Our Latest Post

7 world-class tactics for sustainable business growth

7 world-class tactics for sustainable business growth

When you first started out in your business or role it was easy to think about ways of expanding and growing your organization – ideas coming thick and fast, nothing to stand in your way – and quick results. When companies and roles are more established, it’s easy to focus on the hard-learned lessons that stumbling blocks along the way have provided – and growth can suffer as a result.

Don’t become complacent, make sure growth stays on the agenda – and harness these world-class tactics to drive your business to new heights…

  1. Drive up your retention rates

Retaining clients is one of the best and easiest ways toward enormous growth – but it’s a tactic that is painfully neglected by a lot of businesses. Hundreds, if not thousands of customers; you have all their details, they know you, they like your products – they’re walking away. This is the reality for companies who focus entirely on their new sales and marketing strategies without dedicating the resources needed to keep the customers you’ve already worked hard for.

Customer retention can’t be summed up in a few lines; it’s a complex balance of communication, incentives, support, care and tailoring your service to suit – as far as is practical and, ultimately, profitable. Look at how many customers you lose each month or year and ask yourself (or them!) what might have kept their loyalty. Every business has a churn rate of clients, the key to maximizing growth across the board is keeping that number as low as is possible.

  1. Enter an alliance

It’s easy to think of other companies in your industry or area as just competitors, there to take clients and money away from you and your bottom line. Instead, looking at collaborations and alliances can be a much healthier way to move toward growth.

Do you regularly outsource some element of your workload to another company? Why not talk to them? You might have the killer sales process that they haven’t got the means to implement – so with your efforts, contacts, and workforces combined – you might be able to scale to heights that just wouldn’t be achievable for you individually. It’s normal to be hungry for success – but don’t let greed narrow your options.

  1. Hire the best people

When it comes to creating a solid bedrock for your company you’re going to want some consistent performers. However, safe hands aren’t always the hands that will lead you toward scaling up an excellent example of this is Vectorcloud who are an IT support company in Glasgow. They continue to grow due to the investment in experienced staff and training.

Look at individuals with proven track records of taking companies to higher heights – perhaps they’ll work for you, maybe they’ll consult for you – whatever the route, this fresh outside energy can come in with increased objectivity and a host of great ideas to take your solid service to the next level.

  1. Embrace online

We know, you’re already online – website, some marketing and social media, etc. Instead of asking if you’re online – ask if you’re making the most of being online. With the absolute most respect intended, you’re not – neither are 99% of the world’s other businesses.

The Internet presents opportunities for insane levels of growth – talk to some Freelance SEO Consultants about what they could do for you, your product might have to adapt slightly, but with the right deal, you could have your product or company in front of millions of people every day. What do you want? Sales prospects? Completed business? No problem, there are experienced people out there who will take your company into the stratosphere and are happy to be paid on results only.

  1. Use your knowledge to diversify

Your brand is a product of its own that stands atop your business if you want it to. Here’s what we mean – you’re the best coffee shop in your town, so start a video channel and blog about what you do. You’re an IT service provider – instead of just providing IT services, tell others how they can provide IT support services as successfully as you do. Write a book, provide training, consult with other businesses.

The world is constantly moving toward demanding more ‘value’ – people want more from your product and organization. It can be hard to offer more value than the next person, company or shop, so you need to get thinking about how you can approach what you do from a different angle. Be a business and a resource for your industry – your knowledge is worth more than you’re currently making, apply it more widely and you’ll see incredible growth – sometimes into areas you had never envisaged.

  1. Look at other markets

While we’re talking diversity, there’s a mass of possibilities that don’t require huge adaptations to your vision of the company. You provide a service to a particular industry, what’s stopping you looking at a new industry and applying your winning formulas in that area? Tunnel vision is the enemy when growth is being discussed – but it’s hard to snap out of.

Ask yourself who else could use your product – if the answer is enormous, then narrow your focus down to industries that have similar requirements to your current customers. If your product is very specifically designed for one type of customer, look at another customer type and get your research and development hat on! “What could we do to our service to make it suitable for x or y…?”

  1. Go global

Anything involving the word ‘global’ sounds big, doesn’t it? The truth is, it doesn’t have to be. If you’ve got a well-honed company with processes that are working well here – why not look at promoting your service in another English-speaking country? Alternatively, consider what you would need to do to appeal to a non-English speaking country.

