Tag Archives: operations

Where are you coming FROM, Dear?

Where are you coming FROM, Dear?
by Talmar Anderson

Let’s talk about the most significant way YOU can take control of your company’s spending AND earning.  Truly it is a simple process that can be rolled into conversations and takes just minutes to track…and yet, most of you are NOT DOING IT! Seriously, you are breaking my heart.  Be nice to Talmar and start doing this EVERY SINGLE time you have a prospect conversation or inquiry. These two questions can significantly lower your expenses while increasing your income.  This is not sunshine I am blowing. Check this out…

I want to know, I mean actually detailed and counted, know where you are getting your leads. When anyone asks about your services, your company’s pricing or how to work with you, stop and focus! I know your adrenaline starts pumping and you are trying to figure how to close the sale before you have even determined the problem, your solution and if it is a good fit but take an extra pause and invest in gathering data for your own business.

You must take the time to ask them how they heard about your company. You owe it to your own business to make sure to get more than “the internet”. Are you advertising on Facebook? Have you invested in SEO? Did you hire someone to manage and write a blog for your company?  Wouldn’t you like to know which marketing dollars are working for you?? This is our opportunity to know! Follow up questions take just another couple of minutes.  “Was it an ad or did you read an article?” “What were you searching for when you found our information?”

If the person on the other end of the telephone says “I met someone at a networking event that mentioned you”, make sure to ask if they got the name of the person.  What event were they at?  These details can ensure you are networking where your prospects are as well as make sure to acknowledge the referring person!

And let’s talk about that referring person. Are they a former or present client? Are they in an industry that is complimentary to yours? Consider that if you continue to get referrals from the same “type” of person you could start a targeted marketing campaign focused on these areas.  Then we take note on your referral tracking system/ worksheet/ notepad. I don’t care where just do it and make sure you can get to it for review!

As you review, you look for similarities. If previous customers are a strong source of referrals, make sure to be in front of all of your previous clients in some consistent way that reminds them to refer to you.

That is how this can really focus your expenses while increasing income.  If we find that our leads and clients are NOT coming from internet searches, than you may be able to move a significant part of your SEO budget to a focused direct mail “thank you” campaign to previous clients. Now we are not spending money that is not converting and we are focused on marketing to referrals we have PROOF converts to clients.

Take the time to ask.  The time to document.  This will move you away from “thinking” you get your clients from point A or being “pretty sure” that they are coming from Point B. You will KNOW how to spend marketing money that converts to paying customers. THAT is the definition of a win/win!

Now GO! Grow!

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What to Do BEFORE your Hire, Part 3

What to Do BEFORE your Hire, Part 3
By Talmar Anderson

Today we discuss the last piece in this 3 part series addressing some of the actions you can take BEFORE you spend your dollars on employment ads, block out time to review resumes and weed out the unqualified people that would rather work in a cave than in a culture like the one you have built in your company. Over the last month we discussed:

  • Creating the transitional work list – and helping you play catch up HERE
  • Considering where they fit and who they talk with operationally HERE

This third piece, on actions you can do before you even start the employment ad, can keep a business owner stalled in the hiring process especially if this will be a newly created or defined role. “Where I am getting the initial cash outlay to bring this position on?” Don’t get stalledI say take action.

Hopefully you are hiring because your deliverables are trending up and growth is knocking on your door.  But sometimes the next leap in your business growth is a position that may not be 100% billable or billable at all!  From Assistants to Project Managers to operational point people, investing in the structural staff to allow your organization the space and process required for real growth is pushed out because the ROI (return on investment) is not a direct cash payout on the income line.

What can you do to help ease the increase in your payroll? Start a new sales effort. I know it seems crazy to suggest MORE work but action creates the opportunity for cash to flow and more clients to come in your business’ door.  So roll out a strategic marketing campaign to get a new push of cash rolling in over the next 90 days. Can you incentive additional work that pulls in deposits, partial payments or even pre-orders? Focus on either your highest profit margin products and services or deliverables that will be specific to the new employees work load. This can give your payroll a real chance to be covered more quickly. Not to mention that with that added work you will best be able to enjoy the benefit of an extra pair of hands meeting those deadlines more easily than ever before.

