HOW TO REFRESH YOUR CAREER IN 2018

Year after year, resolutions lists are chock-full of career goals, but what prevents those professional aspirations from being fulfilled? While intrinsic motivation plays a major role in career advancement, a solid plan is just as important. Whether you’re seeking a promotion at your current company or desire an entirely new role, there are several key tactics that will help make 2018 a year of job transformation.
Leverage Your Current Position
While it might be easy to sulk about your current job, it’s worth viewing it with a fresh set of eyes, especially if you’re planning on surviving the lengthy job hunting process. Think of ways to tailor your current job description to the position you ultimately want. Make a list of things you dislike about your role and clear ways to improve them somehow. It’s very likely that you have a lot more control over your current situation than you’re giving yourself credit for. Making some simple changes may help make your job bearable or even potentially likable.
Try taking it a step further by expanding your responsibilities.Ask for a stretch assignment—a role that is completely different from what you do on a daily basis within your department or outside of it. It forces you to learn new skills, sharpen old ones, and gain exposure in another line of the business. It’s a way to flex a new skill set, and it’s an opportunity for your boss and higher-ups to see what else you have to bring to the table. It’s also a nice addition to your résumé.
Speak Out
While you’re working to maintain your job performance, remember that presentation is everything.It’s not enough to simply be the smartest person in the room.If you have a seat at table, speak up, speak out, and really have something to say, whether it’s based on your skill set, your personal experience, or just plain ole research. And dress beyond the part. It not only empowers you, it gets you noticed every time.
Share Your Expertise
Broadcast your professional know-how via content creation.Plenty of people are smart, but not that many take the time to share their knowledge through a vehicle like blogging,When an employer can see for themselves that you’ve thought through the relevant issues and have an insightful take, they’ll be far more likely to choose you over a competitor who may feel riskier because they haven’t subjected their views to public vetting.
Get Serious About Social Media
But blogging isn’t the only online tool that can help boost your profile and capture the attention of hiring managers. It’s important to think of your social media accounts as a professional calling card, rather than just a personal hobby. If you’re trying to land a job, think about how your social media can advance that quest. Instead of a random assortment of things from your life—pictures of your pets, or vacations, or breakfast—consider curating a steady stream of targeted content about your field. That shows you’re serious and conversant in key trends—and will help you stand out.
Craft a Forward-Looking Résumé and LinkedIn Profile
It’s also a good time to rethink your résumé and LinkedIn profile.Remember that your résumé and LinkedIn profile should not be historical, but instead, forward-looking. Focus on the aspects of your experience that will prepare you for your target job—not your last job. You left your last job and you don’t want it back!

How to Really Refresh Your Career in 2018

Year after year, resolutions lists are chock-full of career goals, but what prevents those professional aspirations from being fulfilled? While intrinsic motivation plays a major role in career advancement, a solid plan is just as important. Whether you’re seeking a promotion at your current company or desire an entirely new role, there are several key tactics that will help make 2018 a year of job transformation.

Leverage Your Current Position

While it might be easy to sulk about your current job, it’s worth viewing it with a fresh set of eyes, especially if you’re planning on surviving the lengthy job hunting process. Think of ways to tailor your current job description to the position you ultimately want. Make a list of things you dislike about your role and clear ways to improve them somehow. It’s very likely that you have a lot more control over your current situation than you’re giving yourself credit for. Making some simple changes may help make your job bearable or even potentially likable.

Try taking it a step further by expanding your responsibilities.Ask for a stretch assignment—a role that is completely different from what you do on a daily basis within your department or outside of it. It forces you to learn new skills, sharpen old ones, and gain exposure in another line of the business. It’s a way to flex a new skill set, and it’s an opportunity for your boss and higher-ups to see what else you have to bring to the table. It’s also a nice addition to your résumé.

Speak Out
While you’re working to maintain your job performance, remember that presentation is everything.It’s not enough to simply be the smartest person in the room.If you have a seat at table, speak up, speak out, and really have something to say, whether it’s based on your skill set, your personal experience, or just plain ole research. And dress beyond the part. It not only empowers you, it gets you noticed every time.

Share Your Expertise
Broadcast your professional know-how via content creation.Plenty of people are smart, but not that many take the time to share their knowledge through a vehicle like blogging,When an employer can see for themselves that you’ve thought through the relevant issues and have an insightful take, they’ll be far more likely to choose you over a competitor who may feel riskier because they haven’t subjected their views to public vetting.

