Archive for the ‘Business Support’ Category

I am a great believer in focusing on things in life I can control, or at least influence.  I have never understood friends and colleagues whose mood on a Monday morning reflects the results of their beloved football club that weekend.  They are investing emotional energy in to something that they have no influence at all over.

I am sure there is more to sport that I simply don’t understand and I accept it has entertainment value and that personal time to unwind is crucial; but imagine what you could achieve if your time, money and emotions were invested in YOU?  Your behaviour is something you can control.

Why?

decision cubeLife is a continuous flow of decisions, and very few of us have the privilege of time on our hands.

I have often heard it said that “we all have the same 24 hours in each day” so why is it some of us manage that time better than others?  Why are some of us so much more successful than others?  I don’t know, I am not a consultant in that field, but I do know that by giving things I cannot control very little priority I can focus on choices that deliver happiness, success and personal satisfaction.

Private

In my personal life this can be simple things such as lying on my youngest son’s bed helping him to colour in a cartoon character or reading a story.  It can be teaching my eldest son tricks to help him develop his confidence with Maths, or sitting on the side-line of a cold and wet Rugby pitch each Sunday morning.  I know that this investment in bonding with them and developing their characters will provide the family with happiness for many years to come.

Work

In business, this focus on what I can control can be seen in my communication with my team and my attention to managing my network of clients, professional contacts and networking colleagues.  I also invest in a coach who ensures that I am accountable to my own goals and helps me to improve sales techniques, time management challenges and dealing with difficult people.

KPIsOf course traditional KPI’s (key performance indicators) such as margins, productivity, sales budgets, customer payment trends and improving customer satisfaction should be at the heart of any business owners agenda, but these are only of use if (perhaps with the help of their accountant or business coach) they can find ways to positively influence the results they achieve, otherwise they are simply a way of benchmarking your success (and failures).  You see, without focus on the areas you can personally control, monitoring KPI’s can actually be demotivating or even destructive.  You may inadvertently find yourself using external forces such as the economic climate as an excuse for not meeting your targets.

prioritiesSo…..

What could you focus on that would influence your success or that of your family in the short term and long term?

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Risks and Rewards

SocMed icons

Social media can be a massive asset to business.

Not just in the obvious ways for marketing your brand or for connecting with your customers, but in unexpected ways; in how it creates a sense of collegiate identity for your staff even a “personality” for your business.

 

Under control?

But nothing is free or without risk. Social media means that publishing a document or making a post on a site is not the end of the conversation, as it would be with more traditional forms of media. Instead it is the beginning of the conversation and what’s really worrying its not in your control. At all. Also it is everywhere. For businesses to control what happened on a PC’s was easy. But social media is everywhere, on all sorts of devices.

10 years ago you might have sat in a meeting that was tedious, but your correspondence afterwards would be professional and action orientated. Now we can know the location, have an update in the meeting or even a dreaded selfie. LOL! innocentface#

Drafting your policy

So when your considering drafting a policy to protect your business here are some key considerations.

Do:

  • Your policy should encourage appropriate use of social media.
  • It should ensure that individuals understand they are responsible for what they publish on social media
  • Prohibit employees from using social media in ways that may damage the company.
  • Provide training on the appropriate use of social media and advise them that you will monitor for compliance.

drunk selfieDo not:

  • Allow employees to disclose or misuse confidential or company information.
  • Permit employees to use social media to harass colleagues.
  • Impose unnecessary restrictions on employee use of social media.

Narrative of a Social Media Policy

Communicate clearly on the company expectations for employee use of social media.

Detail in either a stand-alone social media policy or through a section in your employee handbook. Use the statement to remind employees that social media activity is not necessarily private and that the employer can discipline employees or conduct that breaches in the social media arena, just as in other arenas.

Also that online conduct that is harmful to the company can amount to misconduct or even gross misconduct.

The policy statement should consider the following areas:

  • Use of company IT resources;
  • Disclosure of company intellectual property or confidential information;
  • Protection of third-party intellectual property;
  • Protection from harassment, discrimination or bullying of other employees;
  • Negative comments about the company, its employees, business contacts or competitors.