The key is to start this sales push WHILE planning your hiring needs.  Make a plan. Develop your hiring process.  This is an operational need that will be used throughout your whole career.  There is a reason that everyone can relate to all the HR horror stories.  We have all been there.

Regardless of your industry.

Regardless of your specialty.

Regardless of whether you run a brick and mortar operation or a professional services firm.

Even if you are an ecommerce or technology solution company.

If you are committed to growing your business then you are committing to the hiring process. Growth is the same for all business.  Growth = More people.

Now GO! Grow!

 

P.S. Make sure you are on the list to be first to know about Hiring resources for your business as they become available and I’ll send you a FREE Test you can use to see if you need to hire an employee or can work with Independent Contractors! Click HERE

Do This BEFORE You Hire! Part 2

Do This BEFORE your Hire! Part 2
By Talmar Anderson

We are in the middle of a 3 part series addressing some of the actions you can take BEFORE you even place your first employment ad to give yourself a chance at success in your hiring process! While finding, hiring, and training your new hires for your own business can be challenging for most employers, I am excited to be focusing on this short series for small business owners discussing what can be done BEFORE you even place that employment ad to get the most out of your new hires. The first step started with a great way to ensure you can keep the new employee busy while rolling them into your organization.  Check it out HERE if you missed it.  Now we are going to address pieces that can wreck-havoc on the organization as a whole if not carefully considered BEFORE hiring. Let’s talk about a plan for the oversight, daily communication and work environment…in other words “who is the boss” and “where they park themselves”.

Getting help can keep a business owner so focused on the candidate and whether they are really qualified or if they will be a good fit culturally, that they can forget to think about HOW the new role will fit into the current business’ day to day operations.

  • Is there physical space for them?
  • Will a new hire be happy sitting next to the door of the bathroom?
  • If you work out of your home, will you have them work from your house? How will that work with your family? Is the new candidate allergic to cats?
  • Do you have space in your office for a new table set up for once a week face to face meetings?
  • Do you have the equipment or access to tools they employee needs to perform the job (if there a phone jack if answering lines? Can calls easily be forward to a company phone? Will they need a desktop or a laptop?

Physically consider how a new employee will be accessing and performing the job.  This allows you to carefully advertise for and screen a candidate that will have success in the environment you are planning.  Are they a loud talker? You may have difficulty if they are supposed to share space while working the phones for your events.

Where they will perform all of their work must be carefully consider to provide the correct environment and tools for each employee to have success.  Once this is defined, reverse engineer it. Consider what traits someone working successfully in that particular type of work environment would possess.  Those traits are now a requirement for employment in this role.

Next consider who the new employee will report to and how. Not just training. Training is a finite time.  On a regular basis,

  • Who will answer this position’s questions?
  • How regularly will they be able to access their supervisor? Does that support your business and clients?
  • How frequently will the supervisor meet one on one? How often will they meet face to face?
  • What is the course of action if the new employee feels they cannot get what they need from the supervisor?
  • Have you considered if the new supervisor has ever managed employees? Do you need to offer them training and support?

Develop a path for communication – both for an employee to be advised and evaluated but also a resource or starting point for clarification and answers. The expectation of consistent meetings needs to be calendared and planned on before you hire whether they are being performed by the business owner or another staff member in the company. Management time will be required.

Small businesses lose good hires if they play this part “by the seat of their pants”.  Employees want to feel like they are entering a company with a clear role and contributing to a structured organization even if that organization is a company of one right now.  If their first mandate is to “figure out” how they can get the job done, you are very likely to be back in the hiring process in the next 3-6 months. It is not enough to know what you want them to accomplish. You must provide a space, communication process and support system to allow them to successfully contribute to your company’s growth!

Now GO! Grow!

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How Long Does It Take?

How Long Does It Take?
By Talmar Anderson

A growing company has needs.  You need process. Then you need to write it down to create repeatable procedures.  I know you have heard it before. These are key steps allowing us to hire and have others help grow your company. Today I want to ask you how long does it take to produce each of your services? What about each of your products?  How much time goes into the design much less the manufacturing? How long does it take to just write your proposals? Yes!  It is time to talk about time tracking. Stay with me because this is the secret sauce to successful businesses!

