Time Keeping

Timekeeping

This is something that has always bothered me. There are so many different ways to waste time and not even realise it. Take the start of the working day. Most of us, myself included, make our way into the kitchen and switch on the kettle. Our early morning rituals may include coffee and or a cigarette, a chat with colleagues, a quick bite.

The truth is we are delaying the inevitable. Not everybody starts working immediately they sit down at their desk, The Internet may be the best business tool available, it is also the biggest time waster available. You could start by reading the news or, checking your social media and personal emails. You are already eating into your employer’s time or if you are a business owner, your client’s time.

Even our work has differing levels of urgency and we do not always start with the most urgent but instead tackle something that could have been put aside or even ignored completely, because it is easier and less stressful. The crazy thing is, by putting something aside until it becomes urgent will result in stress.

If you want to get more done and stress less you are going to have to plan ahead. The best time is at the end of the week allowing you to go over what you did and did not do during the week. But you also need to prioritise tasks into urgent, not so urgent and not necessary.

Draw up your schedule for the following week making sure the urgent stuff gets priority.

Next step is going to be a bit more brutal – if you need your caffeine and nicotine before you start, get to the office earlier (or be prepared to stay late or take a shorter lunch hour). You can read your mail and catch up with Facebook on the bus or train or at lunch time. Use your phone or tablet to do so.

Use an app like Workflowy to list your daily or weekly schedule – print it out and tick off as you complete a task. The printouts will aid you when you come to plan the next week. You can get Workflowy on your PC, Phone or Tablet – why not on all 3.

You could go unplugged and use an old fashioned diary and write up your schedules or you could use Google Calendar, which you also access from all 3.

Another way and possibly the most brutal manner in which to manage your time is the Pomodoro Technique. You allocate a set amount of time to do something, once your time is up – that’s it – you are finished with that task (as in forever).

How you manage your time is up to you – and you will find that the most successful business men each have their own way to tackle work This article on The Huffington published The Top 7 Time Management Secrets of Billionaires and seriously if it works for the Donald Trumps and the Richard Bransons – it should work for you.

Professionalism

A professional is one who does something for money. He could be a Tennis Player or he could be a Gardener. We also tend to use the term to describe Doctors, Accountants and Lawyers because they have studied hard to work in a very specialised field.

But more and more being Professional refers to quality of work.The best way I can describe this is using the field I work in – Website Design.

Website Design is not difficult and there are so many do it yourself solutions available, why would you ever need to employ me?

I recently attended a Marketing group where we got together to discuss problem we were encountering One person was very bitter about Web Designers because the person who had been recommended, made her pay a large amount of money upfront, had taken a long time to do the work and had not given her any feedback at all during the process.

He was doing it part time after hours to earn pocket money. Now, fair is fair, freelancing after hours is how many small business get started and there are many out there who do quality work at a reasonable price.

But this particular Website loads slowly, is not Search Engine Friendly and not what the client wanted.

That made angry, but also got me thinking, A Business Website is not just a collection of Web Pages with information on them. Often a Website is the first experience your client has with your business. It represents your Brand and it is your Storefront online.

You know your business, you know your clients and you know where to find them. Together with you, I will look at what is the goal for your Website, what are the objectives My job is take that information and turn it into a Website that performs well and represents your Brand and your Business and I need to do it at a fair price and on time.

But is not just Websites, if you purchase a service or a product from anyone, you expect to do what is meant to and not break down. Even when cost is the most important factor in making your purchase is cost, you expect it to work.

Professionalism is more than quality, it is more than price, it is more than finishing on time – it goes beyond being technically perfect – it is about loving what you do. When you love what you do that you would so you cannot wait to get to work each day – that is Professionalism, it is the love you pour into what you do.

Service

How does one define Service? Is it an attitude or is physical? Is service time driven or is quality at all costs?

I started my working life in the Travel Industry, at a time when Travel Agencies all sold exactly the same product for exactly the same price and received the exact same commissions, The only difference between us was the quality of our service.

Actually it went beyond efficiency, it was about relationships. We treated our clients like friends. We would stand up and greet the when they came our desk, ask how they were and offer them tea or coffee.

Today, business relies less on consultants and more on call centres. The concept is a good one, consolidate everything from product information to accounts queries in one call centre. Cross train the staff to handle most queries quickly and efficiently and have specialist available for when they cannot handle the query. At least, that is the theory.

