Tag Archive: secretarial services


Fancy a beer or a glass of wine?

Fancy a beer or glass of wine?

 

 

 

 

 

Well it’s THURSDAY today and tomorrow is what’s called ‘POETS’ Day and a time to unwind and have some fun. But……

WAIT………….

 No you can’t……

 Why???

Well during this week you have been out and about, buying things (all those receipts shoved into your bag) and doing all this work for people (PAPERWORK to be done) and yet on ‘POETS’ day – what are you doing? You are beginning to think about all that work that needs doing like invoices, quotations, answering calls and what is happening….. Everyone else is having a POETS day drink or at home switched off with their family….

But don’t worry, we are here to help free up your time for a beer or a wine on ‘POETS’ day….

So, to discover how you can celebrate POETS day with your friends and/or family and claim back your weekend, either pick up the phone 01676 478140 or email us info@businessvisions.co.uk.

CHEERS…………

Fancy a Beer or Glass of Wine?

Fancy a Beer or Glass of Wine?

The everyday cycles of upsizing and downsizing

The everyday cycles of upsizing and downsizing

The Vicious Cycles of Upsizing and Downsizing

Have you ever wondered why the upsizing and downsizing of businesses and governments make such a huge impact on the various aspects of society?  Due to all of the recent media coverage of businesses and government upsizing and downsizing, I have given quite a bit of thought to this lately.  I have come to the startling realisation that businesses and governments are mere extensions of all the private individuals that make up society.  And that as extensions, businesses and governments are simply extending the natural cycles of upsizing and downsizing that is inherent in all living creatures to the business and political realms.

What is even more startling is the realisation that most humans are not aware they are participating in the cycles of upsizing and downsizing on a daily basis.  Nor are most people aware that they are making a significant impact on society via their participation in these somewhat vicious cycles.  Yet, it is the daily upsizing and downsizing decisions made by individual consumers and citizens that eventually lead to the upsizing and downsizing of businesses and governments.

What is upsizing and downsizing?

In order to understand how humans have an inherent tendency to upsize and downsize, you first have to know what those terms mean.  According to the Oxford dictionary, the term “upsize” means to increase the size, extent or complexity of something or to undergo an increase in size, extent or complexity.  The Oxford dictionary defines “downsize” as making something smaller or to make a company smaller by shedding staff.  However, we all know that downsizing a business means much more than just shedding staff.  A company downsize entails a complete reorganisation of that company and its entire business operations. Nevertheless, since all humans make decisions whether to increase or decrease the size, extent or complexity of something, then all humans are involved with upsizing and downsizing to some degree.

An Average Person’s Cycle

Most of the upsizing and downsizing decisions humans make start out as subconscious choices.  They are made as instinctive reactions meant to satisfy physical, emotional or mental needs, without much actual thought given to the options.  For instance, a newborn baby may upsize the amount of food intake when it is hungry.  The same baby may choose to increase his or her sleep while decreasing the amount of food intake when the child is not as hungry.

As the child grows up, he or she starts making more conscious, more complex upsizing and downsizing decisions.  The individual chooses which foods and drinks to upsize and downsize, based on personal preferences, health condition, cost, and the extent of hunger and thirst. As the child passes through various stages of life, he or she also starts making upsizing and downsizing decisions more frequently.

The cycle becomes a natural part of life, as the individual applies this principle to every aspect of their lifestyle. The person may choose to increase of decrease the amount spent on clothing, transportation, food, shelter, education, healthcare, and/or entertainment.  The person’s choices of employment are also affected by decisions to upsize or downsize his or her income and other benefits.  For instance, the person may choose to increase his or her income by upsizing the amount of pay for employment.  Or perhaps, he or she decides to decrease the income by retiring or changing jobs.  The individual continues the cycle with every purchase, every lifestyle change, and as every need and desire is sated or a new one arises.

How the Upsizing and Downsizing Cycle Becomes Vicious

When properly planned, upsizing and downsizing may have numerous benefits, whether it is an individual, family, business or government entity performing the upsize or downsize.  However, if the upsizing or downsizing is forced upon a person, business or government, then it can have severe negative effects.  Unfortunately, most of the downsizing of businesses and governments are forced occurrences.  And once one part of the linked chain of consumer, business and government is forced to take any drastic action, then the rest are forced to react to the changed set of circumstances too.  So the cycle may start out with a group of consumers changing their preferred diet.  This lessened demand for the food they were eating makes the producers of foods for the old diet have to downsize, possibly making it impossible for the business to stay afloat.  In the meantime, the increased demand may make another business upsize at a time when it was not prepared to do so.  The company may go into a huge amount of debt, which forces it to lose its ability to stay competitive.  Both companies may end up having to raise the prices of their products, passing the cost on to the consumers.  The additional cost of the products makes the consumers and other businesses that rely on those products to have to find ways of reducing their spending or else increase their own income.  Those who are not able to do either may end up going bankrupt, which in turn sets off another chain reaction.