This is not about capturing the details for billing your clients (though we can talk about how this directly determines your true profitability HERE).  I often hear “Oh I don’t bill my clients that way” as an excuse to skip this step. However, as a business owner you need to understand where the bulk of the time is specifically spent within your company to deliver services and products. It is within these details that you can understand how best to create space for high demand or growth periods of your company.

For many small companies, outsourced independent contractors are used to start filling in when demand grows.  I both support and recommend this for most companies as they can be ultra-responsive to client needs and take their time to understand their growth.  Is it consistent?  Is the company going to continue trending up?  What could you be doing to help grow the company faster if you were not completing the deliverables?  As your company’s growth is proven to be the norm then this is when my clients and I sit down to really look at the future of the organizational structure.  If scaling and growth is part of your plan then bringing “employees” into the fold will be a next step.

Why employees?

  • Consistency of quality
  • Availability of labor – IC’s can take on other work and this could leave your clients hanging.
  • Control over brand and reputation.  – them representing you by how they dress, how they answer the phone; how they structure their signature…all influences perception on the size and strength of your growing company!
  • Legacy – building a company that employs people is rewarding on many levels

By only considering invoices from independent contracts for dollar value as a cost of goods expense type, it will be that much harder when you are ready to bring those roles in house.  Getting the time tracking under control for forecasting and strategic planning is taking charge of your business! The more you can understand how long it takes for each task the more success and easier it will be when you are ready to hire.

We need to understand HOW the sausage is made to be sure that we structure our business correctly.  Begin by determining how each service or product is developed then list out each of the separate tasks involved.  Assign time to each project and task. Then over time we begin capturing the length of time it takes to complete each task.  As you start to document these details we will be developing a history.  Depending upon your need and the industry this could take two weeks to two years.  There are a lot of time tracking softwares (i.e., Toggl) out there. Heck, even your project management software wants you to do this and likely has time tracking capabilities. The key is to start capturing the details NOW.

If you are a business plan writer, you may think that your best course of action is to hire writers to help you compose the documents for your clients.  Most business owners would go this route and may eventually experience some help.  This may create a little space for a new client or two.

However, if you start breaking out tasks specifically you may find that researching each client’s industry details and trends can take twice as long.  In this case, your historical data can steer you to hire a researcher and creating double the freedom and space for further growth and development! Understanding how exactly your company works will set you down the path of hiring for the correct positions to allow for less stress, efficiency of focus and, say it with me everyone, profitability.

It is through this type of process that you move from throwing darts with your eyes closed to making strong decisions about the future of your own company.

Now GO! Grow!

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Training New Hires Got You Down?

Training New Hires Got You Stressed?
Do this to smash your stress!

By Talmar Anderson

For entrepreneurs that have had bad experiences hiring, the training is the “thing” they point to as the worst part. Have you ever been disappointed? That seemingly smart and motivated person now seems unfocused. That new hire that sold themselves as a self-starter is jamming up your email inbox with questions. That outgoing people loving candidate keeps coming back to your office and seemingly hiding while interrupting YOUR work flow after every new customer call to discuss deliverable options. Have you had any of these experiences? I have even heard some clients complain they weren’t sure it was worth the growth and scaling of their business! YIKES! Other people can and will help you build your business. Success does not have to be created only by you. If you have ever thought “it would be awesome if I never had to do this again”, I have 3 steps you can do to make hiring and training for the growth of your business MUCH, MUCH easier!

First a truth, training is hard ….if you make it that way! Training can go like clockwork. Planning and process plus a commitment to make your time accessible can give everyone a real chance for success. Let’s look at …

3 New Employee Training Stress Smashers

  • Make time to document and create your procedure manual
    • By creating the written procedures you are giving the employee a place to find success and possibly create clarity and answers for themselves (READ:  fewer interruptions to your workflow!)
  • Hire correctly
    • No rushing. No “good enough”. No skipping references!! Of course you will start with your job description first – your defined requirements…right? (If not, READ THIS!)
  • Make time to manage.  
    • You have to plan to be available for the new employee on a regular basis. Give them ways to communicate their questions and consistent calendared time on your schedule.

