Guest Post: How to Harness the Power of Automation to Optimize Your Time

This week’s guest post is from the team at Integrated Technologies Australia:

As an entrepreneur, you often have to wear many hats to succeed in business. One day you’re updating the company blog and managing your social media pages, the next day you’re responding to customer enquiries and calling back clients. Unfortunately, this busy work can eat away time that could be better spent on growing your business.

That’s where automation comes in. By letting software automation tools take care of the medial tasks, you can gain more time to focus on the core business activities that matter to you.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can harness the power of automation to optimise your time:

Social Media

If you have multiple social media profiles, you need to keep each page active by regularly posting new content, responding to customer enquiries, and letting your followers know about upcoming events, sales and competitions. While these tasks are important, they are also time-consuming.

Social media automation tools let you manage all of your profiles from a single platform. They’re also equipped with a range of powerful tools to save you time and increase the output of your social media campaign. You can automatically schedule hundreds of posts in advance, review in-depth analytics to find out what is and isn’t working for your campaign, and filter through conversations by keyword, hashtag, and location to find out what people are saying about your business.

Furthermore, you can cross-post all of your content across multiple platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. Some software tools even recommend the most ideal time to post your content.

Invoicing

Automating your invoices can save you a lot of time on manual paperwork. And ensure you get paid sooner too. Some of the most popular billing and invoicing software are Invoicely, Zoho Invoice, Xero and Replicon. Regardless of which software you choose, each one is highly customisable and jam-packed with features to make your life easier.

With automated invoicing software you can create professional, custom invoices from scratch. You can also automatically schedule repeat invoices, track your time, monitor pending invoices and be instantly notified when an invoice is paid. If you want to invoice on the go, most software tools offer cross-compatibility between desktop and mobile devices.

No matter how big or small your business is, you can fine-tune every aspect of your invoicing to suit your specific needs.

Wireless Presentations

How many times have you had a business presentation held up by technical problems? Your laptop won’t connect to the projector, you brought the wrong cables, or you have no cables at all. These issues are not only inconvenient they can cost your business in lost sales and reputation.

The good news? These days you can use a wireless presentation system to broadcast your presentation. These products typically come as a single black box and let you use Wi-Fi to wirelessly transmit data from your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop straight to your room’s screen.

Better still, you don’t need any special software to do this, just the device itself and a solid Wi-Fi connection. All you have to do is connect and present – it’s that simple. By saving time on costly setup, you can present seamless and engaging presentations without any disruptions.

If you want to discover the benefits of a wireless presentation system for yourself, get in touch with an automation expert who can assess your existing room and propose a custom presentation solution for you.

Email Marketing

Thought email was dead? Think again. According to WordStream email is the third most influence source of information for B2B audiences, while 73 percent of millennials identify email as their preferred means of communication.[i] So if you want to reach your audience faster and on a more frequent basis, automated emails are the way to go.

There are two ways you can automate your emails. One way is to setup autoresponders that send an email when a customer performs a certain action. For example, the system could send a welcome email when a customer signs-up to your newsletter, or a customer instantly receives an email after they buy a product from your website. The other type of automated emails are those as part of a larger drip campaign. These may be emails sent to new subscribers over a longer period of time in order to introduce new products, promote sales and events, offer a free trial, or share monthly newsletters and video content.

Better still, most email automation tools have a simple drag-and-drop interface to let you customise the look and feel of your emails. Platforms like BombBomb and Covideo also let you record and upload high-quality video into your emails to help boost CTRs.


Integrated Technologies Australia (ITA) are a Melbourne based Automation company. They take the latest technologies, untangle the complexity, and embed them straight into your home or business. Whether for entertainment, automation, energy management, or security, they do more than provide technological solutions, they enhance lifestyles.

Guest Post: Why It’s So Important to Establish a Healthy Work Culture for Your Business from the Start

This week’s guest post comes from Patrick Bailey:

Starting a business is very difficult, and that’s not even the bad news.

A study by UC Berkeley & Stanford revealed that 9 in 10 startups fail in the first year. Clearly, having a good idea is not enough. Millions all around the world have thought that they had the next best thing. Then they got a rude awakening.

Unless you are working solo, you have to understand that an organization is the sum of all parts. Everybody must be working together in unison to achieve the same task. Each of the workers must be on board with what you are trying to do.