How to Break the Vicious Cycle

Success or Failure

Success or Failure

Now that the vicious cycle has caused such a huge downturn of the global economy, the only way to right it is for everyone to pull together.  Consumers, businesses and government entities must remember that they are all links in one chain and do have an effect on each other.   Consumers must be willing to spend money in order for businesses to exist.  Businesses and governments need to exist in order to provide employment, products and services to the consumers, thus providing consumers the money to spend.

If the negative impacts are going to be turned into positive ones, then someone has to stop the chain reactions by making some planned upsizing and downsizing decisions that will benefit the consumer, the business and the government.  For instance, a company that has to downsize could lessen the negative impact on the local community and government by outsourcing some work to other local businesses.  Consumers can also help lessen the negative effects by making a more conscious effort to help support the local businesses.  Consumers, businesses and governments can form networks that help each other out.  These networks can work together to adequately plan out any upsizing or downsizing so no one is forced into making an upsize or downsize at the wrong time. And most importantly, larger companies can network with smaller companies to help each other upsize and downsize in a way that does not create a huge amount of unemployment among the consumers.

What and When to Outsource – 7 Top Tips to help you decide what and when to outsource.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing – making your business more productive and profitable

Outsourcing necessary but time consuming business administration chores can make your business more productive, profitable and motivating.

Many small businesses complain they are ‘drowning in paperwork’ from all the invoicing, chasing accounts, paying employees, dealing with HMRC, promoting and marketing of their company. Added to this is the problem of fielding the many incoming telephone calls are often cited as the main chores that really sap the time, energy and motivation of business owners.

Outsourcing can be a valuable and strategic tool for making your business more productive and profitable – if you know when and how to take advantage of it. The key factors that need to be considered  are WHICH business functions are suitable to be outsourced and WHEN is the best time to ‘farm out’ this work for someone else to do.

Stop and consider what your ‘core’ business is? Are the tasks helping you to grow your core business?

What is your main skill set? Are the tasks taking you away from what you do best?

Here are 7 Top Tips to help you make your decision about WHAT and WHEN to outsource:

  1. Outsource tasks that are not central to generating profits, competitive success or help you to grow your business.
  2. Outsource routine but necessary jobs that regularly ‘sap’ your valuable time and energy.
  3. Outsource tasks that reoccur regularly – like basic administration.
  4. Outsource tasks that are less expensive to have someone externally to do than to do yourself – or by a member of your own staff.
  5. Outsource activities that CAN be done cheaper in-house, but that drain the resources of you or your team and get in the way of achieving something EVEN MORE valuable to your business.
  6. Outsource when the task requires a skill that is so specialised that it’s just impractical to have a regular employee do it badly and take more time than a professional – i.e. designing and building a website, transcription, or writing marketing copy and image manipulation.
  7. Consider outsourcing when the activity that needs doing is one that nobody wants to do or feels they can do it well.

And don’t just look at the cost of outsourcing – think about the time and money it will SAVE you – and how it will motivate you to focus on the core activities of your business!

Outsourcing is a viable option for everything from transcription and dictation, bookkeeping, telephone answering, databases and mailings, graphic design, marketing, event organisation and website design. The key advantage of outsourcing is that it enables you to invest your resources into more profitable activities that drives your business forward.

Related article – ‘Outsourcing: You can’t afford not to’ The Globe and Mail  http://tiny.ly/fqw8

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/your-business/exit/taxation/outsourcing-you-cant-afford-not-to/article1942750/

 

Multitasking: Are you trying to be a One-Man Band

Multitasking: Are you trying to be a One-Man Band?

Multitasking: Are you trying to be a One-Man Band?

Have you ever stopped to consider why employers highly value employees who are very adept at multitasking? If you have ever seen a one-man band, then you may understand why.  For you see, one-man bands may present perfect examples of how people attempted to multitask in the workplace as far back as the thirteenth century.

