23 Jul 2017

How Effective An Executive Are You?

Isn't it interesting how information comes your way at exactly the right time that you need it to?

Let me explain what I mean - over recent times I have been working with a business that has been going through some seriously "trying" times.

Late last year the manager passed away after a very short illness and the owner - who is also the manager's wife - was left with a business in total disarray.

To try and keep the business afloat she brought in a family friend - and as you will see shortly, I use the term "family friend" very loosely - to help run the business because of his (quote) "Management Expertise" and a short time later this same person was (literally) thrown out of the business under suspicion of misappropriation of funds.

Since then there have been a number of tumultuous incidents within the business which have all been based around the fact that the business has been run like a "rudderless ship".

What I mean by this is that there has been no real "Captain" to help guide the business through these harrowing times and as a result the business has been merely "surviving" with no-one to truly guide it back on to the road to success.

This experience has really opened my eyes to the importance of business needing true "Guardians" to guide it to success - in the case of small business, this might mean honourable and ethical management and in the case of larger corporations this might mean an honourable and ethical Board of Directors.

It was around about this time that I was listening to Mark Horstman (that's Mark on the left above) and Mike Auzenne (on the right) talking about how to be an effective executive on their podcast called Manager Tools and their discussion was just the kind of information that this business needed to help it through it's current situation, so I got in contact with Mark Horstman and asked him back on to the BookPals Business Sanity Podcast to talk about what it means to be an effective executive.

You would remember Mark from previous podcast episodes where he has spoken about effective management principles and in this discussion Mark outlines what it means to be an effective executive and the differences between being an effective manager and an effective executive of a larger organisation.

Get ready to start understanding how to prepare yourself for the "jump" from effective manager to effective executive after listening to this episode of BookPals Business Sanity.

29 Jun 2017

We Have An Excuse For Being Away For So Long!!! LOL


It has been a while between blog posts hasn't it?

We do have our reasons - we have been working away madly in the background to make the BookPals product so much easier for you to use.

Oh - and guess what else we've done?

THE BOOKPALS iPHONE APP HAS BEEN CREATED!!!

Yep, we've been talking about it for years now and earlier this week we signed off on the iPhone app that is going to make your business bookkeeping SO MUCH EASIER!!!

As with all phone apps, we are in the process of getting it approved through the App Store at the moment, so while we are waiting, I wanted to show you it in anticipation of it's release so that you can see just how much easier it is going to be to do your business bookkeeping.

Ok, so have a look at this and tell me what you think -




Pretty complex ah?!!! LOL

The image above is what a receipt looks like once it has been captured by your BookPals Phone App.

Oh - and just so you can see how hard it is to get to this point, here's how you do it -

First of all you have the good old BookPals icon on your phone -




And once you click on this, you see this -



Really complex ah?!!! I won't insult your intelligence by explaining to you how you log in to your account but once you do, you'll see this -





You swipe left to process your first receipt (just like it says) and this is what you'll see -




If you've just walked out of a place where you've purchased something you might have the receipt in your hand, but it may be a receipt that you have already taken a photo of earlier in the day - choose Camera if you want to take a picture now, or Gallery if you have already photographed your receipt and after you have done so we are back to here (needless to say I had a crumpled fuel receipt in my pocket as I am often prone to do!!! LOL) -




Once again, I won't insult your intelligence by stepping through the very "complex" details that you have to enter (LOL) except to quickly mention the one near the bottom that says Account Type: because we don't expect you to remember all your income and expense accounts - we can't remember ours so why should you have to remember all of yours?

This is why we've already got them stored there for you!!!



See - all your accounts are there for you and it's simply a matter of scrolling through them until you find the right one and once this is done, hit the Save button and it's ready to go -



Ok, once this is done, you can add more receipts by Swiping right and adding another receipt just like this -





and once you're done, then it's time to send them over to your BookPals account.

Here's how you do that - you have your list of receipts that you have just added using your phone app (there's only the one in this example - I don't horde my receipts - I get them in and out of the way as quickly as possible) -


You can give them a quick check if you like to make sure that you haven't uploaded the wrong receipt (it happens) and if you have, you can delete receipts by clicking on the Delete All button, or if you have a couple of receipts there and only want to get rid of one, do it this way -



Just swipe to the left and delete the one receipt - either way is dead easy.

The same goes for sending them to your BookPals account - you can send your receipts off using the Send All To BookPals button, or send each one off on it's own by swiping left and doing each one individually if that's what floats your boat.