Now, every company has a culture. This is different from a brand, which can be your identity from the customer’s perspective, or from your own point of view.

The company culture isn’t always seen by outsiders. Good organizations already have an established culture that any new employee will have to learn and adjust to.

The culture is the set of values and mindsets the employees develop in the course of working for the organization. This could either be imposed or organically assumed. An unhealthy culture is one where everybody is working for their own selfish agenda at the expense of the others and the organization itself.

An unhealthy culture is a toxic environment.

You can’t hope to retain your employees for a long term even if the pay is good.

The Cost of Employee Turnover

In general, employee turnover is costly.

We say this because some companies have managed to create a resilient business model that can weather a high turnover rate. Take McDonald’s, for example. It’s a huge training ground for employees who want a temporary stop while they finish school or move on to better careers. 

Yet, McDonald’s consistently is one of the top-earning companies globally.

But you don’t want to follow that model.

You want to retain employees because it makes the most business sense.

For example, you don’t always want to be training new hires because of the high turnover rates. Training costs money and lowers productivity, especially if you are a small organization where there are no clear delineation of functions. You have to assign somebody to train the new employee, and that takes away from their regular tasks.

Besides, you can expect the new employee to produce less while still learning on the job. That means the productivity of the organization suffers unless the others work more to fill the gap.

Imagine going through the same cycle every six months?

The 2017 Asia Pacific Employee Pulse survey revealed that even if employees work longer hours they wont to leave if they believe in the organization.

The most common reasons why they stay are:

  1. The company understands that they also have lives to live outside of the organization
  2. They trust their co-workers
  3. Their career path is clear and there’s an opportunity to move up

A 50:50 balance between work and life could never be achieved. Unfortunately, there’s no metric to measure that. Instead, it’s mostly about the impression that the company doesn’t just see you as a worker but a person.

For new organizations, it’s important to determine the estimated cost of employee turnover. Once they see the numbers, they are going to be really serious about ensuring their workers stay.

Let’s Talk Numbers

According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average employee stays with the company for 4.2 years. This is as true in 2018 as it was in 2016.

Younger workers (25 to 34 age group) tend to have a shorter stay (2.8 years) compared to senior workers (55 to 64 age group) who have an average tenure 10.1 years.

Turnover will also depend on the type of industry you are in.

State workers typically stay longer probably because of the security of tenure and pension. The mining and manufacturing industries have the highest employee retention compared to the other sectors.

On the other end of the spectrum are those working in the food service industry, which has an average employee retention of 1.9 years.

Here are some of the findings of the BLS

  1. The hospitality, tourism, and leisure industry, which has an average employee retention of 2.2 years.
  2. Architects and engineers tend to stay in one company for 5.7 years
  3. Lawyers stick to one law firm for 5.1 years
  4. Teachers and librarians also  shift jobs after 5.1 years
  5. Managers and professionals stay in the same job for 6.4 years

You always want to keep your workers happy because when one leaves, it generally costs your company an equivalent to 6-9 months’ worth of salary.

Another study by the Center for American Progress also presented some worrying figures:

  1. Specialized skills cost 21% of the annual salary of the employee
  2. Workers with an annual salary of $50,000-$75,000 will cost the company about 20% of their wages when they decide to leave
  3. Those who earn less than $30,000 in annual wages will cost the organization 16% of the total employee salary

How to Know if You have a Healthy Work Culture

The good news is that you are not trailblazing a new path. There are successful business models that you can follow to ensure a good working environment that will motivate employees to stay longer.

What are the traits of a healthy company culture?

