Tips for licensing your product or service outlets

Ensure that the organisation behind the brand name is invisible

On the same day recently, I had two negative experiences with large Australian organisations. Both had outsourced part of their operations to independent companies.

Licensed data products

The first situation was relatively straight forward. I went to my local Australia Post office to pick up a passport application form as Australia Post handles most passport applications. The post office is where you go to have your passport applications verified and processed. I had been to other Australia Post offices with the same enquiry. However, this particular office did not process applications. I could accept that. A larger office may have been more appropriate. However, as the official agent, I believe every post office should stock the forms. To my mind, it is a basic service for every post office. Apparently the independent operators can choose whether or not they offer this service. In this particular case, because they did not process the applications, they did not carry the forms.

The second situation concerned Telstra, Australia’s largest telephone company. I had bought a mobile phone from a Telstra employee over the telephone. Part of it did not work, so I went down to my local Telstra Shop to exchange the faulty part. I had to argue the case for them to exchange it. Manager approval had to be granted (it was). The problem of course was that the Telstra Shop was an independent company, completely separate from Telstra itself. This is not apparent when you walk into the shop. Telstra signage is everywhere. The shop staff were able to access my Telstra account details. Yet they tried to argue replacing the part was not their responsibility as they were a ‘separate company’.

In both of these cases, the organisations have outsourced key parts of their operations. Outsourcing can be a legitimate business approach, but it has to be done well.

In the Australia Post case, there should be minimum service level expectations of companies who operate retail outlets. To my mind, passport services are an essential service and they should be included. It may not be necessary to process applications, as this does take up resources and requires particular skills. However, every post office should be able to provide the basic information to start the process i.e. the forms that explain the specific steps required, the information needed and the support documentation to be gathered.

The Telstra case is more complex. If you present yourself as one organisation, then your internal operations should also be transparent. What Telstra needed was an internal system that handled inter-company transfers. If someone buys from one arm and returns it to another, the system should allow the necessary financial adjustment between the different companies. They should not be any discussion with the customer. It should be just done. The customer does not even need to know.


The growing practice of licensing independent companies to operate retail outlets does not have to have negative consequences for the customer. Clearly there can be operational and financial benefits for the organisation, but these should be achieved without diminishing the service levels to customers. It is just a case of ensuring the right systems are in place to allow the different parts to operate seamlessly.


Leadership: What Makes a Good Leader

Leadership Development

It goes without saying that good leadership is crucial to any successful business. But, what makes a good leader and how can someone develop himself or herself into a good leader if they are not one to begin with? The answer is that there are many factors that contribute to good leadership. And, whether someone is naturally a good leader or not, anyone can become a good leader.

Get To Talking

One of those factors of good leadership is communication. Communication is one of the most key elements of leadership. Good communication skills need to be learned to effectively become a good leader or manager. When communication occurs, as a leader, you will be able to accurately convey your ideas and thoughts to those that work for you. In fact, simply being able to convey these things in the first place, much less accurately, puts you in the right direction for leadership. If employees have no idea what is on your mind, your leadership is going to falter. Employees are not typically mind readers.

If there is a problem a certain employee is experiencing, good communication can filter the problem out. You, as a leader, can dissect the problem and offer solutions in various ways.

Ideas that are given to employees work both ways, as well. Employees can give helpful feedback and generate new ideas to you that help the company as well, when good communication is present.

Get Something Moving

Motivation is another variable that plays into good leadership. Employees tend to stagnate when motivation decreases and it will decrease, without proper motivation. Many leaders try to motivate the old-fashioned way through fear. (Do what I say or something bad will happen) This is not advisable, since it tends to only deliver short-term results and cause even less competent work in the long run, due to resentment resulting from the fear tactics.

Instead, try adding challenges for employees. A fresh challenge always adds excitement and spawns creativity. Challenge your employees with tasks that may be slightly out of their range and let them at it! This increases motivation.

If they run into a snag, guide them towards a solution but don’t offer the actual solution outright. Coach them into discovering the solution themselves. Once they have, their self-esteem will rise, thereby raising their motivation level.

Two Heads Are Better Than One

Teamwork is always something to consider when striving to become a good leader. This means not only teaching your employees to work together but to become part of the team yourself.

