Posts tagged ‘Heather’

As an avid networker, I am constantly intrigued by “experts” offering networking advice to small business owners.

Personally, I have rarely struggled with networking.  In fact, I find it enjoyable and sometimes exhilarating, but I completely understand why for many it is an uncomfortable experience.

I recently read a blog post about being self-conscious when at networking events that I felt worthy of sharing with you, because it offers clear advice that I am in complete agreement with – It’s not about you!

To summarise the author, Liz Strauss writes:

“Everyone likes an intelligent, interested person who gives us true attention.
We all like people who ask meaningful questions and listen to how we answer them.
I learned that being that person makes walking into a room of strangers easier to do”

So, next time you are at a networking event, stretching your comfort zone, anxious and sweaty palmed, take the heat off yourself and focus on others and you will be surprised what an adept networker you will become.

For further tips on developing your networking skills, try “Joined Up Networking” by Heather Townsend.

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.

George Hay Chartered Accountants continues to expand its team with the addition of a new senior tax manager.

Heather Irvine will work at all three offices supporting our Tax Partner, Barry Jefferd.

Heather gained her Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) and Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualifications in 2000. Prior to that, she spent 10 years working for the Inland Revenue.  She joins the firm from Edwards and Keeping, in Dorchester, Dorset, where she was a tax manager.

Commenting on her new role, Heather said: “I’m looking forward to the diversity of clients and opportunities that working at George Hay will bring.”

Tax Partner Barry Jefferd said: “Following the increase in the amount of tax work we now carry out, we have been looking to strengthen our team and Heather brings with her a wealth of experience that will be of great benefit to our clients. We are delighted to have her on board as a valuable addition.”

If like me, you receive a huge amount of emails each day (and night!) these clear tips from my friend, customer and loyal twitterbuddy, Heather Townsend will help you to manage the daily deluge of correspondence.

Set times of the day when you will look at and deal with your e-mail

Outside of these times, switch off your e-mail and e-mail notifications. For example, at three points in the day, dedicate 30 minutes to checking and actioning all your e-mails in these times

Set up e-mail rules

Mail rules are great for auto-sorting out your mail, before it arrives in your inbox. For example, you can set up a folder for each of your regular e-mails, for example monthly recurring invoices. Then set up the rule that puts the e-mail into the right folder – for example, a monthly recurring invoice could go into a folder called ‘invoices to process’. You can even put follow up flags on these rules, so that, say for example, any e-mail from your most important client was flagged to be dealt with by you that day.

Unsubscribe to newsletters

Unless you read the newsletter, unsubscribe to them. If you haven’t signed up to the newsletter, then mark as spam, and if you have the opportunity report them as unsolicited e-mail. E-mail marketing clients such as constant contact, do allow you to report unsolicited e-mail.

Use a good spam filter

Do invest in a good spam filter. Microsoft Outlook’s spam filter is good at giving you false positives – so aim to use an additional spam filter, so you can turn off Outlook’s in-built spam filter.

Action, file or delete immediately

Double or even triple handling e-mail is what leads to personal inefficiency. Have as your mantra that you will only touch an e-mail once.

Set limits on amount in inbox

Get into the personal discipline of never letting your inbox get more than 10 e-mails in at the end of the day.

Use flags to follow up

Use the follow up flags. If you have an e-mail to action, mark it with a dated follow up flag. Then file it! In the morning, you can then sort all your e-mails by flags, and will get a list of the most urgent e-mails to be auctioned.

Archive your e-mail folders outside of the inbox folder

When you are creating folders to file your e-mail into after auctioning, Microsoft automatically suggests that you create sub-folders within your inbox. Make sure you create the folders outside of the inbox. This way, your computer performance wouldn’t be affected by Microsoft constantly scanning all the e-mails in the inbox.

Set up favourite folders that you access regularly

In the favourite folders box on Microsoft outlook, drag in the folders you use regularly. This way, you will be able to quickly find your most popular folders. You can even give the folders a number, e.g. “1 – clients”, so you most frequently accessed folders will be at the top of the list, regardless of where they would come in true alphabetical order.

For twitter users…

Turn off all notifications for new followers and direct messages. Use a twitter client, such as tweetdeck, to alert you to new direct messages and followers.

For more posts like this visit the blog of the infamous Efficiency Coach.

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.

This is a guest post from Heather Townsend, an amazing twitterbuddy (It is unlikely I would have met her otherwise) of mine, who has helped me both on and offline with her friendly but focused approach.   She has several business hats, including The Efficiency Coach and Executive Village and is a mum to two gorgeous ‘little guys’ as they are affectionately known.  Follow her tweets for useful business tips and benefit from her sociable nature.

9 top tips for business efficiency

keep an eye on your goals..

keep an eye on your goals..

Whilst small is seen to be beautiful (and believe me, at 5 ft 2” high, I fully subscribe to this view!), SMEs are also assumed to be more flexible and nimble than the large corporations. An accusation often levelled at SMEs is that they don’t have the resource to implement large scale changes quickly, and will therefore, struggle to significantly improve their productivity levels, and therefore, efficiency. I wonder whether you find this to be the case?

Regardless of where you stand on this debate, here are my nine top tips for any size of company to improve its efficiency:

1. Think simple

Simple ideas and methods generally save time and help a business become more efficient.

2. Outsource non-critical processes

If someone can run a process better than you, for the same or cheaper cost for the appropriate level of quality, outsource it. For example, on the 1st October I will be handing over all my books to my accountant’s book keeper. This is a non-critical process which someone else can do better than me, and for less cost.

3. Help your customers and clients become more efficient

Let’s illustrate this point with a real live example, my IT man, David of Contact Consultants, supports my IT machine for free – unless I really manage to tie it up in knots. Every time I speak to David, he educates me in some way so that I am more self-sufficient and less reliant on him for support. How can you educate your clients or customers so that your ability to service their needs is more efficient or effective?


4. Set yourself goals

If you set goals around improving your company’s efficiency then you are more likely to work towards creating a more efficient business.


5. Invest in automation

Whether you are a people hungry business like retail or a niche consultancy your largest monthly outgoing will be your wage bill. The greater the level of automation which reduces the amount of input by people, the more efficient your business. Compare and contrast the car factory of Henry Ford’s day to the modern production line in a mainstream car manufacturer.

6. Have a safety-conscious workforce

Accidents create down-time and extra costs. If you have ever had a claim brought against you for an accident at work, you will testify to this!

7. Look after, appreciate, and train your workforce

Happy, engaged, appreciated employees generally work harder and are more productive than unmotivated un-engaged employees. Think how much harder you work when you want to work somewhere rather than feeling as if you have to work somewhere. A skilled, motivated workforce is a must for good business efficiency.

8. Look at your product/service mix

If you can sell a higher-value product to your target market, you will normally improve your business efficiency. For example, if you currently sell homemade iced cupcakes, how much more could you sell a range of dairy or gluten free iced cupcakes?

9. Attract the right kind of employee

As efficient as your business may be, you are still reliant on having good quality employees to run your business processes. By attracting the right employee into the right role, you will build good business efficiency, one new hire at a time.

In your view, which of these nine tips for business efficiency should every company, regardless of it’s size, invest time and resource in implementing?

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.