Building a great team

When you’re just starting out, the temptation is to cut costs and keep control by doing everything yourself. But sooner or later you’ll have to start building a team your trust if you want your business to grow.

In today’s business environment a team doesn’t have to mean employees who work only for you at a designated office space. With some trial and error, you can build a varying mix of people in any combination that works for you, including:

  • Full time, traditional employees
  • Part time employees who report to your office or work remotely
  • Freelancers and contractors that you trust to outsource to when your workload gets too heavy
  • Outside experts such as accountants and IT professionals you can call as needed

The key is to be a good communicator and set clear expectations. You’ll also want to develop good contracts and legal documentation for working with outside people.

Managing time and projects

Learning to optimize your time use is one of the most valuable skills you can develop. In order to improve a thing it must be measured, so the first step to better time management is to track how you currently spend your day. You can download a free app like timeEdition or just take notes in a calendar or spread sheet. If you have employees, ask them to do this exercise too.

After a week or two you’ll have a block of data that can help you determine what tasks are being done efficiently and where you are getting bogged down. For tasks you find frustrating or that take too much of your valuable time, explore how you can move them off your plate. Maybe you can delegate an activity to an employee so you can focus in another area, or maybe you need to outsource a particularly troublesome task so you never have to think about it again.
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Developing Small Business Leadership Skills

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Developing Small Business Leadership Skills

Business LeadershipThe leader of a small business must be prepared to wear many hats, even after the business grows. Small business management is a demanding pursuit that requires outstanding management skills in every aspect of the enterprise. From personnel management to marketing to bookkeeping to logistics and strategising, the small business manager must have his or her finger on the pulse of every element of the business at all times.

Time is the most precious of commodities for small business leaders. This puts tremendous pressure on the successful small business owner to become an excellent time manager. Not only must the leader manage their own schedule but he or she will quickly learn how to manage the time of key workers. Small business leaders never forget that time is money.

The small business leader’s time management skills can determine the growth and fate of the enterprise. When good time management skills are missing, running a small business can be an overwhelming endeavour. On the other hand, small business leaders with strong time management skills give employees and customers confidence that the organisation is viable and a good place with which to do business.
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Productivity and Air Conditioning: The Facts

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How Temperature Impacts Productivity

Office TemperatureScience and researchers agree that a temperature-controlled workplace is a happier, more productive environment than a workplace that is stuffy and overheated.

In fact, the statistics regarding workplace efficiency and heating and cooling can best be described as staggering. To put a definitive, quantitative figure on the cost of working in closed workspaces that are improperly cooled, the Office of National Statistics reports that UK employers suffer no less than £19.3 million in in lost productivity every summer by workers performing in workplaces that are unsuitably cooled.

In fairness, it costs money to cool the workplace. But, with today’s refrigeration equipment and maintenance capabilities, the balance tips toward installing new equipment and maintaining it properly than suffering yet one more unproductive Summer. Outdated HVAC systems not only slow productivity, but they contribute to the company’s sick days and time lost. With today’s equipment and skilled technicians, this lost time and lost productivity can be easily rectified.
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How to Organise Your Shop Interior

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Shop DesignThe Secret to Increasing Sales

When it comes to keeping customers happy and increasing sales, the environment in which your shoppers find themselves is of utmost importance. If customers feel comfortable in a shop, not only are they likely to spend more time there browsing and increasing the chance of a sale, but they are also going to feel more relaxed – and therefore happier to part with their money. However there is more to shop design than putting together a coordinated interior, and the psychology of the shopper’s journey and the display of goods should be taken into careful consideration when planning a shop layout.

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Mediation: An Effective Alternative To Court

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Mediation ServicesMediators are persons who intercede in conflicts and negotiate an alternative to litigation. With the rising cost of litigation, mediation has become a popular way to resolve conflicts in the last decade.

Mediators participate in business, civil and divorce disputes. The details of these settlements can vary greatly but the overall mediation process is similar in all three endeavours.

Mediation is based upon both parties executing a binding agreement to avoid court by allowing an independent third party to resolve existing differences. Each side of the dispute must provide the mediator with a written summary of the core issues and a summary of where the negotiations stand to date.

Mediation saves time, money, effort and valuable resources. Many times mediation becomes necessary because the legal representatives of the parties are too vested in their positions, which become entrenched in the process. The independent third party can offer a fresh perspective on the negotiations.
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Should An Entrepreneur Hire A Bookkeeper or Accountant?

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The Difference Between Accountants & Bookkeepers

Accountancy BookkeepingThis is a question that every new entrepreneur considers at one time. It is an important decision especially for the entrepreneur who is used to wearing many hats and is unaccustomed to delegating responsibilities that go with a startup or small business.

The first place to begin in considering this question is to be sure you understand the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper. There are several types of accountants but they all have taken classes in accounting and are certified at different levels. So, one distinction between an accountant and a bookkeeper is their level of education and training.

Many bookkeepers also have some amount of general education in the basics of bookkeeping and perhaps a few accounting courses. However, bookkeeping skills do not take as long to develop as do accounting skills.

Bookkeepers and accountants provide very different functions and both provide the best service when they work together in a coordinated entry system. An accountant is an expert analyst. Accountants can analyse financial statements including profit and loss statements, balance sheets and budgets and can offer analytical advice to the entrepreneur.
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How Can A Healthy Lunch Help Workers?

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The Importance Of Eating A Healthy Lunch

Working LunchDieticians are advocating the many physical and psychological benefits of eating a healthy lunch every day. With the pace of business today, it is the all-important lunch that has suffered the most and Brits are paying the consequences in terms of health, job performance and weight.

Dieticians today have a different take on proper eating habits. While many favour periodic healthy meals during the day, just about all favour a protein rich breakfast and a hardy luncheon.

A recent study indicates that 33 percent of workers eat lunch at their desk, presumably to ensure they can leave work on time. In fact, quite the opposite occurs. A luncheon break is one of the most productive breaks a worker can take. It allows the diner to socialise, refresh the mind and nourish the brain with food, oxygen and water that will result in a stronger afternoon performance.
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