Language barriers are one of the stumbling blocks when it comes to global expansion – but the internet’s made bringing that barrier down easier than ever before. Translation of your website and marketing material by a skilled multi-linguist can be done incredibly cost-effectively – as can set up home-based workers in your target location.

Language isn’t your only challenge – but a simple internet search will set you on a path toward gauging how feasible it is to move into selling your service in any particular country.

 

Working from home jobs – the 8 big financial benefits

Working from home jobs – the 8 big financial benefits

If you ask someone what they think the biggest benefits of working from home jobs would be they’re likely to talk about being your own boss or working in your pajamas – far fewer people consider the positive financial implications of making home your office. That’s because there’s a big bundle of expenses you outlay on the ‘life stuff’ that surrounds having a job – although not on the job directly.

Take a look at the bigger picture of your working life and think about how much money those in working from home jobs can save when you think about:

  1. Fuel costs

At the time of writing a liter of fuel costs an average of £1.20 per liter. If your car returns an economy of around 40 miles per gallon of fuel that means a 10-mile commute (the average distance for workers in the UK) costs around £2.70 each day. That might not sound too bad, but with around 260 working days in the year, that works out at over £700 spent at the pumps each year.

As someone who works from home, this can remain as money in your pocket – and you can feel content knowing you’re not contributing the increasing environmental cost of longer commutes.

Saving – £700 (although it could be significantly more if depending on miles and vehicle)

  1. Car Maintenance

If only the cost of running a car stopped at the fuel! Now, this might not be fully accurate if you run a car anyway – but if your car is primarily for commuting purposes than that previously mentioned average commute is going to put another 5,000 miles on your car each year. Average servicing costs run to around £150 before you’ve had any remedial work done.

Most manufacturers recommend interim services too – which can be another £75-100. If you rely on your car for work, keeping it running and reliable is a must. If you’ve put an older car through a MOT – you’ll also know this cost can vary enormously…

Saving – £250 on servicing + MOT cost

  1. Lunch costs

Convenience is one of the biggest additional costs we face as workers – and lunch is where the cost of convenience is felt the most. The average sandwich, crisps and drink ‘meal deal’ costs £3.50 – and even if you only go for the out-of-the-office meal deal 2-3 times each week, that still adds up to around £450 each year. If you’re a fan of sushi, pub lunches, and other decadent options then you can multiply that figure by 4 or 5!

Saving – £450 for the 2-3-day meal deal connoisseur

  1. Clothing costs

Sadly, clothing costs seem to be an area where there’s some significant inequality in the workplace – men report average work clothing expenses to be around £500 each year, where women spend triple that – £1,500. Studies suggest that women feel expected to diversify their wardrobe more than a man might, hence the greater spend.

Now, we’re not suggesting that men or women will spend their days working from home either undressed or in pajamas – but there’s significantly less expectation when you’re not seen by co-workers or clients – meaning far less diversity and formality required. And you can consider the odd pajama day as a perk…

Saving – £500-£1000 on average (differing slightly for men and women)

  1. Dry cleaning

The reduced requirement for formal workwear means more of your wardrobe can be washed at home – lessening your reliance on dry-cleaning services. Consumer research shows that dry cleaning costs can top £600 for professional city workers. Even if your costs are much lower, that’s a lot of washing liquid and fabric softener!

Saving – an average of around £250 across the UK

  1. Real working time

The next saving is one that is difficult to calculate as it depends almost entirely on your hourly rate, or if you’re self-employed, your daily output.

The average commute time in the UK is currently around 60 minutes every day – although for around 3 million people that figure is much greater, at around 2 hours each day. Effectively, if you’re adding even 1 hour to your working day that means you’re adding around 200 hours of time that is dictated by your job each year. 200 hours – that’s the equivalent of 5 full working weeks either behind the wheel, on a bike or squashed next to a stranger on the bus or the tube.

If you were to apply that time to work at home, your output would be through the roof – which as a self-employed person mean money – but can mean promotion, pay-rises and other perks for remote company workers.

Saving – the financial equivalent of 200 hours each year!

  1. Parking

Oh, you thought we were done with the driving expenses? Sorry to disappoint – but parking can add anywhere between a £3.50 and an astronomical £50 each day depending on where you live and how close to a city center you need to park. Londoners – congratulations, you officially live in the most expensive city in the world when it comes to parking! Not to mention any congestion charge.