Most likely, some forms of multitasking have been around from the beginning of human existence.  Nonetheless, as it is with numerous other basic human abilities, most people remain inept at multitasking, especially when in the workplace. Thus, there is a high value placed upon those who can adequately multitask. However, not only do the one-man bands exemplify antiquated efforts at multitasking in the work place, they also demonstrate why most modern day people are still inept at multitasking.

What it Takes to be a One-Man Band

In order to be a successful one-man band, a musician must be very adept at playing several instruments well and have a thorough knowledge of music.  To play any musical instrument well, an individual must be proficient at listening, maintaining a steady pace, diaphragm breathing, interpreting verbal and non-verbal messages, and have great eye-to hand coordination. The person must be detail-oriented, as well as be able to adapt to changes quickly.  The person must also be able to engage both sides of his or her brain simultaneously.

Moreover, the musician must be able to produce the precise sound at just the right moment, for the specific length, and in the correct order.  He or she may also have to turn pages of a music book while playing the instrument, as well as memorize numerous songs.  The person must also have a thorough knowledge of where to place his or her hands and the positioning of lips or other body parts while producing each sound.

For an individual to be a successful one-person band, he or she must be able to do all the aforementioned things for each and every instrument that the individual opts to use for the “band”.  For example, if the person chose to use a guitar, drum, and harmonica, then the individual would have to know how to produce the proper notes on all three instruments.  He or she would have to transpose the music into a key that was compatible for all three instruments, and would have to know which instrument to use to play each of the harmonized parts.  The musician would simultaneously have to be able to keep beating the drum at exactly the right pace while strumming chords on the guitar and playing the melody on the harmonica.  Some of the songs or instruments may require the musician to read music in both, bass and treble clef simultaneously. If the individual is not extremely adept at multitasking or playing each instrument, then he or she only succeeds in creating raucous noises.  He or she fails to produce any pleasant, recognizable music, thus driving away the audience.

What it takes to be Successful at Multitasking

Just as it takes a certain set of skills to be a successful one-man band, it takes certain skills to be good at multitasking in general.  The person must be able to divide his or her attention while performing several actions simultaneously.  Therefore, the person must be able to use both sides of the brain simultaneously.  The person must be proficient in time management, stress management, crisis management, communication skills, and very detailed-oriented.  Like the musician, the individual must be able to perform actions instinctively and via memorization while using conscious thoughts and various body parts to perform other actions. He or she must be good at problem-solving, as well as be very decisive.  The person must be able to see the entire situation while dealing with each smaller detail in a proper, timely manner.

Multitasking vs. Rapid Task Switching

As one can see, it takes a very special type of person to truly multitask.  In most instances, humans simply rapidly switch between several tasks, making it seem as if they are doing all the tasks simultaneously.  Even most computers do not truly multitask, despite having the term “multitasking” be coined by computer science literature.  Some psychologists think that multitasking is humanly impossible while others think that doing so would harm the brain in some ways.  Yet, there are a few jobs that do require the human to actually multitask and not just rapidly task switch.  Transcriptionists, receptionists, surgeons, musicians and chefs all must be efficient at multitasking to some degree in order to be successful. Law enforcement officers, combat soldiers, parents, teachers and childcare providers must also multitask to some degree.

Research has proven that actual multitasking can save a person money and time, if done to an adequate degree.  On the other hand, according to Wikipedia (Human Multitasking) rapid task switching has been proven to end up costing the person more time and money due to the lack of focusing on any task sufficiently. Most people make mistakes when they cannot focus their full attention on what they are doing.  So the experts at Forbes (Multitasking: Good or Bad?) recommend that people should multitask whenever possible, but avoid rapid task switching by having more than one person performing the tasks that must be done simultaneously.

So if you are trying to imitate a one-man band and do everything yourself, you may want to consider outsourcing some of the administrative tasks to a virtual office or personal assistant.  If you watch the one-man bands closely, you will see most of them are merely rapidly switching between the various instruments and seldom play the instruments simultaneously.  Listening closely to that one-man band is sufficient evidence as to why it does not pay to be chinky when it comes to delegating tasks to other people.

 

The LOST ART of Transcribing – should transcription be treated as a ‘lost’ art – how transcriptionists and transcribers were viewed throughout history.

The Lost Art of Transcription

Should transcription be treated as a ”lost” art?

