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Category Archives: Process Improvement

The Benefits of Family Business

The term "Family business " usually refers to a small or mid-sized company that has a local focus and is plagued with a familiar set of dilemmas such as succession. In spite of that very simple description, family businesses have played a powerful role in the world economy and have included, through the years, big businesses worldwide. Some examples in Australia of successful family businesses are linFox, smorgon group, cooper's brewery and there are plenty of others. Most of the time, the key to success of a family business lies in its unique ownership structure that allows them to plan and thrive in the long-term. But other researchers believe that it is also this structure that causes many of them to fall. So what’s really the case? In a recent article from Harvard Business Review, What You Can Learn from Family Business by Kachaner, Stalk and Bloch, presented...

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Kanban Flow

If you find yourself overwhelmed with all of the stuff you need to do, here’s a great productivity tool I found on the web that can help you get organized easily. This tool is called the KanBan Flow tool which you can find on www.kanbanflow.com. It is web-based and also has a version that you can download to your iPhone, iPad or Android devices so it’s with you wherever you go. The KanBan Flow tool is a web-based board that gives you an excellent overview of your current work situation. It is divided into four columns – To-do, Do today, In progress and Done so you can easily monitor which things you worked on, you should be working on and what’s coming up. You can also have other people linked into your KanBan board. Aside from the fact that it’s a productivity tool, what I like...

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Business Failure

The flipside of "success” is "failure” and it’s the latter that every business owner and manager strive hard to avoid. By definition, the term "business failure” refers to the cessation of a company’s operations following its inability to generate enough revenue to cover expenses without adequate reserves. In the recent times, there are many examples of strong businesses that have failed to adjust to the changing markets and economic times or to take advantage of opportunities – and this has ultimately led to their downfall. Based on my 26 years experience working closely with business owners, here are my 9 key tips to avoiding business failure: 1. always ensure that you target your marketing. Too many businesses have an undifferentiated product/service offering and fail to understand who their target customer is and what they require. Don’t be undifferentiated, make sure you’re speaking the right language and...

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Tailoring your Marketing to your Consumers

I recently posted about an interesting ad campaign from Canada using Porsches in a wealthy suburb in Toronto. Let's expand on this concept of really understanding your target market and personalising your approach to them. In the video, the advertising agency Lowe Roche in Toronto Canada thought of a way to make advertising more direct and more personal for client - Pfaff Porsche. They drove the Porsche to a neighborhood of affluent families in Toronto (which was their target market), parked the Porsche in driveways and took photos. After the pictures were taken, the team from the advertising agency produced tailored marketing pieces for each address using mobile printers. They then distributed the print outs and the residents of the neighborhood received a personalized direct mail piece. From this creative and very unique campaign, 32% of people responded to a website where they booked a...

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The Process of Hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA)

The process of searching for a VA for your business is fairly easy (it worked well for me!) and is similar to recruiting an assistant locally. The only difference is that 100% of the process is done online – tests or surveys are conducted electronically and candidates are interviewed via VOIP services like Skype. My Personal Hiring Experience I found my VA via www.OnlineJobs.ph, an outsourcing website that offers foreign employers to post job openings and search among thousands of Filipino applicants for the perfect person to fill the post. For sites like these, you will need to register yourself as an employer before you can post a job offer and get access to thousands of resumes in their database. After registering and posting your offer, you can either wait for applicants to contact you and send in their resumes (via your contact email) or...

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Reducing Waste in your Business

Waste in most organisations accounts for between 15% and 30% of the total operating cost of the business and is often higher than this in service industries. Therefore if your business has costs of $1.0 million per annum then you could expect to find between $150,000 and $300,000 of waste and inefficiency in even the best run businesses.  What are your total annual costs? ______________ Multiply your total costs by 0.2 (20%). ____________  This is an estimate of the cost of inefficiency and waste in your business.  Can you afford to leave this waste in your business? But where does it come from? In most businesses there is an element of waste that has been designed into the business from the start. It was introduced by the original owners who started up the business and is usually part of the way you do business. This...

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3 Stages of Improving your Business

The 3 Stages are illustrated in the diagram below. Stage 1: Structure Most people are aware the first stage in a business improvement process is to get the business structure right. The right structure means the right customers, the right products, the right prices, the right processes and the right people. The Structure involves dealing with the "visible" elements of the business. We dont usually look for the hidden wastes, costs and drivers at the structural level. involves dealing with the "visible" elements of the business. We don't usually look for the hidden wastes, costs and drivers at the structural level. involves dealing with the "visible" elements of the business. We don't usually look for the hidden wastes, costs and drivers at the structural level. involves dealing with the "visible" elements of the business. We don't usually look for the hidden wastes, costs and drivers at the...

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Using Improved Communication Technologies

Are you working with clients, suppliers or staff at a distance? How can you improve the interactivity of your distance communications? Broadband speed internet access can revolutionise the way that you can communicate at a distance. This can have enormous cost savings for your business as well as improving relationships. We are currently using a combination of these technologies in a variety of ways. I use VOIP as my daily phone service and also use Skype to communicate with colleagues and clients on a daily basis, often using video. I use Instant Messaging via Skype for quick responses and to see whether people are available for a call. I have found that recent innovations at GotoMeeting, mean that the Conference Call service is being used less and less. I am using GotoMeeting more and more as it makes for far more productive Conference Calls. We...

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The Machine that Changed the World

What is Lean Production? The best way to describe this innovative production system is to contrast it with craft production and mass production. Craft production uses highly skilled workers and simple but flexible tools to make exactly what the consumer asks for, one item at a time. The mass producer uses narrowly skilled professionals, designed products made by unskilled or semi skilled workers tending expensive single purpose machines. The lean producer combines the advantages of craft and mass production, while avoiding the high cost of the former and the rigidity of the latter. Lean producers employ teams of multi-skilled workers at all levels of the organisation and use highly flexible increasingly computerised machines to produce volumes of products in enormous variety. Lean production is lean because it uses less of everything compared with mass production, half the human effort in the factory, half the manufacturing...

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