How to Cut Out Time-Wasters That Are Standing in the Way of Your Business’ Growth

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on UnsplashIs your business making the best use of its time? Depending on who you ask, employees and CEOs waste anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours each day, doing things that aren’t the best use of their time. While spending a few minutes checking social media or email during the workday might not seem like a big deal, the cumulative effect of it could spell bad news for your company, especially if the owners and managers end up devoting more time to trivial matters than they do to the important issues facing their business.

If you feel as if each day is packed full, but often get to the end of the week wondering where your time has gone and what you have to show for it, learning how to reduce or cut out common time-wasters can help your business get on the path towards growth.

Ease Up on Email and Social Media

If you have alerts on your computer or phone that let you know (loudly) every time a new email message lands in your inbox or every time someone likes or comments on something on your company’s social media profile, turn those alerts off.

The average employee receives in the neighborhood of hundreds of email messages a day. Getting a notification each time there’s a new message means that your chain of thought and whatever task you’re working on is being broken each time you get an alert. Even if the message is one you can quickly delete without responding to, you’re still losing several minutes of time to the process looking at your inbox and hitting “delete.”

One way to spend less time with email is to create filters so that non-important messages never hit your inbox. Even with your work address, it’s likely that you’ve somehow gotten signed up for numerous email newsletters that don’t really add value to your work or business. Instead of having to sift through those messages as they come in, have your email automatically delete them for you, or, at the very least, move them to a “not important” bulk folder.

Another way to spend less time getting distracted by email and social media is only to check them once or twice a day. For example, check email around lunchtime (after you’ve completed the most important task for the day) and again before you leave for home. That way, you won’t get sidetracked from doing what’s on your schedule for the day. You also won’t be leaving any loose ends at the end of the day.

Get Organized

If you’re not an organized person and you’re prone to writing out notes on sticky pads, then promptly losing those sticky pads, you are most likely spending more time than you should looking for information that should be readily available. If your desk is covered in paperwork, you’re also going to spend more time looking for the file you need rather than working on your project.

Being organized simply means finding a home for everything in your office. Active files and paperwork can go in a small filing box, in folders that are clearly labeled. Reminders and to-do lists can go on a bulletin board or whiteboard, or you can use an app such as Evernote or the tasks list included in Gmail to keep track of what you need to focus on.

Hold Office Hours

As a boss or manager, you might feel that it’s important to have an open door policy so that employees can come to you with concerns. But an open door policy can work against you, especially if people are dropping by and knocking on your door at all times of the day. Spending 10 or 15 minutes chatting to each member of your team can mean that you end up spending eight hours a day being social, rather than getting done what you need to do.

Instead of encouraging people to drop by whenever they have a concern, set up office hours, such as from 1 pm until 2 pm Monday through Friday. If an employee has a concern that they need to discuss with you outside of those hours, have them write it down or email you to set up a time to speak one-on-one.

Wasting time isn’t the only thing that can stand in the way of your business’ growth. If you are looking to put together a plan to grow your business and are looking for assistance doing so, the team at New Direction Capital can help. Contact us today to learn more about how our virtual CFO services can help you build your company’s future.

 

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

05 Jul 2018

How to Stop “Multitasking”

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Photo by rawpixel on UnsplashFor some time, the skill plenty of business owners and entrepreneurs looked for in employees was the ability to multitask. People who could do two (or more) things at once, such as send emails while conducting a meeting, were considered valuable employees.

Then, the truth came out. For the most part, people can’t really multitask. In fact, trying to do more than one thing at once tends to use more energy than focusing on a single “to do” item. The work produced when a person’s multitasking is often lower quality or takes longer to complete than work completed when a person’s single-tasking.

If you’re still trying to multitask throughout the day, here’s how to break the habit and find more efficient ways to get things done.

What’s the Problem With Multitasking?

The big problem with multitasking is that few (if any) people can do it. When you think you are working on multiple projects simultaneously, what’s actually happening is that your brain is switching back and forth between one task and the other task. Every time you switch, it takes a bit of time for your brain to acclimate to the new task, so that in the long run, trying to do more than one thing at once takes more time than doing the two projects sequentially. Additionally, you’re more likely to make mistakes as you jump between tasks, meaning you need to spend more time, in the end, correcting your errors.

Constantly trying to multitask can end up changing your brain, as well, as a study from the University of Sussex demonstrated. Participants in the study who multitasked had smaller gray matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex,  the part of the brain that plays a role in regulating emotions and cognition.

Need help breaking the multitasking habit? Here’s what you can do.

Prioritize the Things You Need to Do

Multitasking can be tempting when you feel as if you have a hundred things on your to-do list that all need to be completed ASAP. In reality, it’s likely that you have a few important, “must dos” and many more “it can waits.” To help you figure out which tasks to focus on, rank your to-do items as you make your list. Make the most important task number one, the second most important number two, and so on.

Then get started, putting all of your energy towards finishing the most important, number one task on your list. Only when you’ve finished that first task can you move on to the second task.

