Viewing by month: July 2012

The challenge of information consistency in the Digital Age

The advent of new media has considerably expanded the ability of businesses to communicate with clients and consumers; they can now utilise social media platforms, produce mobile Apps, distribute eNewletters and broadcast to mass audiences via internal databases – and this is just scratching the surface.  


This proliferation has, however, created some challenges within the business world. In particular, information inconsistency has become an issue, with some businesses struggling to produce accurate, relevant and engaging content across all of their communication platforms.


Ventana Research, a leading benchmark research and advisory services firm, recently released a report entitled ‘Consistency in Customer Information Is Elusive’, which found that “inconsistent information across [business] channels frustrates customers and degrades both the quality of the customer experience and the outcomes of interactions”.


So how does a real estate agency ensure information consistency across all of its communications mediums?


According to Ventana Research, one of the main needs of businesses operating across multiple channels is to have a single source of customer data. Similarly, Ventana Research identifies that organisations have, on average, three groups producing customer reports and analysis, which often results in customer information becoming out-of-date and inaccurate.


In light of such, it is suggested that real estate principals encourage their agents to enter all client and prospective client data into an office database. This includes leads, listings and sales data as well as any relevant personal information that the agent may have gathered about client(s). This practice should ensure that all client communications strategies and materials are based upon a uniform source of research and information.


Another approach to consider is integrated marketing communications - commonly referred to as IMC.  In basic terms IMC refers to the integration, unification and streamlining of messages across a business’ online and offline communications channels, including marketing, advertising, social media, public relations, direct selling and internal communications.


Implementation of IMC strategies requires high levels of internal collaboration on strategy development.  For example, a marketing employee would work closely with a social media employee to define goals and develop messages, collateral and campaigns.


An IMC strategy might also require internal distribution of newsletters, messaging documents, positioning statements and branding manuals to ensure that all employees have access to uniform strategic templates and information sources.  

Whatever strategies you choose to employ, the main thing to recognise is that information consistency is vital to business success – in any age.

0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 24/07/2012 at 11:28 AM | Categories:

Bookkeeping tips for business owners

As a business owner, it is important to understand the fundamental principles and processes involved in bookkeeping. This is the case regardless of whether you employ an accountant or not because although an accountant will ultimately analyse, interpret and report on the financial information associated with your business, they can only effectively do such if the records provided to them are comprehensive, up-to-date and accurate. As such, you should also play an integral role – particularly on a day-to-day level - in recording and reporting on your business’ finances.


Here are three simple (but important) tips for effective bookkeeping:


1.       Separate business and personal accounts


It is always smart to have one stand-alone business account completely separate from any personal account(s). There are taxation and legal reasons for this:


In terms of taxation, business owners are annually required to declare their personal and business incomes. This, however, can become difficult and time consuming for owners who choose to co-mingle their accounts. In such cases, many will be required to sift through a multiplicity of statements and receipts to decipher the nature of each individual credit and expense, which can lead to inaccurate reporting and under-claiming on deductions.


From a legal perspective, keeping accounts separate can be extremely important in protecting business owners from personal liability for their business’ mistakes.


2.       Be thorough and consistent


Bookkeeping should be a consistent process done on weekly or monthly basis – at least. While it can be tempting to let receipts, invoices and other financial documents pile up, you should always try to keep on top of such to ensure that records remain accurate and prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed.


All financial data related to the business should be recorded; not just expenses and income. Other relevant records include, but are not limited to, accounts receivable, accounts payable and deposit records.


One of the best ways to stay up-to-date on your business’ financial records is to keep all of your receipts and log them into a system on a regular basis. The type of system you employ is completely your choice – it could be an advanced software program, an Excel spreadsheet or a notebook. The important thing is to record your information in an organised, accessible and secure way.


3.       File for the long-term


For auditing purposes, taxation law requires that business records be kept for at least five years after a relevant tax return has been submitted. According to the Australian Tax Office these include any “documents that specify and explain transactions” and “documents that are relevant for the purpose of working out your tax liabilities.”


Given such, you should implement a long-term filing system based on date, month and year.  It is always good to have business records backed up in both hard and soft copy to ensure that if anything unexpected happens you do not leave yourself or your business in a vulnerable position.

2 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 17/07/2012 at 11:52 AM | Categories:

The power of positive thinking in business

Late businessman and philanthropist William Clement Stone once said: “Like success, failure is many things to many people. With positive mental attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, and a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order to prepare to try again.”

What Stone meant in saying such, is that negative experiences can ultimately be important opportunities for reflection and growth - provided that the person facing them is willing to adopt an attitude of positivity.


While the above quote demonstrates that positive thinking being linked to success is by no means a new notion; it is one that has certainly picked up momentum in recent years, with self-help books like Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret’ and Esther and Jerry Hicks’ ‘Money and the Law of Attraction’ logging best-seller status.


While some of the views purported in these books are arguably far-fetched, there is no doubt that their underlying message – that positive thought leads to positive effect – holds at least some credence, particularly in the context of business.


In fact, several studies have found that when business owners incorporate positive thinking techniques into their day-to-day management that they not only improve sales figures and foster employee loyalty, but also have better outlooks on business challenges and solve problems more effectively.


Here are some tips for maintaining a positive mindset:


Implement a ‘no complaining’ rule: Institute a positive, problem-solving attitude within your business by prohibiting unconstructive and unnecessary complaining - not just with your employees, but yourself as well.


Instead, aim to turn areas for complaint into opportunities for improvement. For example, if an employee comes to you complaining that they are overloaded with work; sit down with them and ask them to propose an appropriate solution.


See, it is important to recognise that the rule should not prohibit complaining altogether because as an employer you need to be receptive and responsive to employee concerns. What the rule should prohibit - however, is mindless complaining that lacks impetus for improvement or resolution.


Display gratitude: Try to regularly practice gratitude excersises, both by yourself and with your employees. Ask yourself: What and who am I grateful for in my life? This will likely increase your happiness, energy levels and relaxation.


By the same token, tell your employees when you appreciate their actions. This will make them feel happy, appreciated and motivated, and thus more likely to work productively for the benefit of your business.


Practice thought awareness: In most cases negative thoughts enter our consciousness without us even realising, working to deflate our motivation and hamper our abilities to think productively. However, through consciously making an effort to become aware of your thoughts, you can put yourself in a better position to counter negativity and manage your own thought processes towards success.


For example, when at work, take a moment every two hours to analyse your own thoughts. Try to determine whether your thoughts are positive or negative, and if your thoughts are the latter try to reframe them is positive terms.


Use positive self-reinforcement: Encourage yourself by repeating short and focused positive affirmations on a regular basis. For example, if you find yourself stressed out about a particular issue tell yourself: “I am a smart, capable business owner who is more than capable of coming up with effective solutions.”


You should repeat these affirmations to yourself internally and externally on a regular basis in order to constantly reinforce the thoughts and normalise them within your psyche.

0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 04/07/2012 at 1:41 PM | Categories: