More and more start-ups and small business owners are reporting longer weekly working hours than ever.
In 2017 for example, 36% of Smart50 Awards listed business owners reported working 60 – 70 hours per week, 22% reported 50+ hours and 10% reported 75+ hours per week. We know from extensive research by leadership experts, that even when employees are afforded flexible workplaces, styles and hours burn out is still a very real threat, not only to employees but entrepreneurs and small business owners too.
Anyone working more than a 40 hour work week runs the risk of burning out and increasingly, successful entrepreneurs and leaders in business innovation are writing and talking about the benefits of committing to a shorter working week, leaving them more energetic and with a healthier work/life balance. Instead of being forever ‘switched on’ and ready to work, successful leaders are increasingly incorporating contemporary practices like telecommuting and retaining virtual assistants who can be delegated tasks and responsibilities that entrepreneurs and owners just don’t have the time for.
This streamlined approach to modern business development is proving extremely successful, with compressed work weeks making up the structure of half of the companies listed as Australia’s ‘50 best places to work.’ Whether this compressed work week looks like a 30-hour week, 4-day week or something else entirely, it’s a trend that has a massive pay-off for owners and employees.
So how do they do it?
Thinking about changing your work style or implementing new practices and working hours is a daunting prospect, even for the most organised business owner. Fortunately, we’ve done (some of) the hard work for you! After weeding through all the best advice from self-starters and successful entrepreneurs who have made the switch to a new business model we have carefully collected our top 3 tips for cutting back on hours, without breaking the business.
1. Outsource tasks to a trusted VA
Timothy Ferriss, bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, documents how he moved from a 14-hour per day work schedule to only 4 hours per week, when a 3 week sabbatical in Europe inspired him to streamline all of his processes. Honestly, Timothy's approach business model is interesting enough to warrant it's own entire blog - but I digress. By working remotely and delegating most tasks to efficient and flexible Virtual Assistants, Timothy freed up enough spare time that his main focus is now self-promotion.
2. Talk to your team
Anna Ross, founder of nail polish brand Kester Black ensures her staff work no more than a four-day work week. When discussing her strategy at 'Mobile-ising Women', an industry event in 2017, Ross revealed that not only did she receive feedback from her team when she initially made the change to a more flexible roster but again, when the new policies were reviewed and further improved upon.
Coronavirus has thrown a real spanner in the works for many businesses, though for some the necessity of telecommuting may be a blessing in disguise. Working from home may not only reduce business overheads on things like office rental, internet and phone costs but this modern approach also reduces the cost of business to the environment. How can this cut back your work hours though? Well as well as saving 15-25 full working days a year by just cutting travel time, research has shown that productivity actually increases more than 10 per cent in staff and management working from home.
Shorter workdays really are possible and the solution may be simpler than you think. Start small – investigate telecommuting options, streamline your system by delegating to virtual assistance and start scheduling with the big picture in mind – long term goals for you, your business and your staff. Flexibility is not just a trend, but a radical response to an all too frequently imbalanced work/life routine. So what are you waiting for? Reach out to Adminovate to find out what a Virtual Assistant can do for you and get your free time back today.
Not unlike growth in nature, businesses grow and evolve in stages, moving through many different cycles before reaching their full potential. Like the first bloom of a flower or the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, all businesses can thrive and flourish with the right nourishment (or management) and under the right conditions. These are the five stages where organic growth and development may require a bit of extra assistance, and where you can find it.
You have that idea that won’t quit. You are full of enthusiasm and cannot wait to get started. This is the beginning of your new venture and often, the most exciting part of the journey. So what kind of business will you start? Have you done research about potential competitors? This is the stage of your business where the project is in its earliest formation. Your idea may have amazing potential but to get things off the ground, you need to soak up the knowledge around you. Find people with experience, talk to them, network and never stop researching. Necessity is the mother of invention and the best business ideas will come not only from believing in your idea but understanding your market.
