How to Keep Your Management Meetings Engaging and Impactful

Management meetings in a small business can often be seen as a waste of time or unimportant compared to that day’s priorities. However, they are, in fact, a fundamental way to grow your business and profits—no matter how small your business may be (even if there are just two of you).

As a small team, we understand the challenges you face in balancing customer needs and internal operations. It’s common to consider rescheduling or even cancelling management meetings in favour of immediate delivery. However, it’s crucial to remember the long-term benefits these meetings bring to your business.

Our goal is to help you free up your time as a business owner, increase efficiency, and grow your business and profits. This guide builds on our previous discussion about management meetings and goes beyond the basics to demonstrate the importance of prioritising these meetings and what to do when you simply have to reschedule.

 

Why regular management meetings are important

Management meetings provide a structured means for strategic decision-making. They allow you to step back from day-to-day operations and focus on top-level decisions that shape the direction of your business.

Management meetings also encourage transparency and collaboration among senior team members and give you an opportunity to review Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of business activities.

As a business owner, the more insight you have into business operations, the more information you have to make educated decisions to increase efficiency, grow your business and increase profits.

Learn more about the importance of regular management meetings and how to run an effective management meeting by reading our previous guide: Management Meetings: The Secret to Strategic Success for Small Businesses.

 

How to avoid rescheduling or cancelling your management meetings

The simplest way to avoid cancelling a meeting is to find a regular, typically quieter time. However, when unavoidable conflicts arise, keeping your meetings productive and engaging can remind members that prioritising attendance over operational needs does have its benefits.

 

1) Encourage each member to contribute to the agenda

Members are more likely to attend a management meeting if they have an invested interest or a purpose to show up. Before each meeting, ask each member to add an agenda item they would like to discuss. This method also allows you to better prepare meeting agenda topics and helps encourage quieter team members to participate.

 

2) Rotate the meeting lead

Rotating meeting leadership can foster engagement by providing a fresh perspective. Rotation can also create personal growth, a sense of ownership, and empathy by allowing each team member to prepare and experience the challenges of hosting a meeting for themselves.

Top tip: Ensure each meeting still has structure so important topics aren’t missed. This structure will also comfort anyone unfamiliar with taking the lead.

 

3) Share something new

While specific topics should be covered in each meeting, introducing new information can help keep meetings engaging and encourage members to prioritise attendance. New information can include new research results or activities.

Top tip: To maximise the impact, you can build suspense by sharing a highlight prior to the meeting but only reviewing the full information during the meeting.

 

Tactics for when things get busy

When you feel that the demands on the business outweigh the importance of a meeting, why not put some systems in place to ensure you’re at least getting the highlights?

Here are some practical ways to keep business insights transparent:

 

1) Hold a short business ‘health check’ meeting instead

Still have a meeting, but limit the meeting to 15 minutes and highlight the top-level KPIs, such as revenue, sales and cash flow. Avoid assigning any action points, but agree on a fixed (ideally immovable) date when you can have a full meeting.

 

2) Send a summary email

If a meeting needs to be cancelled or moved, outline the top-level KPIs in an email. You could also include a summary of any notable topics that need to be discussed in the full meeting. This allows managers to review things in their own time and prepare for a full meeting.

Top tip: Avoid having a meeting over email. Note any comments in replies, but encourage meeting participants to bring their thoughts to the full meeting.

 

3) Collaborate over messaging services

While a formalised in-person meeting is always preferable, practicalities can get in the way. If participants can collaborate over Messenger, you can set up a dedicated management Slack or Teams channel to post quick updates on critical metrics and urgent matters.

 

How ETC can help

Management meetings are vital for small business owners, and you should always do your best to keep up with regular meetings. These meetings help you make strategic decisions, track your progress towards objectives, and maintain the regularity needed to sustain growth. The transparency and collaboration fostered in these meetings can lead to more engaged and motivated team members. They are the compass that can guide your business toward greater efficiency, profitability, and long-term success.

If you need help finding ways to make your meetings more engaging or embracing the practice of management meetings, no matter how small your business may be – even if there are just two of you – we can help. Please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Strategies for Building and Leading a Productive Team

As your business grows, so can your team, bringing new dynamics and challenges to the workplace. As a small business owner, your role in managing individuals within your business will become both an art and a science. People are the heart of your business, and your people-related skills are crucial in becoming more efficient and preventing disturbances that can drain resources.

In this article, we’ll explore practical strategies for effectively managing a growing team, from understanding individual motivations to fostering a productive and cohesive work environment.

 

The evolution of your team and how to get the best from them

Small businesses often start their growth by employing friends, family, or someone they already know and trust. These relationships can be mutually beneficial and more cost-effective. These individuals are usually motivated by something your growing business offers that an unfamiliar business does not; this could be loyalty, flexibility, or the potential of greater financial reward (a stake in the company).

