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Your business is running well, profits are growing, and you feel the urge. You want to push to the next level. How do you know it’s the right time? Check out these five signs it’s time to expand. 




Your Finances Are Organized 

Your financial records are filed. Your accounting system is set up completely and you know how to use it and you do use it. You know where your money is and you keep track of where it’s going. You make sure your bills get paid on time. You pay invoices before they come due. You negotiate with vendors for the best rates. 

You’re either a whiz at accounting yourself, or you’ve hired a company accountant, or you have a great accountant on retainer. You know the numbers, and you watch (and can easily track) your bottom line. 

Your Teams Are Strong 

No matter how great your product is, and how stellar your customer services is, without a unified and strong team, you don’t have a business ready for growth. 

Do team members communicate well? Team meetings run for a purpose, not for socializing. Team members play together nice. Telecommuters check in regularly. In-house people get along. The teams are meshing, and the managers are managing (but not micromanaging). 

If you have the right people in the right positions, you have a solid business. If you’re seeing one people problem, it’s this: everyone’s workload is growing, but everyone is working at maximum output level. 

Your Profits Are Steady 

You have a good profit margin. A track record of profits. Growing profits. And from all financial forecasting and sales figures, you expect to see continued growing profits. 

This is the biggest, best, and boldest sign but if the other signs don’t accompany it, don’t lean on profits alone to make your company fit for growth. Profits matter, certainly, but without a strong team or a functioning financial system, profits are not enough. 

A diminishing or leveling profit margin doesn’t always mean you are doing something wrong; it could mean, in fact, that growth is necessary. Without growth, your business might not able to meet increasing demand. As a result output will level off, meaning profits will either steady out or, perhaps, slow down as you cease pushing and marketing with the same zeal. 

Your Cash Flow Is Positive 

Your incoming cash exceeds your outgoing cash, even on the lean days and weeks. You understand your sales cycle, and you have a streamlined payment process. You’re not depending on a haphazard “hope the payments come through before the bills come due” methodology. Instead, you are proactive. 

You know how to in get cash in before cash goes out. You see the cycles, the ebbs and flows, that are a natural part of running a business. You’ve learned how to work with those ebbs and flows, not overextend your finances, and not assume a cash-confidence you shouldn’t have. 

You keep the whole financial picture in mind, and that allows you to make good decisions and keep your cash flow positive. 

Your Funding Is Ready 

You know you want to expand, and you have the capital in place (or a sound plan for getting it) to fund that expansion. 

Expanding a small business to the next level can often feel like a leap in the dark for small business owners. And it is, if you don’t have adequate funds to finance it. If you’re ready to expand, you will have a phased-out plan for how that expansion should happen. You will have accurate figures for how much each phase will cost. You might even have a timeline in mind for how long each phase should take to complete. 

Expanding without funding is like jumping without a parachute. It might be exciting at first, but it’s going to end in disaster.

If you’re looking at your healthy business and seeing these signs, congratulations. You’ve done a stellar job of growing a small business that can move onward and upward. If you’re not quite there yet, now you know what to tackle. See you on the next level. 

Bitrix24 is a free Team Management and Planning Tool. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 

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Mornings are magical, and not because of those little marshmallows in your cereal.

They’re magical because they hold an amazing power over the rest of your day. Use your first hour wisely tp set yourself up for an entire day that is productive and enjoyable.

Here are 5 ways to make that first hour count.

1. 1. Start with a Plan

Your day begins better when you know what you want to do with it.

For this to truly work well, though, you don’t start your day by making a plan. You start your day already having a plan.

Make your plan the night before. You can do this in that last half hour of work, when you’re wrapping up for the day.

Or look at your schedule and task list before bed and spend a few minutes mapping out a plan for the next day.

Then, in the morning, in that first hour, spend five minutes reviewing your plan.

2. Feed Your Mind First

Breakfast is great. But food for the body isn’t food for the mind. Feed your mind with something insightful, something profound, something challenging.

Then give yourself a little time to soak it in: meditate for five minutes, or write for five minutes, or just sit and stare out of the window for five minutes.

Life is more than your task list. Fill your mind with some beautiful and good thoughts to carry with you for the rest of the day.

3. Quit Wasting Your Energy

Studies show that, like a muscle, our willpower weakens after much use. It needs time to build energy back up before it is at full strength. Making decision after decision is a quick way to deplete your mental energy.

So what are you doing, first thing in the morning, using up so much willpower on mundane decisions? You decide what you’ll eat for breakfast, and what you will wear, and what you will take for lunch, and which task you will tackle first.

You need to save yourself from wasting willpower on these decisions.

