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Management

How To Brexit-Proof Your Small Business

brexit

Small business owners all over the country continue to worry about Brexit. Businesses in the manufacturing sector did okay for a few months while some companies with funds chose to stockpile as much as they could ahead of Brexit. However, now there’s so much uncertainty; no one really knows what will happen to the small business economy when the UK eventually leaves the EU.

In this blog article we have some Brexit-proof tips to safeguard your business so keep reading. 🙂

So what’s at stake for anyone in business in UK post Brexit?

Jobs

Well, there are jobs – lots and lots of jobs. If Brexit makes life too difficult for small businesses, then many people could be out of work. We can’t predict the future, but we do know there are already some significant changes – particularly with regards to VAT on imported EU products.

VAT

Small businesses will have to pay VAT upfront on all imported goods from the EU after Brexit. Alongside this, there will be additional duty tax, plus the cost of the product itself – which could also rise. As you can imagine, this puts an increased strain on your business finances, making it harder to make the same profits as before.

New growth forecasts indicate a lack of investment in UK businesses, which could also spell trouble for small companies. The growth expectations have been revised downwards for years 2020 and 2021.

Its growth expectations for the UK in 2019 is now 1.3%, from 1.2%. But it has downgraded its growth forecast for 2020 to 1.0%, from 1.3%, and to 1.2%, from 1.4%, in 2021.

So, what can you do to safeguard your small business against the potential risks that Brexit creates?

Look At Different Supply Chains

A lot of small businesses have suppliers in EU countries, which means you’ll have to adhere to the new VAT rules in the future. This can cause cash flow problems, so you should protect against this by looking at different supply chains.

Where possible, opt for suppliers inside the UK. Not only will this avoid the VAT on imported products, but you could potentially save money by not having to transfer your payments into Euros, then back into Pounds, and so on.

Re-Assess Your Target Markets

If a lot of your sales go through the EU, then you might get hit with a decline in sales following Brexit. To safeguard this, it’s a smart idea to re-assess your target markets.

Think about who will be interested in what you offer, then try and focus on this target market within the UK. Along with this, think about international markets as well – you can still trade outside of the EU without complications.

Diversify your market away from the EU, so you’re not as severely affected when Brexit comes.

Think on the bright side; Brexit might shut down some avenues in the EU, but it could help conjure up new trade deals between the UK and other international countries.

Stay updated with any possible trade deals so you know of opportunities for your small business to take advantage of.

Make Sure You Have A Good Cash Flow

Brexit uncertainty can cause your company to slow down just a little bit. As such, it’s crucial to have a good cash flow in your business.

If you still have a good flow of money coming in, then you can prevent instances where a slow period after Brexit leaves you with lots of expenses and no money to handle them.

The best way to improve cash flow is by ensuring your clients pay you on time.

Set up a system where you get paid for jobs as soon as you do them. Also, ensure any late payments are all chased up now, so you’ve got a good flow of cash.

Summing Up

In summary, we can’t know for sure how things will be when the UK leaves the EU.

Early signs indicate issues for small businesses – especially with regards to VAT on imported EU products and general business investment. It’s vital you safeguard against Brexit, so use the advice above to protect your small business.

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Education

How to Improve Employee Development

staff

How are you developing your employees? Hiring and retaining the right staff is a top priority for most businesses, and the process needs a failproof plan.

Employee development should also be part of your HR strategy and include online training for your remote workers. Plus professional development should commence from the moment staff are hired and continue throughout their employment.

If you’re wondering if your employee development program is up to scratch, don’t worry, we can help, and there are some straightforward steps you can take that will improve it immediately.

Below, we look at what employee development is and what it takes to make it successful.

Employee Development Explained

Supporting your staff to develop their skills is not solely about their current job. Nor is it just about where they can progress within your organisation. Staff development is about providing a series of training and knowledge programs and workshops that develop the employee.

Hard Skills

The training should include on the job training, and ‘hard skills’ pertinent to their ability to perform their current role and move up the ranks in their profession. For example, a cybersecurity analyst will undertake certifications, and industry recognised training or learn a new skill like pen-testing.

Soft Skills

The training also should cover soft skills which are transferrable to other roles. Every employee needs to develop their social and communication skills. Emotional Quotient (EQ) or emotional intelligence, will play a role in the hiring and promotion opportunities for all staff.

Now we know the basics of professional development let’s look at how you can improve your program.

How To Improve Your Employee Development

Immediacy

Employee development should begin from the moment that your new member of staff steps through the door. This means coming up with a training program that gets them up to speed with the company and how it does business at the earliest possible opportunity.