While these circumstances can present unique challenges, such as maintaining professional boundaries or addressing performance issues, they can usually be resolved through your experiences as an established relationship.

As your business grows, you are more likely to seek talent from outside your known circle using a recruitment agent, LinkedIn, or a recruitment website. In the early days, these individuals could be considered ‘mercenary’; after all, they are likely to have no loyalty to your business, and the whole process is transactional – payment and rewards for services delivered.

Your people management skills are critical to moving people from a mercenary mindset to establishing long-term loyalty and managing the different goals and motivations between the two employee types. However, your investment in people management will help foster a productive and cohesive work environment.

 

Understanding individual motivations

As your team expands, it’s essential to recognise that each team member is unique, with their own goals, motivations, and aspirations.

Understanding individual motivations is a crucial aspect of managing a growing team. Taking the time to get to know your employees personally and understand what drives them is the key to inspiring, motivating, and empowering each individual to contribute their best to the team.

 

Managing motivation and productivity

With the introduction of new team members, maintaining motivation and productivity becomes increasingly important. Unlike hiring individuals you know personally, new hires may lack an established loyalty or attachment to the business.

To help establish loyalty and familiarity with goals and expectations (for both you and your employees), you can implement the following:

  • Team meetings where you outline the current position of the business, your short, medium and long-term goals
  • Hold regular review meetings with each employee, during which you can discuss individual expectations, goals, training opportunities, and potential progression

 

Building a positive work culture

Creating a positive work culture is critical to retaining top talent and fostering a sense of belonging within your team. You should lead by example and cultivate an environment of open communication, trust, and collaboration.

To help establish this, you can:

  • Create a means of recognising achievements, such as a rewards scheme or a simple acknowledgement during a company announcement
  • Organise away days to help establish team familiarity outside of the office or to ensure members meet up if you work remotely

 

Effective communication and feedback

Clear communication is essential for managing a growing team effectively. It’s essential to communicate expectations, goals, and responsibilities to all team members.

Regular feedback and constructive evaluations will help employees grow and improve their roles. Encouraging open dialogue and active listening is crucial to address any concerns or challenges.

 

Conflict resolution

Conflict is inevitable in any workplace. Establishing a process for addressing conflicts promptly and constructively is essential to overcome conflict in the workplace quickly.

It’s sometimes best to allow employees to address disputes directly with the individuals involved; this will help them self-regulate future conflicts and help employees learn boundaries and respect for one another. The goal here is to create mutual understanding and healthy team growth. It should not heavily impact productivity.

If a conflict escalates and has a negative or noticeable impact on productivity, as a leader, be prepared to mediate disputes when necessary and facilitate constructive dialogue to find mutually beneficial resolutions.

 

How ETC can help

Managing a growing team in a small business environment can be challenging, but it also presents a unique opportunity for personal growth and development. With the right strategies in place, you can manage your team effectively and enhance your skills and capabilities.

If you need help managing individuals, finding the right motivation strategies, or addressing team conflict, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

How to Build an Effective Management Team

As a small business owner, delegating responsibilities and assembling a management team are crucial to long-term success. These individuals drive business growth and foster a culture of collaboration, innovation, and trust.

This article explores the fundamental principles and strategies for building a management team that propels your business forward.

 

Why establishing a cohesive management team is essential

As a growing enterprise, entrusting others with your vision can be difficult. Yet, delegating responsibilities within your business is one of the best ways to grow your business.

A management team isn’t just about managing people; it’s about strategic oversight and decision-making.

To grow your business, you should bring together individuals with diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives to help tackle new challenges, make strategic decisions, and drive innovation.

 

Fostering Cultural Alignment

One critical factor in building a successful management team is ensuring cultural alignment among its members.

While diversity of skills and perspectives is essential, it’s equally crucial that team members understand your business goals and share your values and priorities. For example, a management team of individuals with conflicting priorities, such as revenue generation versus customer service, can lead to internal friction and hinder overall progress.

While there will always be some differences, it’s essential to aim for balance and foster a culture of respect and alignment to ensure cohesion and unity within the team.

 

Balancing Skills and Roles

Creating a well-rounded management team with diverse skills and expertise will allow specific areas of your business to flourish.

As a small business, merging roles is sometimes necessary to keep overall costs down. For example, you have one person to manage HR and daily Accounts. While this is cost-effective, you may find one role takes propriety over the other. As your team grows, you may start separating these responsibilities among multiple individuals.

As your team grows, you should assign roles based on individual competencies and ensure they align with your business’s strategic objectives. This will maximise the impact of each member’s contributions.

