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 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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

The Power of Account Management: Boost Efficiency and Profitability for Your Small Business

Small business owners are required to wear multiple hats and juggle various responsibilities. In addition to delivering the work, you’re the head of accounts, HR, sales and marketing.

As your business grows, you can delegate these roles to your employees. One position to consider early on should be a dedicated account manager.

The role of an account manager can often be overlooked, as their duties don’t always directly relate to sales. However, this important function can increase efficiency and make your business more profitable.

Here are five ways an account manager can help you as a small business owner:


One: Streamline Communication

A dedicated account manager can significantly reduce the number of general emails and phone calls flowing into your business. An account manager can serve as a client’s primary point of contact, handling enquiries, addressing concerns, and liaising between clients, internal departments and other suppliers. This gives you more time to focus on actually getting the work done.


Two: Build better relationships

As a dedicated client-facing resource, account managers can build strong relationships with clients and help tailor your services to their needs. This level of attention enhances customer satisfaction and builds loyalty, which can significantly improve customer retention and reduce your cost of sales.

Learn more about the importance of customer loyalty and how it can set your business apart from the competition, drive growth and increase profitability in our Mastering Customer Loyalty article.


Three: Focus on delivery

An account management role can help you separate product delivery from client liaison. This separation can reduce distractions and unnecessary interference and allow you and other team members to focus on what you do best – the actual work. This will greatly improve your overall business efficiency and productivity.

Top tip: While it’s not always possible to directly measure the return on investment of an account management role, you should ensure you factor this resource into your pricing. A good account manager should allow you to increase production, bring in new work, or reduce client turnover. Learn more about mastering business delivery, measuring delivery performance, pricing services appropriately and improving delivery efficiency in our Mastering Business Delivery article.


Four: Real-world feedback

With account managers working directly with clients, they provide a rich insight into their challenges and needs. Understanding your clients can help you proactively develop new products and services, which, in turn, can help you win more business from similar customers in that market.

In addition, their in-depth knowledge of clients’ accounts also allows them to address challenges swiftly, maintaining high service levels, minimising disruptions and reducing the risk of clients using your competitors.


Five: Upselling and Cross-Selling Opportunities

Account managers are ideally placed to identify upselling and cross-selling opportunities. Their deep understanding of your clients allows them to present relevant products or services and block out competition.

A good relationship between the client and your account managers can also provide the opportunity to develop strategic account plans that align with your business objectives. This partnership can result in mutual gain – as their business grows, so does the need for your products or services.


How ETC can help

If you need help streamlining your business operations through account management and improving your return on investment, 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.

Mastering Customer Loyalty

Delivering exceptional customer service is the cornerstone of building customer loyalty. Loyal customers are more likely to return and spend more money with your business. Furthermore, loyal customers are more likely to generate positive word of mouth, which plays a vital role in the growth and reputation of your business.

When it comes to business growth and profitability, it’s much easier and more cost-effective to retain loyal customers than to acquire new ones. So, how do we build customer loyalty?

Customers have a strong desire for personalised experiences, attentive support, and swift resolutions. They want to feel valued, listened to, and satisfied throughout their interactions with your business. In today’s competitive market, outstanding customer service can truly set your business apart, driving growth and boosting profitability.

Here is an example of the different types of customers in your business (the customer loyalty ladder):

  1. Satisfied customers – stay with your organisation so long as expectations are met
  2. Repeat customer – habitually returns to your company to buy again
  3. Advocates – put their personal/professional reputation on the line to recommend your business to others
  4. Evangelist – Actively convinces others to use your business
  5. Owners – Feel responsible for the continued success of your business

Here are three practical steps to build customer loyalty and move customers up the customer loyalty ladder.


One: Understand Your Customers

To deliver exceptional customer service, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of your customers. This involves gaining insights into their needs, preferences, and pain points. By understanding your customers, you can effectively tailor your products, services, and communications to meet their expectations.

Here are three things you can do to understand your customers better:

  • Conduct thorough market research: Create short surveys or conduct interviews to learn more about your target audiences. Identify their demographics, behaviours, motivations, and challenges. This information will guide your customer service strategies.
  • Create customer personas: Develop fictional profiles that represent your typical customers. Include details such as age, interests, goals, and challenges. Personas help you empathise with your customers and make informed decisions on how to serve them better.
  • Actively Listen: Pay serious attention to your customer’s comments, suggestions, and complaints. This feedback is invaluable in understanding their experiences and identifying areas for improvement.

Understanding your customers is an ongoing process. A better understanding of your customers will reduce complaints and allow you to deliver experiences that exceed their expectations and foster long-term loyalty.


Two: Reward loyalty

Creating a customer loyalty scheme or discount structure can be a cost-effective way of retaining clients.

There are many ways to create a loyalty programme. For example, depending on your business, you may want to make data-driven, automated processes like the Tesco Clubcard or Nectar (Sainsbury’s, Argos, Esso, Ebay); establish a cash-back scheme like Asda Rewards; or implement a simple card and stamp system -buy six coffees and get the seventh free.

Creating a structured program that rewards customers for their repeat business not only encourages customer loyalty but also provides an added sense of value and appreciation.

