Ten ways to streamline your business in 2011

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From putting people at the heart of what you do in business to doing it all with a sense of fun, a check-list of 10 top tips.


1 Remember that people are your business

Customers, colleagues and suppliers alike are all people. Understanding the relationship and expectations of all the people that touch your business is critical to success. Sustaining healthy collaboration in every communication channel within the business will result in improved profit margins and increased productivity.

People ought to be the most valued strategic asset, not a necessary cost, such as in some declining businesses. The diversity of your people can compliment and enhance business. Harnessing non-traditional approaches when dealing with change and challenges can often provide innovative solutions that otherwise may not have been considered.

2 See change coming and embrace it

With rapid-moving economic climates and ever-changing customer expectations, it is important to welcome change and make changes – before they change you. Sanity-check the way you are checking influencers to your business: ask yourself if you are looking in the right direction or at the right benchmarks. Know when to look outside the box… but know the operational limitations, too.

The key to change is successful engagement. If change initiatives are implemented in a structured way involving everybody, then their commitment can drive the success of the change. Get everybody involved in planning for the future.

 

3 Never assume you are getting the best price or the right deal for your business

There are plenty of consumer comparison websites out there actively encouraging consumers to get the best deal B2C and B2B. Rationalising suppliers, depending on the scale of your business, can improve your buying power and strengthen your relationship with key providers.

4 Engage with the local community

Getting to know local businesses and organisations can help attract new and retain existing clients. We have worked closely with local community groups of all shapes and sizes, such as churches and charities and large-scale event organisers, to provide venues for local events, business support and enhance community welfare.

5 Structure to adapt

Rigid structures, processes and communications channels can restrict the ability to react and adapt to market and company situations in time. An oversized, inflexible or protocol-ridden business will keep heading towards the iceberg, despite any amount of frantic turning of the small wheel at the top. Make sure you are structured to change direction as instantly as the current environment demands.

6 Use technology strategically

Keeping up-to-date with technology and investing in the right platform can help give your business an edge, if you ensure that it is appropriate to your longer-term business size and objectives.

For example, Maya has partnered to provide clients with a new cross-media marketing solution developed by Xerox, which allows us to create, track and manage highly effective direct marketing campaigns across web, print, email and mobile, in a way that has so far been the preserve of large organisations with significant IT spend. Providing and managing the software that helps streamline data and provide highly targeted and personalised campaigns allows our client businesses to uniquely control customer information to achieve dramatic returns on marketing investments – but without leaving them with yet another legacy system that can prove costly in terms of time and money to maintain.

7 Have insight into your numbers

Financial analysis is critical to understanding and actively managing asset performance, particularly in sectors where there are varied and complex accounting treatments of numerous revenue streams. You need to ensure you have the tools available to understand the drivers and the impact of decisions. Sophisticated modelling techniques to analyse existing business performance, as well as developing appraisal techniques for future potential performance and acquisition viability, are what’s needed.

An ability to utilise these tools to effectively understand the key business drivers and areas of critical performance allow deployment of resource to their greatest potential benefit. This provides management the ability to scenario-plan and respond effectively to emerging opportunities and mitigate risk.

8 Manage expectations carefully

Be true to what you can offer as a business and don’t over-promise. Failure to manage expectations from the outset can significantly damage relationships with customers, colleagues and suppliers. Unfortunately, if the promise of an excellent product/service turns out to be nothing more than a promise, it can be a near impossibility to reengage with disappointed clients, even if the product has improved in line with their original expectations.

This is particularly apparent in the tourism sector, where glossy brochures can bear no relation to the reality of the offering, destroying trust and costing a fortune in refunds.

Be honest and transparent about what your company can deliver and do not simply accept work on the basis that you will ‘work it out later’. It is far better to exceed expectations than to fall short of them.

9 Think before you blog

Well-managed social media platforms can provide brand new cost-effective channels for you to interact with your target audience. However, it is so easy to set up a new account with Twitter, Blogger or Facebook that it can be easy to jump in without having thought about what you actually want to use them for. A poorly managed blog can be as detrimental to your business as a well-managed one can enhance it. There’s nothing worse than seeing the last update as December 2009! It gives the impression of a badly managed business.

Think carefully about your social media marketing strategy, the key messages you would like to voice and how genuine they are. Prudently plan the resource and time it will take to update your social media channels: it takes sustained effort to build a strong presence and see the associated benefits.

10 Have fun

Make having fun a priority. It is a well-known fact that being happy helps combat stress and improves the state of mind. An improved state of mind will result in happier, more productive and more creative people, both in and out of work. A sense of belonging can be borne into your company from the bonds formed between colleagues through the fun you have had, particularly when faced with a challenging and difficult situation. Laughter at the right time can be just what the doctor ordered and continue to play a very important role in your day-to-day business.

Victoria Brannen is CEO of Maya Asset Management

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