Time-saving Tips for Business Owners for 2022

Time-saving Tips for Business Owners for 2022

Is one of your business goals for 2022 to save time to be able to focus on the important tasks within your organisation? Use these time-saving tips to streamline your businesses procedures and increase your efficiency.

  1. Keep your information organised!

We are all guilty of spending precious time looking for records that are lost or misplaced.  Ensuring your database is updated, accessible and backed up regularly is crucial for saving time. When managing your database ensure record names and labels are clear and consistent to avoid confusion at a later date. If you do not have an existing online database, I can work with you to move your existing paper-based data online. I work alongside organisations migrating their database online and ensure the data carried over is correct, up to date, well organised, secure and compliant giving you added peace of mind.

  1. Write your to-do list for the following day before you leave the office

Having your priorities clearly listed for the day can help you feel ambitious and motivated from the minute you enter the office. The morning is when your productivity levels are likely to be at their peak, having a plan for the day can fuel your efficiency as you’re utilising your energy on important tasks as opposed to using this momentum to plan your day. It is also a great way to start your day with a clear focus as you’re likely to be less stressed when you realise your itinerary for the day has already been planned.

  1. Keep an eye on the clock

Understanding how much time you need for each project can help you better plan your days and waste less time. As silly as it sounds keeping an eye on the clock is an easy way to minimise the time you waste.

Calculate the time your everyday tasks should take to complete and set yourself time-constrained goals for completing them. An easy way to manage this is to set alarms on your phone for completing individual tasks or block out time in your diary to do those key tasks you try your best to put off. If you need help carrying out the tasks you try your best to avoid you may benefit from outsourced help to help you save time and boost your personal productivity.

Using the tips mentioned above or outsourcing will allow you to increase your productivity levels, minimise stress and accomplish more, helping you achieve increased success in 2022 and beyond.

If you would like to learn more about how outsourcing can save you time in 2022 call Busy Lives! 07565 722 031. Alternatively, you can drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook or email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk to discuss your requirements!

What 5 tasks could your business outsource?

What 5 tasks could your business outsource?

I understand that many business owners can become distracted by the mundane tasks the organisation must undertake, but do not enjoy carrying out themselves. This can lead to loss of motivation meaning these tasks take longer than necessary to complete, wasting time that could be used to perform other tasks within your business.

This is where I can help, you may wish to outsource these tasks to reclaim your time and motivation. But what are examples of tasks in your business that can be outsourced? I have put together a shortlist below.

  1. Invoicing

Invoicing is the most common task small business owners decide to outsource. It can take a lot of time to not only carry out but to learn and ensure you’re up to date with current financial guidelines and compliance. However, a remote support service like Busy Lives! can manage your invoicing, saving you time, boosting your efficiency and ensuring you get paid on time.

  1. Testimonial gathering

We all know people read reviews online before making purchasing decisions nowadays. Consumers tend to trust what other consumers have said more than the messages a business puts out about itself.  Though, I understand many small business owners do not either have the time to gather their own testimonials or feel awkward asking for a review. Outsourcing your testimonial gathering can be the perfect solution for those seeking honest reviews for their business, people are more likely to be honest with an outsider than the individual they did business with as there is no pre-existing relationship.

I recently collated a client’s testimonials from all her various media platforms, produced a report, and selected those that would be most appropriate to use as social media content. I then created 52 branded graphic and social media posts, so my client could share a “testimonial Tuesday” post every week for a year.

  1. Business overview reporting

I understand the activities your business undergoes daily can have a big impact on your overall business, that’s why I believe it is important to produce regular business overview reports. For many of my clients I collate financial data and produce a forecasting document that analyses trends. By forecasting and analysing trends my clients can spot early warning signs or the areas in which their business is excelling to ensure they can focus on the areas that need immediate attention. Through doing this you can save time, money and resources as you have a greater understanding of what is and isn’t working within your organisation.

  1. Database creation and management

Databases are the most effective way of storing large volumes of information efficiently. They make it easy to view, update and remove important client and prospect data. If you do not have an existing online database, I can transform your paper-based information to create one. During this process, I will ensure all your business information is correct, up to date and most importantly secure and compliant.

  1. Research and information gathering

Outsourcing research can enable you to focus on your core business offering, I understand not everyone’s main skill set is research and carrying out effective research can be a lengthy process and hiring full-time researchers can be expensive. I can research anything for you, from website audits to membership organisations that may be relevant to you and your business I have worked with a wide range of clients on several information-gathering projects. I work closely alongside the client to understand the aims and objectives of the research to ensure the data collected is appropriate and effective.