What happens in practice varies from bored incompetence to acceptable. Call Centre staff, to be fair, get a lot of verbal abuse. But when I have held on for more that five minutes to speak to someone, and then get transferred more than once and do not get resolution, well I will question their place in the gene pool in a rather angry tone of voice.

I own and operate a Small Business, actually, I am a one man operation. My customers pay my bills as well as my salary. I know that people like to spend money, they just do not like to pay. So, I need them to be willing to pay, to want to keep doing business with me and to tell others how good I am. And this is where SERVICE enters the picture.

So is Service an attitude – yes, I treat my customers like they are the only customer I will ever need. They could spend little or a lot, it does not matter, they are equally important to me.

Is Service about efficiency – again, yes, the sooner I can finish what they have asked me to do for them, the sooner I can get paid.

Is Service about quality – yes, more than anything, quality is the most important feature when it comes to service. No matter how cheap a product is, if it keeps breaking, customers get upset and demand their money back and go elsewhere.

Service is not just one thing, you cannot taste it, you can see it, but you can experience it through how service providers relate to you, how they treat you, how quick they are able to do what you ask and how well they do it!

Taming Twitter:- Part Three

Twitter is a good way to market and promote a business. But Twitter is platform that operates in real time, so you Tweets could go unnoticed. You are relying on people have Twitter open as you Tweet goes live.

That is a problem we all face, there several tweets posted at any one time, how do we filter them so we do not miss something important.

The best way around this to use a social media manager. Now, there are several available that can do both Twitter and other Social Media, but to be perfectly honest the best twitter Manager, in my opinion is Twitter’s own Tweetdeck which is available free as a Chrome App.

You are able to operate more than one account, so for example, if you have an account for personal use and one for business use, you can run the two side by side. The best feature is you can add columns for every different thing you track on Twitter.

Whilst I have Tweetdeck open all the time, if I kept coming back to check the tweets as they came in. I would never get any work done, rather I have opened different columns for different types of tweets. I have a column for my customers, so I can follow and see what they are up to. I have a column for Industry leaders. You can have as many columns as you want. following different people subjects. Columns are easier to scan through that going through you whole twitter feed to keep updated.

You may prefer Twitter’s Website, you can set up lists in the same way you would set up columns in Tweetdeck.

Twitter is great tool for business, and you can jump in and start tweet straight away. But, to get the full benefit of Twitter for your Business you need to dig deeper.

Twitter publish Learning Twitter under Business Basics

Social Media Examiner have published an article that covers the subject in depth:
How to use Twitter for Business and Marketing.

I highly recommend the above but a search will bring up plenty more. You find with the knowledge you pick up from these and other articles, you soon will be a Twitter Whizz!

Taming Twitter:- Part Two

Registering a new Twitter account is not difficult, go to https://twitter.com/ and register. Once this is done, do not rush off and start tweeting. Create your profile carefully, people want to know who they are engaging with, so tell them who you are, what it is you do.

Your profile is important so take some time over it , Twitter have this handy guide for you to use here. I would recommend that you use a head and shoulder portrait of yourself in the smaller box and something that represents your company in the larger box.

Getting ffollowers

In order to start getting followers, you need to find people to follow. Ask yourself who you want to follow, a Thought Leader like Sir Richard Branson @richardbranson or a Celebrity like Leonardo DiCaprio @LeoDiCaprio or even President Obama @BarackObama.

OK there is a slim possibility these big cheeses may follow you back, but mostprobaly not. You need to find other followers, you could look at who follows these big names or you could look for similar interests using a hashtag # or even do a search by name. You will start finding interesting people in other places, you might find a Twitter Handle on a business card or on a clients Website.

try to follow the people whom you would like to follow you. Twitter will advise them that you have followed, most will take the time to look you up and if they like your profile and your tweets, they may follow you. Others will find you through your tweets.

The three most important thing to remember when looking for followers, keep your tweets meaningful and regular. Do not bombard the Twitterverse, people will be overwhelmed and stop following you. Make sure your profile is completed properly.

The Structure of a Tweet.

Twitter is one the most powerful Business Tools available, your tweets go out in real time and can be seen, not just by your followers, but the whole world.