Use others potential. Many times, employees potential is wasted. A good leader recognizes that his or her employees are more than just employees, they are people too. These people have lives outside of work where they have to make decisions on a daily basis, from how to deal with house payments, to car bills, to raising children, to uncountable tasks in everyday lives. Yet, at work, their decision making skills are not trusted enough to choose what type of toner needs to be ordered for a set of printers.

The point here is that employees need to be trusted to do more. A good leader doesn’t manage every single detail. Use others potential to your benefit. You will find that you have become a better leader for it.

Back to School

As always, increasing your education and knowledge is definitely a good thing when trying to improve your leadership skills, but the school that really needs to be brought to attention here is the kind of school that you don’t get a degree from.

Take the time to learn as much about your position of being a leader as possible. Take advantage of leadership training material to help develop your professional skills. Do some reading at the nearest bookstore. Attend seminars, workshops, webinars and other professional development events. Watch online videos by top leadership experts on YouTube and other sites. Talk to other leaders and see how they do things; exchange ideas.

The more you continually evaluate yourself and your practices and search for as much information on leadership as possible, the more you will be able to keep up with changing times and the better leader you will be for it.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

Sometimes it seems easier to just do it yourself

Most of us would have said to ourselves: “It would have been easier if I had done it myself”.

Decision Illustration

Communication is a difficult process. It is easy to forget to tell someone a key piece of information when passing on information or giving them instructions. Consequently, people may not do exactly as you expect. So is this a reason to stop trying? No – I believe it is a reason to get better at communicating. Both parties should learn something.

I remember an incident very early in my career. I was asked to do an accounting task. Apparently I did not do it correctly. The manager concerned redid the task, without telling me. I found out from somebody else. The manager was angry. I was angry too because I had not had the opportunity to learn. I was also upset that I had made mistakes. I did not want to do that either. It was a no-win situation. I should have asked for more guidance. The manager should have had better controls in place. We both should have learnt from the experience.

This article is about allocating tasks as well as delegation. There is a difference, see: What is effective delegation? – effective delegation is defined and discussed.
The long term benefits

A useful parable is:

Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime – Author unknown.

Most of us have seen this parable before. Yet many choose to ignore it. Why?

As explained above, communication difficulties causing frustration can be a starting point. Another reason can be a lack of appreciation of what the parable is saying. Sometimes it takes a little longer to explain or train someone in a task or delegation. But if it is a repetitive task, the time saving in the long run can be very substantial. This increases personal productivity. It can also have motivational effect which also increases performance.

Recently, the power of this parable has been brought home to me. In a world where there is so much to do, it is essential that we pass on our knowledge and skills to others, so they in turn can pass on that knowledge and skills to others as well. The parable can be taken at face value as a story, but it also applies literally. We really should be teaching people how to fish.

Our time is such a critical resource. Failure to concentrate on the more important things is a waste. It is easy to work on the more straight forward tasks, but if you have people that you can delegate these tasks to – do so. Do it for their sake. Do it for your sake. Show people that you trust them. Allow them to develop their skills further. Take responsibility for your actions. Start doing it today. Make the world a better place.

Top 10 Online Business Schools

Many people believe business is one of the best subjects to study at a college or university, as the degree can apply to almost any field. Earning your MBA would be helpful, whether you want to open your own business or take your social work career to the next level with a management position. And now that there are so many fine online business schools, earning this coveted degree is more within reach than ever before.
The following are ten online business school to consider if you want to get a “distance learning degree in business:

1.Capella University: Options range from bachelors degrees to PhDs in Business Admin, HR, Global Ops, IT, Industrial & Labor Relations, Retail Management, Training & Performance Improvement and many more.

2.Liberty University: Online degree programs range from associates to masters with options such as Business Management, Christian Ministries, Communication Studies, Economics, Leadership, Marriage & Family, Organizational Studies and more.

3.Norwich University: This online university focuses solely on MBAs and other masters degrees including Business Administration, Business Continuity Management, Diplomacy, Finance, Information Assurance, Organizational Leadership and Project Management.

4.Northcentral University: Graduate programs include Applied Computer Science, Business Quantitative Methods, CIS, Healthcare Admin, Leadership, Management, Marketing and more.

5.Salem University: This school focuses on associates, bachelors and MBA programs for Business Administration, Information Technology and Management.