Management considerations for effective implementation

  1. Train employees. HR or line management should detail there is employee monitoring and enforcement of the various company policies, restrictions, guidelines and contract provisions relating to social media. All action taken by the company is done in compliance with employees’ privacy rights.
  2. Avoid imposing unnecessary restrictions. Disproportionate restrictions can undermine employee morale and invite non-compliance, without real benefit to the company in terms of protecting its property, reputation or employees.

 

Richard HughesThis straight forward, but important guidance was kindly provided by Richard Hughes.  His company, Click HR Limited advises, coaches and provides training through professional pragmatic HR advice.  You can contact him to discuss your social media policy challenges by email or by calling 01604 289650.

ClickHR_Logo_sm[2]

 

 

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Another quality business development tip from by Caroline Robinson of Sandler Training in Cambridge.

Hate asking for introductions so avoid doing it?

People of AccomplishmentDo you hate asking for introductions as much as I do, so much so that you never do it, or “forget” to ask?  You know it’s the best way to grow your business so why procrastinate? How can we ensure we do it systematically and effectively?

Firstly commit to doing it and be clear about what is a good referral for you.

Then, at the beginning of your meeting, lay your cards on the table, own up to your issue and get them to help you solve it.

An example

‘Being completely honest with you I have a problem. I hate asking for introductions but as I’ve committed myself to growing my business I’ve made a promise that I can’t leave without having asked you.  Can you help me with this? 

When we get to the end of this meeting please can you remind me to ask you if there are any other business owners you know who may be interested in X, Y, Z? ‘

What have you got to lose?

The Way to Get StartedTry it.  You may be surprised at the results you get and very soon it becomes a lot easier to ask for referrals.

 

To find out more about how to get these things right more often in your business come to the next Business Leaders seminar. Click here for more details,  or here to sign up to the Sandler monthly newsletter with practical sales and prospecting tips.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

AAAARRRGGGHHHWhen this happens it’s hard not to start justifying our price or getting outraged and walking away.

So, how else could you handle it?

 

 

Example one:

two_people_talkingBuyer: You are more than twice the price of the other company we are talking too.

Salesperson: Of course I’m disappointed, but I appreciate your courtesy in telling us that you’re going with them

Buyer: I didn’t say that

Salesperson: I’m surprised. If they do the same things we can do for half our price it would seem like the logical conclusion that you would go with them?

Buyer: Well they don’t do exactly the same thing

Salesperson: But for your purposes, is it fair to assume they do what you need?

Buyer: Yes I think they do, but it’s a one-man band and I’m not sure how long they will be around

Salesperson: You know we want to work with you but you should do what’s in your best interest

Buyer: Well David has told me good things about you and if I go with them it means more risk if its doesn’t work out

 

Example Two:

yellow triangleDraw a triangle with one of these words on each corner: Effective, Easy to use, Cheapest.

Explain to your buyer that most people want something that’s easy to use, very effective and cheap.
There are people who will tell you that they can do all three but that’s not true.  You can pick two but in reality no-one does all three.  So, which two are most important?

 

This tip was offered to you by Caroline Robinson of Sandler Training in Cambridge.

To find out more about how to get these things right more often in your business come to the next free Business Leaders seminar. Click here for more details,  or here to sign up to the Sandler monthly newsletter with practical sales and prospecting tips.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Once again, we’re being told that most of us (77%) feel we’ve chosen the wrong career. (And 33% are bored at work.)

A guest post by Liz Lyon of  Design the Future Coaching and RISE Business Circle

Living for the weekend?

159/365. Agony.I know I go on about this a lot but I get very annoyed that so many people see their work as something that has to be got through 5 days a week so that they can do their real living on Saturday and Sunday.

OK, we can all have off days – days when we wonder why we bother – when it’s only the need for an income that keeps us going.

What bugs me is that it’s become part of the culture to see work as an irritating and inescapable interruption in the enjoyment of life.

Radio DJs, for example, regularly commiserate with us on the direness of Monday morning; they applaud when we’ve got as far as Wednesday lunchtime and it’s all downhill to the weekend and they celebrate the arrival of Friday and being able to shake the dust of the office (or wherever) off our feet.

Really?

5your time is a valuable resource days out of 7 is around 70%: do we really want the norm to be that most of us feel trapped and depressed for 70% of our week?

Is there some hideous conspiracy by sinister authority figures to make us believe that it’s the only way things can be? Keeping the masses down by making them trudge through their working lives?