  1. Employees trust each other. Everybody knows that the company is a safe place. They can be themselves without their colleagues backbiting or ranting against them on social media. Nobody plays politics in order to get ahead.
  2. Good performance is recognized. Nothing builds frustration faster than being overlooked. Sure, a bonus would be nice, but just calling their names during the company meeting after they’ve done a good job will go a long way. Of course, a bonus would be better, which will also motivate others to do well.
  3. Everybody picks everyone up. When somebody is going through hard times in their personal life, (they are people, after all), everybody pitches in so productivity doesn’t suffer. This is because workers believe in the vision of the company so they work hard to realize that vision.
  4. Employee voices are heard. Even if the salary is high, what employees really want is to know that their opinions matter. Encourage everyone to voice their concerns, ideas, and suggestions. During company meetings, employees should feel that they can speak up without fear of any backlash. There’s no better feeling than your idea being adopted by the executives and seeing it succeed. 
  5. Good communication. The CEOs value the opinion of the clerk as they do the top executives and project managers. In the same vein, project managers are in constant communication with their teams to make sure everybody is still on the same page. The beauty of the technology today is the number of tools that can enhance communication within the workplace.
  6. Healthy work-life balance. The employees can only put in what they can put out. Meaning, the effort is not a perpetual resource. If they continue to work without recharging their batteries, they are bound to experience a burnout. Encourage them to also take care of themselves and their families. Get some exercise, develop some hobbies, and make some friends outside of the workplace.
  7. Your employees are people, too. The worst thing you can do is to treat your employees like robots and grind them to the ground. They do feel tired. They will sometimes face problems in the home, which will impact on productivity. They do have children who also need to be attended to, and this includes school activities, birthdays, and other milestones.
  8. Teambuilding is a must. The company organizes team-building activities at least once a year. These may not be limited to further education, training workshops, and seminars, which can enhance individual talents. You should also take your whole company on an outing to the beach or resort just so everybody can also view their colleagues as more than co-workers.
  9. Bosses are leaders. If you have no idea how to be a good leader, there are actually a lot of articles about the difference between a boss and a leader. For instance, the boss thinks that he knows it all so the opinions of the employees don’t matter. The leader knows he knows nothing so he values the opinions of others. The boss criticizes when somebody makes a mistake, the leader encourages and helps the employee avoid committing the same mistake. The boss is quick to find a weakness while the leader is quick to find a strength that can be enhanced.

The bottom line? Employees tend to be loyal to the leader rather than the boss.

Running your company from the ground up is already difficult, especially since the odds are stacked against you. However, don’t make it impossible by not working toward establishing a healthy work culture that can benefit you and your employees.

Patrick Bailey is a blogger and professional writing focused on mental illness and addition.

Guest Post: 11 Signs It’s Time to Expand Your Business

As a successful entrepreneur, CEO, or business manager, you know that taking your business to the next level in its development is not much different from launching it. The same considerations and dedication are essential for an expansion to be successful.

Depending on the size of your business, expansion can be as simple as hiring your first employee. Growing your business depends on a wide range of circumstances. Economic forecasts, market considerations, and the business cycle all play a role. Other factors in play include the availability of reliable shipping and transportation, labor markets, and access to raw materials.

Determining the best time to expand can be tricky, but if you know the signs to look for, the decision becomes much easier.

  1. The Customers Demand Expansion

Repeat customers are an indication of ongoing demand for your products or services, as well as satisfaction with what you offer. Loyal customers will request expansion, whether it is a store closer to where they live, an online site or even a local warehouse for faster shipping.

Consider all options before following through on customers’ requests for expansion. Your budget has to be able to sustain opening another facility, adding a line or hiring more employees.

  • The Business Is Busy

Management and staff may find they are too busy too much of the time. If people feel as if they’re spread too thin, then you have more business than you can handle. If the company is not a seasonal phenomenon but year-round, then expansion is in order. Managers who consistently wonder if they can complete their work are managers of a business which must grow.

Expansion is not just increasing the number of employees or shifts—although both of those decisions can pay off. Expansion is finding the next level for the business.

In considering the right number of employees, consider the “Rule of 150.” Businesses and anthropological research find that when the size of a firm exceeds 150 personnel, it changes in culture and quality. Below that number, the structure is much less hierarchical and far more flexible. Above 150, the structure becomes slower and less reactive.

Gore-Tex famously builds a new factory when the staff at one reaches the 150-person level. 150 people is about the maximum number a leader can stand on a chair and address directly before “speak louder” calls begin.

  • The Business is Out of Room

Physical expansion is indicated when there’s no room left in the workplace to function efficiently. People can tell when space is cramped, even before accidents caused by limited space occur.

Poor staff morale is an indicator as is lower production. Meeting clients away from the office because no room exists is another sure sign of needing more space. Clutter and mess are another — everything should have a place and be in its place.

Try reorganizing before relocating or using flexible work hours if possible so employees can share workspaces. 

