3 Hidden Factors That Are Damaging Your Productivity

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Productivity is a key concern for any business owner but a lot of them get it wrong. There are many different things that can affect the productivity of your company, some more obvious than others. Most people know that it’s important to treat your staff well, pay them properly and give them good benefits if you want them to work hard. But that’s only the start and there are plenty of other things that could be harming efficiency in your business. These are the things that you didn’t realize were harming productivity in your business.

Outdated Manufacturing Technology

All businesses know that technology is an important part of their company but they usually just focus on the office space and forget about the manufacturing side of things. But manufacturing technology moves quickly and if you don’t keep it up to date, you’re going to fall behind your rivals. They’ll be able to produce better quality products at a lower price which is bad news for you. That’s why it’s so important that you keep up to date with advancements in manufacturing technology and replace any outdated equipment. Good training is vital as well, otherwise, your staff won’t get the full benefit of any of that new technology.

Badly Maintained IT Systems

IT systems are a great tool for improving efficiency. They allow you to share data quickly and easily and you can automate large parts of the company which makes things a lot easier and also saves you money on staff costs. But IT systems are only good if you set them up and maintain them properly. If they’re poorly maintained, they’re going to do more harm than good. Constant crashes and error messages are just going to slow down all of your employees. If your computer systems are outdated and annoying to use, you should get an IT consultant to come in and have a look for you. Click here to find out more information. A good consultant will help you to identify all of the issues and redesign your IT systems so they’re actually helping to improve your company, rather than just slowing everything down.

Workplace Ergonomics

This is something that you probably haven’t considered before but it has a big impact. For example, if one of your employees is sitting on a chair that’s 10 years old and falling apart so they’ve constantly got a bad back, they’re not going to be able to concentrate as well. Or maybe they’re suffering from repetitive strain injury in the hands because they don’t have good keyboards. All of this stuff can have a big impact on their ability to work and make your company far less efficient. You’ve also got to think about things like the office layout because if 2 departments that work closely together are situated at opposite ends of the building, how much time are people wasting walking around the office.

It’s not just the obvious things that impact productivity in your company, these unexpected factors can seriously damage your company.

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3 Tasks Small Businesses Should Outsource

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

When you’re still small and new to the business game, maybe even a solopreneur, you need to focus on saving money. More than anything else, startups tend to fail because they’re simply not able to manage the budget the way they should – and, instead of allocating tasks to somebody else, they try to do everything themselves.

While it may work out well in the beginning, you run the risk of not having enough money saved up in case something unexpected should happen.

Below is a list of three tasks you may want to consider outsourcing. It won’t just save you money, outsourcing these tasks may also save you time.

#1 Repetitive tasks

Before you do anything else, you need to think about your specific business and the strengths it has to showcase. You don’t want to outsource your strengths, of course, and you should keep the task you specialize in inhouse almost without exception. 

Repetitive tasks, on the other hand, are those that your business continues to do each and every month. These tend to be the same for many businesses, though, such as payroll, general accounting services, data entries, inventory management and everything else you can possibly think of that repeats itself.

Keep in mind that you can always hire a full time employee for these in the future if your business grows enough to support one. 

#2 Specialized tasks

While most businesses need IT services, it’s not really necessary to keep an entire team of tech professionals in-house unless your business actually specializes in this field. This is one of those tasks that most small business will choose to outsource as hiring someone or training an existing employee costs a lot of money – and, if you don’t train them properly, you risk paying someone who isn’t competent enough.

Have a look for managed IT services for businesses instead and you’ll be able to enjoy the expertise of an entire team of qualified professionals rather than just one or two. It’s the kind of stuff that both saves you money and helps your business out in case it should experience a more complex IT problem in the future.

#3 Your weaknesses

Again, in order to outsource the areas you’re not as strong in, you will have to assess your startup first. For many business owners, an important area they’re not as strong in as others tend to be social media management. The platforms are new, the tone-of-voice may be a bit different, and they simply have too much on their hands already to spend time on understanding and managing a variety of social media platforms. (We would LOVE to help you come up with a tailored social media plan to help you achieve your goals!)

It is still important to be active online these days, though, so consider outsourcing this and any other processes you’re not too competent in. That way, your team will be able to focus on their strengths and you can hire someone in-house a bit later down the road.

End of the Year Marketing Strategy Tips

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

No matter the size or shape of your business, effective marketing is essential. Without it, no one would know that your company exists, which would leave you without any sales or profits to stay up and running. Unfortunately, unless you’re an expert yourself, coming up with a marketing strategy that meets your needs and boosts business can be quite tricky. To make things a little easier, here are six ways that you can improve your small business marketing strategy.

1. Target The Right Audience

Whether you want to admit it or not, there are some people out there that simply don’t want or need what you have to sell. Instead of wasting time and money marketing to those that aren’t interested, you should focus your efforts on your target market. You can use keywords they may search for, build campaigns around their interests, and show how you can solve their problems.

2. Learn From The Competition

Considering you’re marketing to the same audience, what works for your competition often works for your business too. With that in mind, you should conduct some research and find out which tactics your competition has had particular success with and which they haven’t. You shouldn’t copy their campaigns, but you can find guidance and inspiration in them.

3. Speak To A Professional

Unless you’re already a marketing expert, developing an effective strategy can get complicated and confusing. For this reason, you should try researching top consulting firms and find one that specializes in marketing in your industry. With this guidance, support and help, you’ll have less weight on your shoulders and, as such, can pay more attention to other areas in your business.