You've probably noticed the little red Not Uploaded notice under the Tax section of the receipt above - that's telling you that you haven't sent this receipt to your BookPals account yet but after you've sent your receipts off to your BookPas account that prompt changes to Uploaded and looks like this -




And you even get notification that your receipts are on their way to your BookPals account -



Once you've done all this - which, by the way, takes about 60 seconds to do - you're done with your bookkeeping and can get back to doing what's most important to you because your receipts are now in your BookPals account waiting for tax time and there's nothing more for you to do with them.

We promised that we were going to give you the easiest to use bookkeeping solution out there - have we kept our promise?

Oh - and all of you Android phone users - don't fret because we are in the process of making you a phone app as well.

Stay tuned for more info on that -------

15 May 2017

The Unsung Heroes Of Small Business!!!



Ok, so if you are based in Australia and you're reading this post the day it goes out, many (most?) of you are just starting the day after celebrating Mother's Day yesterday.

It may have been taking your Mum out for a picnic or a nice meal - or it may have been as simple as a bunch of flowers and a quick phone call (as was the case with me as my Mum lives hundreds of kilometers away from us) to say hi and show her your appreciation and love.

While I'm here I want to give a huge shout out to the "Unsung Hero Mums" that don't get anywhere near as much acknowledgement as they deserve - and that's the Small Business Mums!!!

I tend to categorize these Mums into three groups -

1. Those Mums who run their own small business.

2. Those Mums who are the partners of small business owners.

3. Those Mums who are the partners of small business owners AND run their own small business.

The reason why these Mums need to be acknowledged is that in many (most?) cases these Mums are also co-ordinating the day to day running of homes/children/their own parents - and all the other chaos in our lives and I - for one - often stand their amazed at how they can do it (and I can speak from experience because my wife is a "Category 3 Mum" above!!! LOL).

To all you Small Business Mums out there, I say "Good On Ya" - I don't know how you do what you do and it will never cease to amaze me how you get through the days without ripping your hair out!!! LOL

30 Apr 2017

What Are You Doing To Surprise Your Customers?


The last couple of weeks have been insane and I want to share the experience with you because it is a wonderful example of why you should surprise your customers and how this surprise can result in more sales.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but my wife Annie runs a business called Krondorf Trading Co where she sells gourmet condiments to customers throughout Australia.

Anyone throughout Australia can buy Annie's products online, but there is only one physical location where you can buy her produce and that's out at Rockford Wines in the Barossa Valley of South Australia.

Anyway, Annie was approached by staff at Rockford Wines some time back asking her if she would set up a stall at the winery to sell her products during the Barossa Vintage Festival.

I had better clarify a few things here - Annie bought Krondorf Trading Co from her Mum a year or so ago and when her Mum was running the business she used to have a stall out at Rockfords each weekend.

Annie works four days a week and runs her produce business as a "side hustle", so when she took over Krondorf Trading Co she decided not to continue the stall - nowadays her produce is in at Rockford's Cellar Door Sales so that visitors who go to Rockfords to sample their wonderful range of wines can also buy Annie's produce while they are there.

The problem here is that visitors can no longer taste the produce and this is why she was approached by staff at Rockfords to set up a stall for the Barossa Vintage Festival - so that visitors to Rockford Wines over the festival period could also sample her produce while they were there.

Of course the answer was "Yes!!!" - staff Rockfords have always been wonderful ambassadors for Krondorf Trading Co, so how could we refuse?!!!

The festival was last weekend, so out we all went (it was a family affair with Annie, myself and our son Ben all "pitching in" to help) and we had a fantastic weekend out there, meeting people from all over Australia - and the world - and enjoying the feedback we received on how good the produce was after these visitors sampled Annie's wonderful products.

While we were out there a number of "regulars" to Rockford Wines commented on how good it was to have Krondorf Trading Co back and we explained that it was not going to be a regular thing, but we would definitely be out there to say hi again whenever Rockfords hosted other "special events".

The end result was that Krondorf Trading Co had a very good weekend sales wise and what was more interesting were the comments that came from Rockford management and staff later in the week.

A number of Rockford staff approached us and commented on the positive feedback that they had received from visitors about the fact that Krondorf Trading Co had held a stall over the festival and these same people were asking to be informed when we (Krondorf Trading Co that is) would be out there again because they would be making the trip back to sample Rockford's wine and Krondorf Trading Co's produce.

Why am I telling you this story?

We - as small business owners - all do our best to provide our customers with a high level of service, but how often do we do things that actually "surprise" our customers and make them feel "special"?