 

Nurturing a Collaborative Environment

Effective collaboration is at the heart of a successful management team.

Encouraging open communication, idea sharing, and constructive feedback among team members will foster a collaborative environment where everyone feels valued and heard.

Promoting a culture of teamwork and mutual support will empower your management team’s collective potential, helping them overcome challenges and seize opportunities together.

 

Make difficult decisions early

Your management team is there to relieve your pressure as a business owner by assuming specific strategic responsibilities. You also need to make sure your values are aligned, as this will help them tackle unexpected challenges similar to how you would handle them.

One of the most challenging things about employing people is removing them from the business. However, it’s important to stay agile in your hiring and ensure you’re filling your business with the right people. It’s not always easy to spot a bad hire during the interview stage, so be fair to them, but be honest with yourself and learn to make difficult decisions early.

 

How ETC can help

If you need help identifying which roles your business needs first, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Building a Strong Organisational Structure for Your Small Business

As a small business owner, growth and profitability hinge on the effectiveness of your management practices. Regardless of how many staff you have, the management of your time, finances and resources all play a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of your business.

Taking the time to establish a defined organisational structure is the foundation of your management success. Clearly outlining roles, responsibilities, accountability, and defining hierarchy (no matter how loosely) will give everyone in the organisation clarity, purpose and, most importantly, direction.

 

Why establishing an organisational structure is essential

Many small business owners and managers struggle with delegation. However, your business can’t grow if you do not relinquish specific tasks in favour of new responsibilities.

Establishing a company hierarchy doesn’t mean you’re creating an old-fashioned, authoritarian or tyrannical enterprise; in fact, it is quite the opposite. An organisational structure will:

  1. Help staff identify leaders within the business.
  2. Define those responsible and accountable for tasks within the business.
  3. Create transparent progression pathways.
  4.  Identify gaps within the organisation.

 

Identify leaders within the business

A clear organisational structure enables employees to identify leaders and decision-makers within the business. It also gives staff a clearly defined place to go for help and advice on business issues.

As your business grows, an organisational structure will help new staff
understand any change in dynamics and dispel any blurred lines in management.

By knowing who to turn to for workload distribution, guidance and support, employees feel empowered to seek assistance and collaborate effectively.

 

Defining responsibilities and accountability

Assigning roles and responsibilities will clarify expectations and ensure accountability for tasks and outcomes.

In defining responsibilities and accountability, employees understand their contributions to achieving the organisation’s goals, allowing them to take ownership of their work, leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness.

Responsibility
Responsibility is having a job or a task to do. For Example, if you’re responsible for feeding a dog, it means it’s your job to make sure the dog gets fed.

Accountability
Accountability is about taking ownership of what happens. So, if the dog isn’t fed and it gets sick; you’re accountable and may need to explain what happened to the vet. It’s being responsible for the consequences of the responsibilities, whether they’re good or bad.

An individual may be both responsible and accountable; however, it’s still always best to ensure this is defined and everyone understands their role.

 

Pathways for progression

An organisational structure provides visibility into career advancement opportunities and progression pathways within the company.

By outlining clear paths for professional development and growth, employees can feel more motivated to invest in their skills and contribute to the organisation’s success, reducing staff turnover and fostering talent retention.

 

Planning for the future and identifying gaps within the organisation

Creating an organisational structure with established roles and responsibilities can help highlight areas of overlap, inefficiency, or deficiency within the company.

Overlap of roles and responsibilities is to be expected in small businesses as business owners often wear many hats. However, by identifying every position within the organisation, you may find opportunities to engineer changes within the company to outsource or create a new position in which to delegate tasks.

 

How to create an organisational structure

Here are some simple steps that business owners can take to establish an organisational structure:

1. Start with roles and responsibilities
Create a list of all the roles within the business (actual and ideal) and assign a name next to each. For Example, you may need the following positions within your company:

  • Accountant
  • HR
  • Head of Sales
  • Director of Marketing
  • Cleaner
  • Receptionist
  • IT Manager

One person may be next to several of these roles. However, this is the reason we start with roles, not names, as it can help highlight areas of overlap or unstable dependency within the business (if one critical person were to fall ill, is the business too vulnerable).

2. Create an organisational chart
This is a visual representation of the reporting structure of the company. There are many variations of this, some modern and equal, some more traditional and hierarchical. We recommend you do some research and see which model works for you – HubSpot has some further information. However, if you need a starting point, everyone is familiar with the hierarchical chart.

The hierarchical organisational chart depicts the chain of command from top management down to frontline employees. It typically consists of vertical levels, with each level representing a different echelon of authority within the organisation.

