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Challenge Your Comfort Zone

While I'm all for comfort, there are times when a little discomfort can go a long way towards helping us achieve our goals. Think about working with a personal trainer; his or her goal is to push you outside your usual routine to help you get fit, be stronger, and become healthier. And if it works for your body, it can work for your business, too. In fact, one of the best things you can do as an entrepreneur is to constantly push yourself to do the things that make you the most uncomfortable.

If you review your list of goals – or even your daily To-Do list – the item that makes you the most nervous is likely the one that could have the biggest payoff. Contacting a big name in your industry, publishing a post that's more opinionated than your typical “safe” topics, creating a video when you're strictly a written word kind of businessperson, attending a seminar in your area, creating your first infoproduct, saying “yes” to an interview with a big name in your field – all of these are risky because they put you in the position of being rejected. But at the same time, they can have a huge impact on your business. One big action like this can take the place of hundreds of smaller, safer steps.
 
I know, I know. It's hard to put yourself out there. But there are some things you can do to make sure your risks are calculated ones:
 
1.    Calculate the downside.
Ask yourself, “What's the worst that can happen?” If you're rejected, will you lose your business? Alienate a loved one? Hurt someone? Probably not. Acknowledging the worst case scenario helps you keep the risk in perspective.
 
2.    Do your research.
Preparing yourself for the event can only help you be more successful. Do your research on the new contact you're pitching. Review your script before giving a speech. Know what you're getting into, and how you'll handle any questions or issues that will arise.
 
3.    Think positive.
Expect the best. When you contact a big-name potential partner, expect that they'll want to work with you. When you submit an article or manuscript, assume that it will be accepted. Sure, things go wrong, but don't borrow trouble. If there are problems, you'll find out soon enough.
 
4.    Figure out a back-up plan.
If your number-one JV partner turns you down, who are you going to go to next? If you can't book the hotel for your preferred date for your first live seminar, what's your second choice? Having a plan to fall back on will make you less likely to freak out if your ideal situation doesn't materialize.
 
5.    Do it again. And again. And again.
For your business to keep growing, YOU need to keep growing. And that means constantly spreading your wings farther and farther. Sometimes you'll fly and sometimes you'll flop, but if you keep working at it, over time you'll find yourself moving way beyond your old safety zone, operating at a whole new level. 
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How to Define and Delegate Relevant Job Duties

Phil from accounting is in your office once again, whining because he is fielding calls for Janice from HR. It seems that she routed calls to Phil because she is busy compiling the data for a marketing report because Doug and Dave are off handling the Jones’ meeting. Wait, weren’t you the one scheduled to go to that meeting? Why didn’t your secretary tell you that? Apparently your company is in chaos and you need to take a giant step backwards and figure out what is going on: you need to sit down with your business plan and figure out who should be doing what and when. Otherwise, there is no sense in having divisions and departments at all.

 
Define the Departments and their Duties
 
It sounds so simple that it should not even need to be said, but it is still a forgotten concept: define what the departments are and what their main objectives are: HR handles personnel, including hiring, firing and finding insurance plans. They should be in charge of enrichment and training as well as making sure that everyone’s licenses or certifications are up to date. Sales handle sales, Phil and the rest of the accounting department make sure that all of the numbers for the company and its accounts are all in order and so on. The smaller your company is however, the smaller the number of departments that you will need.

Establish a Chain of Command in the Department
 
After the departments are defined and the tasks all meted out, it is time for the real division of labor to get started. Companies that utilize an organizational chart that shows everyone and their place in the hierarchy get more things accomplished with less of the problems than companies that do not. Each department should have a department head and if it is larger than five or six people, an assistant department had. Those within the department should come to the department head with problems- eliminating the problem of problems being brought to the CEO or company leader especially if it is a problem that is easily solved by someone in the department. Set clear and enforceable rules about using the chain of command- those who do not follow the procedure should be reprimanded, in writing so that the system can work.

Set Clear Cut Goals for the Departments
 
Each department has their division of power in place. They know what their job duties all are. Now they need to get to those tasks and accomplish the goals that are set forth for them. The goals should be tangible, clearly stated and should involve a reward of some kind (within budget of course). There is no one division that is better or more necessary than another – the company is not a collection of divided sectors and departments and that should be reflected in the organizational chart as well. Each department handles their own tasks but they must work together so that the company can succeed. 
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When is it Time to Outsource: Key Factors to Determine When You are Ready

All companies are looking for ways to lower their overhead costs. Not some companies. Not most companies. All of them! For many of these companies it is not just a matter of trying to save a buck or two however; it often a question of sheer survival that has them scurrying around shutting off lights, computers or printers that are sitting around idle. If you are a business owner or are just in charge of making the financial decisions, exploring the option of outsourcing might be the answer that you are looking for. How do you know when it is time to consider this choice?


Using Overhead Costs as a Factor
 
Electricity so that they can see and to power the computers, printers and other machines for their jobs.
Heat regardless of the source
Water, not only drinking water but water for toilets and other uses as well
Telecommunications, internet and other assorted costs. 

For the electricity and heating costs you can take your yearly average costs and then divide it by the square footage of your building for a per foot cost. For the other expenses, add and average the amounts and divide by the number of employees. It is financially time to consider outsourcing when:

  • Your overhead costs exceed your budget or projected expense report on a consistent basis and by substantial amounts.
  • Your profit margin has become so razor thin that you can see the bankruptcy lawyer grinning on the other side.

Outsourcing from a Human Resources Standpoint 

Finding good employees can be very difficult at best, but that is not always the major problem for HR. What can be even harder is keeping the existing, exceptional employees once they are found. Constantly hiring and retraining employees slows down production and can cost companies more in lost man hours than working to keep the good employees would. Some of the reasons that employees give for leaving their jobs:

  • The daily commute
  • The hours
  • The expense of child care

Outsourcing gives human resources a wider range of applicants, allowing them to find the best candidate for the job regardless of location. In addition, it can allow the employee that is already working for the company to maintain their position, doing their job tasks from home. 

Finally, the outsourcing option should be considered if the company would like to reduce its carbon footprint. For every job that is done from home by a telecommuting employee, that is equal to savings both for the company and then employee themselves. 

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Thinking of You This Holiday Season: Ways to Keep Yourself in Your Client’s Mind

‘Tis the season to be jolly and to make sure that everyone around you is jolly as well! This is the best time of the year to make sure that you are showing all of your clients that you are thinking of them, not only as business contacts, but as people as well. There are some things to keep in mind, after all, you want to convey warm and human emotions, but you still want to keep the business aspect as well.  Read more
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Goals and Plans for Next Year: Using the Holiday Slow Times to Your Advantage

Even in the busiest times of the year, even for the busiest business, there are some quiet moments that can allow you to sit and reflect. During these quiet moments, you should take stock of the previous year and consider what you are planning for the coming year. Whether you consider the twelve months that have just gone by as the best your business has seen in a long time or as a rebuilding year, you should think of things to do, to either continue your growth or to kick it back into high gear.  Read more

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5 Mistakes to Avoiding When Outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant

Outsourcing jobs to a virtual assistant is a great way for busy business owners to get many small tasks accomplished at once.  A virtual assistant can do anything from reading and replying to customer service emails and placing orders for clients to setting up appointments and answering phones from a remote location.  However, if you are not careful, there can be some major pitfalls.  Here are some of the most important mistakes to avoid when outsourcing to a virtual assistant. Read more