Do you ever notice that people around you always seem to get their tasks done and out of the way, while yours seem to pile up, and once you finish one thing, another or more come your way? Let me reassure you you’re not alone in this. Chances are those people are using time management skills to prioritize what needs to get done first, and set aside other projects and tasks to work on little-by-little. So, how can I change my ways to be more productive like those around me, you may be asking? You should practice time management, but this is easier said than done, as you need to put in a little time at the start in order to organize and plan. You will see results, though. That’s a guarantee. Let’s take a look at some time management tips and skills to get you started:
- The difference between urgent and important – One of the most fundamental aspects of time management is recognizing the difference between tasks which are urgent and those which are important. Urgent means you should immediately address the task, but ignoring it may not have consequences. Important, on the other hand, means that the task requires your attention, and not doing it or ignoring it will usually have severe consequences. Look at the Priority Matrix created by the website Skills You Need. It lets you organize tasks by importance and urgency.
- Clear the clutter – Another important, yet easily overlooked aspect of time management is keeping your spaces clean, neat, and tidy. When your room is messy, do you ever seem to lose motivation or the drive to get things done? I know I do. Research shows that cleaning up can improve self esteem and productivity. Clutter, when left ignored, can cause mild depression, so you lose the motivation to get things done. So clean up, tidy up, and feel the productivity levels come back into play.
- Everyone has a certain time during the day when they’re most productive, usually in the morning within the first few hours of waking up. Once you’ve identified which tasks are urgent and which are important, choose the most difficult one(s) to do when productivity levels are high.
Time management may be the key to success. It allows you to break up your day, week, and even month, and tackle everything you need to do while still maintaining your sanity. It’s actually a more organized, planned, and methodical approach to reaching goals, both personal and professional, you set for yourself.
If you’re a business owner, prospective or current, you may be asking how you can promote your business without a PR department. Promoting your business is essential to gaining new customers and keeping old ones coming back. Business promotion is two-fold. The first part is to actively let consumers know about your business, services, and/or products. Don’t rely on word-of-mouth, as it’s not reliable. Anyway, people are more inclined to talk about how bad a service or product was for them than they are to rave about how great it was. The second part is to set a budget. It doesn’t have to be an expensive business operation either. Here are a few low-cost/free ideas for effective business promotion:
- Promote in Communications – Sure, you may have business cards with the name, address, and phone number of your company, but this isn’t enough. Your emails should have an automatic signature featuring the same information, and any physical paper documents you send out should have a letterhead with this information.
- Vehicle-Turned-Billboard – During your commute to and from work, or even while just enjoying the open road, how many vehicles advertising businesses do you see? Probably quite a few. There’s a reason they’re so popular – because it’s an effective advertising tool! Think about it, it’s the best way to get people to actually look at your company and the products/services you provide. Vehicle wraps are the way to go in the advertising world.
- Blogging and Social Media – Does your company have active and engaging social media accounts across various platforms? What about a regularly updated blog on your website? One of the most effective advertising schemes in our newfangled digital world is to be active on social media and keep current with blog posts. You should aim to post at least a couple times a week on social media across various platforms. For blogs, you should upload at least one post a week. You can even promote a new blog post within a social media post, with a link to your site’s blog.
There are many more ways to promote your business for little-to-no money at all. Some strategies may work better than others, so research effective methods for your area of business. And don’t forget to come to The Enterprise Center at Salem State University on December 14 for a special presentation by PR Consultant, Robin Samora, beginning at 8:30 am.
If you have a company, chances are you keep a log of your customers’ personally identifiable information (PII) such as names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, etc… which is readily available to perform business functions. If such is the case, what steps do you take to protect all this sensitive data? It is important to keep this information private and secure, otherwise it could end up in the hands of people who wish to do harm, whether it be financial, cyber, or another form. Leaving this information unprotected and susceptible to thieves and/or hackers could mean the loss of loyal customers and their trust, and possibly even a lawsuit. Keeping sensitive information protected and out of the hands of would-be thieves not only protects you and your customers, but it’s a good business practice as well. Let’s take a look at some steps you can take to protect this information:
- Inventory – The first step to protecting this information is to know what information you have and where it is located. In our current digital age, the majority of this information is probably on your computer. To this effect, inventory any and all electronics which store data. The next step in this process is to identify: who sends information, how your company receives and processes it, the kind of information you collect and where it is kept and, finally, who has access to it. You should focus most of your attention on personally identifiable information, as thieves will mostly use this to commit fraud and/or identity theft.