 

EXAMPLE Hierarchical Company Organisational Chart

 

 

3. Create an organisational chart for the future
Once you have created an organisational chart for how the organisation works now, identify how it might look. This future model can be particularly motivating to the staff of small and growing organisations as it shows how they can either develop or recruit support in the future.

4. Regularly review and Update Structure
Ideally, you should review and evaluate your structure to ensure it remains aligned with the company’s goals and objectives. Don’t be afraid to adjust to accommodate changes in the business environment or business needs.

 

How ETC can help

If you need help creating an organisational chart, dispersing roles and responsibilities or streamlining your business management to increase your profits, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Small Business Management: An Extensive Guide

As a small business owner, a fundamental way to grow your business and profits is to become more effective at management – in all its forms.

The term ‘management’ is often mis-associated with the management of people. However, it’s vital to recognise that its application spans all aspects of your business, regardless of size – whether you’re a sole trader or SME.

This guide aims to help business owners identify and implement simple improvements to the management of your business. Effective management will free up your time as a business owner, delegate responsibilities efficiently, and help increase your awareness of your business. In turn, you will experience increased efficiency, grow your business, and increase your profits.

 

The different types of management you need in a small business

 

Organisational structure

Establishing a transparent command structure within your organisation will give people authority, demonstrate a clear promotion path, and define responsibilities. Often, people work best when there is a healthy balance of autonomy and structure. As small business owners, you cannot do everything, so you need people you can trust to take responsibility for specific tasks.

Learn more about creating an organisational structure.

 

Building a management team

With the right people, your business will flourish, especially if you foster a culture of respect, collaboration, openness, and trust. While it’s important to diversify your management team, you also need to ensure goals and values align. For example, you need to mix people with different skills, but you may find conflict if some of your management team members are too driven by revenue while the others are on customer service. There needs to be a respected balance and cultural alignment.

Learn more about building a management team.

 

People management

Managing individuals is often viewed as more of an art than a science, especially for small businesses. People form the heart of your business, and people-related disturbances can become a massive drain on resources. You must understand the unique goals and motivations of each team member. This understanding becomes the cornerstone for devising strategies to inspire, motivate, and foster an environment where each individual can contribute their best.

Learn more about strategies for building and leading an effective team.

 

Management Meetings

It’s essential your management team, no matter how big or small, are all working towards your business objectives. Regular, structured management meetings are great for disseminating information and aligning company activity. The key here is to keep these meetings purposeful and avoid disrupting day-to-day operations.

Learn how to run effective management meetings and what to do when you simply have to reschedule.

 

Time management

Every business owner wishes there were more hours in the day. However, as much as we’d like to, we cannot control time, just how we use it. It’s important that you continually seek to be more efficient with your time. This includes setting deadlines, tracking time spent on projects/tasks and making time for reviews to reflect on performance and identify ways to become more efficient in the future.

 

Statistical management

In business, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Understanding how to interpret business data and key performance indicators will help you optimise performance and make informed decisions.

 

Change management

Change is inevitable, yet it is often met with resistance. Typically, humans don’t like change, and this can be most apparent with staff and customers when trying to implement unplanned change in an organisation. To reduce resistance, it’s always best to foster open communication and provide support to help any transition. Effectively managing change is integral to long-term business success.

 

Project management

A well-structured plan should always be the foundation for any undertaking. When starting any project, you should always clearly understand timelines, resources and projected/desired outcomes. Clear expectations and efficient resource allocation will always increase a project’s success.

 

Financial management

As a small business owner, you should always know your financial position; this isn’t your accountant’s job (as strange as it may sound). Accountants can tell you your history and provide a factual account of how much money you have. However, this information is only helpful if you combine it with your market experience and your sensitivity to risk.

 

How ETC can help

If you need help streamlining your business management and increasing your profits, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Executive Training and Consultancy Embarks on New Chapter of Growth with Two Strategic Appointments

Executive Training and Consultancy (ETC) are thrilled to announce the appointment of two new directors, Jenny Bradley and Phil Edwards, as part of our strategic expansion plans.

The appointment of Jenny Bradley as Operations Director and Phil Edwards as Director of Consultancy marks a pivotal moment for ETC. Our vision is to double in size by 2024, and these strategic additions to the leadership team are essential to achieving this goal.

Doug D’Aubrey, Founder and Managing Director, said: “As a business, we are committed to exceeding clients’ expectations, and our growth plans are wholeheartedly founded on our ability to deliver exceptional value to every client we serve.

“Jenny and Phil bring a wealth of experience that aligns perfectly with our goals. Their roles are crucial as we embark on this exciting new chapter of growth and innovation.”

 

Continued Growth and Vision for 2024

The official appointment of both Jenny and Phil as directors is Monday, 4th December 2023.