Successful employees will have questions at different stages of their new employment.  An employee cannot actually think of every question in the 2 hour training period you schedule on the first day.  The human brain needs time to absorb.

As the job is absorbed and considered over the next few days, weeks, and months, the new employee will start applying their own past experiences which creates the possibility of understanding AND the need for more question time.  They will want further clarification or instruction to ensure this new found understanding is correct and that you are satisfied.  The new employee is very aware that your satisfaction is required to stay employed.  Don’t be so upset that an employee wants to do it the right way…your way!

I can hear you now, “I don’t have time right now…maybe next spring.” Waiting for the slow time to hire because you will have more time is not the right way to think about your hiring process and documentation.  Put in the extra hours now because this is one investment of YOUR time that will always pay off. I promise. Even if you cannot get the full procedure manual done during a real crunch time, you can have your new employee help you fill it in as part of their role!

Please understand that it is 100% unrealistic to assume that a person will walk into a position that neither has a job description of their roles and responsibilities nor a procedure manual on HOW you want your business to perform to create any real satisfaction for you. You will not be able to give them all the details they need, all the locations of answers, or all the possible actionable steps in a quick 15 minute meeting every morning. As brilliant as you are, YOU will not remember to tell them every detail. Then they will disappoint you. Then you both will start to formulate judgements and the snow ball starts rolling!

You might as well start placing another employment ad. A good employee will want a company to offer more structure and stability so they will keep interviewing. A bad employee will stay as long as they can handle your mounting frustration because you will start to pull the work back onto your plate…while they get paid. Ouch….

If you need to hire for your company’s growth, start preparing now.

Now GO! Grow!

P.S. If you are trying to know when you should hire for your company, you could check out my blog post on that topic HERE!

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Ain’t Technology Grand? Yes, but Only If You Use It!

Ain’t Technology Grand? Yes, but Only If You Use It!
By Talmar Anderson

Today I am going to save you money!  There are so many fantastic solutions to just about every operational need you can come up with for your business. Online technological systems are popping up everywhere on the internet.  Some are from tried and true entities while some are from the next potential Zuckerberg.  As a business owner there is more to just finding the answer to your question.  To protect you and your company from investing in a solution that can only frustrate, I recommend a few easy steps for success.

  • Understand your problem before buying.
  • Consider how quickly you can really start using and integrate the new product
  • Consider the cost
  • Plan for how it will work in your company.

Understanding your problem? By this I mean don’t get wooed by a shiny new idea that is not for your business.  I highly recommend you wait until you have identified a problem and then actively look for the correct solution. Upgrades within free products are the easiest way to go down this costly road. If a tool you are using for free is great then the upgrade for $15 a month must be awesome.  And it’s ONLY $15 bucks a month, right? Sounds great IF it is useful. Otherwise it is $180 a year for something that was working for free.

How quickly and easily a new product can be learned, integrated into your current systems and your staff trained up needs to be part of your consideration process. The size of the product itself can determine this part.  Is the new product the right size for where your company is today?

Some products may be too big for what your company needs at this time. (Salesforce and InfusionSoft are common ones I have seen clients sign up for and eventually dump because it truly was not the right complexity for their companies. Too much, too early.) Would it be nice to be able to have great pipeline management? Of course but with complex training and a long implementation process, go back to what your business needs.  If your company delivers for 5 contract clients a year with the capacity to only take on one more.  How many pipelines do you need to be managing for YOUR business’ success?

The cost consideration is the piece that requires little council from me. Is it reasonably priced for the part this piece will play in the overall operations of your business? How many ways will it facilitate your operations? Is it duplicative of another product or service that you will have to cancel?  You know what is best for the company budget and growth.

Planning for how it will work in your company initially includes placing time on your (or your assistant’s calendar) to start training and setting up the system within the new product you purchased.  Once that is done, there will need to be a training schedule set for when and who will need to learn the new system. Additionally, there needs to be time commitment, process creation and internal communications on how this new product will be used by anyone/everyone in your company.  This final step is where a business owner can really push off the new solution to your problem. That expense will keep coming in, month after month, even if the planning commitment for training and implement time keeps being pushed back.

