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Not everyone in non-profits, or even regular business, is particularly finance-minded. For some it comes easily, but others muddle along, stowing away copies of invoices and receipts in more or less the one spot, hoping they’ll be able to dig relevant papers out if they need them, and desperately dreading an audit. These pile-builders don’t have anything to hide, but business gets busy, and performing tasks related to their area of expertise or providing services for their clients is simply more important. Let’s face it, try as we might, none of us are good at everything!

If you are a piler, as opposed to a filer, you might be surprised to learn that there is a company built around helping people just like you. Shoeboxed is a receipt and invoice management service that can turn your organisation’s muddled stack of “important papers” into a clear, organised and accurate record of business. All you need to do is send copies of  the paperwork (either the real thing, scanned copies or email versions) and the Shoeboxed team will sort it all out, extracting the vital data, organising and readying it for you to use for your accounts and taxes. The system will save you a lot of time, while being completely secure, with real people working the numbers, to ensure total accuracy.

There is no need to fight against the grain of your true nature, or hire someone in your non-profit to take care of accounts. It is likely to be more cost-effective, and way less stressful, to hand it in to Shoeboxed. And know you are not the only one!

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Much has been said and written on the topic of multitasking, concentration and how to stay focussed. And while there are some really useful resources on the Internet that will help you improve your concentration skills, most of the posts suggest focussing techniques that are literally useless and will not only mess up your mind, but will also make you waste precious time while trying to make them work.

The truth about focussing is that it can be achieved, but for many it seems to be a case of all or nothing – you will either do it right and concentrate on your task, or it won’t happen at all. If it doesn’t happen instantly, gradual and step-by-step ‘training’ of your mind won’t help, because the core of every technique is motivation and determination. If you want to do it, you will do it right away as it is not that hard. If you don’t want to do it, you just won’t.

So, imagine you are working on a really important report for your meeting tomorrow and you really need to get it right. True, you may still get it right even if you are constantly being distracted, but it won’t be as good as the one your focussed self can produce. Besides, focussing on one thing and doing only it will help you do it faster and with less effort, thus saving your time and energy for the next task. Being focussed will also allow you to avoid making silly mistakes related to spelling and grammar, figures and clarity. It is so annoying not to attach a file when sending an e-mail or writing ‘September 2£’, and we won’t even mention forgetting to save your report before switching the computer off.

Now that we know some of the important reasons why you should focus on one task and deal with it without distraction, let’s see how to do it. The first question you need to ask yourself is ‘What are the things that distract me?’ Here are some suggestions:

- Social Media, news and other websites
– E-mail
– Phone
– Colleagues
– Other things you have forgotten
– add other distractions here…

So now that we have the list of things that distract you, let’s see how to avoid the distraction.

Firstly, the Internet; just close your browser, look at the browser icon and make a mental note, something like a mind alarm that will go off every time you click on it. The alarm should say ‘No distractions!’ or ‘Get back to work!’ or ‘Multitasking is not cool!’ – anything that will remind you that your goal is to focus on the report or the task at hand. Browsing the Web can be your treat for a job well done. Of course, you can use the browser for research and information for your task, but close it again as soon as you are done with that.

As for your e-mail, if you access it through your browser, that’s already sorted out. If you use Outlook or an app on your phone, just switch off the automatic synchronisation for some time until you finish your task. E-mails can wait, you will have enough time to focus on them later.

Same goes for your phone – switch off the vibration, mute it and put it screen down on the desktop. You can take care of all professional and personal matters requiring your attention afterwards.

If your colleagues keep distracting you from what you have to do, just explain to them politely that you need to focus on your task. If they keep doing it, close the door to your office – that will usually do the trick. Same goes for your thoughts – they can be like distracting colleagues sometimes. In order to stop them, put a sheet of paper near you – when you remember something, just write it down. This will help you focus your thoughts.

In a similar way, you can deal with all other distractions you add to your list. Just have in mind that you are not removing the distractions forever, as you will need to focus on them at some point. You are just keeping them at arm’s length so you can pay attention to your current task.

If you follow this simple and easy method, you will see that your productivity and success will achieve new levels and that dealing with your daily tasks will take you less time and effort than usual. There’s no harm in trying, so why not try now?

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The world has probably seen successful start-ups at a local level being managed and run by one or several people. However, expansion and growth are impossible without a team of people working for you, and if you want your business to move from a local to a national or even an international level, you will need to invest in people. In one of his recent posts, Robin Sharma states that you can triple the growth of your organisation, but for that you will need to triple the number of people working in it.