In addition to the new directors, ETC is excited to announce the upcoming addition of six new consultants to its team over the next two months. This expansion of talent is a testament to our commitment to assembling a dynamic team capable of addressing the evolving needs of our diverse clientele.

 

About Jenny Bradley

Jenny has vast experience in finance and administration, having worked with small businesses and large corporates in senior positions. As Operations Director, Jenny will spearhead efforts to streamline internal processes to enhance efficiency.

 

About Phil Edwards

Phil has an extensive background in business development and strategic marketing within the consumer product sector. As a seasoned consultant, Phil will lead the consultancy division, ensuring that ETC provides outstanding service and solutions to meet our clients’ unique needs.

 

A huge thank you for your loyalty

We also take this opportunity to express sincere gratitude to our existing customers, whose loyalty and trust have been instrumental to our growth. The unwavering support of clients has driven our decision to expand, and continuing to provide exceptional value that boots clients’ profits remains the foundation of our organisation.

 

Free business review

ETC’s growing team of trusted, expert consultants cover a wide array of business specialities.

Our no-nonsense and practical approach to business success has been a driving force in empowering businesses across various industries, which include caterers, printers, financial services, IT support, cleaning, security, and marketing firms.

If you need help growing your business and increasing your profits – we can help. Please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Management Meetings: The Secret to Strategic Success for Small Businesses

As a small business owner, you constantly need to juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities and finding the time for structured reflection can be difficult. However, dedicating time for formal management meetings, even for the smallest of teams, can have a profound impact on your business’s efficiency and profitability.

In this article, we’ll outline why every small business should embrace the practice of regular management meetings and how they can help you make strategic decisions, stay on track, and keep productivity flowing.

 

Why regular management meetings are important

 

One: Strategic decision-making

Management meetings provide a structured means for strategic decision-making. These meetings allow you to step back from the day-to-day delivery and focus on top-level decisions that shape the direction of your business.

 

Two: Business insights

As a business, you’ll have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure how successful your business activities are (more on KPIs below). It is important to create a structured forum to review and analyse these metrics with your management team at regular intervals – as measuring alone isn’t enough.

 

Three: Bringing leadership together

Management meetings encourage transparency and collaboration among your senior members of the team. Often, day-to-day operations mean you focus on different areas of your business independently from each other. Management meetings allow you to look at the bigger picture, avoiding things from happening in silos or conflicting with each other.

Management meetings also let you share ideas and allow your team to voice their experience and become part of the decision-making process. As business owners, you will have more insight into your business operations, giving you more information to make educated decisions.

 

Four: Problem-solving

It can be lonely at the top. As small business owners, you have ultimate autonomy in the direction of your business; however, you should use the expertise around you whenever possible – a problem shared can be a problem halved.

Complex problems and challenges are inevitable in business. Management meetings are a great opportunity to collectively brainstorm solutions, share insights, and develop strategies to overcome obstacles.

 

How to run an effective management meeting

 

One: Maintain regularity

Consistency is key. While stepping away from day-to-day operations can be challenging, these regular management meetings will keep your business’s momentum moving forward without stalling productivity. Regular meetings will also help hold each other accountable and ensure you complete agreed tasks.

It’s customary to hold weekly check-in meetings to address immediate concerns and ensure everyone stays aligned in the short term, with longer, more comprehensive meetings held once a month to delve into high-level strategies and performance metrics.

Top tip: It can sometimes be helpful to have management meetings outside the office or in a different location than regular meetings. This location change can help you recognise the difference and importance of these meetings.

 

Two: Keep things strategic

Keeping your management meetings focused on the progress of top-level strategic objectives is essential. It can be easy and natural to get drawn into day-to-day operational topics; however, prioritising discussions towards progress against business goals will help ensure you’re continuing to meet your agreed targets.

Top tip: If a day-to-day operational challenge requires attention and is preventing you from meeting one of your agreed targets, you should arrange a separate, dedicated meeting for that topic. Organising a dedicated meeting ensures that other business areas are still discussed and this challenge gets the attention it deserves. Also, a separate meeting will allow you to bring other team members into the conversation who might not be suitable to be included in a management meeting.

 

Three: Measure progress against strategic objectives

To keep on track, you need a clear line of sight towards your business goals. To help you do this, you should establish agreed measurements of success (Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)). This information will help you critically evaluate your progress towards your overall objectives and identify what’s working, what’s not, and what adjustments are needed. By keeping a steady eye on your goals, you can adapt and optimise your business strategies as you go, increasing the chances of success.