You need to plan your tweets and you need to be creative because you are restricted to 140 characters. That is 140 characters including spaces. You can use abbreviations, but only use what people know and understand. I do not like the SMS Speak, they youth use when texting and messaging their mates. I find it unprofessional and it has no place in Business.

With some simple planning and rewording you can change

I cannot understand why South Africans find that they need to support teams like Manchester City. The more we support our local teams, the harder they will strive to do better (175 characters)

to:
Why do South Africans support teams like Manchester City? The more we support our local teams, the harder they will strive to do better. (5 characters to spare)

I removed some words but still manage to say what I wanted to say.

Adding a Photo

In the above example, a photo of of a Manchester City jersey would have got people’s attention. You will remember the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, it is true for social media too.

Add a Video

If a picture is worth a thousand word, what are moving picture worth? You can add YouTube or Vimeo Videos just as easily as you can with pictures,

Media such as a picture or a videos attract attention and are a good way of getting a message across, not just for Twitter but for any Social Media or Blog.

Vine

Vine, owned by Twitter is a Video with a difference. Using the Vine App on your phone, you can record a video and upload it to Twitter, but nothing about Vine is that simple.

Vine is about creativity, because like Twitter with 140 character limit, a Vine is a six second looping Video.

Go and look at some of the videos produced on Vine and you will see just how creative they are.

if I have not convinced you about how powerful a Business Tool twitter is, sign up get a follower of two and try it out, you will see what I am talking about.

Taming Twitter:- Part One

What is Twitter?

Twitter IconTwitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”. Registered users can read and post tweets, but unregistered users can only read them.Wikipedia

Twitter has been referred to as a form of Internet SMS, able to reach a large audience. It was called Micro – Blogging, when Twitter first came out.

The reality is that Twitter is many things. And it is these “many things” that make it an exciting tool for Business.

  • Twitter allows you have a conversation with one person or many persons.
  • Twitter allows you to get a message out quickly to your followers.
  • The use of Hashtags allows people to search for what you are Tweeting about.
  • People will follow you on Twitter if the feel your Tweets are interesting or relevant to them.

Who uses Twitter?

There is no average Twitter follower. It is used for Social Networking and private conversations, it is used to promote products and services, it is used by the Pornography industry to promote themselves. Tweets range from status updates to menu updates.

Most users are most likely to use mobile when checking their twitter streams. Tweets can be sent in any language and at any time.

How does one use Twitter?

First you need a Twitter account and a user name. Usually when you have set up your account, you look for people to follow. Twitter will make suggestions for you or you can search using names of the people you would like to follow or hashtags of your interests. Most of the time,  people that you follow will follow you back.

Twitter restricts you to 140 characters, so you need to be creative with language and abbreviations, sort of like the annoying SMS speak the kids use. Tweets need a bit of thought, so that they do not end up as unintelligible.

From time to time, you will see a tweet that you like or agree with and you can Favourite or even share it with your followers by Retweeting.

What Advantages does Twitter hold for Small Business?

The Internet has changed the way that Small Business competes with Big Business by bringing down the cost of how a business markets itself.

Twitter is free to use, a big plus factor and unlike Facebook, you do not have to have a personal Twitter account in order to have one for your Business. Twitter has large membership that covers every aspect of business and society.

Some examples of how different business can use Twitter:-

  • Travel Agencies could tweet reservation details to their customers as a direct message.
  • They could also tweet their specials to their customer base.
  • A restaurant could tweet their daily specials to their customer base.
  • Airlines could tweet when flights are delays.

Of course Twitter works in both directions, customers are able to direct message suppliers with their compliments and complaints. They could also tweet their followers using a hashtag, when they are happy of angry with   supplier. This makes monitoring your twitter stream carefully to pick up problems and react quickly.

Another way Twitter can benefit a business is monitor complaints about your competitors, then connect with person complaining and offering help.

Twitter has many uses for Small Business and has a important place in their Marketing Arsenal.

 

Landing Pages

Landing Pages are one page Websites, separate from your Website, that that is very specific in its purpose. A Landing Page can be used to;

    • Generate Leads
    • Obtain eMail Addresses or Phone Numbers
    • Promote a Product or Service
    • Persuade visitors to purchase

A Landing Page will usually focus on and promote one thing. It may have the aim of teasing or it may be meant to persuade.

A good landing page has to be designed in a way that will not distract you from its goal. It must grab the visitors attention and focus the on its purpose.