Time for change?

j0433028It’s time to fight back! Time to challenge the restrictions and start looking at exactly what it is that will make your career as satisfying, rewarding and fun as it can be.

What really excites you in the rest of your life?

What work could you do that would incorporate that?

If it doesn’t already exist, could you create it?

Do you really want to spend most of your life wishing it away?

There’re lots of books and professional help out there: what could you achieve with a small investment of time, energy and money?

Tip:

LizLook for someone who’s already achieved the kind of life you want and do a little investigating into how they did it: what tips and strategies can you pick up to help you?

Want some support?

Call Liz for a confidential, no obligation chat on 01223 811913 or email liz@dtfcoaching.co.uk

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

What’s happening?

The laws governing pensions provided to staff by employers are changing so that all employees will be enrolled in the pension scheme unless employees specifically opt out of it, compared to the current situation where all employees are offered the pension scheme but must apply to join it. This new regime is called “auto enrolment”.

What effect will it have on my organisation?

If a significant majority of your staff are already members of the staff pension scheme, then the change will make very little change other than to change the induction process for new employees. However for many organisations where staff have traditionally not joined the pension scheme, especially if this is through apathy rather than through a clear decision not to join, then this change could increase your staff costs in line with the employer contribution to the scheme – which for employers operating a final salary scheme could be as much as 20%.

When does it happen?

j0434804For the country’s largest employers the change has already taken place. The change is being rolled out, starting with the largest employers, over the next five years.

Your staging date will depend upon the number of employees registered for PAYE purposes and the PAYE reference code you use for paying over tax and national Insurance. For employers with fewer than 50 employees the roll-out starts in two years’ time.

What do I need to do?

First, you need to make sure that your staff pension scheme qualifies for registration for auto-enrolment. Most schemes that are open to all members will, and there is a tool available on the Pensions Regulator’s website, www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk, which will help you.

Secondly, you need to look at what it would cost if everyone that is entitled were a member of the pension scheme, and then compare that with what you are paying now. This will give you a view of the potential extra cost the organisation will have to take on after auto-enrolment. Consider this in the context of your business. You may decide that it’s not a significant increase, in which case all you have to do is change your process for induction of new staff, and start talking to your existing staff about the change.

The next thing you need to think about is how many of your staff are likely to opt out of the scheme. Remember that you are not permitted by law to encourage employees to opt out in any way, so people have to make an effort to opt out – they need to make an application. However some employees may choose to opt out. Finding out by consulting your staff may be difficult without giving the impression of encouraging staff to opt out, so be careful.

However you may feel that this is an unacceptable increase in costs. In which case you need to plan very carefully what you do next, and you will probably need some specialist advice. See the next section for more details.

The next thing you need to do is to work out when you will need to make the change. This is called the staging date. There is guidance on this on the Pensions Regulator website.

Once you know what your staging date is, you can then start to plan the implementation. You will need to

  • Decide whether you want to continue with your existing pension, or change to a new one with revised terms;
  • Plan how you are going to tell your staff about the change. You will need to allow at least three months for consultation, especially if you plan to change your scheme;
  • Prepare changes to your induction process for new employees, so that they are told about the pension arrangements when they join, and contributions are deducted from their pay and paid to your pension provider from the start of their employment;
  • Set a process for those who wish to opt out of the pension scheme (it is good practice for this to be administered by the pension provider, so that there is no grounds for claiming that the employer encouraged staff to opt out);
  • Appoint a point of contact which must be notified to the Pensions regulator;
  • Start automatically enrolling staff into the scheme from the staging date and paying contributions over to the pension provider;
  • Register the pension scheme with the Pensions Regulator.

Changing your pension scheme

You may decide that your current pension scheme is not suitable for auto-enrolment. This might be because

  • Employer contributions are too high and you as an employer cannot afford to pay contributions for all staff;
  • Employee contributions are too high and few staff will be able to afford it; or
  • The scheme does not qualify for auto-enrolment.

When you have decided this you will need to take advice from an expert pensions adviser. You will need to aim for a pension scheme which will

  • Be affordable to you as an employer;
  • Be affordable to your staff; and
  • Meet the pensions Regulator’s conditions for auto-enrolment.