Create a Deadline

Work and tasks can sometimes be like a gas — they expand to fill the size of the container they are in. Or more accurately, they take up the amount of time you allow them. If you have a “light” day with only one or two things to complete, you might notice that you take as much time to finish those two tasks as you would need to finish five or more tasks on a busier day.

To streamline your workflow and resist the urge to task switch, set firm deadlines for every project you need to complete. It’s also a good idea to give yourself less time than you think you will need to work on a task, that way you’ll be more likely to devote all of your attention to it. For example, if you think you’ll need two hours to write a report, give yourself one. With the ticking clock looming over you, you’ll be more likely to hunker down and get your work done.

Use Time Management Techniques

If creating a deadline for yourself doesn’t work for you, another way to give your tasks a sense of urgency is to start using time management techniques, such as the Pomodoro technique. With the Pomodoro technique, you set a timer for 20 or 25 minutes. During that time, you give your all to the project. Once the timer goes off, you get a five-minute break. After your break, you can resume working on the task for another 20 or 25 minutes or choose to switch to a new task during that time.

Giving up multitasking can help you grow your business. The team at New Direction Capital can work with you to put together a plan for growth for your company. To learn more, contact us today.

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Photo by Steve Johnson on UnsplashOver the course of running a business and managing a team of people, it’s likely that you or other leaders in your organization will make some mistakes. Although mistakes are often seen as a negative and they can have an adverse effect on your employees’ morale and your company, they can also provide a learning experience.

Take a look at a few common mistakes leaders make and see what you can do to course correct for the good of your team.

Mistake #1: Not Delegating Tasks

When you first step into a leadership role, your natural inclination might be to assume that if you want something done correctly, you need to do it yourself, rather than assign or delegate specific tasks to members of your team. It’s a sign of mature leadership not only to be able to trust other people to do things right but also to recognize the unique strengths and talents of each person who works under you and assign responsibilities based on those strengths.

As a leader, you shouldn’t feel that you always have to be the person to do everything or that you always have to be the person others look to when they need advice or solutions. Recognizing that other people can give advice or find answers to problems is key for the growth of your team and your company.

Mistake #2: Micromanaging

Micromanaging can often go hand in hand with not being able to delegate tasks fully. In this case, you do divvy up responsibilities among your team members. But instead of letting them complete those tasks in their own style or at their own pace, you hover, constantly checking in or dictating how you think the work should be done.

You might believe that you are making sure your team is doing its best or that a project is on track for success when you micromanage or insist on overseeing every tiny detail. In reality, though, micromanaging damages morale, as employees feel that their every move is being watched and monitored. It can also impede the independence of your team, which can get in the way of growth, as employees feel that they aren’t able to make any moves or decisions without the say-so of the manager or boss.

Mistake #3: Being Too Hands-Off

On the other side of the coin, it is possible to be too hands-off when it comes to managing a team. Your employees are looking to you for guidance and leadership. They also need to know when you expect work to be completed and what the protocol is for projects and assignments. When people don’t get the information they need or when they feel that no one’s paying attention to them or that no one cares about the work they do, productivity is likely to drop off.

Another risk of being too hands-off as a manager is that your team might stop keeping you up-to-date on projects. The assumption might be that you don’t care about new developments or changes, meaning that as a project goes on, you end up becoming less knowledgeable about what’s going on, which can further limit your ability to lead or manage.

Mistake #4: Caring More About the Title Than the Responsibility

When you first get promoted to a management position or when you’re managing your first group of employees, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the glory of the title and to forget that there are responsibilities connected to leading.

There’s more to leading than simply being called a manager, boss or business owner. Instead of focusing on the title on the door to your office, it’s better to focus on how you can work with your team to help your company move to the next phase of growth.

Mistake #5: Not Training Your Team for Success

It’s very likely that someone, either a mentor or a manager, helped you learn what it takes to own a business or gave you tips and advice for advancing in your career. As a leader, it’s now your job to train your team to take on more and more responsibilities and advance in their careers. Ongoing education and training won’t just help your team advance, it will help them feel more fulfilled in their careers and in the role they play at your company.

No one’s perfect, and you might make mistakes as you grow your business and your leadership skills. The team at New Direction Capital can help you put together a plan for growth and leadership. To learn more about our virtual CFO services and how we can help your business, contact us today.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

14 Jun 2018

Is It Time to Buy Another Business?

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Photo by rawpixel on UnsplashVery few business owners hope that things will stay the same for their company year after year. For most owners, the goal is to grow a business, either by moving into new markets or offering new products or services.

But in some cases, growth can be difficult, as several obstacles can get in the way, such as competition from similar businesses, the cost of doing market research, and difficulties finding the right people to employ. One way to work around the challenges of growing a company is to acquire an existing business. There are a few times when buying another business makes the most sense.

You’re Looking to Move Into a New Market

One reason business owners often consider buying other businesses is to expand into a previously untapped market. A company might consider buying a business that offers a similar product or service but in a different geographic area. Or, a company might consider buying another business that offers a product similar to its own. In the latter case, acquiring a business wouldn’t only increase market share, it would also help to reduce competition.

You Want to Diversify What Your Business Offers

Another reason to consider buying another business is that you want to expand your company’s product offerings. For example, a hardware company might purchase a software company or a company that makes laptops might purchase a company that produces computer chips. If a company buys a business that produces a product or component the business needs to produce its own products, it’s known as vertical integration.

Buying the company that produces the materials your own needs to make its products can mean that it costs less for your business to manufacture its products. But it can also mean that your business ends up selling parts and components to your primary business’ competitors.

You Want to Improve Your Management Structure

In some instances, one company might buy another not because of the products or market share of the acquired company but because the company has a management structure or leadership that the purchasing company envies. If your own business has struggled with management or has had other internal staffing issues, acquiring a company that has an excellent track record can be a benefit to you.

It is worth pointing out that there are cases when differing management approaches cause culture clash when two businesses come together or when business A buys business B. Although you might envy the way business B operates, it’s important to keep the needs of your existing employees in mind as you work to integrate the two companies.

You Want to Reduce Costs

Buying a business can be a cost-cutting move in some cases. For example, if you end up buying a company that produces a key component of your own product, you no longer have to buy that product at wholesale prices. Buying an existing business can also minimize redundancies and allow you to streamline workflow and responsibilities.

You Have the Time for Due Diligence

One thing to consider before you decide to buy a company is whether your team has the time to do the research and due diligence needed to make sure the company is a good fit and that you’re getting a good value. When you purchase a company, the acquisition should make financial sense and it should also make strategic sense. That’s to say, you don’t want to buy a company for the sake of buying a company. Instead, you want to consider how the purchase will help your company on its path to growth.

When it comes to financial concerns, one thing to think about is whether the acquired business will help improve your bottom line. It’s not enough to look at the current revenue and income of the potential acquisition. You also want to look to the future to see whether that business is likely to continue to have the sales and income it has now or if there’s likely to be a drop-off.

Prepare for a Successful Acquisition

Buying another business isn’t something you want to attempt on your own. New Direction Capital offers virtual Chief Financial Officer services to help your company determine whether or not acquiring a business is the right next step for you and to help your company through every stage of the process. Contact us today to learn more.

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Photo by rawpixel on UnsplashIn business, it’s often not what you know, but who you know. And it’s not just who you know, but how strong the connection and relationships you have with certain people are. For example, if you need advice or an opinion, you would most likely write to or call someone whose opinion you trust.

Doing that is one case of networking. Yet, networking often gets a bad reputation and plenty of people think of it as something to dread or something that won’t really help them grow their businesses or advance in their careers. In large part, the negative view of networking stems from a few common misconceptions about what it is and what it involves. Adjusting your viewpoint on networking can help you forge new connections and move your business forward.

Misconception 1: If You’re Not a Natural Extrovert, Networking is Impossible

When most people hear the word “networking,” they picture wine and cheese filled after work events during which the naturally outgoing all congregate in the center of the room while the naturally shy or introverted hang around the edges, clinging to the snack table for dear life.

While your run-of-the-mill networking event does cater to the skill sets of extroverts, those events aren’t the only way to network and build connections with others. If you are naturally shy or don’t do well in large group settings, it’s better to change your approach to networking. Instead of going to big events, reach out to people you are interested in getting to know individually and ask them to meet up for a one-on-one conversation.

Misconception 2: It’s a Waste of Time

Like the first misconception, the belief that networking is a waste of time probably comes from the fact that people aren’t likely to form lasting connections when they go to big networking events. Handing your business card to a group of people and never following up isn’t going to lead to any significant relationships.

Instead, it helps to be proactive. If you do attend networking events, take the time to follow up with the people you thought were interesting or who you’d like to learn more about afterward. Send a friendly email, reintroducing yourself, saying that it was nice to meet them, and complimenting something about them. You can ask to meet them again if you’d like to further the relationship.

Misconception 3: It’s Selfish to Network

It’s not selfish to network and to meet new business connections. It is selfish to approach networking with a “me first” mindset. While you do want to think about how building relationships will help your business, it’s also important to think about how other businesses or individuals can benefit from getting to know you and what you have to offer. For example, you might be able to provide a company with a way to reduce expenses or with a time-saving device.

When you go into any networking event, large or small, always ask yourself what you can do to help others, not what they can do to help you.

Misconception 4: Networking Creates Fake Relationships

Sometimes, you have to reach to find and connect with people who are outside of your usual business circle. Making the effort to connect with people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet doesn’t mean that the relationships you build with them are fake or false. It simply means that you had to put a bit more effort into forming those relationships than you would have if you had stuck with your usual circle.

One way to connect with people who aren’t in your usual circle or who might have something to offer you (or you them) is to network and to find ways of building your network with deliberation. That can mean going out of your way to attend events that you would ordinarily avoid or it might mean reaching out to someone you don’t know but would like to and asking them their opinion on a subject.

Networking can help you find a solution to a problem you’re having and can help you build long-lasting connections with others by helping them solve their own problems. To learn more about the value of maintaining relationships in business, contact New Direction Capital today.

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