What are the elements that make up a good Landing Page? Here you have to remember that your purpose is to solve a problem.

Control your creativity and make sure your audience understand what your are saying. Simple language is usually best.

Ask a question or make a statement around the problem they are trying to solve.

Use simple muted background, you do not want distract your visitors.

Do not add a menu to the page – a Landing page is meant to be a stand alone page.
Do not add Social Media buttons, you do not want them to leave the page before doing the action you want them doing.

Social Media buttons can be added to the Thank You page, so that when your visitors complete the action you want them to do, you can then ask them to tell their friends or to connect with you on social media.

A Description of what is being offered.

A picture or video.

A Value Statement

Give testimonials if you have them.

A mail Form to catch customer details, name and email address is all that you need.

But most of all keep it, short simple and to the point and remember to remember to tell them to take the action you require, example;

Wiki

Wikipedia, the on-line Encyclopaedia, is the best example of a Wiki. Most of us will use Wikipedia to look up information on just about every subject under the sun. The difference, between Wikipedia and something like Encyclopedia Britannica, is that the research and information is done by anyone who has information on that particular subject.

A Wiki is a collaborative database that can be moderated, even made private or can be completely free for anyone to post information on. The uses are many, from an Encyclopedia to a Hobby Website.

Obviously, when not controlled it can become a spam magnet and the information posted be completely off topic, or just plain incorrect.

Wikis are a form of Content management Software and live on your server, so that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, using any computer. These make Wikis ideal for any type of business team project.

Because a Wiki is a CMS and live in the cloud, you would control access through usernames and passwords, especially when using for business. If you were using it for public input or feedback, you might allow people to join without these credentials.

A Wiki is another tool in your marketing arsenal, that can be used in connection with or, separately from your Website or, even as as Website

Bootstrap

A Website is no longer a static plain page containing some text, a picture or two and not much colour. We expect more, we want more bells and whistles from our Websites. Bootstrap is a Mobile First Framework for designing Website using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

HTML is used to create content on Websites, CSS is responsible for the layout and JavaScript for the dynamic content. HTML5 became the Web Standard in October 2014. It has enhanced support for multimedia.

A modern Website is created using HTML, CSS and Javascript. These can be hand written separately for each separate project, which is long and tedious. A smart developer will keep a library of the most commonly used code used to speed things up. This is where Bootstrap comes in. It is a comprehensive library that allows you to choose from code snippets to create a Website.

What does this mean for you, the client? Sites are created quicker using the latest standards. Unlike CMS Websites (WordPress) that live in the cloud, the original files remain on the developer’s PC (unless he hands them over to you,) however many WordPress themes are now built using Bootstrap.

Bootstrap is not really client friendly and I use it only for my own projects and those that I control on behalf of my client. But is a very powerful platform to use when creating professional work.

WordPress DOT COM

There are many free do it yourself Websites and Blogging platforms available to you. Some good, some mediocre. WordPress is different, it come in two very distinct flavours.

WordPress DOT COM is a free hosted Website or Blog and WordPress DOT ORG allows you to download the software free to use on our own serve.

So what is WordPress? It is a Content Management System that you can access from any computer, anywhere in the world, as long as you have a working Internet connection.

So why should you choose WordPress DOT COM instead of any of the other free Do It Yourself options. Because, when you outgrow free, and trust me – as a business you will outgrow free, you transition to the WordPress that lives on your own server, is quick and easy.

Like every free do it yourself Website, you get the free base package and the paid premium package. The free package is perfectly ok and if you find yourself considering the premium package, you know it is time to move to your own server, where you get more control.

The only disadvantage of the free package is that you get a subdomain – yourname@wordpress.com. Of course you can register a Domain through them at a fee or point your own existing domain to the Website, again at a fee. But that is really the only paid option you should consider.

So what happens when you feel it is time to move, WordPress can move your existing site or blog to a self hosted setup for a fee or you can simply redirect people to your new site.

You cannot make the move and expect that your existing audience will automatically follow you. You need to tell them that you are moving (how else will they know.) If you have a mailing list, send them a newsletter telling them about the move and the benefits it will have for them.

Your very last post need to be redirecting them to the new address and and what the benefit is for them. Tempt them with a freebie or a discount.

Just a little of planning and things will go smoothly.