22 January 2013

"Exercise for better Health & Wealth" Article by Tina Zawila

January is one of the busiest months in any gym...many new years’ resolutions turn into physical action. The benefits of exercise on our health and well-being is generally obvious, but we often don’t recognise the benefits of exercise on our financial bottom-line as well as our waistline.
Just recently, at my favourite gym, I was talking to a young business woman who was bursting with energy and passion for life and for her business. She has been attending the gym almost everyday for many months, and the physical benefits are obvious – she is fit, healthy and strong. However, I was inspired to hear her speak about the business benefits of her new fitness regime. She has found that regular exercise has given her a mental edge as well as the physical energy she needs to meet the challenges of running a business.  
There is clearly a direct relationship between physical fitness and mental performance.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, you generally have an erratic daily schedule, dealing with customer demands, managing your employees, developing and marketing your business, juggling the finances, and the list goes on... While exercise will not change or reduce your daily tasks, it will improve your ability to deal with these tasks, stay focussed, and perform more efficiently and effectively. 
Exercise is a proven “stress-buster”. It assists in the reduction and management of stress by increasing energy levels, enhancing self-esteem and confidence. Giving you the strength you need to face challenges and find solutions.
Ultimately, for time-poor business owners the real question is this: “Will the time I spend on exercise be worth it in terms of goal achievement (personal and business) and an increased bottom line?” The short answer is yes. Research has found that entrepreneurs who regularly engage in rigorous exercise were better at attaining personal satisfaction, independence and autonomy. Their companies also showed significant improvement in sales over companies which were managed by non-exercisers.
Most importantly, remember Health is Wealth. Without your health, your money is worthless. So take (make) the time to incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine. You will be amazed at the difference even a 30 minute walk around the block before work in the morning will make to your day. 
What exercise do you do to keep your body and mind fit and healthy?
How do you feel after you exercise?

What are your goals (business and/or personal) for 2013?

At Sothertons, we are here to support you in [Business] and [Life]. If you would like to discuss if you and your business need a work out, call us on (07) 4972 1300.

18 January 2013

"I'd like to lodge a complaint" Article by Steve Marsten

Recently I was fortunate to travel overseas. I had made bookings for accommodation and tours, etc. before I left.  Finally we settled on a 4.5 star Hotel in the CBD.  About 3 weeks prior to leaving I logged onto TripAdvisor. The site has various reviews from people of all walks of life - covers EVERYTHING! Hotels; restaurants; tours  – you name it. So Naturally I typed in my hotel and the City. To our horror the reviews over the past month were terrible! Everything was canned - the staff; the rooms; the service. There was apparently nothing good about this hotel!

I decided to ring the Hotel manager. After much trepidation, the staff finally put me through to “Bernard”. I told him about my booking and asked him if he was aware of the reviews? He said he was vaguely familiar with them. I asked him if he would like to comment on the maintenance issues? The staff morale? The service approach of the Hotel? He stammered and spluttered and didn’t actually address any of the questions. In the end I said “Bernard, would you book yourself into your hotel?” I was waiting for the emphatic “Yes” – it didn’t come. The hesitation was unnerving! He did say “yes” eventually when he gave it considerable thought. (I guess after all – his job was important to him!)

Changing hotels at this point was cost prohibitive. Prices had jumped 25-40% so we kept our booking.

The experience raised a number of issues that business owners should consider.

1.      Always make sure your staff (and especially your managers) appreciate and are proud of the product or service they are selling. It’s important that your staff know the benefits of your product or service and ideally would feel comfortable “buying” your product or service otherwise they will not come from a “genuine” place when telling someone about you.
2.      When a customer makes a complaint, provided they treat you and your staff with respect, it is important that management listen carefully. I would much prefer the complaint be upfront than to read about it on the internet. Hence it’s important that customers are encouraged to give feedback. This is some of the most important information you will receive to grow and improve products or services.
3.      Give your staff the power to correct or solve the problem quickly. This will actually provide a smoother resolution process and minimise issues for your customers and clients.

As it turned out, we had a good experience and have reminded everyone not to read too much into the internet reviews.