Spend a few minutes the night before setting up for your morning routine: lay out your clothes. Prep your breakfast items. Pack your lunch.

The more automatically you can go through your morning routine, the more energy and willpower you will reserve for the more important tasks that are coming up later.

4. Keep a Wall Around Yourself

The first hour of your day is for you: get ready, go through your morning routine, spend some time feeding your body and your mind.

Reserve your space and your silence in this first hour. Guard your privacy.

In other words, don’t begin with email and social media. Keep your notifications off. Don’t open the inbox. It can wait for another hour.

Use your time to focus and remind yourself of your goals, and get a head start on the important work you want to do. The urgent requests and endless intrusions will flood in later; there’s no need to open that door before you have to.

5. Picture Your Entire Day

This is an ideal exercise for the last few minutes of that first hour.

You’ve gotten physically and mentally ready for the day.

You have reviewed your plan.

You have maintained your space and focused yourself on the next actions.

Now, before you launch into work and face the world, take one minute and write down a sentence. A single sentence, written in past tense, describing your day as you want to live it *as if you already have*.

“Today I wrote the first two chapters of my next book and got in touch with that editor.”

“Today I focused and wrapped up the last tasks of that huge project.”

“Today I stayed positive even around negative people, kept a great mood going, and had fun doing what I love.”

“Today I helped my team work through some issues and kept the discussion open and honest so we could make progress.”

Now, with that sentence in hand, spend a few minutes visualizing yourself doing those things you’ve just described.

Picture the process.

Picture yourself doing that work, making those choices, responding that way, leading or deciding or focusing or accomplishing as you’ve just described. Don’t picture the end result (you’ve already described it in your sentence); picture the actions that get you to the end result.

Research shows that this type of visualization has a powerful effect on helping us to achieve our goals. Wrap up the first hour of the morning with a little power-punch of process visualization, and then go out there and have a great day.

Bitrix24 is a free total team management platform . Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB

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You know that feeling at the end of the day, when you’ve worked and worked and have nothing solid to show for it?

Let’s get rid of that feeling.

Here are seven simple but powerful techniques to help you stay on track, focused, and organized at work.

1. Limit Your To-Do List

An overwhelming amount of tasks waiting for you has a negative effect on your productivity. It tends to, well, be overwhelming.

We see the whole long list as one big, intimidating project, and it’s difficult to get started on something intimidating. So rather than produce, we procrastinate. We’re overwhelmed and intimidated by the volume and confusion, so we shy away fr om dealing with it.

The solution?

Severely limit the size and scope of your daily task list. Focus on one to three important things per day. Allow minor tasks to fill the in-between times, and don’t worry about the rest.

2. Work in Time Segments and Take Breaks

You can find a dozen suggestions for the optimum “time segment” you should work.
It really doesn’t matter.

The point is to use a timer. Set it for a designated number of minutes. Choose one item fr om your (short) task list, start the timer, and do nothing but work on that item until the time is out. Then stand up, stretch, walk around. Take a break for five to fifteen minutes.

Come back, reset your timer, and then either a) resume work on that task or b) if the previous task is complete, choose a new task from your list.

3. Create a Space-Use Hierarchy for Your Stuff

Here’s how it works: the stuff you use most often should be closest to you, preferably within arm’s reach. But how often does that work out?

It’s time to arrange your workspace to match how you actually work.

Think of your workspace as a series of concentric circles. Three, to be exact.

Put the stuff you use daily closest to you, in that first, center ring.
Put the stuff you use weekly in the next ring.
Put the stuff you use monthly in the third, final ring.

Anything else? The stuff you use annually, or every few months, or never? It goes right out the door. Get rid of it, or store it elsewh ere.

4. Use Containers and Labels

Follow this simple rule for any physical item you keep in your workspace: put it in a container and
label.

Group small items together. Maybe you’ll get a set of those plastic drawers, stick them in the closet, and label them: paper and printing supplies, reference materials, so on.

Label things that you file. They go into a container (a folder in the file drawer) and that folder has a label.

Label things that you save digitally. They go into a container (a folder in your digital filing system, or your digital inbox) and they get a label (a tag, a color code, or a label via the file name itself).

5. The Inbox Habit and the 2-Minute Rule

The inbox habit works like this:
Designate two important inboxes. One is physical and one is digital.

Take all inputs - whether it’s mail, information, your own notes, voicemail, email, business cards - and you put them in the appropriate inbox.

Physical stuff goes in the physical inbox, digital stuff in the digital inbox.

Set a regular time to go through your inboxes. This is a great practice for low-energy times.

To keep your inbox stuff from piling up, employ the 2-minute rule.