Top-level measurements of success might include:

  • Revenue Growth: Monitor the increase in your business’s total revenue over time, which can be a key indicator of success.
  • Profit Margin: Evaluate the profitability of your business by calculating the percentage of profit relative to revenue.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost: Assess how much it costs to acquire new customers compared to the revenue they bring in.
  • Customer Retention Rate: Measure the percentage of customers who continue to do business with you over a specific period, reflecting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Market Share: Determine your business’s share of the total market in your industry, indicating your competitiveness.
  • Conversion Rate: Track the percentage of website visitors or leads who take a desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Analyse the returns from specific investments, such as marketing campaigns or new product launches.
  • Cash Flow: Ensure that your business maintains positive cash flow, as it’s crucial for daily operations and growth opportunities.
  • Customer Feedback and Surveys: Collect and analyse customer feedback to gauge satisfaction, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions.
  • Employee Productivity: Measure the productivity and efficiency of your team members to ensure that resources are used optimally.
  • Inventory Turnover: Monitor how quickly you’re selling inventory to prevent overstocking or understocking.
  • Website Traffic and Engagement: Analyse website traffic, page views, and user engagement to assess the effectiveness of your online presence.
  • Social Media Metrics: Evaluate the impact of your social media efforts through metrics like followers, likes, shares, and comments.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Determine the long-term value of a customer to your business by calculating their total spending over their relationship with your company.

Don’t forget to ensure your business insights are considered by your management team, and that you use these metrics to make decisions. Simply measuring and reporting on data isn’t enough. This information should bring the various departments in your business together, otherwise, departments could be working to cancel each other out, and you could be putting in a lot of work for little gain.

 

How ETC can help

Management meetings are not just a formality; they are a vital tool for small business owners. These meetings help you make strategic decisions, track your progress towards objectives, and maintain the regularity needed to sustain growth. The transparency and collaboration fostered in these meetings can lead to more engaged and motivated team members. They are the compass that can guide your business toward greater efficiency, profitability, and long-term success.

If you need help embracing the practice of management meetings, no matter how small your business may be – even if there are just two of you – we can help. Please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Demystifying Business Finances: A Practical Guide for Small Business Owners

Managing finances is the lifeblood of any small business. Keeping a keen eye on your financial situation is paramount whether you’re just starting or have been in the game for a while.

Many small business owners wear multiple hats, including that of the accountant. And, as your business grows, bringing in a professional accountant is advisable. However, even if you do, you should always stay close to your finances.

This article will explore the essential financial concepts that can help you make informed decisions, reduce financial stress, and drive your small business towards greater flexibility and growth*.

 

One: Revenue vs. Profit vs. Cash Flow

Understanding the basic principles of finance is crucial.

One of the fundamental distinctions in finance is understanding the difference between revenue, profit, and cash flow.

  • Revenue: This is the total income your business generates from sales of products or services. It’s often called the “top line” because it’s the total amount before any expenses are deducted.
  • Profit: Profit is what’s left after subtracting all expenses (such as operating costs, taxes, and interest) from your revenue. The difference between ‘Gross Profit’ and ‘Net Profit’ can be found below.
  • Cash Flow: Cash flow refers to the actual cash that moves in and out of your business. It can differ from profit because it considers when payments are received and expenses are paid. Positive cash flow is crucial for meeting day-to-day expenses and seizing growth opportunities.

Other terms that you should familiarise yourself with are:

  • Gross Profit: Gross profit is the revenue after deducting the cost of goods sold. It reflects the essential profitability of a business’s core operations.
  • Net Profit: Net profit, or the bottom line, is the profit left after all expenses, including taxes and interest, have been deducted from revenue.
  • Profit Margin: This is the percentage of revenue that represents profit.
  • Break-Even Point: This is the level of sales at which a business covers all its costs, and neither makes a profit nor incurs a loss.
  • ROI (Return on Investment): ROI measures the profitability of an investment.

Top tip: If you’re working with an accountant, it’s critical you understand the information they provide. Don’t be afraid to ask your accountant to explain the numbers in a way you understand. A good accountant shouldn’t patronise you and takes the time to ensure you know the financial situation of your business. While your accountant should have your best interests in mind, they cannot make business decisions for you and are characteristically risk-averse. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the numbers will allow you to make informed business decisions.

 

Two: Budgeting and Financial Planning

Many small businesses run on a day-to-day basis and only analyse their expenditure at the end of the quarter or financial year. However, creating a budget can help you plan your finances, set financial goals, and allocate resources efficiently.

Ultimately, there are so many benefits to budgeting. Not only can they allow you to track your income, expenses, and cash flow, but psychologically, budgets can make spending money on necessary expenses easier, as the money is already an agreed expenditure and allocated for a purpose. They can also help you identify areas where you can save money or invest for growth.