  • The Team is Solid, Capable, and Ready

Expansion requires people who have bought into the business. They are personally invested in the success of the business and want it to get to the next level — they see that as a way of increasing opportunities for themselves.

With a talented team in place, your company can consider expanding. Talented employees may end up relocating to branch off and create their own remote team, adding further value to the business. Some may decide to take on a new product line. Whatever way your expansion takes place, having people who are part of the team before it takes place — especially if new people are being brought onboard — will make the expansion’s success more likely.

Some employees may be unable to relocate, prefer to work on the floor than be in management or dislike additional responsibility. Don’t assume your team is ready for expansion. Canvas them for feedback.  

  • The Market Is Growing

Businesses in a growing market will face the demand to expand. With more customers, businesses find that current operations are strained. They may even be turning away customers.

Study the market conditions carefully, and make sure this strain is not a temporary or seasonal issue. See what competitors are doing, especially if some customers have transferred their business to them.

  • Developing New Lines of Business

Enterprises develop new lines of business frequently. Many of those new lines are variations on existing ones or are logical extensions of them. For example, a retail men’s clothing store may add accessories, jewelry, and drink glassware into its offerings. A logistic supply company known for cartons and drums may add shrink-wrap, tape, and green shipping solutions to their lines.

New lines of business are as much an expansion as building a new factory. They should fit smoothly into your current marketing model—or the model needs to be adapted so that all lines work within it.

Use focus groups to research if a new line will work. You might think it is a great idea, but the market may disagree.

  • You Have the Capital

For a successful business expansion, you need sufficient cash flow to cover unforeseen costs and investments that won’t have a return on investment (ROI) for several months. Adequate revenue or financing to support an expansion is a good indication you are ready to ramp up your business.

But simply being profitable isn’t enough to justify expansion. Create a business forecast as a reliable representation of your company’s potential indicating the best and worst scenarios if you expanded. If the results between both forecasts are narrow, then it’s time to scale up. 

  • You are Meeting and Exceeding Goals 

If you are meeting your milestones ahead of schedule, it might be time for expansion, especially if other factors like the right team, cash flow, and a growing market are in place too.

If you don’t have the money ahead of schedule it isn’t the time to grow even if you have met all your other milestones. 

  • You’ve Done Your Research

Whether it is adding another location, creating an e-commerce site, or expanding into a new market, do your homework first. If you have well-researched plans in place, it is likely time for growth.

Don’t rush into the next stage of development without extensive research. 

  1. You’ve Outgrown the Local Market

If you’ve tapped out the local market, it may be time to consider another location or even an e-commerce site. Expanding into a different vertical will attract new clients and help your business grow.

Make sure you have explored every avenue locally because most people like to support businesses where they live and work. 

  1. Follow Your Gut Instinct

The best entrepreneurs and CEOs have an instinct for good business. Don’t allow success to overshadow that instinct. Always explore your hunches, even when business is a little slow. Successful entrepreneurs can identify market services and products that are not being met, or have an eye for just the right location. Knowing exactly when the iron is hot enough to strike is a trait only the most successful capitalists possess.

You may experience failures from time to time, but trying again is what makes a successful entrepreneur!

Cory Levins is the business development director for AirSea Containers, a family owned and operated company dedicated to the safe transportation of dangerous goods. Cory oversees the development and implementation of ASC’s internal and external marketing program, driving revenue and profits from the Miami, FL headquarters. Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cory-levins-b2406a83/

Guest Post: Marketing Tools and Trends Every Entrepreneur Should Know About

Today’s guest post is from Laura Andrews:

Some fledgling entrepreneurs take marketing for granted, when in fact, it’s the best way to jumpstart your business. Marketing will allow you to put your product out there and let your customers know what you can do for them. Continue Reading

Guest Post: 10 Mistakes to Avoid as an Entrepreneur

Today’s guest post comes from Akin Tosyali of Tiege Hanley, LLC:

The entrepreneurial life isn’t easy. Starting a business from scratch takes a significant amount of hard work, dedication and the ability to shrug off any mishaps that happen along the way. Continue Reading

Guest Post: How Time Tracking Software Can Be Helpful for the Growth of a Start-Up

Author Bio: Jasika Adams is a writer with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of human resources, startups and business management. she is a talent acquisition manager currently associated with Index Time Clock. In her free time, she loves to play with her kids and reading mystery books.  Continue Reading