So it’s probably a good idea if you have a clear view of what you would consider to be affordable to both employer and employee before you talk to the experts. Remember that in order to be acceptable to the Regulator there will need to be minimum employer contributions of 3%, and minimum total contributions of 8%.

Next, you will need to think about what you want to offer to those already in the existing scheme. You will need to think about the impact both on existing staff, on those not currently in the pension scheme, and on new staff. Options would include:

  • Closing the scheme to all further contributions, and auto-enrolling members into the new scheme;
  • Closing the existing scheme to new members, allowing those already in the scheme to continue to contribute in the scheme, and auto-enrolling all other existing staff into the new scheme.

Either way, you’ll need to consult your staff and take their views into consideration when you make your decision. You need to allow at least three months for this process.

Conclusion

The arrangements around auto-enrolment are complicated. It’s important to make sure you understand the implications for your business, cost out the options, and leave yourself enough time to make alternative arrangements if necessary. This could involve extensive consultations with your employees or their representatives. So it’s worth starting your planning now to allow enough time to make a well-considered choice.

Need help?

Clover 1062The author of this post is an experienced Finance Director and Consultant and can help you to

  • Identify your Staging Date
  • Establish whether your current pension arrangements will meet the criteria of the Pensions Regulator after your staging date
  • Project the annual cost
  • Cost out some alternatives
  • Explain pensions to your staff

Melanie Digney at Tailored HR Limited is an HR professional who can help you

  • Explain and communicate the pension scheme’s details to all your staff
  • Consult with your employees about pension arrangements or arrange individual staff meetings with the scheme provider at your office to set up the scheme.
  • Put arrangements in place for employees who wish to opt out
  • Change your induction processes to reflect auto-enrolment
  • Provide advice on Employment Law

Antony Moyes of Moyes Financial Planning Limited is an Independent Financial Adviser authorised by the FCA to advise on pensions. He can

  • Help you select a pension plan
  • Advise your employees on investment options within the plan
  • Establish whether your current pension arrangements will meet the criteria of the Pensions Regulator after your staging date
  • Explain pensions to your staff
  • Register your pension scheme with the Pensions Regulator

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

In my opinion, the key to successful blogging is to:

  1. Demonstrate your expertise in a generous, thoughtful way.  SHARE DON’T SELL.
  2. Show your personality, have an opinion and write about topics that are of interest to you and your target audience – Corporate marketing belongs on your website
  3. Include plenty of “calls to action”.  Guide your readers in to engaging with you and be prepared to utilise social media yourself.

In part 1 I shared the first part of my presentation to members of The Business Club Cambridge which focused on deciding on your blogging style.  In this post, the emphasis will be on generating ideas that add interest, provoke thought and engage your audience.

Building Trust in your field of work

Writing posts that demonstrate your expertise, experience, authority on a subject will help earn kudos and differentiate you from your competitors.  I find it also enhances my own personal CPD.

To make these posts successful, ensure you do more than regurgitate facts.  For example, include your personal view point or explain a recent, relevant circumstance or how the information you are sharing has helped your or a client of yours.

Specialist Subjects

Your sector will be full of interesting information, new products/services, events, research and development that you could blog about.  Mosts sectors have magazines or news sites devoted to them.

Remember not to get too technical, you are writing for your target audience not your industry peers.  If you are writing about something technical, rather than focus on the detail, discuss its application to SME’s or other relevant demographic so that is can be interesting to your social media audience.

The aim is to give away enough information to be seen as a specialist worth approaching.  Jargon will leave people thinking that you can not communicate on their level and don’t forget to add personality to your writing, you are composing a blog not a thesis.

Current Affairs

General subjects as local news, social media, gadgets and travel are always popular and can help break up your blog and give you the opportunity to voice an opinion.

How political and/or controversial you are is completely dependant on the style you chose to adopt (see part 1) in order to engage your target audience, but please avoid distasteful subjects, ethical issues and inappropriate language.

To search for ideas, look at the blogs you read, the mainstream news sites, Linked in and Twitter.  Obviously you don’t want to copy other peoples ideas or work, but often reading will spark inspiration or a desire to share your point of view. Think about how the current affair will affect you personally or your industry; perhaps you have a solution or an alternative.