Get Serious About Social Media
But blogging isn’t the only online tool that can help boost your profile and capture the attention of hiring managers. It’s important to think of your social media accounts as a professional calling card, rather than just a personal hobby. If you’re trying to land a job, think about how your social media can advance that quest. Instead of a random assortment of things from your life—pictures of your pets, or vacations, or breakfast—consider curating a steady stream of targeted content about your field. That shows you’re serious and conversant in key trends—and will help you stand out.

Craft a Forward-Looking Résumé and LinkedIn Profile

It’s also a good time to rethink your résumé and LinkedIn profile.Remember that your résumé and LinkedIn profile should not be historical, but instead, forward-looking. Focus on the aspects of your experience that will prepare you for your target job—not your last job. You left your last job and you don’t want it back!

10 Tips on writing a successful CV

When it comes to applying for a new job, your CV could be just the ticket to get you that initial foot in the door and secure an interview – but how do you ensure your CV is added to the interview pile rather than thrown straight in the bin?

Putting together a successful CV is easy once you know how. It’s a case of taking all your skills and experience and tailoring them to the job you’re applying for. But what if you don’t meet the right criteria? Well, I’ve put together the following tips to help you get started in creating a successful CV and securing your first (or next) arts job.

Get the basics right

There is no right or wrong way to write a CV but there are some common sections you should cover. These include: personal and contact information; education and qualifications; work history and/or experience; relevant skills to the job in question; own interests, achievements or hobbies; and some references.

Presentation is key

A successful CV is always carefully and clearly presented, and printed on clean, crisp white paper. The layout should always be clean and well structured and CVs should never be crumpled or folded, so use an A4 envelope to post your applications.

Always remember the CV hotspot – the upper middle area of the first page is where the recruiter’s eye will naturally fall, so make sure you include your most important information there.

Stick to no more than two pages of A4

A good CV is clear, concise and makes every point necessary without waffling. You don’t need pages and pages of paper – you just keep things short and sweet. A CV is a reassurance to a potential employer, it’s a chance to tick the right boxes. And if everything is satisfied, there’s a better chance of a job interview. Also, employers receive dozens of CVs all the time so it’s unlikely they’ll read each one cover to cover. Most will make a judgment about a CV within sections, so stick to a maximum of two pages of A4 paper.

Understand the job description

The clues are in the job application, so read the details from start to finish. Take notes and create bullet points, highlighting everything you can satisfy and all the bits you can’t. With the areas where you’re lacking, fill in the blanks by adapting the skills you do have. For example, if the job in question requires someone with sales experience, there’s nothing stopping you from using any retail work you’ve undertaken – even if it was something to help pay the bills through university. It will demonstrate the skills you do have and show how they’re transferable.

Tailor the CV to the role

When you’ve established what the job entails and how you can match each requirement, create a CV specifically for that role. Remember, there is no such thing as a generic CV. Every CV you send to a potential employee should be tailored to that role so don’t be lazy and hope that a general CV will work because it won’t.

Create a unique CV for every job you apply for. You don’t have to re-write the whole thing, just adapt the details so they’re relevant.

Making the most of skills

Under the skills section of your CV don’t forget to mention key skills that can help you to stand out from the crowd. These could include: communication skills; computer skills; team working; problem solving or even speaking a foreign language. Skills can come out of the most unlikely places, so really think about what you’ve done to grow your own skills, even if you take examples from being in a local sports team or joining a voluntary group – it’s all relevant.

Making the most of interests

Under interests, highlight the things that show off skills you’ve gained and employers look for. Describe any examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team or anything that shows you can use your own initiative. For example, if you ran your university’s newspaper or if you started a weekend league football team that became a success.

Include anything that shows how diverse, interested and skilled you are. Don’t include passive interests like watching TV, solitary hobbies that can be perceived as you lacking in people skills. Make yourself sound really interesting.

Making the most of experience

Use assertive and positive language under the work history and experience sections, such as “developed”, “organised” or “achieved”. Try to relate the skills you have learned to the job role you’re applying for. For example: “The work experience involved working in a team,” or “This position involved planning, organisation and leadership as I was responsible for a team of people”.

Really get to grips with the valuable skills and experience you have gained from past work positions, even if it was just working in a restaurant – every little helps.

Including references

References should be from someone who has employed you in the past and can vouch for your skills and experience. If you’ve never worked before you’re OK to use a teacher or tutor as a referee. Try to include two if you can.