Things to consider when creating a loyalty or discount scheme:

  • Understand your cost per acquisition and ensure your discounts/reward cost is less than it would be to find a new customer.
  • Consider FREE over a discount. Giving something away for free is sometimes better than discounting cash. For example, a free product has a perceived value of £X to the client, but it would have cost your business less.
  • Keep things simple and ensure the program is easy to implement and for your customers to understand.
  • Track and measure success to ensure the programme is working. Is it increasing sales and overall profits?


Three: Build a Customer-Centric Culture

Ultimately, customers want a positive, hassle-free service that exceeds their expectations. Keeping the customer at the centre of everything you do will help you meet this goal.

To achieve this, leadership must lead by example, and there are some simple things we can all do to foster a customer-centric culture. These include:

  • Empower employees to take ownership of customer interactions and provide discounts and refunds at their discretion.
  • Actively listen to feedback and take noticeable action.
  • Resist bad-mouthing or negatively talking about a client/customer around the office or in public
  • Reward staff that go above and beyond for customers, not just the business


How ETC can help

If you need help creating a customer loyalty programme, streamlining your business operations and improving your return on investment, 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.

Mastering Business Delivery

For all businesses, delivering on your promises is paramount to success. Whether it’s meeting customer expectations or fulfilling internal commitments, effective business delivery can make or break a company’s reputation and profitability.

However, are you focusing on promises to your customer and neglecting your business promises by spending 12 hours on a 10-hour project?

Mastering the management of your business delivery requires tracking and measuring delivery performance, pricing services appropriately, improving delivery efficiency, prioritising customer satisfaction, and cultivating a culture of delivery excellence. Doing this will enhance your business operations and boost your bottom line.

Here are five ways to manage and improve your business delivery.


One: Track and measure delivery performance

One of the best ways to improve your business delivery and profitability is to track and measure your performance against your quotes. This applies to both product and business-based services.

The best and simplest way to track project performance is through a WIP (Work in Progress) board. Creating a WIP board needn’t be complicated. You can use a project management tool like, Wrike, or Trello, or you can create a simple Google Sheet. Typically a WIP would include the following:

  • Project name
  • Client lead (customer)
  • Project lead (who is internally responsible)
  • Value
  • Time allocation
  • Actual time taken
  • Key milestones (such as the client expected deadline)
  • Status of the project (such as New, In Progress, In Review and Complete)

The purpose of a WIP board is to track the progress of projects against what you agreed. It allows business owners to monitor the time and resources spent on each project and compare it with their initial estimates. For example, suppose you quoted 10 hours for a particular service, but it takes 12 hours, or in a product-based business, you spend longer on administration or customer support than expected. Either way, you’re losing money and eating into your profit margins.

By monitoring your delivery, you can identify gaps and take corrective actions, such as optimising your processes, allocating more resources or increasing your prices to improve your profitability. A WIP board also gives you visibility of key milestones, such as the client’s expected deadline.

Top tip: When allocating hours to your delivery team (the people working on the project), don’t forget to account for the time needed to conduct quality control and any administration/project management. For example, if you quoted 10 hours for a project, you may need to allocate your team 7 hours, leaving yourself a few hours for quality control, amends/corrections and administration.


Two: Price appropriately

Pricing is a critical aspect of business delivery. If your prices are too low, you may attract customers but struggle to generate enough profit. On the other hand, if your prices are too high, you may risk pricing yourself out of the market and losing potential customers.

It’s essential to strike a balance. It’s important for business owners to closely monitor and analyse the WIP board to help understand if your pricing aligns with your delivery. If there is a miss alignment, you may need to look at your price or the efficiency of your delivery.

In your pricing review, you should consider the following factors:

  • Costs
  • Market demand
  • Competitors
  • Customer value

For more pricing information, read our Quote based on value, not price article to learn more about pricing appropriately to cover costs and boost your profits.


Three: Improve delivery efficiency

Maximising efficiency will help reduce business costs, minimise waste and maximise profits.

Business owners should continually look for ways to improve to streamline processes, eliminate unnecessary steps, and optimise resource allocation. For example, automation tools or software can help speed up administrative tasks, while training and upskilling your team can enhance their productivity.

Top tip: Business owners do not always need to find and recommend improvements themselves. You may encounter less internal resistance to new initiatives if you get the buy-in from staff. Consider encouraging or incentivising your team to find efficiencies themselves.


Four: Focus on customer satisfaction

It takes much less effort to upsell to an existing customer than acquire a new one. In addition, satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat customers and refer others to your business.

To build customer loyalty, business owners should invest in excellent customer service and processes to effectively communicate new products and services (unknown/unused by them). Doing so will improve the overall efficiency of your business as you’ll be spending much less energy per sale.

For more information on the benefits of customer retention, read our Building customer loyalty article.


Five: Create a culture of delivery excellence

Managing your delivery is about delivering what you promised to the customer and what you agreed to achieve as a business – your goals.

Delivering these promises requires a focused mindset (attitude) and collaborative effort from your entire team.

To achieve this, you should foster a culture of delivery excellence by providing ongoing training and empowering your team to take ownership of their responsibilities. In addition, motivating and rewarding employees for their problem-solving skills will create a culture of continuous improvement and significantly impact your profitability.


How ETC can help

If you need help streamlining your business operations and improving your return on investment, 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.