Not only will this help your company, but it will also show the new employee that you are committed to their development right from the get-go. As a result, they are more likely to stay with your organization as it improves their career prospects in the future.

Run Regular Programs

Running a series of mandatory and voluntary employee development programs that take place throughout the year ensures that your staff members are always learning something and never stagnating. The programs could focus on their soft skills, particularly communication, or focus on something that is altogether more technical and specific such as looking at their Google cloud abilities.

Plus when there are some assessment and certification at the end of each program, the employee keeps it. Plus exams or tests are evidence the knowledge has been properly absorbed and retained.

Create Individual Development Plans

The general training programs that you put into place also help if you make some of these more specialized and personalized for each employee.

Usually, the setting of goals and targets can take place at each employee review. As well as the setting of targets, you also need to go back and check that everything has been followed up effectively.

Make sure that each employee is closely involved in their own development plan and that they agree to the targets that have been set for them.

Give Constructive Feedback

The art of giving feedback is a difficult one to master. Essentially, it should involve ensuring that any advice you give to your employees is constructive. If it’s too critical, it can have the opposite effect on the one you were intending. This is also the case if you make it too vague with no actionable steps that the employee can put into practice.

There is a balance to be struck along the way, and you may not be able to get the hang of it straight away. Over time, you will be able to put your finger on which feedback is constructive and not.

Use Certified Trainers

While you may want to take care of some of your own training in-house, there is a lot to be gained from getting in touch with certified trainers and bringing them in to manage some of the programs.

They are experienced in the sector and have specifically designed their classes to get the best from the people who take them. However, make sure that you read all the reviews and hire a team that knows what they are doing and talking about.

Summary

Hiring is costly and retaining the right employees can be even more expensive if your only option is to pay them more.

Improving employee development should be a reason staff stay, and it can end up bringing all sorts of unexpected advantages to your organization beyond staff retention. So, now is the time to put some of these techniques into practice.

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Education

5 Steps You Can Take To Become A Successful Business Leader

workers

Do you want to know five steps you can take to further your career as a business leader?

Getting ahead in any career is challenging and in leadership more so as this discipline requires soft skills that are harder to obtain from your usual tertiary qualification.

If leadership is your thing, you’ll need to take roles and opportunities to improve year upon year, so you’re not stagnating but climbing up the management ranks.

In this article, we look at the fundamental steps you can take to hone your leadership acumen, to give yourself a fighting chance to secure roles that are developing you as a leader.

Understand the business from the inside out

If you’re to find solutions to break down resistance to change as a leader and get more productivity from your people, expanding your thinking and attaining a wider skill-set will never go a miss.

For example, you may be managing a customer support team. Your direct knowledge and accountability are within customer support. However, this current leadership role is not the end game for you.

To be an effective business leader, you’ll need a working knowledge of the business as a whole, including operations, sales, technology, finance and so on.

Thorough knowledge of your business as a whole will make it easier for you to plan your rise up the ranks of leadership and management. How do you get it? This is easier than you think.

Form close alliances with other leaders in the company and suggest working together on projects that allow knowledge transfer. As the saying goes: a problem shared is a problem halved.

Your peers will be experiencing some of the same people management issues so you can learn a lot about their departments with closer associations with them.

Further education can deepen your knowledge

It sounds counter-intuitive, but further education is a powerful way to lead by example and thus become a role model in business. You may feel you left education behind years ago, that the only learning you need is outside the classroom, on the job – this is a grave mistake.

After all, you wouldn’t just be learning about your own business and colleagues, but the bigger picture. A deep understanding of how to manage and motivate those around you and organizational techniques is crucial. So, studying a degree like the BSBA degree will act as a springboard for your business leadership career.

Share what you’ve learned

Now that you’ve gained a deeper understanding of business administration and a grasp of relevant skills outside your area of expertise, it is time to solidify your newfound knowledge so you can implement it when you need it.

A great way to understand what you’ve learned is to teach it. Why not offer your advice to colleagues who need guidance or speak at seminars and events?

By teaching others, you can better understand what you’ve learned yourself.

Building the confidence to teach and learn from others will also sharpen your leadership skills further still.

Widen your network of contacts and your visibility

Attend in-person events and speak to as many attendees as you can. Turn up early and leave late, so you get ample time to circulate and introduce yourself to like-minded peers.

Get your profile set up on business networking sites such as LinkedIn and regularly post interesting, relevant information, so your network grows.