- Minimize – The next step to take in protecting information is to really consider if your business needs to keep it in the first place. If not, make adjustments to the electronics which receive information and dispose of the information securely and properly. If, however, you find the need to keep this information, only keep it for as long as necessary.
- Keeping it Secure – Once you determine the information you need to keep, be sure you have a proper procedure for doing so safely and securely. This can be done in one of the following four ways: physical security, electronic security, employee training, and the security protocols used by contractors and service providers. Whichever you choose, be sure to store the information properly and securely, keeping up-to-date with any modifications or updates on the best practices of storing information.
- Proper Disposal – When you’ve decided to get rid of data, what do you do? How do you get rid of it? You can dispose of physical paper records by shredding, burning, or pulverizing. If you’re looking to dispose of electronics which contain sensitive client information, use software to clean out the hard drives and disks where this information is stored. Be sure all employees follow the same procedures.
- Plan for the Future – Security breaches are a threat to any company and its clients. Implement an effective security plan to combat any security attack or breach. In the case of a compromised computer, the first step should be to disconnect it from the network. If a security incident does occur, investigate it immediately to determine and close up threats and vulnerabilities. Lastly, know whom to notify both inside and outside the company in the case of a security breach. This may include customers, law enforcement, and/or credit bureaus . Consult your attorney as well, as a number of states have laws and regulations in place to properly address data breaches.
While most, if not all, businesses actively look to reach their target customers in an effort to make a profit, there are those that don’t implement an effective business strategy to do so. And what’s worse is businesses which don’t have a strategy don’t even know how it is hurting their business model. Do you have an effective business strategy in place, or are you at least developing one? If not, take a look at our ideas for getting started:
- Reaching Customers – By far the most effective strategy is constantly adjusting your current strategy to meet the needs of your target customers. There are two parts to this. The first is prioritizing the needs of consumers, known as the “where to play, how to win” choice. The second part is identifying what makes your company unique and why customers should choose yours over your competitors’. Combining both of these ensures that you’re looking at both the consumer side and the business side of your company, which makes for an effective business strategy.
- Creating a Brand – It’s not enough to advertise an already-leading brand. As the market changes, a good business strategist/marketer should be creating new brands, and identifying and targeting them to specific customers. Doing this demonstrates that you, as a business, are flexible and can take the time to think of new, creative ways to achieve your company’s goal.
- Keeping up with the Customers – As previously mentioned, your marketing strategy must evolve in conjunction with the needs and demands of your customers. Continuously researching the demographics of your customer base will help you in this pursuit.
Don’t let innovative competitors snatch up your once-loyal customers. Stay in the game, if not ahead of it. Come to the Enterprise Center, located on Salem State University’s Central Campus, on Tuesday, December 5 from 8:30 am to 10:30 am for a hands-on workshop to develop an effective strategy for your business.
In last month’s blog post, we discussed the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition. This week we will touch on effective employee retention strategies. One of the most difficult situations a business can find itself in is when a top employee quits unexpectedly. Almost immediately the management team must take on a whole slew of challenges, namely replacing the valued employee, as well as the effect this sudden departure will have on the rest of the team. One employee’s departure may cause others to consider the same. For this reason, both job satisfaction and employee retention should really be at the top of every business’ list, so as to reduce turnover. Let’s take a look at some of the best practices when it comes to employee retention:
- The onboarding process – First impressions are everything That’s why an employee’s first day is so vital to their perception of and performance in the company. Orientation is a key component of the onboarding process, as the new hire is introduced to the team and can get a quick look at the operations of the business, as well as a layout of the office space. The team should be warm and welcoming to all new hires, even inviting them out to lunch or for a morning coffee can create fast friendships within the workplace. Good relationships between staff are an essential feature of job satisfaction.
- Compensation and rewards – Another key element in job satisfaction is making sure that employees are compensated handsomely and that their achievements and accomplishments are recognized. Money is probably the most attractive and competitive feature of a job listing, so pay your employees fairly and entice them with raises after a long track record of top-notch work.
- Balancing work and life – Yet another important aspect in employee retention is your employees’ abilities to balance work with their respective social lives, and even school. If an employee is working too many hours, s/he can get easily bogged down and lose motivation. This can lead to resignation due to lost interest and feeling unappreciated. There should be a healthy balance between work and life for all employees, and management should be understanding when employees request a reduction in hours or workload. Quality work comes from happy employees, so job satisfaction is very important in this aspect.
Employee retention is the key to keeping a successful business running at peak performance. Job satisfaction among employees is a deciding factor when considering applying for a new job or toughing it out at their current job. Make sure employees are happy, compensated well, and really feel like they each play an integral role in the team.