When something comes in, glance at it; if it takes 2 minutes or less, then do it, answer it, schedule it, delegate it, or delete it right away. It doesn’t even need to go into your inbox.

6. Assign Days to Particular Projects or Areas

Perhaps you have three big projects currently going. Plus you have all the regular, non-project stuff, like keeping up with communication, team meetings, client follow-up, and maintenance work.
Assign a particular day to a particular areas, something like this:
Monday is for planning and Project #1.
Tuesday is for communicating and Project #2.
Wednesday is for meetings and Project #3.
Thursday is for client follow-up and non-project work.
Friday is for maintenance, plus wrapping up whatever didn’t quite get done on the other four days.

Assigning a day a particular focus will give you an automatic filter for what should get your attention on that day and what should wait.

7. Identify and Control Your Distractions

There are two primary types of distractions: external and internal.

The external distractions are the ones you don’t directly cause; they are people-powered interruptions.

The internal distractions are the ones you cause yourself: the internal voices that cause you to procrastinate, the piles of disorganized clutter that drive you crazy, the Internet addictions like social media and mindless surfing.

For external distractions, follow your inbox and 2-minute protocol for most inputs. For the people interruptions, it helps a lot to be using time segments. When someone pops during your work time, just say, “I’ve got to work on this for the next [x] minutes and then I’ll be happy to chat.”

For internal distractions, either designate a time to deal with it (clutter) or implement a lim it on it (installing a blocker software that keeps you from social sites during certain hours of your day).

As you start using these techniques in your work day, you will see a difference. Remember that the first few days are the most difficult. Stick with it, and you will build productive habits that will save you from the frustration of wasted time and lost opportunities.

Bitrix24 is a free TBM (total business management) and business automation platform. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB

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Not all small businesses are the same, of course, but there are a few money mistakes that are common to many types of small businesses. Check them out, and make sure these are not happening in your small business.

Mistake 1: Not Documenting Your Financial Foundation

This means doing your due diligence. Running a small business requires more than a great idea and some agile folks. It requires thought, planning, and documentation.

Yuck.

You’re good with the thought and the planning, but the documentation? Most of us don’t really like it.

It’s important, though, and if you think that you can lead your small business to financial viability without keeping track of things - like your money - you’re in for an unpleasant surprise.

Do you have a business plan? Do you have written goals for the short-term and long-term? Do you have the legal documents needed to run your business? Contracts for your employees, projected expenses, and accurate estimates of growth expenses and overhead as your business increases?

Though it’s easy to think that winging it will work, especially at first, it becomes more and more difficult to keep track of what’s happening financially as your business ages and grows. You need financial documentation for sales, expenses, taxes, employees, contractors, and, really, anything that involves money coming into or going out of your business.

Otherwise you really can’t know what’s happening with the money in your business, and not knowing is the most common and most dangerous mistake of all.

Mistake 2: Thinking that the Small Leaks Don’t Matter

In a small business, the small leaks do matter. And you know what? In a big business, they matter, too. Small leaks add up to make a big difference.

If you are seeing your business lose money in small quantities in any area, you need to find out why it is happening and what you can do to stop it.

Is it part of the process?

Then the cost needs to be calculated in the overhead, operating expenses, or other designated costs of running your business. If it’s not tracked and estimated, you won’t be able to make a good estimate of your profits.

Mistake 3: Losing Control of Inventory

With frequent fluctuations in volume and/or type of inventory, it’s easy to lose track of what is happening. Inventory represents money for your business. Perhaps you haven’t paid all the inventory off, in which case there is a lot of potential lost money if you don’t pay before the interest starts accumulating.

One of the most basic things a small business must be able to do is track its inventory. Find a system that works: an app, software, a dedicated system.

Make sure that your employees are trained and able to track inventory as counts change, and that there is a periodic overview (quarterly or annually) to make sure that the inventory counts are accurate.

Mistake 4: Letting Disorganization Create Financial Chaos

If you have all the documentation but you can’t find it when you need it, it’s not going to help you out very much.

Is organization an issue in your small business? If so, it’s time to tackle this issue so that you can get your hands on the paperwork and information you need when you need it, not three weeks or three years later, when you find it hidden at the bottom of a stack on your desk.

Organization may not be a fun activity, but having things organized and accessible will make your work so much easier. Invest the time. Get help if you need it. Set aside a weekend and tackle one area of your business at a time until you have papers filed, supplies categorized, and documents accessible in a way that works for you and your business.

Mistake 5: Skimping on Your Employees

What’s the bread-and-butter of your business? Is it your product? Your flagship service? Your brand? Your customers?

Wrong.

It’s your employees.