Recently, a friend and I were discussing how people frequently fail to perceive transcribing as a lost writing art.  Perhaps this failure is due to the common misconception that just about anyone can easily perform the duties of a transcriber nowadays.  Or perhaps, this oversight is due to the fact that most people simply do not think of transcription as any type of art, let alone as lost art.  Even the most skilled transcriptionists tend to forget they are among a special class of artists.  So perhaps it is time for everyone to revise their perspectives of transcription, especially now that there is a high demand for skilled transcribers.

Is Writing an Art, Craft, or Neither?

One of the major reasons for all this confusion is that there are numerous ideologies as to what comprises art and what comprises craftwork.  Some people think of writing as a form of art while others consider writing to be a type of craft or trade.  Others may consider writing to be neither art nor craft, since it lies somewhere between the two. 

Transcribing frequently requires the transcriptionist to have the skills of an artist and the knowledge of a craftsperson.  And still others consider transcription as a form of writing that should not be considered as an art or as a craft.  This is due to its more common legal and medical applications as well as the use of transcription for commercial, religious and political purposes.

However, historians and archaeologists have clearly demonstrated that transcribing developed as a very valuable form of art thousands of years ago.  In its original form, transcribing was carried out by well-trained scribes that were held in high regard throughout various cultures and countries.  These scribes were considered artisans despite the fact that the majority of their work was carried out for commercial, religious, legal, medical and political reasons.

Technology’s Affect on Transcribing as an Art

Up until the eighteenth century, there was very little confusion as to what constituted art, craft and professional work.  All forms of writing were considered to be works of art until the invention of the printing press occurred.  After the invention of the printing press and other technologies, the accepted standards and definitions for arts, crafts and professional trades became more controversial.  Reading and writing became more common skills among the various populations, which then made  the skills and knowledge required of transcribers appear less specialized and valuable. 

The same problem arose in other areas of art as well, when new technology made it easier to produce and reproduce painted artwork. Some would argue that screen printing and computerized graphic artwork should not be considered to be true forms of art.  Yet, a great deal of artistic ability and a high level of skill are essential for anyone who wishes to be successful in these fields of employment.

Misconceptions about Transcription

Common misconceptions also contribute to the confusion as to whether transcription is an art, craft or neither.  These misconceptions are intentionally and unintentionally spread via numerous forms of media that is produced by government agencies, commercial entities, and educational institutions.  With current economic trends forcing businesses to downsize and unemployment rates to rise, various government agencies are encouraging citizens to become self-employed transcriptionists. The government’s perspective tends to treat transcribing any type of data as easy to do, if a person has basic typing or keyboarding skills and the right equipment.  Numerous educational institutions and private industries which profit by selling training materials and courses also project this ideology to the mass population.

Numerous entrepreneurs and employers are also under the impression that anyone with basic typing skills and modern equipment should be capable of performing transcription tasks.  Then there are all those commercial enterprises which earn their income by convincing people that they can perform these tasks simply by using the companies’ products.  For instance, allegedly anyone can write a novel or business letter simply by utilising a software program that has the computer type whatever the person says into the microphone.  Supposedly, the document will come out perfectly, with no errors, even on the first try.  However, this simply is not true.  It typically takes a person literally hundreds of hours training any computer with speech recognition capabilities to even begin to recognize the person’s speech patterns.  The documents are filled with numerous errors, and the spell-checker does not catch all of these errors.

Why Transcribing Should Be Considered an Art

The value of any form of art is determined by how common the skills and knowledge required of the person performing the work are among the general members of society.  For instance, most humans can draw or paint on a basic level, such as drawing stick figures on paper.  However, very few can create an intricate, realistic portrait utilising oil paints, paint brushes and canvas.  The same holds true for musicians.  Everyone can produce sounds in a variety of ways, but not everyone can produce sounds with a perfect pitch, flow, and rhythm.  Nor can very many people accurately compose, arrange or transpose music onto a sheet of paper for multiple instruments.

Just as painting, sculpting, and playing an instrument on a professional level requires a person to have a special set of skills, talent, knowledge and expertise, so does writing.  While most humans are now capable of basic reading and writing skills, they do not have the special set of skills, talent, expertise, and knowledge that are essential for performing transcription. 

Most of the general population do not have an excellent command of their native language or the English language, including accurate use of grammar, syntax, spelling and vocabulary.  Even fewer humans develop excellent listening skills or are able to distinguish the various distorted sound and voices on a recording.  Still fewer can type verbatim what they hear being said at the same time as they are listening to a variety of people talking simultaneously.

