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Do You Really Care About Your Small Business? Work On It!

It often amazes me how passionate small business owners are about their business yet how little time they set aside to work on improving the overall business and their wellbeing.

All their time is spent beavering away in the day-to-day operations of the business. This may be a major contributor to why so few small businesses last more than five years.

Consider what Abraham Lincoln said:

“If I had nine hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first six sharpening my ax.”

Most small businesses spend no time on the ax. They are caught up in all the tasks because they have no one to delegate to. The week’s roll into months, the stress levels rise and the owners look up and wonder how they got to where they are – and not where they wanted to be.

Small business owners must consider the bigger picture. They must set aside time to look at ways to break this cycle. Not only will it benefit the business, it will benefit their wellbeing and those close to them.

Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth, put it well:

”You might say that while going to work on the business, people begin to realise that it is a powerful metaphor for going to work on their lives. And that, I believe, is the heart of the process; not efficiency, not effectiveness, not more money, but to simply and finally create more life for everyone who comes into contact with the business, but most of all for you, the person who owns it.”

So how do you achieve this?

• No one can give you more hours in the day. You simply have to decide what is important for the long-term success of your business and plan your time.

• Establish that this is important. Only then will you put priority on it and only then will everyone else around you also accept it is important to you.

• Start with 10 minutes a day, an hour a week or half a day a month. Whatever you decide put it in the calendar and commit to it.

• Plan to get away from the office, computer, and phone. Disappear, turn off the phone, clear your head and focus… you may really enjoy it!!

• A very effective way to do this is to do the process with a mentor or another like-minded business owner. It forces you to both be available.

• Remember, the process is enjoyable, motivating and gives you a break from the day-to-day pressures.

So, if you are not happy with where your business is and where it appears to be heading, plan to do something about it. Any small step is a good step.

A final quote from Albert Einstein on the definition of insanity:

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Where Is Your Business Heading And What Guides You?

Often the word used to describe where a business wants to go in the long run is its Strategy.

“Strategy” is often seen as the domain of the military or big business, not small business.

However, strategy and thinking strategically is even more vital for a small business.

Small and micro businesses are 10 times more likely to fail than a larger business and most don’t last more than five years (Statistics NZ). Small business cannot survive the shocks big businesses can.

No matter how big a business is, it never has unlimited resources. IT MUST MAKE CHOICES.

Firstly, what it WILL DO to be successful. Even more important is what it WON’T DO.

Many small businesses say yes to too many things and suffer from doing nothing well.

Every business exists to meet the needs of someone, typically customers. If a business does not meet these needs as well as an alternative option or competitor, those they serve will go elsewhere.

So the process to develop your business strategy needs to answer two key questions:

1. What will you do and what won’t you do now and in the future to achieve the success you seek from your business?

2. Who are your customers and how do you serve them?

The challenge is knowing what will guide you when you are faced with these questions? There are no books, rules or procedures and no expert that will provide the answers for your specific business. The “compass” that will guide you is built within the clarity around these three statements:

• “Why your business exists” (Your Purpose).

• “What your business stands for?” (Your Values).

• “Where you want your business to be in 3-5 years?” (Your Goals).

The clearer you are on these three key statements the easier it will be to make the choices about your business.

For example, say an opportunity arises to partner with someone. You ask yourself the following questions:

• “Will I remain consistent with why I am in the business by entering into this partnership?

• “Does this person share the same set of values as me?”

• “Will this partnership help me reach my goals?”

If the answer is YES to all of these then great. This partnership is worth serious consideration. If the answer is NO to any of them, tread carefully and think things through before proceeding, or you may regret it!

Think strategically – everyday!!

It is one thing to define the strategy for your business, which you review from time-to-time. What is just as important is the process of thinking strategically in the day-to-day running of your business. Strategic thinking means that you are always considering your choices with an eye to the future of your business. You are always asking yourself:

“How does this action or decision get me closer to where I want the business to be?