6.South University: Distance learning degree options range from associates degrees to MBAs, with programs for Accounting, Business Administration, Criminal Justice,Entrepreneurship, Hospitality Management, IT, Leadership, Real Estate and many more.

7.Strayer University: Students can earn certificates, associates degrees, bachelors degrees, masters degrees and graduate certificates from Strayer. The online school offers programs such as Business Admin, Database Development, e-Business, Info Systems and more.

8.University of Phoenix: This online university offers certificates to MBAs in a wide range of subjects including Administration, Business, Health Care Management, Marketing, Project Management, Visual Communication and more.

9.Walden University: This reputable accredited online university offers degrees ranging from bachelors to doctorates in fields such as Accounting, Business Administration, HR Management, International Business, Public Relations, Sustainable Futures and more.

10.Western International University: Earn a certificate, associates degree, bachelors degree, masters degree or MBA in Accounting, Behavioral Science, Business Administration, Finance, HR, Human Dynamics, International Business, Leadership, Marketing or Management.

Key Steps in Reputation Management

A companys reputation is an intangible, but extremely important asset. A good, solid reputation helps organizations grow and build relationships. All audiences, from consumers to customers to employees to partners, seek and trust the organizations with the best reputations. It is vital, then, that a company monitors and manages its reputation so that it remains positive.

An organization can build and maintain a strong reputation by following these simple steps:

1. Cultivate Strong Relationships: This is a critical step in reputation management. It is important to understand that the best relationships are the ones that benefit both partiesthe company and its constituentsbecause they need each other. Target the key areas and key leaders that really matter to your organization and focus on honoring and building strong relationships with them.

2.Know and Believe in Your Intrinsic Identity: All individuals in the organization, from the CEO to the secretary, must know and believe in what the company stands for. This identity should be the primary driving force behind the way day-to-day operations are handled and is the strength of an organization. If employees know the intrinsic identity, it often determines how they will react in any situation.

3.Match Your Communication with Your Behavior: A company must do what it says because one of the most damaging blows to a reputation is saying one thing and doing another. A reputation is built and relationships grow based on trust. If your companys actions do not follow its words, you will not build the trust that is needed to build, grow and maintain a strong and positive reputation.

Reputation management is an important aspect of running a successful business. We have seen a company falter when it fails to properly manage their reputation. Enrons failure to honor it intrinsic identity and its commitment to its constituents led to its downfall. We have also seen a company succeed when its reputation is managed well even after a crisis. Johnson & Johnson successfully handled two potential blows to its reputation after its product was tampered with by quickly responding to the situation through honest communication with the public. Today, Johnson & Johnson is one of the most respected companies in the world. Taking the time to build, grow, manage and maintain a positive reputation will only reap the benefits of success.

Efficient Real Time Tracking Software Company

Software applications to track time in businesses have become very sophisticated ways of allowing employees the ability to clock in and out conveniently on their computers or clocking in using mobile applications rather than having to call in that they are clocking in. These types of time tracking software applications have become very popular and have special features for both employees and employers.

Benefits for Employers

The time tracking software can be set up in order to flag specific behaviors such as unusual clock-in and clock-out times or location s. The supervisor is notified by email if an employee fails to clock in. The manager has the ability to track the time of all of his or her employees since they have clocked in. In addition, voice recognition can be set up in order to verify an employee is clocking in using his or her voice as identity.

Time tracking software gives managers the ability to instantly approve time sheets once you have reviewed them. The software is backed up daily as all the other company’s important information is and this keeps the time tracking information safe in case of any discrepancies at a later time.

It saves the company time and money because it is accurate so therefore, there is no reason to spend hours trying to get the hours of employees all squared away and therefore helps to streamline the entire payroll division of the company. The savings that most companies realize is larger than what they originally thought because they had no idea how much time they were spending on employee time tracking until it is done by a sophisticated software program.

Benefits For Employees

Time tracking software is easy to use and simply to clock in without using an old-fashioned time clock. Moreover, most of the time tracking software have options to log in from mobile devices, which is a very convenient way of logging time when the employee is mobile and not in one given location for the most part of the day.

Furthermore, the employees are clear of when and where they can clock-in and out and are less likely to try to take advantage of a situation since they know the software is accurate. Therefore, employees know what is expected of them and they follow the rules, which again streamlines the entire situation.