 

Three: Check your financial pulse

Regularly reviewing your financial statements, including the income statement (or profit and loss statement), balance sheet, and cash flow statement, will make you much more agile and help you grow/avert disaster much more quickly.

  1. Balance Sheet: A balance sheet is a financial statement that shows a business’s assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time. It provides a snapshot of the business’s financial position.
  2. Income Statement (or Profit and Loss Statement): An income statement summarises a business’s revenues, costs, and expenses over a specific period, typically a month, quarter, or year. It shows whether the business is profitable during that time frame.
  3. Cash Flow Statement: This statement tracks the inflows and outflows of cash during a specific period and categorises them into operating, investing, and financing activities.

These documents provide insights into your business’s financial health, performance, and liquidity. They’re essential for making informed decisions and assessing your business’s financial well-being.

It would help if you made the time to have small internal account meetings each week and a larger one each quarter with your accountant. Regular check-ins will identify minor course corrections to help take advantage of new opportunities and avert imminent disasters.

Top tip: Separating your financial role from the business’s daily operations is essential. Daily, you might be on top of the invoice value (revenue); however, this information alone doesn’t provide you enough insight into the business’s financial situation to make informed decisions.

 

Four: Separate Business and Personal Finances

To maintain financial clarity, it’s crucial to separate your business and personal finances. Open a dedicated business bank account and use it exclusively for business transactions.

This separation simplifies financial record-keeping, ensures compliance with tax regulations, and helps you accurately gauge your business’s financial position.

If things do get inadvertently connected, make sure you compensate yourself accordingly. For example, be sure you expense business costs so you’re not personally out of pocket and can accurately track business expenses.

 

Five: Investment and Financing Options

Keeping on top of your business finances will allow you to explore various financing options for your business, such as loans, lines of credit, or investments from external sources.

For example, taking advantage of credit options can keep you liquid (cash flow). However, carefully consider how each choice aligns with your business goals and financial capabilities and always discuss things with your accountant.

 

How ETC can help

Mastering finance is not just for accountants; it’s an essential skill for every small business owner.

Understanding revenue, profit, and cash flow, budgeting, and reviewing financial statements are critical steps. These principles provide the foundation for making informed decisions, optimising your business’s financial health, and ultimately achieving flexibility and growth. By gaining control over your finances, you’ll be better equipped to navigate challenges and seize opportunities, moving your small business toward long-term success.

If you need help understanding how best to manage your business finances, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

 

– Please note –

* Any financial information within this article is for general informational purposes only. We are not financial advisors, and the content in this article should not be considered professional financial, legal, or investment advice. Please consult with a qualified financial advisor, accountant, solicitor, or other professional before making any financial, legal, or investment decisions. It is essential to conduct your research and seek professional guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.

The Benefits of Outsourcing for Small Businesses

In the fast-paced world of small business, efficiency is the key to success. As a business owner, you’re no stranger to juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities. However, not every part of your business needs to be handled in-house. Outsourcing can bring additional services and skills to enhance profitability.

In this article, we’ll explore the untapped potential of outsourcing for small businesses and how it can significantly improve performance, streamline operations and help your business grow and become more profitable.

 

One: Access specialised skills and expertise

Outsourcing allows you to tap into a wide range of specialised skills and expertise that might not be available in-house.

A typical example is hiring a web agency to manage your website, as hiring a full-term developer might be too costly. A less obvious example could be to hire a specialist consultant in a particular market or area. This consultant’s knowledge might be essential at the beginning of a project to help set up systems and processes, but afterwards, they might not be needed day-to-day.

By entrusting these tasks to experts, you free up your team’s time to focus on core business activities that directly contribute to growth.

Top tip: It’s sometimes natural to assume existing employees can learn new skills and take on new challenges. While this can work, you should always consider the learning curve (how long it takes someone to become proficient at a task), the source of their skills (is their tutor trusted and qualified?), and the impact this will have on existing workload.

 

Two: Start new projects quickly

Hiring external support can help you scale your business up or down and start new projects quickly.

Outsourcing provides the flexibility to scale your operations up or down based on demand. Some short-term or new projects may require considerable investment to achieve the end goal. An outsourced agency will already have the experience and tools to start quickly and can reduce the complexities of internal staff management.

 

Three: Reduced risk & invested partner

Working with a partner to deliver projects and tasks can reduce the risk of handling things alone.

Firstly, outsourcing services can reduce the initial setup costs needed to take on a new project. Also, the partner you choose will also be invested in your success – as they will want to retain the business for as long as possible. This partnership can increase the chances of success and retention.