Don’t get me wrong! I LOVE these online solutions.  Need something to quickly and easily jot down notes as well as organize them? Got it. Check out Evernote.  Need an online scheduling system to help cut down on the back and forth of setting appointments? Check out ScheduleOnce. Need a hosting site for an online course you offer to clients? Zippy Courses is the one I use. There are even specialty programs and systems.  HelloBar, Podcast Websites, Microsoft Windows Live Movie Maker are all wonderful online products offering singular solutions that meet a very specific need and that may help you with your business operations.

You don’t want to pay for a product even if it is EXACTLY what your business needs if you are not going to commit to the time, training and systemization required to use it.  Then it is just money pulled out of your business monthly like some sort of punishment. These tools can be real time-savers and efficiencies for your company so PLAN to use them before you buy!

What software or online tool did you buy for your company but end up canceling or writing off because you did not have committed time for integration? I’d love to know!

Prosperous or Stressful? Look into Your Future…..

Prosperous or Stressful?  Look into Your Future…..
By Talmar Anderson
Founder, Talmar it Up

I can prove whether or not your company has real growth in its near future. No psychic abilities needed.  Double Dog dare me to show you?!?  Ok.  First things first, answer this question…Where do you (the business owner) spend your time?

Are you spending your days unsure what to focus on from one moment to the next?  You probably aren’t about to break through that monster goal in the next 6 months. Overwhelm a common occurrence?  Letting the “fires” burn up the hours in your day? Then I KNOW that you are not consistently and regularly scheduling your own projects and workload onto your calendar. I KNOW that odds are highly against growing your company in any significant way!

Ok, I will bring it down a little now. If you can identify with the above concerns, there are 3 areas that you can consistently place on your calendar that will positively affect your company’s growth… IF you can keep a consistent commitment to honor the appointments.

Business owners that want to impact their company’s growth in a focused and immediate way MUST regularly (means more than once! Monthly maybe..or, dare we say it out loud…weekly?) have scheduled on your calendar the following separate areas.

  • Management time
    • This is time committed to your administration and operations. If you are a solo-preneur than this may include your invoicing, your accounts payable, meeting with and vetting a new vendor.  If you have staff, this includes the weekly or monthly meetings to motivate, encourage and evaluate.
      • Because this is something that does not bring direct profit this is usually the first item to be bumped off your calendar. The price you are paying is HIGH stress, being out of touch with your own company, and relationships in your business built on the assumption that everyone knows what you are thinking. YIKES!
  • Marketing & Sales pipeline time
    • This is time committed to specific steps and action items to ensure your company is known and growing! This is not usually as quick to get bumped as management time UNLESS business is booming.  This time can include dedicated social media time. (NOTE dedicated…scheduled…set a timer to pull you back out!) If you generate content for your blog or need to develop a presentation, this calendared time is useful. Been meaning to write a white paper? Find a new tchotchke vendor?  Work on it here. This should also be time to reach out to prospects for follow up or personal touches.  Meeting with your website developer and business development teams should be here and consistent!
      • If you are waiting until you “have time” or plan to fit it in at the end of the day, you will be able to self identify here. Look at your profits.  If they are not where you want them to be, you are likely NOT setting and keeping appointments with yourself on these efforts.
  • Development and research time
    • This is time where you get to focus on the shiny idea that keeps poking you in the brain. You can look at possible new products or services and how they would fit in your model.  You can do some market research to see what your clients and prospects really want from your company.  You can learn about how partnerships work so that you can consider the offer that is being subtly pushed on you by an In Law.
      • If this is the kind of stuff you only get to on vacation then you can be assured you are slowing the growth opportunities and potential of your business. This is something that absolutely WILL NOT GET DONE if not for you making time.

If I can look at the last 3months of the your past scheduled appointments kept and your future 3 months calendar schedule, I can tell whether or not your next 6 months are likely to be prosperous or stressful for your company. And now, so can you!

Are you better at keeping 1or 2 of these on your calendar? Which is the most challenging for you? I would love to know which vexes you!  Leave me a comment and let me know!