Final Thoughts

Finally, many employers have taken advantage of the numerous benefits that are available to them in time tracking software. Once you set up your input information, such as employees, you are well on your way to saving time and money keeping track of your employees work time.

The Time is the answer

Call the Time is a powerful, easy-to-use, web-based timekeeping application for hourly employees who work off-site. Call the Time’s mission is to simplify your time, attendance, scheduling and payroll reporting initiatives.

An essential part of your business strategy

Fast, simple and highly effective Call the Time’s web-based timekeeping application is the perfect way to minimize administrative costs and maximize profitability for any sized organization.

The Value Of An Employee In Relation To Business Growth

Am yet to find a person who is gifted in every aspect of life. Even if you happen to be the best soccer player in your team, there is no way you will win a match without the involvement or support of the other ten players. Team work is what determines the success or achievement of an given organisation, rather than operating a one man show. It’s the high time to realize that you are of real importance in that company, no matter what you do, even if it just means sweeping the floor. It takes a clean office to create a conducive working environment hence your cleaning services should be valued highly.

This brings me to the day when I arrived in the office only to realize that I really needed to appreciate each and every one of my employees. On this fine Tuesday morning I got to the office only to find that my personal assistance had packed and left. I could not understand what I had done or not done right to necessitate her departure especially without notice. In fact am looking for an institution that will train me on how to relate with my staff.

If you are reading this and have a training staff handling manual just name the price and Ill be happy to purchase it. Her duties were to read and respond to my many emails that I received from my clients and suppliers. I had a very important meeting in an hours time and was wondering weather to cancel it or give a lie for not appearing. To put it in short it was one of the longest weeks Ive ever known. It took me two months to find a suitable replacement for her and that was after hiring and firing four personal assistants.

Realize that as a staff of any organization you have rights and privileges. These rights include a good salary package, housing allowance and a reliable medical cover. Note that you are of great value to the company no matter what your duties are and for that you must be treated with maximum respect.

Choosing a Telecommunications Company

I sat down at my computer and did some brainstorming. I tried to put myself in my customers shoes, so I decided I wanted to search for a company to supply my new business a 1300 number. Google has thousands of results, and I see there is stacks of competition in the paid advertisements in google, so how do I find a company to supply me this service?

The first thing to look for is a company that answers the phone, or calls back quickly and connects you through to a real person who can answer your questions. The second thing is a website which explains the process and makes signing up easy. Some companies specialise in 1300 numbers, however most Australian telecommunication companies will be able to sell you additional services which will complement the 1300 or 1800 service.

The process of setting up a 1300 number or 1800 number can be made very easy or quite complex depending on your businesses requirements. They have a whole bunch of features such as overflow, time based routing and a somewhat daunting provisioning process which is made more difficult by governmental bodies. Most companies should be able to supply you with free configuration updates, free setup and the features I just mentioned at no additional charge.

The next step in getting your own 1300 number is settling on an actual number or more importantly a few numbers. There is a public list of numbers available to all Australian telecommunication companies (telcos) which has a few thousand available numbers on it. Because its available to everyone, sometimes the numbers are already taken, so most telcos ask you to choose a few. If your looking for a number that spells a word, you will be looking for a smartnumber, and you have to purchase these numbers from auction.

Once you have chosen a company, and found some suitable numbers, make your application. Most 1300 numbers are supplied on credit, so expect to sign a contract or direct debit agreement with the telco. The average wait time to get your number up and running without any hitches is 5-6 business days at the time of writing, but you should ask your telco how long they expect it to take.

Looking for Soft Skills

There are many who are unemployed and countless others are trying to get ahead in their organizations, but employers are still finding it very difficult to fill vacancies and employees are failing to make that positive impact in their office assignments.

In addition to technical qualifications, businesses need their staff to display certain qualities. Lack of these qualities have sometimes resulted in poor collaboration between departments, poor execution of plans, and loss of customers.

Very few organizations are growing at a fast rate, even in cases where candidates with the best technical expertise and knowledge were hired. Businesses suffer from lack of productivity and continue to experience unprofessional behavior from staff every day.

Soft skills are attributes and qualities that improve relationships with other people. Every business organization looks for staff with soft skills at one time or the other but unemployment continues to be a major cause for concern. Is it because something is missing? In recent surveys, employers and business leaders have identified soft skills as crucial factors in successful and outstanding workers. Employees with soft skills attract and retain more customers in any organization.