This is the second phase of development that you will see in your business. By now your dream has become a reality and you probably have less time than you did before for all that dreaming, hard at working bringing it to fruition instead. This can be a costly stage for any business, and you might find yourself burning through cash just to keep up with it all. Between implementing new systems and processes and of course, trying to stay nimble enough to change direction in an instant, on the off chance that everything doesn’t go exactly to plan. Sometimes growth can be so quick that you will outgrow a system or process almost as soon as it is implemented, meaning more cash is needed. It can be hard to keep track of it all and might be a good time to consider a bit of extra help. Delegating your time better can help keep costs down in the long term by leaving you to what you do best – focusing on the big picture, while a part-time or virtual assistant can do the rest.
Growth has slowed down now, with processes and systems bedded down. Your VA has helped to organise your scheduling, mail and billing and your growth is now tracking at a healthy, sustainable pace. Due to your growth rate steadying up, you are now able to start analysing your business a little more critically, fixing some of the issues that you may not have had time for previously while growing at such a frantic rate. Have you got a current social media or marketing plan in place? Would it be simpler to digitalise or archive client files? Perhaps it is time to update your old policies and procedures? Good record keeping is essential to tracking growth and something that VA’s are great at!
You are now able to be “seen” as a serious business. You are confident in your practice, management and ethos and are ready for the next stage of growth. What does that look like for your business? Are you hoping to start a franchise? Expand your brand? Perhaps you are simply moving fast enough to require extra staff or a bigger team. Processes are well bedded down so if a change needs to be made, it doesn’t take all the time or money in the world to do. By now you (hopefully) have a VA, or a team of VAs that know your business, have grown with you and are ready for the extra workload.
Decline (but we prefer to think of it as “New Life”):
Don’t think of decline negatively here (although it does bring a negative vibe, doesn’t it?). This is just the phrase that we are using to illustrate this transition often presents a crossroads for a business. Previously, you had expended most of your time and energy growing into the thriving, successful business that you knew your dream had all the potential to become. Now the market conditions are changing, though. Macro conditions are constantly in play and you may have to change your business model and evolve to stay ahead of the game. You may even find that you move through the growth cycle all over again. New product lines, new services, new staff that need nurturing, stripping away old processes that are no longer relevant - all those things belong in this stage. The only difference is you now have the experience and know-how to ensure the next cycle starts stronger than the one before!
We are here to help your business grow. We work in support of businesses in various stages and cycles of growth. Having been through this ourselves, we know the importance of business and administrative support that is efficiently supporting and committed to your development. Reach out today, we can’t wait to hear how we can help you!
Why is it so important to find the right staff member? Three things that may happen if you get it wrong!
Most of us as small business owners have been there. We have worked hard, logged god-knows-how-many sweat equity hours and then, the business starts to take off. The time comes to expand and that means recruitment. Recruitment means costs. Not just financial costs, but cultural costs.
For most of us, we have worked for and with other people in the employ of another company and we have seen the mechanics of HR at work. Every company has staff who are either one of two things. The first group are guns at their jobs – they know every little detail about their role and their execution of it is flawless. They hit every KPI and exceed every target. But they just don’t quite fit in, sometimes its just a personality clash, sometimes it’s ego, sometimes it’s a bit of both. The second group, are average to good (or sometimes even below average) at their job but they are the company’s ray of sunshine who make every one on the team and the customers feel as if they have been touched by some sort of happy forcefield. They are “too nice to let go” as they make the team gel, get everyone onside and help everyone involved with the business love the culture.
Finding someone who can execute their work flawlessly, be emotionally intelligent and robust enough to learn from mistakes, be a team player and that ray of sunshine is like finding a Golden Ticket for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
But why is it so important to find the right staff member who “fits”? Well, quite honestly, the cost to your company culture will end up costing you financially if you don’t get it right. Here are three things that may happen if you get it wrong:
Your brand (and customers) may suffer
Ever dealt with a company who you are happy with but you “avoid dealing with Maria unless you have to”? Well that could be your company. That could be your customers saying that about one of your staff. Now, “Maria” might be great at her work but might be touchy on the phone, snappy, or just lack personality which leaves your customers and her workmates feeling flat in her presence. Ultimately your brand, and everyone that works within it, should be one that customers want to interact and work with. God forbid they only start calling back when “Maria” is not working that day.
Your team may suffer
“Maria” might be the strongest person on the team, but she might rub everyone the wrong way by knowing (and saying) how good she is. Before you know it, you have lots of unhappy staff who may start falling into that negative vibe, or just leave altogether. Or she may simply lack the personality to fit in or the emotional intelligence to handle constructive criticism needed to stay the course. A strong team needs to gel, work with each other, treat each other with respect and align themselves with your business goals.