If you are still struggling, have a browse around http://alltop.com/ or a similar blog listing site.

Business Experiences

Why not blog about what you have achieved in the past week/month/year?  A little bragging can go along way provided it is not too egotistical.  It can help potential customers to understand who you are and how you can help them.

Case studies can showcase your work and demonstrate the type of clients you are engaged with as well as provide an opportunity for users of that product/service to add uninitiated testimonials.

Or how about publishing frequently asked questions? Or perhaps bizarre questions your clients have asked you!  Many of the posts you will find on this blog are a result of questions I have been asked.  Once I have constructed the answer, it doesn’t take much time to publish it.

Guest Authors

If your target market needs a broad range of information (or you are simply bereaft of inspiration) why not source a guest blogger, after all you can not be an expert in everything.  Most bloggers and networkers would be flattered to be approached and the back links, additional traffic and strong relationships than can be built are invaluable.

In summary

Blogging can be a time consuming marketing activity, so above all else you need to stick to your plan and remember the 3 points I opened this post with.

Inspiration for content is all around us, just open your eyes and ears.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Further reading http://www.zenspill.com/attract-more-readers/

 

Blogging and social media is a regular topic of interest at The Business Club Cambridge.  In May, Chris Markham, Neil Hamilton-Meikle and I hosted a blogging workshop aimed at members who have often considered starting a blog but have procrastinated for too long.

Neil covered the basics of getting started such as choosing a platform, I discussed content generation and Chris gave some insights in to getting your blog noticed and generating meaningful business leads.

I thought it would be useful to share with you, the outline of my presentation.

Your Style…

Before you can generate constuctive ideas or devise a plan/strategy for your blog, you need to be clear about the style of your blog.

Your own personality and goals should determine this, but take time to consider:

  1. Your target audience.  Professionals? Niche? Mums at home? Young People?  What will they be interested in? How much time/money do they have to spend? What kind of language/grammer is appropriate?  Also, consider that readers may be your current client base, sharing knowledge is a great tool for client retention so don’t just think of it as a lead generation exercise.
  2. What “calls to action” need to be included to achieve your objectives.  For example, are you hoping for a call, a newsletter sign up or SEO for your main website?  Then ASK, be clear about what you want your readers to do.  Are there “key words” that you need to incorporate for SEO?
  3. How you will promote interaction (comments, social media sharing, bookmarking etc)  Blogging is all about sharing information to build trust amongst your peers and clients.
  4. How often will you post a blog?  And what time of the day/week/month is best for you and your audience?  To build rapport you need to blog regularly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean frequently.  Quality definitely overrules quantity.
  5. What are your competitors doing?  How will you differentiate yourself?
  6. What format will you use?  Short paragraphs, full articles, infographics, links, video…..
  7. Will you actively seek guest authors?  This is a great way to share readership, build alliances and double the social media impact, but be careful not to confuse your audience, the posts must be relevant to them and contribute to your overall strategy.

Once you have these issues clearly documented, you will find ideas for content everywhere you look and there is not enough time in the day to cover them, so a structured plan is essential.

Part 2 will look at what to write and how to generate ideas that will work.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

To many small business owners, administration and bookkeeping are a necessary evil of being self-employed.  Often managed simply to keep HMRC away from their door, the bank manager happy and accountancy fees at a palatable level, bookkeeping can be a time consuming and often monotonous chore, that steals time away from servicing client’s needs and therefore earning profit.

Have you considered using the results of your bookkeeping efforts to drive your business forward?

There are many ways that management information can help you to manage your business as well as complete your VAT return and keep an eye on cash flow.

  • It can assist the business owner in making good quality decisions
  • It can monitor performance indicators such as turnover against budget or prior year
  • It can help ensure you get paid for the work you do and manage financial commitments
  • It can highlight more profitable areas of the business, or potential to cut costs

Let me illustrate with an example.

A well maintained sales ledger, in a well constructed spread sheet or using software such as Kashflow or Sage, can improve cash flow, increase profitability and grow your business.

How?