Outsourcing allows small business owners to get more done, without sacrificing the important but tedious tasks and processes to professionals without having to hire more internal staff. You also benefit from my extensive knowledge and expertise. I keep my skills fresh and up to date so you get the best of both worlds.

To learn more about outsourcing the tasks above or anything else, call Busy Lives! 07565 722 031. Alternatively, you can drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook or email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk

The Power of Handwritten Post

The Power of Handwritten Post

Nowadays, instant communication with your clients and prospects through email is expected, while sending them handwritten post is unheard of in most industries. Even though technology may have transformed the way we communicate, receiving a handwritten post still excites many of us!

Sending handwritten post can be a great way for your businesses to stand out and be listened to by your customers. As inboxes and social media feeds are getting fuller by the day, post is way more likely to be opened and read than any email. It’s also a good way to show you care.

What works well being sent in the post with a handwritten envelope?

  • Cards – Thank-you cards, Christmas Cards, Just to Say Cards
  • Handwritten business letters
  • Invoices & quotes
  • Lumpy mail – promotional mail that you want to get opened
  • Newsletters, brochures

Why don’t organisations send handwritten post?

  • The time it takes
  • The perceived costs
  • The organisation needed prior to the task
  • Not everyone has neat handwriting

I can squash all these concerns by managing your handwritten post.

Recently I wrote the envelopes and posted 100 cards for a client, they were thrilled with the time and effort I saved them which allowed them to focus on the business’s core function. Many of their clients and prospects also commented on how lovely it was to receive something so personal in the post.

Last Christmas, I also did something similar for clients to ensure their Seasons Greetings were sent on time ahead of the Christmas rush helping them to build on their client relationship skills during the pandemic.

The year before that, I handwrite 120 A4 letters for a business to introduce themselves as a new service provider that would assist their staffs wellbeing in large companies. A printed brochure was also enclosed providing more detail.

Are you ready to send information through the post and get it opened? Take a look at the post you receive over the next week and see how much is actually handwritten.

Why you should send handwritten post

It’s a great way to build relationships, the perceived time constraint of handwritten post can also be an advantage. By sending your clients or prospects a handwritten birthday card, thank you letter, Christmas card or invitation they will recognise you have dedicated time to contact them.

It can improve brand recall and resonance. Handwritten post is personal, unlike digital communication such as emails, it can be 100% personalised. Post is a fantastic tool for standing out amongst your competition as it is likely to resonate with the receiver in a way an email cannot.

There is less distraction when opening post than on screen, your customers are less likely to switch off and have their attention grabbed by something else. People often dedicate time to opening and reading their post, that they do not routinely do for online communications.

Next Steps

So, what next? I would love to have a chat with you to see how Busy Lives! Nottingham can help your business with either remote support or we can visit your premises. Can I help you plan your next mail campaign?

Let me help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031. Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook or email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk

5 Ways to get precious time back with Busy Lives! Nottingham

5 Ways to get precious time back with Busy Lives! Nottingham

Every business is different, however, the one commonality we all share is that we want to save time so that we can work on our businesses not in the day to day. This is why I set up Busy Lives! Nottingham. I want to help busy businesses owners, save time, money and stress by outsourcing the tasks you really don’t like doing.

Be honest, I bet you are sat reading this and thinking of all those jobs you have been putting off such as filing receipts, typing up minutes, sending invoices etc. That’s what I love! I am very organised and methodical, so these tasks are just what I love – helping business owners to get clear.

Let’s be really open, I have walked in your shoes. I spent 16 years as a Head Teacher of one of the largest primary schools in Nottingham City, regularly working over 70 hours a week and managing a large workforce. I wanted to reduce the stress but keep the organisation skills I had developed so created Busy Lives! Nottingham

I am often asked what are the main types of work that can be outsourced that save both time and stress for businesses so here are my top 5:

1.Business Organisation and Paperwork,

Businesses cannot ignore the number of records they need to keep in terms of accounts, insurances or correspondence. Even with paperless offices, records still need to be kept. One of the biggest time stealers for any business owner is dealing with the post, emails and letters. This can all be outsourced saving you precious time. Just think today how much time have you spent on business organisation and collating paperwork?
I am regularly asked to help businesses:

  • Keep their records up to date,
  • Create databases,
  • Send invoices and letters.