You may suffer
Remember that sweat equity we mentioned earlier? Nothing is more upsetting than investing that much time and energy only to see a bad hire undo everything you have worked for. Some business owners are able to act quickly and swiftly, removing the problem or at least squashing it before it becomes and issue. But not all are like that. Ultimately you will suffer in some form, whether you need to rehire for the position, terminate someone or simply have some very awkward and uncomfortable conversations with them.
With so much at risk, maybe there is an opportunity for your business. Why take the risk and hire another staff member? Take this opportunity to outsource the work to us here at Adminovate and let us take care of that additional work for you, without the risks to your brand and business culture!
Here at Adminovate, we have been brainstorming all the ways we can help our clients and our local community. In addition to offering heavily reduced administrative solutions to small businesses feeling the force of the pandemic, we have also decided to do everything in our power to promote and support our existing clients. As a fortunate bonus, many of our clients work in Allied health services and have some valuable insights into how we can all stay healthy (and sane!) during these trying times.
Have a peek below at one of our favourite recent posts from Ian Harris, the extraordinary mind behind Coastal Physio, sharing his advice on the importance of continuity of care.
To hear the latest news and advice from our very skilled and diverse range of clients, browse our blog and follow us on facebook to keep updated. If you are interested in how Adminovate can help build your brand and assist in business and administrative support, send us a message for more information about our packages. We are currently offering free digital promotion across our website’s blog and social media pages to new and existing clients.
As you know, coronavirus has devastated many industries and plenty of small businesses right now are feeling the effects of the panic and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
As a company primarily servicing the allied health industry, Adminovate is philosophically compassionate and genuinely invested in the interests and welfare of the local and broader community.
As a virtual administration business, we were inadvertently relatively prepared for events like shut-downs and isolation. We work remotely from our clients which affords us the privilege to continue operating during these uncertain times.
While we cannot offer our service free of charge, we would
like to offer our services discounted to cover only our business overheads, enabling more struggling businesses access to our virtual service if needed. We simply want to help, if we can.
If you have any questions or would like to know if you are eligible to access our virtual assistance packages at the discounted rate, please do not hesitate to contact us to find out more. As a community, we need to be doing everything possible to support each other and small businesses during this time so please feel free to share this post to any groups or individuals that might benefit from our support.
5 Tips to transform your study sessions
With January and February fading in the rear-view, O-Week is over and students across the country are back to knuckling down and sweating about schoolwork and I’ll admit, I’m beginning to sweat about it too. As well as studying and parenting full time, I also work part time and I’m not the only one juggling so many work and personal commitments along with my study. According to the most recent statistics out of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 60% of Australian students are working while they study. So although I’m fortunate enough to work at Adminovate, a small company owned and run by a fellow mother, in a flexible virtual admin role (which affords ample opportunity to refine my language skills), I haven’t always worked in roles that so seamlessly complement my major - and doubt that many people do. Even with this advantage, I still find myself getting overwhelmed navigating the most difficult obstacle I face in my efforts to be an effective academic: actually studying.
Personally, the first term of school – and now that I’m a tertiary student, the first study period of uni – has always been the rockiest for me. Even with good study habits, it seems like the hurdles of settling back into a routine and understanding the expectations of my educators leaves me at a slight disadvantage every year. No matter what, I always feel like after my first lot of grades are returned, I spend the rest of the semester playing catch up. With that in mind, I’ve comprised this quick list of the best study tips I’ve collected over the years. Everyone studies differently, naturally I don’t expect everything that works for me to work for you but hopefully some of these tips can help you shake off your study stress and be your most studious self.
1- Colour code your notes
This is not just creative nonsense, I swear. It’s supported by fascinating research science into how the brain and our memories, respond to colour. Research shows that you are more likely to memorise notes that are made in coloured pens, rather than just all blue or black ink. Mixing up the colours of your paper can do wonders too (I print all my handouts on coloured paper). If you are particularly observant you may be able to notice the way that some colours make you feel. For example, many people find purple or cool colours soothing, which can negate some of that study stress. Do you attach good memories to a particular hue? Treat yourself to some new paper or pens in that shade! For note taking I recommend glitter gel pens to spice things up and keep you feeling a little extra. The glitter has not been scientifically proven to improve memory, but it will bring back fond memories of all the letters you wrote your crush in primary school.