This could relate to the way you market your business, the type of people you employ, the logo you choose, where you locate your business and so on.

The more time you spend defining and clarifying the strategy for the entire business, the easier it will be to make decisions on a day-to-day basis.

To finish with a quote:

“If we are facing in the right direction,
all we have to do is keep on walking.”

- Buddhist proverb

Basic Principles of a Modern Business Dress Code

A lot of business companies today have unspoken rules of a corporate dress code; some of them even have the written ones. The importance of business attire and its influence on the customers has been recognized by most of the world. The right clothing of the personnel symbolizes professionalism and loyalty for the clients.

American business clothes designer Adriana Coley says that the appearance of the staff can tell more about the company than they can tell themselves.

A dress code for the employee connotes a sense of unity and a sign of belonging to the particular group. Moreover, clothes speak for its owner: the way an employee or a businessman is dressed can tell a lot about him as a person. Usually people make a first perception about your professionalism, intelligence and credibility by looking at your dress. You may have not uttered a word yet but your partners and colleagues have already made their judgments. Often, your look at work influences not only the perceptions, but also the job promotions.

That is why being well-dressed is so important and we are going to tell about the general principles of the modern business dress code in this article.

According to some job-search websites, a person dressed in business casual style should look “pulled together,neat and professional”. What does it mean?

There is a list of standard requirements in terms of dressing and grooming successful businessmen usually keep up to. First of all, you need to think of your audience and the company’s corporate culture when you choose your dress.

Secondly, always wear clothes that perfectly fit you, forget about tight pants or narrow skirts – they are uncomfortable since they restrict your movements.

Clothes should be well-pressed and have no wrinkles.

Formal jackets must be buttoned.

As for the perfume – a fragrance has to be mild, both for women and men.

It is absolutely prohibited to wear shorts, snickers and slippers almost in every organization. Transparent clothes, deep necklines and short skirts for ladies are not appropriate in business. We do not advice to wear too tight or bright clothes as well.

Women are allowed to wear classic pant or skirt suites (remember to check the skirt’s length – it should not be too short, better when covering the knees).

Usually women are obliged to wear hose or tights of skin color in the office. Shoes should be on heels (but not too high). Black and dark colors are preferable.

Your hair must be always under control;natural colors and simple haircuts are classic business approach. Manicure and make-up ought to look calm and modest.Middle length-nails with French-style manicure would be the best option.

Women dress-code is quite strict towards the jewelry. You have to be careful about its size and brightness: colorful bijouterie or big pieces are way too much. Earrings and necklaces should not make noise when you move; minimalism is the core principle of wearing jewelry and the whole business dress code.

As for the model blouses and skirts, the sleeves are supposed to be long. In summer you can wear short variant, but the shoulders are better to be covered up.

Jeans are not on the “white list”in most of the serious corporations. Though some modern companies allow their employees wearing smart casual clothes on Fridays, the best alternative for both sexes is still a classic suit.

If you are working in a business environment, the color of your clothes is assumed to be quiet and restful. Classic black or elegant dark blue can be combined with various tints of gray, beige and brown. But there should be not more than 3 different colors and 2 types of pattern in your dress.

You are allowed to diverse your attire with some stylish accessories.

Finally, let us take a closer look at the men’s dress code.

Conservative business style includes traditional dress shirt, preferably white, lace-up shoes, preferably black, classic jacket and a suitable tie of restricted color that reaches the middle of a belt buckle. Classic but chic watch would not be superfluous. Over-the-calf socks should fit the color of suit or shoes.

Some of the most common and appropriate combinations for men can be:

  • Polo shirt with chinos pants, casual belt and leather shoes;
  • A classic long-sleeved shirt with cotton trousers, suitable belt and loafers;
  • V-neck sweater with a round-neck undershirt, straight-leg jeans and lace-up leather boots.

Knowing the basic dress code rules accepted in the business sector is not only the attribute of style, but a sign of your sophistication and an exquisite taste.

Next Employee trainings.