Tag Archives: Business Professional

Taking a break …… a message from Richard Cooper!

As the sunnier weather finally arrives, many of us start to look to our summer breaks and holidays.  One of the big reasons I became self employed was to  be able to take holiday and time off as and when I wanted without the restrictions of a boss or having to ask permission.

As many of you will undoubtedly know, in practice this isn’t necessarily as easy.  If you are the sole owner of the business its not always easy to take a break. When you live breathe and love your business its very difficult to leave it.  So how DO you take a break without breaking your business?

Here are my top tips:

1)      Plan a break – it sounds obvious but make sure you plan some of your holiday time at the beginning of your year.  New to business?  Plan some time now.  It will allow you to communicate to your clients if you will be away.

2)      Use a virtual assistant – even if you are on a beach, your client calls will be answered.  DIVERT your mobile to them – it will save you money when they call and reassure your clients that your business can be contacted when you are away.

3)      Be contactable by your VA (virtual assistant) / Friends and family on a LOCAL sim number.  By using such a service you can save money, be contactable and keep in touch without having to spend all of your break IN your business

4)      Screen your emails.  Some of the most efficient business owners I know screen their emails but don’t respond unless it’s a dire emergency.  Set your email out of office to reflect that you will be picking up emails but only periodically.

Our company provide overseas phone facilities and they are proving extremely popular to our clients.  One of the biggest benefits is the low cost way to keep in touch.

The biggest thing is not to feel bad taking a break.  This is part of the reason many of us started our own ventures, and its really important to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

If your clients don’t like it?  Then maybe you need to review the type of client that you have. Remember that YOU run your business NOT  your clients.

So go on…. Book that break today or at the very minimum write time in the diary to be away fro your business. Some of my best ideas come when I take a break.  I still keep in touch, but not at the cost of my family/home time.

Until next time….

Richard Cooper – Virtual office visionary
Follow us @holdeverything1

Its got to be PERFECT ……. a message from Richard Cooper

How do you run your business.  Is it PERFECT?   Many of us start a business with a vision of giving the customer better service, better value for money and the perfect client experience.

One challenge I have always faced is that no one is quite as passionate about my business and service as I am.  I’m not saying that my team aren’t amazing and efficient, but what I mean is that, I am a perfectionist.  I want to get it right every time. After all I am the business owner and the buck stops with me.  It has to therefore be perfect?  Right?

Something I am learning more and more as time goes on is that perfection doesn’t really exist.  That may sound a bold statement however, how many of us have actually reached “perfection”?  What is perfection?  And more importantly how do will instill this into our staff/colleagues and teams?   The answer is – “realistically”

SO:   Face facts: Your team/staff/clients/suppliers/contractors will NEVER feel as passionate about your business and therefore their levels of service won’t be to the same level as yours.  This DOESN’T mean excusing poor performance, attitude or behaviour.   Take a look at your clients.  Are they happy with the level of service that your team provide overall.  Are they treated professionally and are they valued?   If the answer is yes then work on developing your team, but not necessarily at trying to make them replicas of you.

Put processes in place:  If you couldn’t be in your business for 6 weeks – are there enough processes in place to get by without you in an emergency?  If the answer is no, then it’s time to start.  You never know what is around the corner.  If something meant you couldn’t be there for your clients, will someone else be there?  Again it’s not about a replica of YOU, its about meeting and exceeding your clients expectations.

I always felt that if I wasn’t involved in my business then it would crumble without me and all of my clients would leave.  I am learning that my clients want me to have a successful business and provide an effective service.  Having my skills and expertise at the healm is just an added bonus.

You don’t have to be perfect to win in business, you just have to be professional, consistent and have a great team around you.  Listen to your customers, ask them how they see your business.  Even if you think something could be ten times better, it may be just “perfect” for them.  Spend your time concentrating on being the owner and steering your company forward.