What I mean by this is that "quality service" does not surprise our customers because this is what they expect (and rightly so) from every business transaction that they do with you, but if you can provide these same customers with something that surprises them - and through this surprise they feel special - then not only do you have a loyal customer, but you also have a raving brand ambassador for your business.

What kind of surprises can you give your customers that will make them feel special?

26 Mar 2017

The Essence Of Integrity ----



Isn't it funny where you can get business inspiration from?

Yesterday I was at a judo competition with my son Ben (that's him in the photo here) and at the end of the day I came home so inspired by the things that I saw and how they can be converted into a business scenario that I had to share the experience with you here today.

Ok, so let's set the scene - Ben and his mate Phil are competing in separate weight divisions.

While Phil is waiting to compete one of the co-ordinators comes up and explains that there are no juniors (they're actually called cadets) in his weight division, so would it be ok if he competed against a senior who is only a couple of years older than him, but is a similar weight.

I ask Phil if this will be ok - he says "Yes" - so the game is on!!!

Phil steps on to the mat and starts wrestling with the other guy trying to get him in a position to throw him when BAAM - the other guy shoots in and throws him with a fantastic move!!!

There's only one problem - Phil wasn't expecting the move and did not have enough time to roll correctly when thrown - and was face planted right into the mat!!!

The room goes quiet while Phil lays there looking like he has just been sent on a one way trip to La La Land - and then one of the most wonderful things I have ever seen happened.

Before anyone else moves, the young bloke who threw him is down on the ground beside him really upset about what has just happened.

Now, you have to understand the whole situation here - the move that this guy pulled on young Phil was completely legal and was a really good throw, but all this kid was interested in was the wellbeing of his opponent and it warmed the cockles of my heart to see such real concern by such a young guy.

It gets better - most kids Phil's age would have said "That's me finished for the day" but not Phil - he gets up and is checked to make sure he is ok and then says that he wants to continue the competition.

He finishes this bout and when he comes off the mat he makes mention to me that he has worked out how to beat the other bloke and can't wait to get back on the mat for the second bout with him.

I'm just standing there shaking my head - guys twice (three times?) Phil's age would have called it a day after what just happened, but not this kid - not only does he want to get back on the mat with his opponent but he is now working out a way to beat him!!!

In the second bout Phil tries his heart out to pin this guy by getting him down on the mat (which he had decided was the best way to beat this guy) but the guy is simply too strong and wins the second bout as well.

Here's where the truly inspiring "stuff" begins - at the end of the competition the co-ordinators decide to give both Phil AND his opponent first place medals because of the courage and integrity of both kids.

And it was here that I got a lump in my throat - the young bloke who won the division actually wanted to give his medal back saying that he was a senior so Phil was the true winner and when the co-ordinators said that he could keep his medal he took a step back behind Phil - pointed to him in front of everyone - and started clapping him for his efforts!!!

As he walked past me I said to him "You are a credit to yourself, your club and your family mate - well done" and he bowed to me and said "thank you" and walked off.

Now it's my bloke's turn!!!

Ben had been up against his opponent about 6 months before and had accounted for him in no uncertain terms quite quickly the last time they had met - but to say that this kid had had a growth spurt is understatement!!!

I make mention of this to Ben who was not too concerned - until the bout started - where he found out that this guys was going to be a lot harder to move than the last time they had fought!!!

The fight went for over 4 minutes and Ben eventually got the better of the guy in the end but when he came off the mat to say he was distressed is an understatement.

He walked up to me and said "I don't think I can go back on Dad - I can hardly breathe".

He sits down and I get him to start taking some deep breathes and start encouraging him to settle himself down.

Slowly he settles down - he has a few sips of water and puts the cold water bottle to his forehead and the back of his neck to cool himself down and a minute or so later he begins to settle.

Once he has settled down he starts commenting on how much stronger the other guy has got since the last time they met, so while we are waiting for the second bout we start talking about strategies Ben can use to beat him taking into account his extra strength.

I say to Ben "Have a look at him over there mate - he still looks quite distressed after the last bout and he is not drinking much water - do you think he will be as refreshed as you when he gets back on the mat?"

Ben looks over at him for a minute and then says "Na!!!"

I then said to Ben - "Why don't you just keep focussing on your breathing - settle yourself down further - get plenty of fluid into you - and when you go out there the next time you should have a heap more energy than him don't you think?".

Ben nods - sits back - takes some really deep breathes - has a few more sips of water - focusses himself - walks out on the mat and pins the other bloke in about 20 seconds!!!

