03 08 2011
Practice 1-2-3 : The Business Standard
All too often areas, even within the smallest of businesses, having potential for performance and growth are overlooked because standard good practice isn’t backed up with standard practice procedures.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the economy, or hours of sunshine giving out a dip, drop, decline or rise, managing a micro or small business is a grapple with the grind before any fun stuff. When additional pressures threaten the business environment, the full time challenge of mustering energy, motivating drive and maintaining standards becomes a greater undertaking. If you’re concerned about your business having the ability to continue, considering growth might seem like impossibility, especially when all your efforts are focused on that daily nitty-gritty. As for those in industries with full time engagement and obligation to standard practice responsibility, before they can even get to a customer, they’re unlikely to have either the inclination or ability to acknowledge potential growth in areas outside that standard practice.
Every business has its standard practices towards record keeping, managing incidents, undertaking staff training, maintaining premises and equipment. The landlord’s agent checked the property, was satisfied and sent out the deposit cheque immediately. When the landlord checked the property and was satisfied ….no cheque was sent out for 6 weeks, despite requests. The scaffolding company’s estimate arrived but with additional information to assist the customer. When the scaffolding company took down the scaffolding ….and broke the window… no liability was reported or acknowledged. Some Saturdays, 30 or 40 minutes before the shop closed, any remaining bread, cakes or pastries were given out to neighbouring shops and passing customers, in return, the newsagent gave out-of-date magazines and the greengrocer ripened fruits. At the end of the week any unsold bread was collected to feed the small-holders pigs. All business practices we’ve experienced from different businesses, during different eras and economies however, then, just as now, the relative management, leadership or responsibility behind the scenes of a small business, irrelevant of the economy, isn’t always apparent to its customers.
Dead wood amongst products, services, sometimes staff, and even customers can hover under the tough decision making pruning axe that controls expenses through budgeting and cost cutting. Arguably seen as the most effective long and short term benefit for a business under fiscal threat, expense chopping is often the standard practice strategy reaction. Contradicting any business’s responsibility in excluding elements that don’t contribute to its continuation isn’t disputed however, ensuring structures are in place to measure business performance is a good practice that should be a standard practice for making the right controls.
- Re-organise standard good practice with standard practices
- Include frameworks for mutual reference and guidance
- Use standard practices as a management tool for planning and direction
No matter what the economy, a businesses standard good practice is worthy of recognition and acknowledgment by its standard practice.
(Image credit: Irargerich Article credit: Copyright SUF)
03 08 2011
The Queen’s remark to her party guests that Banks need to ‘change their attitude’ might be deemed as been taken up by HSBC as they announced they are to lay off 30,000 workers, despite interim pretax profits of £6.8Bn, in order to focus on emerging markets whilst they’re set to hire up to 15,000 in other markets. Entrepreneur James Caan stated his belief that employment could be eradicated if each of the UK’s 4.9 million businesses each took on one employee while Capital’s SME Employment & Optimism Pulse revealing that UK SME’s plan to create 470,000 new jobs in the coming year.
August 10 the Bank of England releases its quarterly Inflation Report. Rates are anticipated to stay at 0.5% because of the subdued Q2 GDP growth figures of 0.2%, figures which seem to have been affected by data reading challenges; due to changing factors, such as winter weather, Japanese Tsunami and extra Bank Holidays. According to a study by Santander inflation hit out at children, with parent power maybe having to change as the study shows a 68% rise because of the cost of goods and services, typically bought by 10-16 year olds, rising by 14.3% against RPI 8.5%. The only change that doesn’t seem to be happening is stagflation.
With poor GDP data in the UK, the USA government having spats, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland throwing their rattles around, it seems the high days and holidays of the summer are in full swing.
(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)
06 07 2011
We don’t offer loyalty cards. We’ve never done BOGOF. We’re not intending to join Groupon, give out discount cards or a free coffee reward for every 3 that you take with us. And, for the record, we’re not meanies. The reason that we don’t do any of the above is that as a B2B service our business model doesn’t make accommodation for drivers of consumer behaviour. But that’s us… what about you?
Some examples of cheap and quick integration with customers would be:
• BOGOF or buy half a dozen and get one free, or buy 3 get one free; you get the idea
• Earn points for freebies including the opportunity to trial services
• Offers relating to social media can be implemented, i.e. customers who mention the word-of-the-day get a discount
• Competitions involving the business reinforce that businesses profile
• Offer your knowledge and experience
Leveraging opportunities for the small business, in terms of engaging customers, needs to be directed appropriately for best effect. Identifying considerations of cost identifying the potential most frequent users, and driving interest to your business, will need some homework but it’s definitely not out of the smaller businesses reach. Providing there is an incremental plan, it doesn’t even have to be exceptionally innovative if its consistently executed. Engagement is the measuring stick and the step-up to ways of promoting your business – Give your customers something so that they’ll want to return to you.
In the arsenal of small business is personal service, it’s what small businesses gave to become big business and it’s what big business is marketing itself as giving, to appear small. Every sector of small business is able to promote itself and engage new customers.
We’re not suggesting that you’ll go viral but it’s worth starting somewhere. Your business is worth it…. and so are your customers.