 

Until next time

Richard Cooper – Virtual Office Visionary

Follow me @holdeverything1

I’m too busy – a message from Richard Cooper

virtual office visionary

If you are too busy to read this then please scroll to the last paragraph of this blog:

Have you ever been on the end of a conversation where the other person is just constantly “too busy”?  Are you constantly chasing a client who is too busy to email, speak or contact you?

In business we are taught specifically not to say “business is quiet”.  It is perceived we are not successful as a business and have too much time on our hands.   So surely then we have to be perceived as being “busy busy busy” all of the time?    A busy company is a successful company isn’t it?

Well not always it seems.  Being busy to the extent that your company looks effective and maybe has to call a client back or book a few days in advance is great, however here are three warning signs that your company MAY be portraying a “too busy” image that could be doing more harm than good.

 

1)      Refusing meetings with a client because they are not worth the time:  On the face of it you may be shocked that a company would do this?   However many companies use email/phone or another medium to avoid having to see a client because they are just TOO busy or at least want to give that perception.

How does the client see it? Many clients will feel that they are not valuable and that if you are too busy for their business then maybe you don’t need it. There’s a difference between a small client who genuinely needs help and “energy vampires” who would have you in their office on tap if they could.  I’m not saying spend all of your time going out and meeting every client but do be careful how it looks.

What to do?   Can someone from your office meet the client on your behalf – especially if it’s a smaller client who needs reassurance? It doesn’t always have to be YOU.   Can they come to your office?  Can you Skype?  There is always an answer and you never know when that small client will suddenly hit the big time!

 

2)      I’m too busy to go networking:  Many businesses say this all of the time.   “I have enough business” is another line which I hear often.  The thing is that we all use word of mouth as a way to gain new business.  Not being part of your community will isolate you in the long term.  There are groups for every budget but you must be involved.

How does the client see it?   Whilst they may feel that you are concentrating on them, how about your OTHER clients – your suppliers, connections and contractors – remember these people are ALL customers to you.   They may see it that you are happy to take business but not make the effort to go out and build relationships on your doorstep.

What to do? Can you send someone from your business?  Can you go to one close to your business which isn’t commitment based.   Look at your calendar and MAKE an hour a month at least to meet others local to you.  Don’t judge a group by what others say, go and make your own decisions.

 

3)      I’m JUST TOO Busy!  Full stop:  Really??  You seriously are too busy to be in business?  Where are you spending most of your time?  Is it with the people who pay you the most?  Or is it on the small day to day stuff.

How does the client see it?  That you are too busy for them, that you are ineffective and have poor time management skills.  They may also see that you will place quantity over quality.  That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but DO be sure that this is your business goal and that you have a very clear strategy on it if this is your vision.

What to do?  STOP…… NOW….. Look around at where you should be growing your business.  Hint:  It’s not from doing everything yourself.  You don’t need a big budget to outsource calls to a virtual answer service or to hire someone part time / commission based or even an apprentice.  If you are too busy full stop then you must take action.  Source someone to take the pressure off and seek a life coach ……..  but if you feel like you cannot continue then it will eventually destroy you and your business.

 

Think about it.  If you have taken the time to read this blog, you have already committed to changing your business.  Even if you have scrolled down from the top, it has been enough to interest you.    SO what action can you take NOW….. so that you DO have more time to grow your business successfully?

 

Until next time
Richard Cooper – Virtual office visionary
Follow me @holdeverything1

Cutting Costs?? A message from Richard Cooper

virtual office business advice

Need to reduce overheads??

In the current climate businesses and start-ups are looking for ways to reduce business overhead costs while still being efficient.  I have seen a lot of businesses do this very efficiently but have also seen what can happen if this goes wrong.  Ifs well known that if you want to increase your profit, one of the fastest ways to do this is reduce overheads.

My business is one of the most popular ways that companies stay professional whilst keeping their overheads low, so I have a vast experience in this.  It is one of many ways.