I can keep the wheels turning whilst you concentrate on what matters most. Another great example is if you keep carrier bags full of receipts, invoices etc and you are coming up to your year end or tax return time, I help to organise your records ready for your accountant or bookkeeper.

2 Business Documents and Templates

It is vital that all documents used within a business are speaking from the same voice. Templates and processes can be costly in the time they take to create so this is where we offer real value. I can help with:

  • Letter templates
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • Handout and notes
  • Training Manuals /staff handbooks etc.
  • Mail merging letters and labels

3. Meeting Notes & Planning Documents

Note-taking and typing up reports can take you precious time to collate and once you get back into the day-to-day, it is difficult to find that time to ensure the minutes are professionally created, actions noted and circulated to all concerned. Before Busy Lives! I often felt stressed trying to effectively chair a meeting with multiple stakeholders, whilst trying to take detailed notes, and managing the day-to-day workload, especially when there were urgent actions that needed to happen.

This is a popular way I help businesses. Even through the pandemic when meetings were being undertaken on Zoom / Teams, I was able to provide the benefit of minutes and note taking enabling the owner to concentrate on what was going on and being discussed. I do also offer a transcript service, for more lengthy, detailed meetings. In your next meeting, just see how much time you spend making notes and not focusing fully on what is being discussed. I think you may be surprised about the amount of concentration needed.

4. Data Entry

On my travels to different businesses, I often hear “I’m too busy to create a database” or “I don’t have time to send letters” and one of the biggest barriers to this is data entry. It can be really time-consuming to create a database from existing client records, invoice details etc. Whilst data entry can be time zapping, it is a job I really enjoy, especially when I am qualifying the data as I go along. Especially since the GDPR regulations came into force in 2018, it is vital business owners keep their records up to date and any marketing data is kept in the correct way and maintained.

Did you know the regulations are different for just keeping a postal address to electronic details on a person!

I am so proud when I have helped a company collate customer records into a database which they can market to them with ease and new work is generated. How much more money could you generate for your business with a fully working, up to date database?

5. Strategic Planning against Key Performance Indicators

Have I told you how much I love analysing data? I have recently been helping several business owners to analyse their data and create monthly strategic planning documents to give them a snapshot of their business without them having to analyse all of the datapoints themselves. This service has proved very popular helping owners to see where they are going and what they need to do if they are off-target.

Don’t be scared of data, with my help you can have a clear vision and make realistic decisions.

Next Steps.

So what next…I would love to have a coffee and see how Busy Lives! Nottingham can help your business with either remote support or we can visit your premises. Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031. Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook or email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk

 

Using Excel to track your finances – 1

Using Excel to track your finances – 1

Using excel to track your finances – 1

The beauty of Microsoft eExcel is that you can tailor it precisely to what you want it to do and your level of skill. I have a file for each financial year for Busy Lives! and a separate one for the cost of living, which believe it or not I set up in 1994!

This is the first in a series of Excel finance blog posts. It explains how to use some of the simple controls to be able to create, use and track your own finances on excel.

The second post will explain how to insert simple formula, filter information and dropdown lists. Last but not least, the third post will be how to use and show data in charts and graphs.

 

Overview

 

  1. What sheets to create & why

  2. Having a professional look

  3. Shortcut keys & Freezing panes

  4. Formatting a column to present data the same way

  5. How Busy Lives! can help & support you with this

 

 

What sheets to create for your business finances

A good rule with excel is to only have a sheet if you really need it to inform your business. Here are the main sheets I have both used myself and created my clients:

  • Annual Expenditure
  • Car Related Expenditure
  • 12-month Cash Forecast
  • Expenditure / Expenditure (Client) / Expenditure (VAT)
  • Bank Statements
  • Income Invoices / Income Invoices (Client)
  • Client Analysis
  • Thank you

If you sell items I would also suggest / incorporate:

  • Profit Margins
  • Stock Levels
  • Client Ordering

 

 

Why

Annual Expenditure – I find this sheet useful to both track and predict how prices increase year on year, along with where my money is going.

12-month Cash Forecast – This has a formula built in which will automatically add your totals up each month showing at a glance what your currently income, expenditure and bank balance is. I find this sheet is really good where have one-off large expenditure occurring in different months such as business insurance and tax. (Blog Post 2 will show you how)

Expenditure (General)/ Expenditure (Client) – This sheet needs to be set up to reflect how your business runs. For example:

  1. Busy Lives! – the vast majority of what I buy is for just my business and I don’t earn enough to be VAT registered.
  2. The BlG Blue Hat Gardening Services – expenditure reflects a combination of tools bought for the business and materials such as plants, gravel and compost for customers. This sheet is set up so that you can see the overall expenditure, the actual business expenditure and what needs to be claimed from the customer.