(Image credit: Sreejith K Article credit: Copyright SUF)
06 07 2011
03 06 2011
It’s Not a Puzzle, SB is IOH
A confusing cryptic signing-off at the end of an email we discovered to be a lamenting excuse rather than reason to be tagged on to a name. As email arrived along with a misplaced attachment we assumed the acronym held an unknown reference to said document. Phone calls were made through various departments to be given the aural equivalent of an emoticon from a self proclaiming overworked employee, ‘IOH is I’m Only Human’. We’ll leave you to visualise the insertion of whichever appropriate symbol you feel should follow that i.e. smiley face, stupid grin, exasperated face, etc. because by this point the one the one we wanted is unlikely to exist.
Business owners evaluate their metrics , for strengths and weaknesses, in different areas, however, how often does that small business turn its attention to a key area, the owner, to acknowledge their strengths and analyse their weaknesses? The jeopardy of the flexible business owner who is IOH, in terms of keeping control of their business and constantly embarking on DIY, is to become the emoticon of a well-worn elastic band; worn or brittle and snap, Oh! My Gosh! (OMG), not a good look for the business.
Using leverage in its broadest sense can be the strength for many small businesses, by analysing and evaluating those areas of value , organising the tedious tasks and considering the potential to drive the business forward, small business can use its IOH specialism.
5 Ways Small Business Uses IOH as Leverage not Lament
- Invest your business ready for the future. Evaluate what place you want to be in 12/18/24 months from now and how you can get it there. When you’ve measured backwards and forwards it could mean making uncomfortable changes, which aren’t an excuse, they’re the reason that you’re surviving (and thriving) in business being IOH
- Analyse where your ROI is, if the sales are there but the margins aren’t have that conversation with your staff. If you have to be in two places at once, explain that to anyone effected, it’s not an excuse it’s a reason you’re IOH and in business.
- Innovate your business however when/if something fails don’t forget you’re IOH, remember that you had the business DNA attitude to try things which is the reason you don’t lament excuses and the reason you’re in business.
- Share ideas, with employees, customers, third parties and anyone that can give you feedback to evaluate because being IOH and in business you have that ability which isn’t an excuse to chat but a reason to communicate.
- Celebrate being small, the advantages of a small business are all too often stamped out by aggressive larger competition. Smaller businesses are IOH, that’s not an excuse, remember. It’s a reason.
(Image credit: Ashtyn Renee Article credit: Copyright SUF)
02 06 2011
The health status of micro and small businesses improved , according to Experian’s April Insolvency Index which revealed that 0.55% fewer UK companies become insolvent, 1,808 in number (0.10% of active businesses), compared to the same period last year. There has been an increase of 4.44% year-on-year amongst medium sized companies, whilst the big boys (501+employees), rose by 9.09%. The year-on-year increase in business failure amongst the property sector was apparently 70.37%.
Tedious good health link: An interesting story about someone in good health, with a healthy business. According to the article we came across having to pay for medication in the treatment of cancer, one customer looked at her US drugstore receipt and wondered if she held precious gems. Following successful treatment the unused expensive pharmaceuticals were crafted into jewellery and it seems that Designer Drugs Jewellery pays for ongoing medication.
Unfortunately, it would seem, things are not as healthy in some areas. The Bank of England has been criticised (again), on this occasion a think-tank has criticised the BoE for failing to predict inflation. The Treasury’s decision to remould the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with a Financial Policy Committee continues to have its critics. Project Merlin the government’s flagship initiative to increase small business lending is set to miss its first set of targets for 2011 Q1 combined with the cost of credit rising the economic situation goes on to give much for debate and critique, and won’t be getting better any time soon. However, in typical British style, the weather managed to breakthrough, making the headlines and offering at least a ray of hope as May’s good weather, combined with the Royal Wedding, meant that consumer confidence had a lift.
(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)
12 05 2011
Evolution Not Revolution
You ask questions about your business and you’ll likely have one of two responses; 1. Reach for the shovel to dig the hole in sand for a.k.a ostrich style head placing when facing something that you’d rather not or, 2. Panic because, although there might be things that stand out as being easy, or even obvious, to change there is likely to be some uncomfortable sense of overwhelm.
The option is to take the starting point or, alternatively delay further and risk, as the slogan goes, panic and freak out.
(Image credit: thegreengirl Article credit: Copyright SUF)
12 05 2011
The 2010/11 ISA season has just come to an end during which we saw another mutual, Kent Reliance Building Society, transferring to a PLC Banking subsidiary via JC Flowers and to now be known as `One Savings Bank’. T he 2011/12 season has only just begun and Norwich and Peterborough Building Society has announced proposals to merge with Yorkshire Building Society some 30 years after Walker & Byker Industrial Permanent Building Society ended trading to Northern Rock.
Our Survey Said…
Trust is on the increase for a majority of retail customers, who, in a survey of more than 20,500 global banking customers 1,000 respondents claimed they were `satisfied’ with the country’s banking system……. in India. The 100th Quarterly Survey of Small Business showed firms are turning to trusted sources for advice as the economic climate, cashflow and bad debt became their dominant problems and ‘are using a variety of sources to help them through the ups and downs of the economic cycle’. Health, education, transport, travel, retail, hotels, restaurants, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, business services, wholesalers, construction and manufacturing were represented amongst the 834 sole proprietors, microfirms, small and medium firm respondents. The number of insolvencies fell by 16% with some 24,700 (!!!) less than the previous year.
(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)