Savings – £500+ each year. Londoners – our calculator ran out of space…

  1. Tax reductions and business expenses

The tax implications of working from home are long and fairly complicated – meaning it’s prudent to get some professional financial advice to ensure the figures you’re working with are accurate for you. Telephone calls using your own mobile or landline phone, heating, lighting and electrical costs are all things which you might be entitled to claim as expenses – and sometimes you don’t even have to have kept records of these costs.

There are also rules around claiming tax relief on other household costs – effectively, if 20% of your home is used as a workplace, then there’s tax relief to be had on 20% of your household costs. If you’re working from home and self-employed, a good accountant will be able to talk you through how to make working from home work for you.

Savings – talk to your company or account for a full breakdown

Could debt sabotage your workforce?

IVA,’ ‘Trust Deed,’ ‘Attachment of Earnings’ – as a business owner or HR manager, these are phrases you’re likely to be hearing more of relating to your workforce. Debt has traditionally been an employee’s own issue, left at home and not expected to affect their work – but with problem debt statistics reaching an all-time high, now could be an appropriate time to think about how those issues impact your business.

What does the statistics say?

It’s extremely likely that people in your workforce are experiencing financial problems.

  • There are over 8 million people in the UK who are struggling with their levels of debt.
  • Around 40% of the adult workforce have less than £100 in savings.
  • 75% of people will experience a large unexpected cost every year.
  • The average household owes around £13,000 – without considering mortgage debt.

Unsecured household debt is at its highest level since the financial crash of 2008 – and worryingly, an analysis shows that this debt is generally not a result of lavish spending, instead, a pattern of persistent lending to help many individuals make it through the month. Without the savings to offer a buffer zone when things go wrong, risky borrowing is sometimes the only answer.

The impact

A recent study explored the relationship between personal finances and the workplace. These were some of the responses from HR professionals:

  • 83% say personal finance problems have an impact on employee performance.
  • 26% say debt impacts their company’s overall productivity.
  • 24% are aware that financial worries lead to sickness, absence and poor punctuality.
  • 47% notice that employee’s ability to focus on work tasks is reduced.

Interestingly, this study was performed across a broad range of industries – indicating that the debt problem faced in the UK spans all sectors and pay scales.

The link between financial and mental health

Particularly in the last 10 years, medical professionals have increasingly highlighted links between debt induced stress and reduced mental well-being. At the lower end of the spectrum this won’t necessarily manifest as a diagnosed issue for individuals, instead, companies tend to see a pattern begin to play out:

  1. Increased fatigue – Time spent handling debt issues combined with the sleeplessness that is often associated with low-level anxiety almost always reduces an employee’s ability to maintain good health.
  2. Reduced effectiveness – As team members individually struggle to apply their usual levels of effort to work team productivity begins to diminish.
  3. Lowered morale – The resulting impact sees morale dropping across the company – inspired initially by individual’s own issues – but spreading to be a general discord.

A pattern like this can be devastating for a small business or team – and an often-held perception that debt issues are a ‘dirty secret’ means few businesses get the chance to intervene when it’s important. Many people facing debt issues feel isolated and unable to talk.

Remove the shame

While debt feels like a taboo subject for many people, it shouldn’t be. Statistics show that the vast majority of people in the UK have some level of debt – and huge numbers of those people will experience some issue with that debt during their lives.

As an employer, it’s useful to offer a realistic view of debt. The shame associated with financial problems often comes from a perception that excess spending or an unaffordable lavish lifestyle has been the instigating factor. Although this is rarely the case, people feel far more comfortable talking about their debt issues if they believe that the person listening isn’t judging them – however, the debt has been accrued.

How can you offer support?

Creating a particular culture in your workplace is never going to be a quick job – but neither is trying to build bridges with a workforce that is feeling the impact of debt amongst its ranks. Whether you’re a larger business with an HR department – or a smaller business with directors that look after certain roles, demonstrating that there is an open door for staff communication is vital.

Beyond hoping that people come to you, you can invite discussions about debt. If employees aren’t keen on talking in person, sending an email that ‘normalises’ financial issues can be the catalyst for talking.

While most people understand that companies have provisions in place when a person is unable to work because of sickness – fewer people think that their employer would be interested in supporting around debt problems, despite the fact they can quickly lead to illness.

What can you say?

In an email or newsletter, you could offer a case study of how you have supported around debt issues in the past – you don’t have to have a specialist debt counselor in the business, you could simply explain that there is a provision in place for people who need support, that could be:

  • Private areas where people can make calls/emails relating to their money worries.
  • Time out of the office to work around any meetings/arrangements relating to debt.
  • An open door to discuss HR and payroll implications in confidence.
  • The possibility of flexible working hours to alleviate costs associated with working (childcare, travel costs, etc)

This is not an exhaustive list, you may be able to think of company specific alternatives that would be helpful to employees who are facing money issues.

There are also numerous employee assistance programs your business could offer that will provide specialize debt support. That can support around budgeting, signposting to companies who offer specialist debt solutions or counseling for when the symptoms of coping with debt become too much.

Why should you act?

Levels of debt in the UK are at extraordinary levels – the numbers of people who are repeatedly borrowing because they cannot make it through the month are higher than they have ever been. It is medically proven that debt contributes to illness – both mental and physical.

Even if you were in a position to do so, upping salaries is not the answer. Instead, a fresh view of debt and its impact on your business is needed. It is vital that businesses acknowledge debt as being the gateway to sickness, reduced productivity and low morale. If you’re willing to reach out to your employees and offer an ear for the difficult conversations, the performance of the business will thank you for it.

Key Benefits Of Effective Business Consultancies

Does your company need business advice? Whether you’re a stainless steel strapping and banding supplier, or a small local retailer that’s has been in business for years or decades, it’s important to make sure that you’re dealing with fundamental issues like finance, marketing, and technology. Unfortunately, not all business input is of the good variety.

Here are some of the top benefits of effective advice from business consultancies:  

  1. Focus

When you hire a business consultancy one of the main benefits is they can dedicate their resources to your company. This might be tougher if you handle the issues in-house or hire someone part-time to deal with the issues like low sales or outdated technology. When hiring a consultancy, they can provide full-time professional staff to deal with your issues.

  1. Innovation

A business consultancy can help to provide your company with innovative solutions. When companies have to deal with tough issues like sales and technology sometimes, it’s a matter of thinking outside the box to find solutions to tough problems. On the other hand, if you try to solve the problems in-house it can be tougher to use an innovative approach to solving problems.

  1. Skills

This is particularly useful in terms of technical skills. For example, if your company wants to revamp its technology it’s important to hire IT consultants who can figure out how to upgrade your business’s tech to get better results. That could include CPUs, business software, networks, etc. Your company might also require technical skills like marketing or finance if your business lacks know-how in those areas. Or if you are in the construction industry you may want to provide further CCNSG training for your staff.

In fact, this is one of the main reasons companies hire business consultants. There are times when your company’s staff might have basic skills in areas like IT or finance but might not have specifics skills/knowledge to deal with specific issues like tax laws, cloud storage, etc.

  1. Customization

This is another key benefit of hiring a business consultancy. When you use other sources of advice like books, videos, blogs, etc. the information you get will be somewhat general. That’s even true if it’s advice for your sector.

Meanwhile, if you hire a consultancy, you’ll have the benefit of getting advice that’s specific to your company. The consultants can evaluate your company’s situation then design a business plan to achieve your company’s goals like higher sales, more traffic, better margins, etc.

  1. Expertise

When hiring business consultants, they’ll have expertise in solving business problems. They might even have experience in your particular sector. If that’s the case, it’s a plus because it means you’ll get specialized advice for dealing with specific problems. This is also a plus because certain solutions will be more effective in certain types of businesses or should be tweaked for different sectors. A consultancy will have the know-how to do that.

  1. Objective

This is somewhat of an X-factor related to hiring a business consultancy. Factors like management can be roadblocks for companies to implement change that will help to solve their problems and get on the right track.

Meanwhile, a consultancy can contribute to providing objectivity when dealing with a company’s problems. This is a plus because they won’t be biased by focusing on the company’s sales and profits, for example. In fact, sometimes finding solutions can mean dealing with some very tough issues.

These are some of the top benefits of business consultancies to keep in mind. If your company has pressing problems, it’s one of the best sources of some good advice. There are many benefits including the advice being fresh, innovative, speedy, and comprehensive. Keep in mind the goal is to get results and make companies better, so they’re more competitive in their sector.