"What has this got to do with business?" I hear you say.

Have a think about the two examples above in the context of running a successful business -

Focus

Integrity

Determination

Dogged Perseverance

Honour

Consideration

Competition

Strategy

Winning

All these words played a huge part in both player's efforts yesterday - shouldn't they be an integral part of our business strategies?

Well done guys - it was a honour to be a part of yesterday's proceedings and I am so proud of you both.

14 Mar 2017

Systems - Another Name for Freedom!!!


Ok, things have been a bit "down" recently with the posts I have been putting out there, but a couple of things have happened over the past week that have put a real positive "slant" back on running a business and I want to share them with you here today!!

Let's get started - last week my son got his first job!!!

He has been applying for everything he could find advertised ever since he found out that businesses would start looking at kids his age for employment and two weeks ago he came running out of his room to tell me that he had just got a text from one of the potential employers who wanted him to come in for an interview to see if he would be a good "fit".

I am not going to mention the employer concerned at this stage (to be truthful, I am in the process of trying to get them on to the BookPals Business Sanity podcast to talk about their business) but what I will say is that their processes for vetting and checking to see if a potential employee is the right for their business are out of this world.

I suppose I have to put something into perspective here - I applied for my first job 40 years ago and I still remember how daunting and laborious the whole process was - sitting down in front of a panel of "Oldies", wearing a suit and tie for the first time and thinking I was in a court room being questioned over a murder case - and to compare this experience to how the business conducted my son's interview and vetting process was so refreshing to me.

What impressed me most about the whole process is that it is set up to cater specifically for the demographic that they are targeting as employees - in other words young kids who are just starting out on their business careers.

The whole process was very casual and laid back, but at the same time it was run to a very tight system, with all the checks and balances in place to ensure that when a person was chosen as a new employee the employer was confident that all the requirements needed by the candidate had been "ticked off".

Why am I telling you this?

Many of us - small business owners that is - think that adhering to "tight" systems is something that only the "Big Boys" have to do, but this can be no further from the truth.

Systems are there for a very simple reason - to give you a very clear "path" on what needs to be done under certain circumstances - so doesn't it make sense to incorporate systems into everything you do in your business so that others working for you don't have to keep hounding you with questions on what they should be doing?

Running your own small business takes up enough of your time as it is without having the added hassle of staff constantly hounding you for instructions on what to do in their job, so think about systems as the freedom you need to successfully run your business.

Gotta go now - time to teach the "Young Bloke" how to iron his new uniform!!! LOL

6 Mar 2017

Please Please Please - Pick The Right Crew!!!



Well, what a week last week was!!!

I have to share what has happened with you because it highlights the importance of picking the right people for your business.

As you will shortly find out, this example is probably at the extreme end of the scale, but I am certain that after you hear about it you will think long and hard about the people you are considering as potential employees.

Ok, so here we go ---

I am working with a business who - due to tragic unforeseen circumstances beyond anyone's control - had to employ the services of a new manager.

The person who was chosen for the role was an old family friend of the owners, so you would think that the business was in good hands.

How wrong you are!!!

Within a month of taking over the role, "mysterious withdrawals" began to take place from the business bank account.

"So why were these withdrawals not immediately picked up?" I hear you say -

The reason for this was twofold -

1. The owners were dealing with the tragic events that led up to the loss of the old manager and

2. The new manager placed road blocks between the owners and these "mysterious withdrawals" to prevent them from becoming suspicious about what was going on.

Just so you can understand the amount of damage that was done, let me give you an overview of the consequences of this person's actions -


  • Ten of thousands of dollars have vanished from the business.
  • Hours of productivity time have been lost as a result of the initial investigation and subsequent police interviews.
  • The business has had to front the executive management of it's biggest customer to explain what has gone on and why they should be allowed to continue providing this customer with their services.
  • Staff's confidence in the business has hit an all time low because a number of them have not been paid due to "cashflow issues" (this is what the new manager was telling the staff).
  • More resources are being lost because the business has now been forced to employ the services of a business consultant to help them re-establish the business using much stricter policies and procedures.
  • The potential for many more lost hours exists due to time being taken up in what could potentially be a lengthy court case.

The moral to this story is very simple - PLEASE  PLEASE  PLEASE  pick your staff very  - VERY - carefully!!!

What may - on the face of things - be a perfect candidate for a role in your business may turn out to be something completely different after you "scratch the surface" just a little, so take the time to set up thorough processes for vetting potential employees to your business.

After this little episode, I cannot impress upon you enough how important this is to your business ----