Top tip: You should regularly evaluate the advantages of your outsourced resource to ensure you’re maximising efficiency. While it might not be beneficial to bring everything in-house, it can sometimes be more cost-effective to bring certain elements back into your business to allow your partner to focus solely on the areas you can’t. Not only does this strengthen the partnership as there are more dependencies between you, you slowly grow your internal knowledge and skills.

 

Four: Focus on core competencies

Outsourcing lets you concentrate on what you do best: growing your business.

By delegating non-core tasks to external professionals, you create more time and space to innovate, develop new products or services, and strengthen customer relationships. This strategic focus allows you to accomplish more, increase market competitiveness and develop a stronger market presence.

 

Five: Gain a competitive edge

Outsourcing enables small businesses to level the playing field with larger competitors by giving you access to high-quality resources and expertise.

Enhancing your skills can help improve your offerings and provide your customers better service. This enhanced quality can result in higher customer satisfaction, increased loyalty, and a competitive edge in your industry.

 

How ETC can help

If you need help streamlining your business operations and identifying the best tasks to outsource, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Unlocking Your Team’s Potential: How to Improve Employee Performance in Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you know that your team is the backbone of your success. However, managing employee performance can be challenging, especially if you don’t have a dedicated HR department.

As an entrepreneur, we usually only manage employee performance when things are going wrong. However, finding time to be proactive will help boost performance and be a great asset in attracting top talent.

This article will explore practical and positive strategies to boost productivity and drive overall business efficiency, regardless of the sector, size, or resources.

 

One: Set clear goals and expectations

Give yourself the best start and set clear, achievable goals and expectations for each employee. You can include all this information in a detailed job description.

When everyone knows what is expected of them, they can align their efforts with the business objectives. You should ensure that goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This will make it easier to monitor progress and provide feedback.

All targets, expectations and job descriptions should be documented and accessible to the employee. At each review, you can evaluate if targets have been achieved and if the job description is still appropriate.

 

Two: Regularly monitor and measure performance

Scheduling regular reviews will ensure you’re all meeting business expectations. While the focus is usually on the employees’ performance, this is also an excellent opportunity to see if any business barriers are preventing you or your employees from performing efficiently.

In these reviews, you should celebrate achievements, offer support to overcome obstacles and ensure business goals are aligned.

Again, document agreed actions or targets so that you can evaluate if targets have been achieved at the next review.

 

Three: Provide training and development opportunities

Investing in your employees’ professional growth enhances their skills and boosts their motivation and commitment. Consider offering training and development opportunities, whether it’s through workshops, online courses, or mentoring programs.

Empowering your team with knowledge and new skills will help them excel. In addition, moulding employees into a role and providing tangible personal development opportunities can be much more efficient than continually recruiting new team members and can be a great incentive when hiring.

 

Four: Real-world feedback

A positive workplace culture can significantly impact employee performance and job satisfaction.

You should encourage open communication, recognition of achievements, and collaboration among team members whenever possible.

Top tip: Create a structured format for reviewing company performance and celebrating team success. This can be a short monthly meeting where you can boost morale and provide a roadmap of business priorities for the upcoming month.

 

Five: Foster a healthy work-life balance

There is nothing wrong with expecting high performance and dedication from your staff; however, recognising the importance of work-life balance will reduce burn-out, sick leave and improve overall performance.

As small business owners, it can be challenging to remember that most employees aren’t as invested in the business as you – many work to live, not live to work.

Ensuring employees have adequate time to recharge and maintain a healthy work-life balance will help maintain performance levels and can inject new energy into the business.

Top tip: Remember to give yourself the same respect and to take time out of the business to recharge and refocus when necessary. If you struggle to take time off, plan holidays and breaks around bank holidays or in months with five weeks in the month.

 

Six: Provide Regular Feedback and Recognition

Feedback is essential for continuous improvement. You should schedule, and keep, time each month to provide constructive feedback to employees.

It can be easy to reschedule employee performance meetings, especially when they’re doing well. However, good meetings are just as important as the more challenging ones. Don’t underestimate the power of recognition. Acknowledging hard work and accomplishments boosts morale and encourages further dedication.

 

Seven: Lead by example and take ownership of your employee’s success

As a business owner, your leadership sets the tone for your team. Your work ethic and values will be matched by your employees.

Finally, as business owners, we only have so much time in our day, and controlling everything can be unhealthy and stagnate growth. Developing employees can be the best way to grow and grow sustainably.

Watch Bewdog CEO, James Watt share his discovery of how managing people more fairly changed the course of the business – and moved him from a ‘fishing boat captain’ to the CEO of one of the world’s most renowned businesses. People are now one of their primary focuses as a business.

Brewdog Founder: The Untold Story Of One Britain’s Fastest Growing Companies: James Watt | E157

 

How ETC can help

If you need help streamlining your business operations through employee performance management, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.