2- Set up your space
This is what I call the “Marie Kondo” study approach – While I do not recommend throwing out everything that does not spark joy (textbooks are too pricey to replace), I do recommend moving away everything that is not conducive to learning. Though, contrary to popular belief, I truly don’t believe it matters where you study. I have a super cute study desk in my living room that does nothing but collects dust, because I realised shortly after assembling it that I really am just more comfortable studying in my room. You don’t need to burn sage or do a rain dance to cleanse your space but crack open the disinfectant wipes and make sure your laptop is clean. Gather your important things like notes, glasses, books and anything else that you NEED for study and get rid of the rest. If you sit in bed, tidy your bedside table. If you sit outside, take everything with you (including sunscreen) so you aren’t breaking focus or using a lack of preparation as an excuse to procrastinate.
3 – Read tips on memorisation
All writers have their own tips and tricks for keeping focused and most have some pretty good suggestions for improving memorisation, which is a valuable skill to hone. Poets and theatre students are especially good at memorisation and have a range of different methods for memorising entire verses, pages or even whole chapters. Most involve making mental links between words and paragraphs to develop a pattern that imprints itself in the memory. There are a whole range of different suggestions though, so be sure to experiment – not every technique will work for you but when one does, it will revolutionise the way to retain information, trust me. Look at places like Quora or other forums. While there are articles that detail different people’s methodology as well, I have found it more helpful to wade through online communities of like-minded people, especially other students.
4 – Find a study buddy (or a cheerleader)
The best thing you can do when studying is find someone to support and motivate you. I study by distance so for me there is no classroom and no physical peers to chat to or compare notes with. Even if you do study on campus or at school though, it can be just as easy to lose interest in study or the drive to turn in your work. It is human nature to be social. People are feedback machines; we crave someone to bounce ideas off and if you don’t have someone who is eager to facilitate that for you, it is easy to feel defeated by the pressure and mental exhaustion of learning.
So if you don’t have a rock solid gang of study buddies happy to hit the library with you at every opportunity (I do not, most of us do not) the second best thing that you can do for yourself is find a cheerleader. At exam time for example, when I am particularly stressed, I send my best friend photos of my notes. She isn’t studying and has no real interest in the intricacies of Applied Linguistics, but she is happy to send me a message saying “Oh my God, that looks awful, is that supposed to be words? I’m so proud of you!” and that is enough to reassure me that I am not crazy, my subjects can be hard and I’m still doing a good job just by trying. When I have an assignment that feels stupid (it happens a lot), I call her to whinge and she validates that it’s stupid and then calls me a little later to ask how it’s going. Beating the isolation will help you conquer the procrastination and you’ll feel reassured knowing you have someone in your corner.
5 – Reward yourself
I am reward motivated and I think most people are. From childhood we typically rely on positive or negative reinforcement or a combination of both to dictate which behaviours are ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Positive reinforcement encourages us to replicate the behaviours that are acceptable and useful. I’m sure everyone remembers how good it felt to be a kid and finally get to eat the lollies, go to the movies or stay at a friend’s house because we listened to mum and stayed on our best behaviour. That feeling is an increase of dopamine production and the reward system in our brain that makes it all happen is easy to stimulate. That ‘high’ that you crave from being rewarded is simple to trigger – just set yourself a goal and achieve it. Where you can maximise the effectiveness of this tip relates to what you are rewarding. Some people need that reward ‘fix’ after every speed bump and that is okay – reward yourself weekly when you have completed all your study, or after each assignment. For those who prefer the long-haul rewards, treat yourself at the end of each year or each semester and make it something worth looking forward to. If you can afford a plane ticket, buy one. If you are on a budget, rally your closest pals, pack up a tent and spend a week soaking up some sun and salty air, or gift yourself something you’ve been saving for and looking forward to. Suss out some festival line-ups or eye some stocktake sales, you deserve it!
Business Support Specialist at Adminovate, University Student and Writer.