08 January 2013

"Goal Setting" Article by Tina Zawila

Welcome to Week 2 of 2013...how are those Resolutions going?
If you are like most of us, you will have made a few New Year’s resolutions, even if it was just in your head, and even if you think that New Year’s resolutions are pointless.
So how are you going?  Making progress?
Remember, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.
There is no better time than the start of a new year to make some changes.
There is power in goal setting.  The keys to success are:
·         Be specific – how much (quantity), and by when (a specific time and date)
·         Set goals that will stretch you
·         Write your goals out in detail and keep them nearby, in your wallet, your diary or on your bedside table
·         Review your goals at least twice a day
·         Consider setting a “breakthrough goal” – one that will change your life, bring new opportunities, and take you to a new level in your life.  We sometimes refer to these as “BHAG’s” – Big Hairy Audacious Goals!
Determine what specific actions or steps you need to take to help you accomplish your goals and put them on your daily to-do list.  If you have set goals that will stretch you, this isn’t going to happen overnight, you will need to take small steps that move you toward those goals each and every day.
Monitor your progress, and pay attention...your results don’t lie.  If what you are doing isn’t working, make changes.  The road from point A to point B is rarely a straight line.  Ask for feedback and help.  Find someone who will hold you accountable and make sure you do what you say you will do.  There is someone out there who has done what you want to do, and is willing to help you, you just need to ask.
Success takes time, effort, perseverance and patience.
If you are thinking, I’ve read all of this before, and I’ve even tried this before, but you still aren’t where you want to be in business and life, then I would challenge you to consider whether you really have followed the process and taken the actions.  To know and not to do, is not to know. At the end of the day, talk is cheap, winners take action.  Quit procrastinating and get on with it!

Remember, these principles apply to business and personal goals – make sure you take time to set goals for both aspects of your life.
At Sothertons, we are here to support you in [Business] and [Life].  If you need someone to help you, guide you, or keep you accountable, call us on 4972 1300.

03 January 2013

"Money's too tight to mention!" Article by Tina Zawila

One of the most common challenges in business is “getting paid by customers”.  Just this week, I have spoken with three different clients, in three very different industries, all with the same problem – how can I get my clients/customers to pay me??!!
It seems that in the lead up to Christmas some customers are re-prioritising their available cash – for Christmas parties, Christmas bonuses, etc and therefore stringing out their suppliers/creditors and opting not to pay their accounts on time.   This creates a vicious cycle, the supplier then has difficulty paying their suppliers and on it goes.  I suggest that this situation may only worsen in the new year, when many will still be short of cash in January.
One small business owner from NSW had a “rant” on social media questioning why people would book their cars/trucks (he is an auto mechanic) in for servicing and repairs and then arrive to collect their vehicles without the money to pay for the work.  He made a good point – you can’t go to Woolies/Coles and fill your trolley and then ask for credit terms at the check out!
It is a common frustration, but not one without a solution.  It all comes down to systems, policies and procedures, and it starts with communication.
1.       You must have a clear credit policy and it must be communicated with your client/customer before you provide products or services.  Do not take the customer’s order until you know how and when you will be paid.
2.       You must have a system to actively monitor and action outstanding debtor balances to ensure your credit policy is adhered to and enforced. 
3.       Make it as easy as possible for your customers to pay – cash, cheque, EFTPOS, credit card, BPay etc.

However, if you do end up with overdue accounts, the three keys to collecting the cash are:
1.       Start early – don’t wait to follow up – as soon as the account is overdue contact the debtor.
2.       Always be the good guy – a series of gentle and non-confrontational reminders will get most of the honest customers to pay.
3.       Be persistent – you have been clear with your credit policy upfront, this process is now about demonstrating to the client that you will actively enforce your credit terms.
When it comes to collecting cash, the old saying “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” applies.  The supplier that constantly and consistently follows up their customers for payment will generally be the first one they will pay when the cash is available.  
If you need advice or assistance in this area, please call us on 4972 1300 and ask for our Fact Sheet titled “How to Reduce Your Outstanding Debtor Balances” for more detailed tips and templates.