In my experience as a training consultant for various organizations, employers often have the same complaint and observation about nonperforming staff. These complaints include, lack of communication skills, deficient interpersonal skills, no display of critical and creative thinking, poor business writing, and conflict with customers or among workers.

When employers realize the place of soft skills in their organization’s success, and begin to do something about it, then we will see positive changes in organizations, changes such as better customer service, presentation skills, problem solving, etc. Embarking on soft skills training courses are a step in the right direction, these change-maker skills are needed for a market-relevant workforce. These skills attract value to businesses and make work experiences more interesting.

Fundamentals of a MMA school business Plan

If you are planning on opening your own martial arts school or MMA training facility making sure you have done thorough planning that is essential to get your success, just as in any other business. Often even more important as many of those who choose to open their own schools may have strong martial arts backgrounds but limited business experience. One of the best ways to get some real world business experience in this industry is to become an instructor for a school or MMA training center first. This will give you great insight and first hand knowledge of how others operate their businesses as well as what works and what doesn’t.

There is so much more to building a successful school and business than just being a great fighter or teacher. You could hire professionals to handle all the areas you are not experienced in, but as a new start up you will probably be limited on capital and expendable funds. The worst thing you can do is get a month into business and realize you hadn’t planned for many of the expenses or overestimated the amount of revenues you can realistically make. If you don’t have a college degree or experience running your own business it may be wise to take a couple of short courses on business management or entrepreneurship. Failing to plan is planning to fail, so make sure you dedicate sufficient time and resources to doing it right the first time. You can either draft a plan yourself, or these days it is pretty inexpensive to have someone do it for you, which gives you the added benefit of a third party unbiased opinion who can help keep your expectations realistic.

The foundation of any business plan is market research. Again doing this yourself can give you more great ideas and insights for your new company or you can outsource it. The SBA (Small Business Association) and their website have a wealth of information as well as offering small business loans. According to the SBA at the essential elements of a business plan include:

Executive Summary
Market Analysis
Company Description
Organization & Management
Service or Product Line
Funding Request

Certainly this is a great time to get into the MMA or Self-Defense business for you, so do it right and Good Luck!

Best Practice in Developing Business Budgets

Developing a business budget is an exercise that all accountants undertake on an annual basis and which forms an integral part of any successful business planning.

A budget is a document that allocates financial, physical and human resource use over a specified period of time to attain certain goals.

A good budget upholds organizations’ long-term goals and should allocate resources to activities that will drive the company towards achievement of such goals.

The following are the best practices adopted by world class businesses while developing a budget:

1. Link budget development to corporate strategy

To best serve the company’s long term goals and objectives the managers develop a budget that is in line with the company’s corporate strategy.

This unites together personnel in focusing what matters most to the organization and avoids uncoordinated and scattered efforts by various departments and managers.

Read more on corporate governance:

2. Leverage on technology while designing the budget

More companies are automating their budget management to ease the process and also involve every stakeholder as much as possible. When developing a budget it is best that every stakeholder is kept in the loop on progress during the budget implementation period on performance.

Technology eases business budgeting process and makes it possible for line managers inputs to be incorporated in the budget. Effective technology can be used to make, updating and track of budget much easier.

3. Tie employee incentives to performance measures

To ensure that the business budgeting is a success leading companies tie organization reward system to how best they meet the budget. While managers are expected to uphold the organizational goals in some instances they can engage in counter productive activities creating risks. Tying budget to the reward system can bring a balanced conduct within the management.

4. Keep an eye of cost management in the budgeting

Managers should keep abreast current costs and probable futures costs to ensure that they provide the budget developers with accurate and relevant information.

This is very useful as it reduces time and cost of developing a budget, since information is readily available.

5. Manage effectively the budget process

To develop a quality budget at low cost the managers should streamline the process by ensuring necessary information is available for access during budgeting and avoid possible delaying circumstances. This will ensure the budget cycle is cost effective and budget developed is effective.

6. Ensure that the budget is flexible to accommodate change

A good budget should be flexible such that it can incorporate changes in the future. Ideally the future cannot be fully be determined and therefore a good budget should be one that can accommodate changes brought by uncertainties in the future.