Car Related – I like to keep this separate. Personal choice.

Bank Statements – It’s good to have a tracking overview to see the movement of monies in and out of your account as opposed to just the month you’re in when you view your statement.

Income Invoices / Income Invoices (Client) – Like the expenditure option above, set it up to reflect your type of business.

Client Analysis – My favourite sheet which really gives me an insight into the business. It has a variety formula in it which will populate graphs as you add to it each month.

Thank you – A useful quick reminder to ensure I follow through and say thank you to my existing clients.

 

 

Having a professional look

Adding the little things can make a world of difference to your spread sheet, here are my favourite top three:

  1. Colour each sheet tab and give each sheet a name – right click with the cursor over the word ‘Sheet1’ and you will see the option to Rename and Tab Colour. I often use the business brand colours!
  2. Have the same font and size on all your sheets – select the box between ‘1’ and ‘A’ then select the font and size you wish to use. I usually use Aerial, size 11 on excel.
  3. Make you headings and titles stand out by filling the cell with colour and making the font size slightly bigger – select the cells with your heading in and use the fill option which is directly under the size. Again, why not use your brand colours.

 

Shortcut keys & Freezing panes

Shortcut keys

The following keyboard shortcut keys can be used not just with excel but across all Microsoft Office Applications. These are the ones which I find really useful:

  • ‘Ctrl A’ – to select everything in the document press Ctrl A.
  • ‘Ctrl C’ – to copy – highlight what you want to copy then press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl V’ – to paste – select the cell or area you want to paste the copied information in, then press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl B’ – make wording / digits bold – highlight any text / digits you wish to make bold and then press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl U’ – to underline – highlight any text you wish to underline and press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl I’ – for Italics – highlight any text you wish change to italics and press these two keys.

Freezing Panes

Freezing panes is another expression for locking multiple rows and columns. It’s really useful to have when you have lots of entries, as it enables you to still be able to see the headings.

From the heading ribbon at the top of the excel file select ‘View’ and you will see the options for you to select to freeze multiple panes, just the top row or just the first column.

To lock multiple columns, select the column to the right of the last column you want frozen, choose the View tab, and then click Freeze Panes.

Formatting a column to present data the same way

You can set up the columns in excel for different purposes. For instance, on my Expenditure sheet I need a column to show the date, a column to show the price including the price sign, and a column to give me the option of the different allowable expense areas. This is done through formatting the cells.

Select the column you wish to format. Right click either your mouse / scroll pad and you will see the option to ‘Format Cells’ click on this. You now have a set options to select from.

My top three common ones I always use are:

Date – select the option that suits you I always like the date, month and year as digits.

Accounting – so the pound sign always automatically shows and has the same number of digits after the decimal point.

Text – where you want to insert phone numbers and have the ‘0’ showing at the beginning.

 

How Busy Lives! can help & support you with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and unable to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position or are wanting to start their own business.

I am happy to help by:

  • Teaching you how to use excel for yourself at a pace and time to suit you.
  • Setting up a bespoke financial year excel template for reflecting your business needs.
  • Entering all your finance invoices, bills and receipts for you as and when you need support. (This can be on Excel, QuickBooks or Xero)
  • Analyse your data on a monthly basis and produce a summary of the key headlines in a report. This will help you recognise trends and areas within your business to help it grow in the future.
  • Setting up an easy system for your filing all your financial paperwork and receipts.

 

Find out more about my Small Business Support Services – Click Here

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on this website, LinkedIn or Messenger on Facebook

Or Email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk

 

 

 

Preparing for Important Meetings

Preparing for Important Meetings

Spending time preparing for important meetings can really make a difference not only for yourself but the others who attend. An important meeting can potentially make or break your reputation or business. Whether it’s between you and your colleagues or you and a client / customer, every meeting needs to be professional and efficient.

Below are some tips and advice to help you prepare effectively to make sure every meeting goes extra smoothly.

 

Overview

  1. Purpose of the meeting
  2. Pre-reading and research
  3. Who needs to attend?
  4. How, when and where the will meeting taking place?
  5. Style of meeting
  6. Composing an agenda
  7. Initiations to the meeting
  8. How Busy Lives! can support you with this

 

Purpose of the meeting

Every meeting needs to have a purpose and goal; something you want to achieve by the end. You may find it helpful to write this down. Make sure your goal is specific, add a deadline and make sure it can be measured if relevant – this can be in terms of sales, product output, delegation, impact etc.