However, taking people on board is not enough to initiate growth. More people = more growth is a good formula, but it has some factors that define its success. One of them is motivation. If you want your team to achieve success, you will need to inspire them. Be the leader they have always wanted to have. Show them the right path and arm them with dreams. According to Robin, your team will have more motivation to achieve the goals of your business or organisation if the goals themselves are bigger and more ambitious.

It is true that you hire people for their skills and pay them to work, but there are times when money loses its value and importance and what your employees need is encouragement and recognition instead. An employee will only be happy if their job is challenging and rewarding (but not only financially). Therefore, you should never miss a moment to encourage someone you work with – this may take 5 minutes from your day but totally change theirs and significantly improve the quality of their work.

Cooperating with your employees on a daily basis will certainly result in knowing them very well. This is to say, not only knowing things about their personal life, but also knowing what and who they are and what they are able to do. This will inevitably lead to realising what they can become and do if someone inspires them – a realisation that will come to you rather than to them because it is easier to assess the people around you than to assess yourself. And if you are wondering who should inspire them to achieve their maximum potential – the answer is you. You can and should always try to inspire your employees and colleagues to always improve themselves.

Having said all this, it is obvious that “the quickest way to grow the sales of your business is to grow your people”. If you want to achieve the growth you deserve, you need to take on board more and more people, to train them, to turn them into the best professionals and team players and to constantly inspire them to become better in what they do. The growth of your business can have no limits if you realise that the stronger and more capable your team is, the better it is able to work and help you expand.

iStock_000018559419_ExtraSmallWhen spring arrives our first instinct is to throw the windows open and let the fresh air sweep through our homes and offices. We associate spring with a new start, with renovating and invigorating powers, sun and verdure. However, just cleaning and refreshing your home and office is not always enough – it is only one side of the coin. The other is spring cleaning yourself – taking the time to check your attitudes, feelings, hopes about work and life. You need to toss out those that don’t serve you well and bring in shiny new ones to boost your happiness and contentment.

In a sense, spring gives you a new opportunity to pour some life in the process of achieving your personal and business goals. This is the time to sit down and try to get yourself straight. When you get caught up in the everyday rat race, you simply start going with the flow and forget where you started. And just like a boat going with the flow, all kinds of unnecessary (and even nasty) things cling to your mind and soul. Therefore, a good spring clean, and maybe some general refurbishing of yourself is worth trying.

When it comes to your personal plans, you need to take into consideration three aspects: a year ago, where did you think you would be now; where do you want to be after a year; and where will you be after a year if you keep going at this speed and with this determination. This will pretty much show you how you progress and if you need to change something in order to achieve your goals and ambitions. If it turns out that you need to change something, a further analysis will help you see what is drawing you back – an unsuccessful relationship, the need for a better job, the lack of something in your life etc. Once you know what you can improve – well, the easiest part is to set to work and do it, isn’t it?

Thinking about your business plans, you will certainly need to reconsider your strategy and renovate it, even if it is performing well so far. The truth is, if you don’t improve and upgrade it, you will soon start to lag behind. Successful businesses always try to keep up with the spirit of time; unsuccessful businesses think that they are all right until they just fail without notice. Therefore, look at your business, take it apart, analyse each building block, improve it and put it back together. Pay special attention to your concept, to the board and to your personnel. Focus on team building and on innovative solution. Consider targeting new audiences and expanding. Plan the year ahead and try to follow your schedule religiously – being prepared and on time can do wonders with your events and campaigns!

To cut a long story short, consider your mind the most important place in your life – both for working and for living. And, obviously, the most important place needs its spring clean just as every other place you dwell in or work. So take the time to clean it well and prepare it for the rest of the year. Leaving it as it is will only slow you down and decrease your working and living efficiency. Cleaning and refreshing it will give you the head start you need for an amazing and unforgettable year!

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Most of us wouldn’t dare start on a long adventure traveling around the world without first making some preparations. At the very least, we’d pack a map and plan our itinerary so that we would have some idea of where we are going and how to get there. While it might seem like common sense to know that it’s impossible to successfully complete such a journey without a map and a plan, countless business owners fail to “pack a map or plan an itinerary” for their business.

In the business world, this map and itinerary is called a vision statement. Your vision statement is simply a formal statement of why your company exists, the goals it hopes to achieve, and how your company will operate, or “do business,” to achieve these goals.

A vision statement clarifies the following aspects of your business for you, your associates, your vendors and your clients, so that you and others know what to expect from your business.

Your Vision Statement

Your vision statement should:

• Convey the drive, or operating principles of your company. While most companies intend to operate at a profit, the vision statement allows everyone to know what founding goals drive your company and what you intend for your company to give back to your associates, vendors, customers and the community at large.

• Explain how your company will help others excel or otherwise benefit from its operation and existence while achieving its goals.