So how else can you do this effectively without cutting corners and affecting your service.  Here are my three top tips to help cut over

1.    Track where the money goes – While this is not always possible, especially when your business grows, it is important to understand how and where money is being spent. Knowing you figures will allow you to really get to grip with where you can save.    It may take some time to understand by persevere.  It’s the biggest way you will know how your business is growing, or not.

2.    Outsourcing – This can work very well in  reducing overhead costs  but ensure that its quality and professional outsourcing you use.  Outsourcing can provide great savings on necessary services such as your office,  IT and accountant, and it’s always very beneficial to surround yourself with professionals.  Always satisfy yourself however that you are receiving value for money.

3.    Hire employees consideratly–  If you have employees, this will be a large part of your outgoings.  It’s really important to ensure that you take on the right employees with a clear description of their roles, and also to review these roles regularly to ensure that your business needs are being met.   Multi training your employees may increase flexibility too.

Make sure you schedule regular overhead reviews that examine all your businesses expenses. You may be surprised to find a considerable amount of savings each time you do

Until next time..

 

Richard cooper – Virtual office Visionary

Follow me @holdeverything1

Does business networking work? – A Message from Richard Cooper

 

It’s currently an amazing time here at Hold everything.   I have had some amazing encounters from suppliers and customers, and also learnt a couple of good lessons along the way, especially recently.  

If I asked a room full business people whether they used word of mouth to grow their business, most of them would say yes.  

We all use this phrase “word of mouth” but how do we make it profitable?   Business Networking is an excellent way to do this.  If you Google the term “Business Networking” followed by your locality however, you will often find that there are hundreds of different groups to choose from and beware, not ALL networks are the same!

So how do you choose a networking group and how can you tell if it’s any good?   Here are my top five tips!

1)      Have you visited ? The number of people I speak to who won’t visit  “XYZA” networking  because they were told it was no good/too regimented/ not serious enough or any other reason,  is ridiculous!   Make your OWN choices and decide for yourself. Good groups will have many members often nationwide and worldwide and will know through experience about what makes networking work!  The newer groups are not to be sniffed at either?  If there is a buzz on the grapevine that they are good – GET THERE and give it a go!

2)      Is there a structure?  In my experience the strong, ethical, networking groups have some form of structure or agenda which they STICK to.  I love meeting new people but for networking to work for me, it’s got to be about business and not just a cuppa and a gossip. My time is valuable

3)      Can you MEASURE it?   No matter how complicated or frightening it may be, if you are serious about making your business successful then you need to measure it.  Measuring just the money is a good start, but remember the contacts and the support too.  Have you met with a professional in the group who gave you advice?  Would you have ordinarily paid for it?   Then measure the savings and support too. 

4)     Will they support you when things go wrong? Will they miss you?  Many new networkers assume that companies and networking groups will be sympathetic if something happens that is exceptional or unexpected.  I have seen just how AMAZING companies can be.  I have also seen how unhelpful and hard some can be too.    It isn’t unreasonable for any networking group to ask you to commit for 3 months, a year or maybe two, however CHECK carefully and ASK what would happen if you couldn’t meet your commitments in an emergency either short OR long term.   A good networking group will do everything in their power to help regardless of the circumstances.   Most groups are set up to support small businesses, sadly they don’t always act in this manner so DO ask the question and satisfy yourself that the owners and leaders of the group reflect YOUR’s and YOUR COMPANY’s culture.

5)      Are YOU ready to make an effort to make it happen?  Networking and just “turning up” won’t make it happen for you.  You have GOT to be prepared to do some work too.    Great groups have a structure again to show you how from additional workshops, to 121 support.  When you join your group, don’t gripe about it, GRAB IT and take the opportunities available. 

Go with what works for you and where you feel right.  Measure it and LEARN from some of the best in the business… but DO please watch out for the snakes …….

Until next week

Richard Cooper – Virtual Office Visionary
follow me @holdeverything1