4. Ask For Customer Feedback

Speaking to customers and your target audience can give you a number of insights on how to improve your marketing strategy. After all, they’re the ones your tactics are aimed at. Because of this, you should ask customers for feedback on your marketing every time they shop with you or at a minimum, quarterly. If you’re receiving less feedback than you would like, you can offer discounts as an incentive.

5. Measure Your Marketing Efforts

It’s almost impossible to improve your marketing strategy if you don’t know how successful it was, to begin with. For this reason, you should find ways to measure the success of your tactics, such as by using analytics. This way, if you notice that one tactic isn’t doing very well, you can try something else, rather than wasting money and time on something that doesn’t work.

6. Change With The Times

The world of business is constantly changing, with new marketing ideas and strategies being invented and implemented every day. To keep up with competition, you need to embrace these changes and evolve with them. As we live in a digitally-dominated world right now, it’s vital that you focus on your digital marketing, by building a strong online presence and using social media.

It would be brilliant if every marketing strategy worked out perfectly, but this is rarely the case. It is up to you to figure out what works for your business. Don’t be afriad to try things and see if they work and then adapt over time. Even a small step at the end of the year is better than ignoring marketing efforts until 2019! 

Marketing Hacks For Holiday Sales

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

The end of the year holidays may seem like a time to cash in, yet increasing sales isn’t straightforward. Yes, customers line up out the door to make a purchase, yet there are plenty of competitors to beat. “The holidays are the most saturated time of year” is a phrase you won’t hear in any yuletide songs. Still, it’s the truth and that is dangerous for businesses. How do you stand out from the crowd? How do you convince shoppers to choose you?

The answer is with a mix of the tried and tested and then a zig and a zag. Here’s what to keep in mind.

Popular Gifts Every business will want to sell more of their stock, but it may not be possible. Sometimes, trends start and there is no stopping them. You can either jump on board now or watch the train power off into the distance. If the former is your preferred option, it’s time to invest in the items that you know will whip up a storm. Right now, popular products include everything from festive food to sweaters and knitwear. But only do these things if it makes sense for your business. 

Festive Logo Shopping is about getting into the holiday spirit. With that in mind, there is nothing wrong with speeding up the process with some festive additions to your logo. Product labeling services should be able to imbue it with winter holiday colors. But again, only do this if it makes sense for you and your business. You won’t see big brands altering their logos much when they add holiday elements. You do not want to confuse customers. 

Countdown There is a deadline for holidays. If shoppers don’t have their gifts, they are out of luck until next year. Consider adding a countdown to the end of the year or to the holiday of your choosing. You can do this with a screen on the exterior of the building, or on your website. 

Store Guidance Your shoppers have been at it for weeks trying to find the perfect gifts. As a result, they are tired and fatigued and many times frustrated. The last thing they want to do is wander around the store in search of a product. They’d much rather walk through the door and out again in a matter of minutes. With this in mind, ensure the shop is well signposted and easy to navigate.That way, people will come in off the street as they know they won’t waste time.

Consider These Things Before Hiring Your First Employee

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

To see your business grow and flourish, there might come a time when you decide to hire somebody to work with you. A new employee will reduce your workload and bring new skills to the table, and as a consequence, your business should prosper.

However, before you begin the hiring process, you do need to consider a few things first.

Is there enough work for the employee to do? If there isn’t enough work for the employee to do, you will be wasting both time and money hiring somebody. You will be wasting the employee’s time too, especially if they are sat around for much of the day doing next to nothing. So, before hiring, consider why you want to hire somebody. What tasks will they be performing? How long will those tasks take? While you might still need to employ somebody, there could be cause to employ somebody part-time or on a temporary basis rather than full-time, depending on the expected workload.

Why should somebody choose to work with you? Taking a cue from one of our previous articles, what is there about your business that will attract an employee? Especially if you want to choose from the best talent, what do you have to offer them? Are you able to pay a competitive wage? Does your business adhere to ethical principles? Will you be able to offer perks, such as the opportunity to work from home occasionally? While you should have a choice of candidates, remember that today’s job seekers might also have a choice of employers. You need to give them an incentive to both attract and keep them in your employ.

Is your business set up to employ others? This is where we get to the nitty-gritty, as you have certain responsibilities as an employer. You need to contact the IRS to find out more about tax requirements. You need to get the right insurance to protect both your business and your employee. There are legal ramifications to consider, so you should contact law firms such as Tully Rinckey to educate yourself on employment law. You need to set up a payroll service, be that using an outside company or doing it in-house. There is much to consider, above and beyond placing an ad in the classifieds and then welcoming somebody into your employ, so do your research, as you don’t want to hurt your business by forgetting something vital.

Can you afford a new employee? We aren’t only talking about staff wages here, although you do need to ensure you have enough income coming in to pay them each month. There are other things to consider, such as extra equipment that may be needed for the employee to do their job effectively, and the cost of training if outsourcing this to external providers. There are other expenses that may need to factor into the equation, such as travel and fuel costs, sick pay, and pension contributions. Can you afford it? You may want to speak to your accountant before the hiring process begins before you sign an employment contract.

Final word Getting to hire an employee for the first time is an exciting prospect, but you do need to ensure you are ready for the responsibility. Well done if you are able to offer somebody employment, but for their sake and yours, consider what we have suggested in this article.