• Define any acceptable and non-acceptable actions and behaviour of the company and the representatives to achieve goals.

• Clarify your company’s long term aims and goals with imperative statements.

Why You Need a Vision Statement

Without a vision statement, your company is much like a ship at sea without a compass, sails or a rudder; you have no idea where you are going, it’s impossible to steer, and there’s no power to move it.

Tips to Get Started Creating Your Own Vision Statement

While a vision statement is vital to your company’s success, the task of creating one is not as daunting as you might believe. To get started, write down the name of your company and answer the following questions:

1. What does your business create, not only in terms of products and services, but in terms of the benefits that your company provides others?
2. What do you want your customers and clients to be able to achieve with your company’s products and services?
3. What actions aren’t acceptable to achieve your goals?
4. What actions will you take to ensure that your company will benefit others?

Next, take this information and organise it into the following format to produce a simple vision statement:

(Name of company) creates: (answer to question one),
so that our customers can: (answer to question two).
We will never: (answer to question three) in order to achieve our objectives,
and we will: (answer to question four) while our company is in operation.

Once you have created your vision statement, you, your associates, your vendors and your customers will be able to clearly see your company’s direction, and how you plan to get there.

 

Pushing Add to Basket Button

The famous theoretical physicist Michio Kaku claims that the operating power and speed of computers doubles every 18 months. Naturally, this means a technological advance in every area of our life and, of course, the World Wide Web, where innovations occur on a daily basis. What this means for you is that your website cannot stay the same forever and you should endeavour to update it regularly.

 

Match the Expectations

 

With the hectic development of technology, your users will expect you to do your best to keep up with the trends. Therefore, it may seem unprofessional to keep your website the same through the years while your competitors use more advanced technology and features. Also, bear in mind that smartphones, tablets and even smart watches are replacing the computers and laptops, so your website should be fully responsive on these devices. You don’t want to lose customers because they can’t find you with their Google Glasses, do you?

 

Keep Up With SEO

 

Updating your website, both in terms of content and technical aspects (code, new features, widgets and functions) will make you stand out from the rest and improve your rankings with the search engines. Of course, it can be difficult to tell exactly what the search engines want, but one thing is for certain, they like it when websites are regularly updated. Their small spiders regularly crawl around the web to check for changes on your website. In order to maximise your success, these changes should be carefully done – for example, if you are adding new content, it should be helpful and well-written. If you are making changes to your website, the code should contain no errors, otherwise the spiders may get confused.

 

Provide Important Updates

 

When it comes to your website, it is good strategy to imagine that you are a prospective customer and are visiting it for the first time. Does it contain all the information you need? Is the website user-friendly and easy to navigate? Make sure you can answer yes to these questions otherwise it’s back to the drawing board. If your business changes, don’t forget to update your website, as it is the first place someone is likely to check for more information. If you have changed your pricing or you offer new services (or no longer provide some of them), make sure this is on your website.

 

Make Sure It Works

While you are not required to use the latest website technology or features, you will need to ensure that your website still functions on all systems. Occasionally, it happens that certain devices, systems or browsers no longer support some types of content and if you do not upgrade to a new version of your CMS (Content Management System), or replace it, you risk being stuck with a non-working website. We all know how important it is for it to work so take care of the technical side of things before it is not too late.

 

Improve Your Business

 

Don’t forget that regularly updating your website will make life easier for both your visitors and yourself. Including new online payment options, booking systems, spam prevention tools and automatic verification/confirmation are only some of the features you could use to make it easier for you to run your business. Make sure you check regularly with your IT specialists for new innovations – they may well bring more sales and customers without much additional effort required.

 

Updating your website regularly is essential for maintaining a successful business, even if your main activities are not based online. With the help of regular updates, you can stay on top of the technological development, win the favour of the search engines and attract more visitors. Having said all this, don’t you think it’s time for an update?

 

 

We thought that it was time for a touch of humour and luckily we found this poem by Helen Silverwood of Personalised Poems.

If you are an entrepreneur you will relate to this.
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A Poem for Entrepreneurs.

I’m staring at the screen,
On this sunny day today;
Got to get my work done,
Before I rest or play!

My work is never done though,
I’m feeling tired and grey;
I need a break, I’ve had enough,
Though to live I need some pay!

But if I have a little break,
Perhaps 10 minutes per hour;
I find my productivity,
Really starting to flower!

It’s difficult to stop though,
When the target is the sky;
And when it’s your own business,
You’re bound to reach up high!

You want to make your fortune,
But it’s not worth killing yourself!
You need some sleep, you need some rest,
To ensure you keep your health!

If you enjoy what you’re doing,
Then you’re probably onto a winner;
But make sure you have a break when you can,
Even just for sleep or dinner!

 

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