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REPOST: Business tips: it’s good to talk

This article from The Telegraph shares valuable business tips for start-up businesses.

Business as usual: it is common to see a creative ‘ideas person’ team up with someone with business skills Photo: © T Barwick | Image Source: telegraph.co.uk

Setting up and running a fledgling enterprise can be tough and intimidating. Many enterprises begin as tiny operations run by one or two people in a back bedroom or small office, with costs kept to the minimum. However strong the initial idea, many entrepreneurs secretly feel that they are “winging it”, in at least some aspects of their new business.

It is for this reason that successful entrepreneurs are often highly developed networkers, skilled at drawing on the talents, advice and expertise of others. A third of entrepreneurs in a recent Amazon survey* said that they associate the idea of “entrepreneurship” with being collaborative, compared to just a fifth of businesses in general.

Sometimes collaboration takes place with co-founders who, ideally, will have complementary strengths. In start-ups it is common to see a very creative “ideas person” team up with someone with business skills: in online enterprises, there may be someone with a technical or software development background, too. When finding business partners to collaborate with, this mix of professional skills is key but just as important – and often harder to assess – is compatibility on a personal level. You are going to have to work long hours in stressful conditions with this person, building a business that you hope will last for years. Can you trust each other? Will you be able to get on?

For Mel Sherratt, a bestselling author who has now created a publishing company, the initial connections she made with agents, publishers and other writers when she self-published her first book through Kindle Direct Publishing, proved invaluable. “I got a lot of help and advice,” she admits. Mel has now employed her best friend of 25 years to be her business manager – the existing relationship the pair had make their working life far easier.

Numerous friendships have formed the bedrock for successful entrepreneurial businesses. Carphone Warehouse was co-founded in 1989, by Charles (now Sir Charles) Dunstone and Julian Brownlie working in Dunstone’s rented flat. Dunstone quickly brought in his school friend David Ross as finance director, sealing the partnership that built a huge and successful business. Ocado too was founded by three colleagues who’d worked together in banking.

This personal connection can be an important consideration for early hires: what do potential new colleagues bring to the table both on a professional and personal level? If these relationships work, they can be the key to a successful business. In the survey, 54 per cent of entrepreneurs cited co-founders and colleagues as the most influential people in their professional life (compared with 43 per cent for businesses generally).

Many entrepreneurs look for a mentor – someone with a long background in the business world who can provide experience, advice and wise counsel. For over a third of entrepreneurs in the survey a mentor had been their most influential figure, compared with 26 per cent of businesses, generally.

A good mentor can prove his or her value even at the very beginning of a venture, by helping the entrepreneur to think through the initial idea, draw up a business plan and suggest sources of finance. A well-connected mentor will also be able to provide important introductions.

For many entrepreneurs, the relationship with a mentor can be one of the most important in their business lives. The mentor plays the role of trusted friend, who can be relied upon to provide sound, informed advice and it is a relationship that may last for many years. Mentors aren’t in it for the money: they’ve usually been very successful in their field and are happy to share their experience and knowledge. The former government support programme for mentoring still provides training and resources for new businesses looking for mentoring support.

Successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson stress the importance of networking, even before a business is launched. Business groups, industry events and associations can all be fertile ground for fruitful professional relationships. These days, of course, social networks are assuming great significance: It is no surprise that the Amazon survey showed that entrepreneurs are enthusiastic users of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Bertrand Management Group caters to businesses in need of organization and employee training and seminars. For more information on this, visit this Google+ page.

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REPOST: Time-tested tips for time management

Time is a limited resource and knowing how to make the most out of one’s time is essential to success. Here are a few tips from BusinessManagementDaily.com for better time management:

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Bear down on one or two projects. Studies show that, throughout the day, the average supervisor refocuses his or her attention onto something new about every 8 minutes. You can stay focused on most tasks a little longer. Reserve an hour each day for your most important task, and refuse all interruptions during this period.

Leave your desk for a quiet place to concentrate for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. And lessen the impact of interruptions by making an appointment to work on the new matter later.

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Let others do your less important work. Get in the habit of asking: “Do I really need to do this myself?” When the answer is “no” or even “maybe not,” start training two or three members of your team to do the work instead of you.

Show them how you do it. Give them background information. Let them assist you and get a feel for the task. As soon as one of these trainees is ready, help him or her get started on a task without a tight deadline. Be sure you provide all the resources needed to do the job effectively. Keep training more people to do the work, and look for more tasks you can delegate.

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Pick and choose your opportunities. Many supervisors try to keep everyone happy by listening to every suggestion and complaint, working on every proposal, and saying “yes” to every request for help. But this quickly becomes a formula for overwork, overcommitment and burnout.

To prevent this, pick and choose your most important responsibilities and opportunities by asking yourself, “Is this the best use of my time right now?” Maintain a list of your most important responsibilities, and compare each opportunity to this list before you spend any time on it. Establish less time-consuming ways for people to give you suggestions, make complaints and ask for special favors— specialized forms, for example, or an “open floor” period within your regular team meetings.

Find more tips on how to be highly productive every working day by following this Bertrand Management Group blog site.

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