  • By reporting customers in order of money spent, you can focus on providing your best customers with the best customer service, reducing the chance of them looking for alternatives or being as price sensitive.  This will also encourage advocates of your business, which will provide the best quality advertising at no cost.
  • Analysing debt by age can highlight poor paying customers who may indicate the need to improve the way you do business or highlight the need for more robust credit control.
  • You may decide that poor value customers or late payers are costing you too much in time and cash flow, so refuse to accept
    their future business or at least renegotiate terms.
  • Incorporating a little CRM (customer relationship management) data such as the source of the customer (e.g. advert, referral etc) can help you calculate the cost of acquiring new business and give you clues regarding your marketing spend.
  • Looking at accounts that have not been active for some time could highlight missed opportunities.
  • By improving the amount of cash flowing in to your business you can reduce the cost of finance and perhaps have more
    negotiating power when purchasing.

Not for you?

If the thought of devoting more management time generating information turns you cold, then outsourcing is probably your best option.  Many small business owners feel the need to control every element of their business and often consider cost to be a barrier, but in most cases outsourcing bookkeeping will pay for itself; by freeing up time to focus on the performance of the business or indeed to do more business.

To find out more about getting a return from your investment in bookkeeping, give me a call on 01480 426500 or Skype chat with tonimhunter.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Social media is where it is at!

If your small business is not blogging and marketing on WordPress and Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Pinterest and Stumbledupon and Digg and Reddit and Delicious and … the ridiculous list goes on.

Even if your job consisted of nothing more than producing content for these modern-day monsters you would be hard pressed to keep them satisfied. But, if you are not connected online and everyone else is, won’t you lose out? Will your small business be forgotten?

Well there is a way to blog and tweet and stay LinkedIn without losing your life or your business to social media.

Here are seven ways you can be connected online without living online.

7. Blogging for more business

Writing a blog produces new content for Google to use to push your website up its rankings. To get blogging done well but fast:

  • Use your own life

Finding ideas for blogging can be tough, but using your own experience is an inexhaustible supply of new ideas. We are not very interested in what you had for lunch, but your experience of customer service good or bad in a particular restaurant could be just the dish best served warm.

  • Allocate some time

Set a time limit and use a timer (like a kitchen timer). 30 minutes should be enough to get your blog written

6. LinkedIn for more sales

If you have a profile on LinkedIn that’s a start but  do you also join groups where you clients hang out? If you do, you can find out what they are interested in and share your expertise with them through your posts into their groups. It’s a fast track to getting to know your prospective clients.

5. Twitter to find clients

Twitter can drain your entire day if you let it run you, but if you grab Twitter by the wings you can be in charge.

Fall in love with that kitchen timer from #7, and set yourself just 7 minutes in the morning and 7 in the afternoon/evening. You can keep up with what is going on in your sector, schedule at least 7 tweets and retweet 7 things during these 14 minutes.

4. Facebook brings your more than friends

If you are selling directly to consumers, Facebook is where it is at.  Same principle as Twitter applies – use that timer to stop you getting too involved in cousin Jan’s cool photos of kittens.

3. Google plus – adds value

Google gets over 2 million searches every single minute of every single day and Google is looking for new signals that your content is popular. By sharing your content on Google plus, (the clue is in the name) and if your contacts re-share it, then you are getting votes for your content. Add a Google+ button to your browser bar and you can +1 anything you read on the fly.

2. YouTube is enough to give you goggle eyes

Also owned by Google, YouTube gets 4 billion video views every day. A really fast way to share your content is to upload your own videos. It doesn’t have to be super-polished.

Gary Vaynerchuk http://tv.winelibrary.com/2010/06/  built a multi-million dollar wine business from his opinionated, some would say obnoxious, video blogs. Every time I upload a Bizfix video to YouTube it is shows high rankings in Google search almost instantaneously: it’s a very fast way to get your company noticed.

1. Keyword research is not just for the nerds

Keyword research is probably the most important and most under-used tool for speeding up your online marketing.  If you don’t do keyword searched before you name your company, name your product, write blog posts, or write content for your company website, you are missing the bullet train to getting found on Google.

There’s a seriously sharp free guide to how on the SEOMOZ site.

So now you have seven ways you can do online marketing for your small business in minutes per day, not days per week.

What’s your top tip for marketing your business online without wasting time?

Guest author Chris Markham of Bizfix, the Cambridge business advice and support company, is on a mission to get more science, evidence and fact into local business support.  You can find more of his small business writing on his blog.

Email Chris or call 01223 851 161

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

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