How many do you have: 5, 50, or 500? It doesn’t matter. If you’re a tiny business, a small business, or a medium business, your business is only as good as the employees in it.

And if you’re skimping on your employees, you are hurting your business.

Pay a decent salary, enough to attract the good employees who will do great work for your business. Put appropriate benefits in place. And invest in employee training, whether that investment is in terms of hours or dollars, or both. The best and most talented employee cannot do a good job if you haven’t provided the right training.

Get the most out of your employees by investing more into them.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Isn’t that the basic question that every small business owner wants to answer? What’s the bottom line: what are we making, and can we keep making it, and is it enough?

The bottom line is that keeping track of money in your small business is something you can do and must do. And when you build that good foundation, handle the small leaks, get organized, and invest in your employees, you’ll be building a sound financial future for your business.

Bitrix24 is a free TBM (total business management) platform. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB

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Overseeing a team can be tough work at any time, because it involves moving multiple people toward a common goal. Personality clashes, work styles, varying ideas, and everyday stress can make forward movement difficult.

What do you do when your people can’t mesh and make progress toward the goal?

A Healthy Team Has Conflict

Conflicts happen when you have a difference of opinion, but they’re not a bad sign. It’s simply a sign that a lot of opinions and ideas are being discussed, which is exactly what you want in a team.

If you have zero conflicts happening, it’s probably because one dominating personality is squashing everyone else’s ideas before they can even grow to the point of conflict.

The key to having a good team is helping your team members to understand how to handle conflict when it does arise. Outlaw personal insults, emotional tirades, and manipulation. Guide discussions. Make sure every team member gets a chance to speak.

Determine the Underlying Cause

If you’re dealing with a team which is having continual issues, then there’s something at the bottom of it. There are three main causes for ongoing team conflict:

- interpersonal
- current project or goal
- situational

What’s going on with your team?

Interpersonal conflicts often arise when you have two or more dominant personalities on the team. Or perhaps your team members simply have very different work styles and are feeling the tensions when those styles don’t mesh. Interpersonal conflicts can also arise when communication isn’t clear on who is in charge of what.

Conflicts over current projects or goals are common. Don’t assume the team all knows or agrees on the main goals. Have a meeting and make sure everybody knows why the team exists and what the priorities for the team are.

Demanding projects or clients can also cause stress that bubbles over into team conflict. Disagreement over which approach or methodology to use in reaching a goal can lead to stalemates between team members.

These disagreements can be dealt with and don’t mean something is wrong with the team, just that they need help working through the conflicts.

Situational conflicts can be the most deceiving, because the situation causing the conflict may not seem directly related to the team or the team’s current project. But a situation that involves change or stress, even in a general sense, can trickle down into heightened tensions which become unresolved team clashes.

A change in leadership or location, a limitation on resources, a particularly demanding client, or ongoing questions about the future of the company can all cause situational stress that doesn’t go away easily.

Get It Out in the Open

The worst thing to do is to pretend everything is okay.

It isn’t, and the sooner you start having honest discussions about the issues, the sooner you can resolve them.

Call a team meeting; moderate it actively. This is not a venting session, and you should make that clear at the beginning.

Nor is it necessary, or even wise, for your team to attempt to solve all the problems that they face in working together. The only goal for this preliminary meeting should be to identify the main issues and agree to work on them together.

Be careful not to let any one person or inner group dominate the discussion. Ask people to wait, take turns talking, and call out the quiet ones. They often have plenty of insight but don’t like getting into the fray, so ask for their input and require the talkers to take a break.

Follow Up with One-on-One Meetings

For issues which need to be addressed at a deeper level, it’s usually wise to do so with private, individual meetings. These meetings allow you to get honest feedback from individuals, without group talk or peer pressure influencing or hiding what might need to be said.

One-on-one meetings aren’t always necessary, but if they are, it’s best to have one with each member of the team. Leaving one or a few people out of these may create resentment.

Create an Action Plan

Meetings, meetings, more meetings.

Enough of that.

Time for action.

Whatever you’ve identified as an issue is a problem that can be solved. To solve it, you need to take action and make changes.

Present the problem(s) to your team and work together to create a plan of action to solve it. In all cases, the primary objective is team unity.

Team unity is worth the time it takes to achieve. With a cohesive team, creativity and conflict can happen, but they will move the team forward toward their common goals.

Bitrix24 is a free TBM (total business management) platform. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB

See also:

- How we improved our ROI for PR tenfold
- 5 Ways Your Business Can Save by Moving to the Cloud
- Want Innovation? Embrace Constructive Conflict, Says Innovation And Creativity Guru Jeff DeGraff
- The Top Money Mistakes that Small Businesses Make
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