 

Top tip

Don’t have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting! You’d be surprised how many people make this mistake. ‘I always have a meeting on a Wednesday, so we’re having one!’ Colleagues will quickly become disengaged and switch off if there is no real purpose behind a meeting and using up their valuable time.

 

Pre- reading & research

Read all the associated paperwork for the meeting, making notes or highlighting against items you may wish to raise or comment upon.

It will very quickly come apparent who has or has not prepared for what is to be discussed. Don’t be that person.

If an agenda item being tabled or discussed isn’t something you don’t have first-hand experience of and will be required to decide upon, research additional information or look at evidence gathered towards it. This is invaluable if there is conflicting views in the meeting for you to be able to provide an insight. It will also help you in achieving the goal you want.

 

Who needs to attend?

When you set up a meeting everyone who attends should have a role to play or be relevant to what they do. Are the necessary? Decide if each person has a purpose, if you cannot find one, it is time to decide if they really need to attend. It may be better use of their time to either let them have access to the minutes or a short verbal summary of specific parts of the meeting afterwards which were relevant to them.

 

How, when and where is the meeting will take place?

Once you have decided on how many people are participating, you can decide when and where you are going to hold the meeting; that could mean deciding whether you are going to hold the meeting in person or online. If you are choosing to hold the meeting in person think about the best location for this. You may need to book a room or meeting space, this may dictate the time and place you can hold your meeting if not on your premises. Online meetings have more flexibility, but you should still ensure your participants have enough notice to ensure they are available at the appointed time.

 

3 Top tips

  • Make sure the room is the right size for the number of people attending.
  • Think what resources you may need access to such as a flip chart or projector if a presentation is going to be made for instance.
  • The layout of the room will influence and make a difference. It needs to be factored into suit the style of your meeting. Think carefully how chairs and tables are set out. For instance, formal, relaxed discussion, presentation, debate, a difficult conversation or recruitment all need different layouts.

 

Composing an agenda

Now you know when and where your meeting is taking place it’s time to make an agenda. You will already know what the meeting is about. Carefully composing an agenda is the time to carefully allocate your use of meeting time for maximum effectiveness. Having a well-planned agenda means your meeting will flow and stay on track which not only makes your meeting achieve its goal but will also display your professionalism and ability to deliver on-time.

An agenda should typically fit on one side of A4 paper.

Essential information to go on the agenda

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • People Attending
  • Chair
  • Minute taker / attendees taking their own notes
  • Bulleted agenda items – If different people are presenting different items off the agenda, have their initials next to the specific bulleted item
  • AOB (Any other business) – Think carefully if you want to allow this or not.

 

Other information you may wish to include after the agenda items at the bottom of the page:

  • List of papers and documents that will be used or referred to during the meeting.
  • Business priorities for the period.
  • Vision statement or business strapline.

 

The agenda should be sent out at least two weeks in advance of the meeting. This allows attendees with different schedules and commitments prepare at a time that suits them.

 

Invitations to the meeting

Now you have a list of participants and a meeting place set up you need to send out invites. Reinforce the purpose, date, place and timings in the body of the invite you send. Ensure to send any related paperwork, documents or previous minutes that will be referenced or used alongside the agenda.

After sending out your invites keep a note of who is and isn’t attending. If key people cannot attend it may be worth considering rescheduling to a time when everyone can attend. If only one or two people cannot attend decide if the meeting should go on ahead on that date – if you do decide to carry on make a note who cannot attend and send them any minutes paperwork they may need in order to remain informed.

 

Last Top Tip

Print off the agenda and all papers in advance of your meeting. If there are a number of papers being discussed from the agenda it’s worth spending the time ordering the papers to coincide in the same order as the agenda item. I then label each document in the top right-hand corner with the Agenda item number on. This helps you quickly reference the exact paper you need within the meeting and again demonstrates to others you’re professionally prepared and organised.

This can also be achieved electronically. Create a folder with the agenda all the documents for the meeting in. When you save each document into the folder save the file name commencing with the agenda item number followed by the title. This will help you quickly access what you need to open as the meeting progresses.

 

How Busy Lives! can support you with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and not able to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position.

I am happy to help by:

 

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook

Or Email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk