Having a business partner is beneficial for a huge number of reasons. If you want to reap these benefits, then you have to make sure that you choose someone who is reliable as well as someone who can devote the same amount of time and energy into the company structure.
Trust is essential if you run a small business. If you don’t trust someone with your bank details, you shouldn’t appoint them as your business partner. This is a very simple rule, but it can save you from making a bad hiring decision. It may even help to search your partner online to see what organisations they have been involved with. Here’s an example, of Aubrey Ferrao.
If the person you are hiring is a good friend, then you may think that they are a good fit for your business. This is great, but you do have to make sure that their goals align with your own. They need to be responsible for the company and they also need to have a good level of devotion too. If your friend is going through some personal problems, then this could complicate your business operation and sometimes this can cause issues.
Always have a Trial Run
Another thing that you can do is appoint someone who you already have experience working with. This way you know if they are a team player and you also know if their personality reflects the business you operate. If you do a trial run, you won’t have to let them down or fire them. You simply make a call at the end of the trial period and you can also avoid setting any unrealistic expectations.
Focus on Varied Strengths
Make sure that your partner’s strengths are different from your own. If you and your partner are good at sales but nobody is good at customer service, then this won’t help you on an operational level. Running the business will become much more challenging and you may even find that you don’t benefit from having a partner at all. To get around this, find someone who is able to compliment your strengths and balance everything out as much as possible.
Balance your Responsibilities
Both parties need to agree up-front what responsibilities they are going to have. You also need to make sure that you stick to them too. If you have one person who is trying to take over and do everything then this won’t do your company any favours and you may even find that the partnership itself unravels.
Talk about Money at the Start of your Partnership
Money can cause major problems in a business. Therefore, you need to agree in the beginning what kind of funding you are going to use and even how you are going to distribute the profits too. If you are able to discuss this properly from the beginning, then this will really help you out in the future and you may even find that you and your partner have a better relationship.
It’s highly likely that you have spent a significant amount of time setting your business up to get it to a point where it’s sustaining a positive growth rate. However, it’s also highly likely that you haven’t spent as much time sussing out the potential risks that could damage or stunt your company’s growth. The earlier you decide to instigate risk management into your business processes, the better. This will help protect what you have built this far, and hopefully prevent, control, or reduce any problems that may occur in the future.
Protect Your Work
When you are using digital devices, it’s essential to save your work on your device, at all times. But not only this, you should be storing it somewhere else too. One of the reasons being, an increasingly problematic issue that occurs for small and large businesses alike is the threat from hackers. And so, a backup solution is necessary (along with anti-virus software and IT systems) to prevent intruders and strategically prevent the stress that these issues shall cause you. Keeping your digital files on one device is extremely risky. Although not just because of hackers, other threats such as office fires that could damage your electronics, and burglars who could steal your equipment. Depending on the amount of intel you need to store and protect shall decipher what services and solutions are best for your business. You need to weigh up whether cloud services, external servers, or external hard drives are adequate enough for your business intel.
In terms of health and safety, there is some equipment that your physical business premises simply can’t legally do without. Such as fire doors and fire alarms in the event of an emergency. Alongside this, there are other precautions you can take to prevent cost inducing damage to your premises that may cause accidents. For instance, if you own or are storing large quantities of fluid on-site (oil, chemicals, fluid, etc.), you may want to install a liquid level switch to consistently and reliably monitor the fluid levels. This shall help to indicate whether there is a leak before it’s too late. Other forms of equipment are CCTV, to monitor the premises and alert you if there is a risk that could be detrimental to your business activities.
Chances are you don’t have the means to purchase a new building, settle claims against your business and buy brand new equipment outright if the need arises due to a natural disaster or criminal activity. Because of this, it’s a good idea to purchase business insurance to cover you if something awful (and expensive) occurs. This is the last port of call in your risk management program so that if the other steps you’ve implemented have not protected your business as planned, there’s hope that the insurance company will cover the damage. In light of this, read through the terms and conditions of your insurance policy carefully, to check that you have adequate coverage for your business needs and the possible eventualities.
To begin managing potential risks that could occur at work, you can either walk around the premises and assess any areas that need attention. Such as faulty doors, or untidy cables that could cause a nasty fall. Otherwise, you may wish to hire a professional to check the business premises for you.
Collaboration is the biggest buzzword in business right now. Along with company culture, it is the zeitgeist of the modern business landscape. In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, agile, innovative businesses that are able to attract and retain talent, are those with the greatest chance of success.
Collaborative leaders understand this. They know instinctively that everyone in the organisation has something to offer. They believe in their human assets and create an environment that allows employees to offer ideas and opinions of their own.
You will only find truly collaborative leaders in organisations with strong and positive cultures. They go hand in hand. This is because real collaboration can only happen in a psychologically safe space where people feel respected, supported and comfortable speaking up.
So, what is it about collaborative leadership that helps a business succeed? Here I’ll be putting collaboration under the spotlight and exploring the reasons why collaborative leadership is so effective. First, let’s take a look at what collaborative leadership is.
What does collaborate leadership look like?
Leaders who understand the importance of collaboration in business have a belief system that everyone has the ability to develop, learn and contribute. This approach is known as growth mindset.
Collaborative leaders with a growth mindset have a very significant set of traits (see more on these below). Importantly, they are able to facilitate interactions, are highly effective communicators and always seek to inspire others. They flatten the traditional hierarchy seen in so many businesses and allow leaders to emerge. There is no place for micromanagement.
Justin Aldridge, Technical Director at Artemis Marketing, understands the importance of his team in the drive to be the most forward-thinking and innovative digital SEO agency around. “Listening to our people is what helps us to be thought-leaders in a highly competitive field.
“Our Rocket Projects draw on people across teams from the highly technical SEO team to our exceptionally creative in-house content writers. I’ve been blown away by the ideas that have come from the most unusual combinations of people in our business.”
In an article for Forbes on the crucial behaviours of collaborative leaders, Carol Kinsey Goman, international keynote speaker and leadership coach, says “A collaborative team isn’t a group of people working together. It’s a group of people working together who trust each other.”
Why collaborative leadership is so effective
Collaborating in business doesn’t really have any drawbacks (unless it is implemented clumsily as an afterthought, and not led by someone who truly understands the benefits, in which case it’s not really collaboration in the true sense).
Collaborative leadership is effective largely because of these three things:
1. Learning and problem-solving
Collaboration propels a business into a culture of on-going learning. This is vital for both company innovation and the progress and development of staff. When employees are encouraged to pool knowledge and skills to overcome problems and find solutions, everyone benefits. Projects move forward, employees learn new skills and learn to trust each other, and the business achieves goals and delivers to clients. This forward-looking approach enables businesses to be infinitely more agile. See more about why businesses need to be agile here.
2. Honesty, openness and trust
Collaboration, when facilitated correctly in business, creates a culture of honesty, openness and trust. Honesty is perhaps one of the most important principles of leadership.
Honest leaders are much more able to build loyalty and trust. There is great power in telling the truth. This doesn’t mean using truth to hurt people. Being radically candid is about being open and honest and not trying to protect people by underplaying problems.
The key difference in the approach of a highly successful collaborative leader is in their ability to listen, understand and discuss problems. For collaborative leaders, the focus is on solving a problem, not blaming a particular person.
Being a highly successful collaborative leader isn’t easy. It’s actually hard work. Sometimes uncomfortable truths have to be shared. But, honesty, metred with integrity, helps and encourages people. It doesn’t shoot people down.
3. Collaboration improves communication and boosts morale
When people are given the opportunity to contribute, grow connections and work together, morale gets a boost. Collaborative efforts rely on effective communication, but in reverse they also contribute to an improvement in working relationships and better communication.
Consider the opposite. In a business where collaboration is poor and teams operate in silos, it is impossible to build trust. Where there’s a lack of trust, you’ll find low morale. See how to make communication and collaboration in the workplace easier here.
Crucial behaviours of a collaborative leader
Collaborative leaders recognise the importance of interpersonal relationships and cross-team collaborations. Truly collaborative leaders are:
- Exceptional listeners
- Deeply knowledgeable
- Team focused
Good at asking the right questions
They don’t balk at uncertainty or bad ideas. They embrace ambiguity, they discuss it. They turn every idea over and over to find the best ones. Crucially, successful collaborative leaders coach teams to feel OK about failure and not feel stupid if an idea is binned. Every idea is part of a process, and that includes the ones that don’t amount to anything.
Last, but by no means least, collaborative leaders act with integrity at all times and genuinely care about ALL of the people in their business.
Collaboration is no longer a nice-to-have philosophy. To win in business, collaboration is an essential part of business strategy. This can only flourish in businesses with leaders who have what it takes to unleash the best from their people.
Tech has a significant impact on everything we do. From how we wake up in the morning – via that digital alarm clock or your mobile phone. Smart homes where we can turn lights on, set our thermostat, and even make coffee. So it makes sense that technology is going to be good for business. There are more applications for it.
Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can improve your business with technology.
Where once upon a time you’d need to be in the office for each meeting, and communications was a long and arduous process now Slack is commonplace. Big corporations have their in-house versions of instant messaging software too. So you can work from anywhere, anytime and still have access to the people that you need. This gives your team and your the flexibility that wasn’t possible 10 or so years ago.
With so many people using the internet to find new jobs and create networks, of course, it makes sense that tech is improving how we now build teams and talent pools. In fact, you can now implement AI in HR and have the process even more streamlined than ever before.
It also means that you can also build a global freelance team. Using various sources, casting a wider net you have access to talent that you haven’t really had until recent years.
Marketing is now fast, and anyone can do it. Yes, not everyone can do it well, but there are so many only resources now that it can be easy for almost everyone. Technology has given us tools that can do everything from automating months of content to collating precisely the information we need to take actionable steps.
Email marketing has taken center stage and means you can reach out to your customers in a way that wasn’t possible before. You can utilize all of the social media platforms and reach millions of people, which is substantially more than more traditional marketing in a magazine or a newspaper.
Tools like Buffer, Sprout, MissingLettr and Planoly give us a lot of freedom.
You can do everything better and faster. Which is excellent news, because the less time you have to spend on busywork, the more time you have to spend on growing your business, building your network and putting all of that analytics and numbers to work. Tracking your time, creating Pomodoro focus times, Trello boards with a list of tasks you need to do – and share with your team. Task management software gives us so much extra time.
Of course, as with everything, you have to find what works for you personally and for your business too. Not every piece of tech will make sense for you and your company. So when you are trialing new technology take your time and see what is a match. Improving your business with technology is essential if you intend to grow and move with the times.
Some get into freelance writing because they want the flexibility, others because they love to write, most are probably somewhere in between! Whatever the reason behind braving the freelance writing world, as a newbie you might be in search of a little advice to help you along your way.
When you’re starting out, you’ll definitely want to get yourself a blog as part of your website. You’ll still be honing your craft at this stage; so your blog can help you to create samples for your portfolio and improving your writing. If you’re looking to write in a niche area, then you should generally focus all your blog content around this topic. The great thing about blogs is that it’s easy to get plugins that can link to your social media. If you promote your content enough, it’s more likely that potential clients will discover you.
Teach yourself SEO
When you are writing web-based content for clients, it’s often all about search engine optimization. Due to this, if you make it your mission to teach yourself about SEO, then you’ll ensure that you have the skills you need (and you won’t have to try and wing it)! Teach yourself about basic keyword research, meta titles, anchor text, and how to best format an article.
Perfect your research skills
As a freelance writer, you’ll want to ensure that your research skills are top-notch. Ensure that you are using credible sources and properly fact-checking all of the information that you come across. Don’t just go for the first sources that you find, if you take a look at the writing and the quality isn’t high, keep looking. Take your time, find reports, statistics, and quotes to support your writing. Practicing thorough research for your blog articles can help you to improve these skills for when it comes to dealing with clients.
Plan & Organize
When you are managing multiple projects for a range of different clients, it’s vital that you plan and get as organized as you can. Set yourself a schedule which helps you to allocate the time that you need to work on each piece of writing. Don’t take on too many projects when you are starting out. In the beginning, it’s likely to take you longer to complete your research and writing, so make allowances for this.
Get on top of your invoices
One of the challenges of being a freelance writer is keeping on top of your invoicing and ensuring that each client pays you on time. To help you with this, it’s a good idea to use freelance invoice software. Doing so can help you to create invoices and automate the chasing up of your payments too. Ensure that you keep records of all your invoices for tax purposes later down the line.
When your still a newbie, you can’t expect everything you write to be amazing straight away. If you’re writing something and you don’t like the sound of it, just keep going. Get the first draft done and you can come back to perfect it later. You’ll often need several first drafts to get something to the standard that you want. Over time, you’ll get quicker, and the redrafting process will become easier!
There are a range of tools and apps out there that you will want to take advantage of as a beginner freelance writer. Grammarly is a great tool that can help you to run a thorough check of your spelling, punctuation, and grammar. It’s often handy to have a tool like this to check your work (especially when your a few projects in and your eyes are heavy)! If your working from home it can be easier to become distracted so you can also make use of some productivity apps to help you to stay on track.
If you want to keep gaining new clients and stay afloat, it’s vital to keep searching for new projects. Make sure that you SEO optimize your freelancer website and advertise your services on LinkedIn. Look on sites like Problogger or Upwork to source new jobs. You should also ask your clients so far for testimonials that you can use on your website. Testimonials will allow you to show off your credibility and gain more interest. The more that you improve your portfolio, the easier it becomes to get more work (so hang in there)! Treat your website as a way to market yourself as a business.