All leaders need to be confident communicators so improve your public speaking skills by joining seminar groups and putting yourself forward as a speaker.

Widening your network isn’t reserved for networking events either. Simple, everyday acts can help, too.

Make time to chat with your colleagues daily. You’ll stay engaged with what’s happening in different areas of your business and the wider industry. It will also keep your name at the front of people’s minds and stop you from slipping out of touch.

Have clear achieveable goals

Understand where you’re going in your career and how the role improves your leadership acumen. Having a clear business goal is a proven method for furthering your business career.

Where do you see yourself in a year? Or five years? If you can picture what you want to be doing in the future, it is easier to organize the ‘now’.

With clear, reachable goals, you’ll be inspired and motivated to work harder, smarter, and smash through any ceiling of resistance.

Summary

Strive for more in your leadership career using these five steps to deepen your knowledge and experience. Then use your network of contacts and goals to acquire new leadership roles that challenge you and are rewarding.

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Management

Business Tips You Need To Know As a Small Business Owner

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There are various strategies that business owners embrace to stand out in the market. From staying focused, getting creative, and finding ways to surpass competitors, these strategies boost businesses to greater lengths.

When it comes to operating a small business, you need to adopt a flexible approach as customers build trust with you. Thankfully, due to an upsurge of digital commerce platforms, it is much easier to get valuable business tips online. Let’s discuss some prominent business strategies you should consider for repeat success.

6 Tips For Growing Your Small Business

Make Realistic Goals

The biggest hindrance that pulls down businesses is lack of practical objectives. Sometimes, in the excitement of a new business, owners come up with huge, unattainable goals. The best approach to use is to break down your progress in a matter of months and years. For instance, you can forecast the number of followers you want to attain on your Facebook page after a month, one year, or even a decade. When you understand what you want to achieve, it is easier to navigate your business operations as you pursue it.

Concentrate on Your Strengths

There is a history of companies using different approaches to success. The strategy may work better with big companies that can afford diversification but may fail with small enterprises. As a small business manoeuvre through the growing process, it is wise to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Remember that each specialization costs money, for example, you will need to invest in marketing and advertising and if relevant, also branding and packaging. The best thing to do is to focus on a profitable niche and work around it for your breakthrough.

Understand the Legal Requirements

In any business, there are various government rules stipulated based on size, industry, and location. There is a high chance of facing heavy penalties if one fails to follow the rules to the letter.

The laws start from the business launch where you have to register with the state. You then have to pay your taxes on time and keep records. When you start hiring your employees, there is also a list of regulations that you must follow to protect both of you.

Keep in mind that as your business grows, some of your workers may violate some of these laws. For example, by illegitimate means, they may try to embezzle funds from your company. In such situations or any other instances that involve the law; your business will benefit from engaging a reliable lawyer to handle it for you.

Learn to Delegate

As you start running your business, you may find it convenient to handle all departments. However, as the business thrives, it is a struggle to balance everything without burning out.

When you are not in the right state of mind, you may not manage to push your business to the success you desire. As a result, your reputation may get affected as you head to losses. That’s the worst mistake for any type of business and especially a growing one.

As a business entrepreneur, you should introduce a tradition of effectively giving instructions to your juniors and partners. By using that approach, your business will progress well, even in your absence.

Surround Yourself with a Reliable Support System

As a business owner, operations may isolate you from what is happening around in the market. The main focus of keeping in touch with other business owners within your niche is to share in-depth information beneficial to all. From such interactions, you may learn the techniques they used to enhance their operations.

Sometimes, you can also seek advice on the best suppliers or vital documentation processes when branching out. Do not fear to share your failures with dependable people who can help you out. It might not be easy to get time to network, but if you manage to maintain trustworthy contact, your business will thank you for that.

Strive to Satisfy Your Customers

As much as you invest immeasurable time and money in your business, without customers, everything is a waste. A happy customer will always come back and refer to others. For a satisfying experience for all, you should initiate fulfilling approaches in all departments. Start by coming up with a customer care desk that handles queries and complaints.

Take advantage of online platforms to reach out to your old and potential clients. You can also get out of your comfort zone and introduce creative and amusing ways to attract more clients. For instance, if you are running a hotel, you can give discounts on specific menus or introduce a happy hour.

Make it a habit to follow up on your customers and confirm their satisfaction with your services or products. In the end, your customer-focused approach would pay off as you significantly reach out to please them.

Did you enjoy our exhaustive guidelines on how to run your small business effectively?

Follow our future advice on how to enhance your business while avoiding grave mistakes within your industry.

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