Avoid the major pitfalls that send 95% of small businesses into failure

Whether starting your current business is your first shot at being an entrepreneur or your tenth try at freeing yourself from a job you hate, you want to make sure that you fall into the roughly 5% of businesses that succeed…and perhaps you’ll even skyrocket your profits and find your way into the top 1% of income earners.

You can find many recommendations, in the form of different philosophies and ideas, on what it takes to become successful in what you are doing.  However, you want to make sure that throughout the process, you are keeping yourself in check and avoiding the pitfalls that could cause you spiraling into business failure.

There are several mistakes that a beginning entrepreneur can make.  Eventually, these can lead to complications in your business, or even a complete business failure.  Most likely, you can expect the first year to two years to be the most difficult, simply because you will be working the hardest for lowest financial returns.

A lot of the work in these early years includes determining your organizational structure, developing basic business policies and identifying needs for success.  If one of these areas is overlooked or missed, you may find yourself starting over again.

The major way to avoid pitfalls in your business is to make policies and then stick to them.  The policies should include how you will build and maintain strong customer relationships.  It also includes finding the best solutions for getting contracts signed, upholding your work ethic and keeping up the quality of products or services that will keep your customers happy.

At the heart of any successful business is a bold vision and strong policies.  By defining your own policies now, you will be able to find the best customers and will avoid the downfall that many beginning businesses run into.  The terms of service that you create are the ones that will stabilize your success for years.

Not sure where to start in creating your policies? Contact Virtual Productivity Solutions to find out how we can take your vision and translate it into solid policies that will serve as the foundation for your business success.

Ways to Address Workplace Conflict

Ways to Address Workplace Conflict

Conflict can be defined as a disagreement between two parties.  This disagreement stems from a perception of a threat to their needs, interests or concerns.  And because it is perceived, emotion is involved.

Conflict can occur between two colleagues, between a manager and a staff member, or between the company and clients.

Some causes for workplace conflict could include:

  • Poor communication channels
  • Unclear policies, procedures and rules
  • Unclear job descriptions
  • Unclear reporting structure
  • Operational changes

Most of these causes can be addressed to minimize conflict.  Yet conflict is a normal occurrence in any workplace. Conflict leads to a decline in productivity.  This is a crucial problem that needs to be addressed without delay.

Some ways to address conflict I have found useful are listed below.

Conflict between two colleagues

  • It is best to focus both parties on the goal.  This can be done by discussing the matter with both parties.
    • Allow each party to state their problem in about 5 minutes or less in front of you and their colleague.  They are not allowed to interrupt or restate their position until they have stated the other person’s position to their approval.  It forces them to look at the other person’s side.
    • Ask each party what they see as the ideal outcome for the conflict.  Which steps would they like the other party to take?  Are there any solutions or better ways to work so that this conflict does not occur again?
  • Another method is using a group meeting for them to air their opinions on how to reach a goal, and then having other people give input into achieving that goal. Often the conflicting parties will gain a more objective perspective this way.  They could even realize that they were not as different as they had initially thought.

 Conflict between yourself and your manager

This type of conflict can sometimes be rather obscure (sensed, rather than outright conflict).  One way to avoid this conflict is by open communication.

It is your job to let your manager look good.  It is essential that he/she be updated on any progress made, problems experienced, etc. Discuss your feelings of conflict with your manager.  Ask for suggestions from his/her side on how you can solve the problem.

It is essential to take the differences out of the emotional sphere into the rational by focusing on the goal or end result the organization wants to attain.

Conflict between the company and clients

It is crucial to actively listen, because someone who initiates the confrontation is not necessarily objective or rational. No one can argue with an emotion.

  • Recognize the emotion.  When a person is upset, they appreciate it if other people can understand what they are feeling (eg. anger, disappointment, feelings of hurt or rejection, etc)
  • Accept the emotion.  By listening actively, you can communicate to the client that their feelings are totally legitimate, and that you understand and accept that they feel that way.
  • Probe the emotion.  Sometimes the issue raised with your company may have its origin nowhere you’d expect to find it.  Probing the emotion diffuses the emotions and opens the door to reason and logic.

While conflict is a normal occurrence in the workplace, it can have a detrimental effect on productivity.  Therefore it is preferable to find the quickest informal resolution to the conflict you can, in order to maximize productivity and save the costs and unnecessary time of a formalized conflict.

What methods do you use to resolve conflict in the workplace?  Please share them below.

My productivity journey

my-productivity-journey

In 1998, I started working at a newly formed directorate within a government department. The first day I walked into the office, there was not even a pen or computer available for me!  Yet, our director was an excellent leader with a very clear vision.  She was able to motivate the growing staff in such a way that the directorate became one of the most productive within government!  In fact, the staff were so motivated that they even spent some weekends working (unpaid), wanting to reach the goals of the directorate.  Close friendships formed between the staff members, and there was a general feeling of fun and goodwill at the office.  Most of the staff members were given merit awards and raises for their outstanding work yearly.

Having spent the prior 3 years temping for various companies in various industries, I started wondering how it was that some companies were highly productive and positive, while at other companies there was a high staff turnover with little productivity.  Was it only leadership?

When asked to do a training skills audit and organize the necessary training for the directorate, I started a study into productivity which led me to exciting discoveries regarding workplace productivity.  I wondered whether one could develop a system to analyze and correct areas of reduced productivity in an organization.  Over the next few years, I developed and refined this system and found it highly effective in all the organizations I was exposed to.

Just because something has always been done in a certain way, does not mean that I have to accept that way.  If I can think of a better way to do something, why not?

Having run my own business, I have come to hate any wastage in an organization, whether it involves money, manpower, machines, method or  materials.  To get the highest return of interest on your investment, should you not find ways in which to optimize your input?

I enjoy analysing and pulling apart and restructuring information.  So much more when it helps people to reach their goals of being more productive!

When analyzing an organization for reduced productivity, my report may upset certain individuals because I cannot compromise my integrity by coating the truth.  I do, however, try to tell the truth as gently as possible.

I believe that my system for analyzing productivity in an organisation is unique.  It is not only unique – it works!

I also enjoy overseeing the implementation of solutions to areas of reduced productivity.  I learn to know the people I work with well, and it is wonderful to see the change in morale when they suddenly realize that they are more productive!