A transcriptionist must type while listening to a warped recording of people speaking with varying voice quality, accents, tones, inflections and speeds of talking.  Since very few people are capable of performing these tasks, transcribing, especially in the form of transcription, should be considered a valuable art form.  And since fewer people are putting out the effort to truly develop each of the essential skills and their knowledge of the various languages, transcribing is indeed rapidly becoming a lost art, despite the recent increase in the number of transcription services.

7 Simple Ways to Generate More Enquiries for your Business – These 7 powerful principles have transformed the fortunes of many local businesses.

Take a minute to read through each one and consider how they could benefit your business. They may seem obvious at first glance, but ask yourself… do you actually apply them on a regular basis?

BE PERSONAL… Stop hiding behind your logo… ‘people do business with people’! When showcasing your business, introduce the people behind your brand – it builds a huge amount of trust, brings your company to life and makes your potential customers feel at ease when making contact with you.

BE KNOWN… Most business opportunities come as a direct result of people knowing each other. Get yourself known personally by those who can refer business to you, build mutually-beneficial relationships and pro-actively generate ongoing ‘word of mouth’ opportunities.

BE FOUND… Make sure that when potential customers are searching for information relating to your specific services they end up with your business in front of them. These people are looking to do business with someone… make sure they find YOU.

BE INTERESTING… Potential customers like lots of useful and interesting information but only if it’s well written and simple to understand. Give your potential customers the information they want to know in a clear and easy to read format.

BE CREDIBLE… People are less trusting than ever. Make sure that potential customers perceive you to be an expert in your field and give lots of supporting evidence to back up your reliability and quality of service.

BE IN TOUCH… People’s circumstances change all the time. Have a system in place to keep in contact with your potential customers on a regular basis… you never know when they will need your services.

BE CONTACTABLE… It sounds obvious but… make it as easy as possible for potential customers to get in touch with you.

Dave Sharpe

What are YOUR Business Challenges? – Have you considered what your business challenges are and how you are going to overcome them.

Focusing on doing what matters, what is important and what will get the biggest results.

To get the business to a stage where I can take some time out each week, and a holiday each year.

Expand the operation so I can take advantage of an already solid and profitable business model.

Working ON my business, rather than IN it.

Building better levels of service and more rewarding customer experiences.

Having a Hotline to a ‘team’ member who can help me stay focused, get things done and help me grow the business.

Helping my team, and me, get better use of our time and stop working reactively, putting out fires, and become more pro-active about building the company.

Developing and building a strong working team so I can, not just manage, but lead my company forward.

To help me find or re-find my passion and get my heart and mind focused on enjoying running and building my business.

Finding a business support company that is both efficient and effective to help me add the right, motivated people to my team.

Deliver superior levels of customer service, create raving fans, and repeat buyers time after time.

What should be your free giveaway?

It’s very interesting how opinions have changed over the last few years in marketing about what your free giveaway should be. I don’t mean the format it should take (i.e. report, e-book, newsletter etc), but what the topic should be and the type of people it should attract.

I know I have certainly changed my opinion.

For the last few years in my business, I’ve been giving away 50 free ways to promote your business and you know what, it’s got results. I’ve attracted lots and lots of new contacts to my business and they’ve all been very happy to give me their contact details.

The theory then goes that once they’ve given you their contact details and therefore expressed interest in what you do, they should go onto buy from you, right?

Well no actually. Not necessarily.

The chances are actually much higher that they’ll grab your free giveaway with both hands and you’ll never hear from them again.

Now I’m not saying that offering a free giveaway is the wrong thing to do, but you must be very careful with what information you give away in order to attract the right people to your business.

If I offer 50 free ways to promote your business, who am I attracting with this information?

I’m attracting people who DON’T WANT to spend any money on marketing.

Is that who I want to attract? Well, no not really.

Who I want to attract are small business owners who want some help with their marketing AND who are willing to pay for someone to help them with it.

Could I change my free offering to attract these sorts of people? Absolutely! While I may not as many people signing up, they would be much more qualified and therefore much more likely to turn into clients.

While this doesn’t mean that I’m not going to give these people free information, what they do get will a) much more tailored and personalised to them and b) much more likely to result in sales.

So if you currently offer something free to your contacts in order to get them to sign up for something, make sure that what you’re offering appeals the right set of customers that you’re trying to attract.

Think carefully about your offer and make sure you are attracting the right people to your business.

Ed: Thanks to Helen Dowling for another great blog.

 

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