Keep your CV updated

It’s crucial to review your CV on a regular basis and add any new skills or experience that’s missing. For example, if you’ve just done some volunteering or worked on a new project, make sure they’re on there – potential employers are always impressed with candidates who go the extra mile to boost their own skills and experience.

 

10 ways to Prioritise your workload

Working efficiently is important for any business but getting snowed under is a too-familiar situation. A well-structured workload is key to good time management and will increase your productivity.

Find out how to prioritise tasks.

  1. The to-do list. Don’t keep it on different post-it notes or in your head — at the beginning of each day or week, write on a sheet of paper what you want to get done and by when. Rank tasks according to importance or urgency to plan your day and focus your mind
  2. Review your workload regularly. Is there one task that always ends up at the bottom of the pile? If you find you’re avoiding it, can somebody else do it? Consider delegating whole projects that you don’t need to be involved in or allocate a specific time when you only do your admin, for example.
  3. Remember the 80:20 rule of workloads. It’s very simple — 80 per cent of our work contributes to less than 20 per cent of its value. Concentrate on the most crucial 20 per cent of your workload, because performance would still be strong.
  4. Set realistic deadlines for your tasks. Look at your to-do list and estimate the time each task needs to be completed but don’t be overoptimistic. Be honest of what you can achieve in a working day or week so that you don’t feel overwhelmed from the start.
  5. Allow time for interruptions. If you need to finish a certain task at a certain time, only deal with urgent queries during this time. You can then quickly pick up again where you left off.
  6. Structure your workload. Avoid picking up a job, doing a bit and then putting it back on the pile. Deal with them one at a time and finish each one before starting another. Your mind will be clear and ready for the next one.
  7. Don’t let your inbox drive your workload. If you get 50 mails per day, this means 50 interruptions to your day. Don’t check your inbox every time a message arrives. Switch off instant alerts if necessary and allocate a time when you will check your inbox.
  8. Fun, fun, fun. Ticking items off your to-do list is great, but are you concentrating on the quick-and-easy ones? Tackling more challenging projects first might mean more time, but also that a major task is completed and a weight off your shoulders.
  9. Keep multitasking to a minimum. Starting a number of jobs simultaneously means most of them won’t get your undivided attention. Think of multitasking as dealing with more than one task during a day, not at the same time. That way you focus on the project in hand.
  10. Keep a log of your workload. If you’re unsure how long things take, how often your focus shifts or how many times you get interrupted, keep a log of your working week. This will help you plan your week in future.

Why Customer Satisfaction is Important (6 Reasons)

why-customer-satisfaction-is-important

Customer satisfaction is a marketing term that measures how products or services supplied by a company meet or surpass a customer’s expectation.

Customer satisfaction is important because it provides marketers and business owners with a metric that they can use to manage and improve their businesses.

In a survey of nearly 200 senior marketing managers, 71 percent responded that they found a customer satisfaction metric very useful in managing and monitoring their businesses.

Here are the top six reasons why customer satisfaction is so important:

  • It’s a leading indicator of consumer repurchase intentions and loyalty
  • It’s a point of differentiation
  • It reduces customer churn
  • It increases customer lifetime value
  • It reduces negative word of mouth
  • It’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones

1. It’s a leading indicator of consumer repurchase intentions and loyalty

Customer satisfaction is the best indicator of how likely a customer will make a purchase in the future. Asking customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1-10 is a good way to see if they will become repeat customers or even advocates.

Any customers that give you a rating of 7 and above, can be considered satisfied, and you can safely expect them to come back and make repeat purchases. Customers who give you a rating of 9 or 10 are your potential customer advocates who you can leverage to become evangelists for your company.

Scores of 6 and below are warning signs that a customer is unhappy and at risk of leaving. These customers need to be put on a customer watch list and followed up so you can determine why their satisfaction is low.

See how satisfaction provides so much insight into your customers?

That’s why it’s one of the leading metrics businesses use to measure consumer repurchase and customer loyalty.

2. It’s a point of differentiation

In a competitive marketplace where businesses compete for customers; customer satisfaction is seen as a key differentiator. Businesses who succeed in these cut-throat environments are the ones that make customer satisfaction a key element of their business strategy.

Picture two businesses that offer the exact same product. What will make you choose one over the other?

If you had a recommendation for one business would that sway your opinion? Probably. So how does that recommendation originally start? More than likely it’s on the back of a good customer experience. Companies who offer amazing customer experiences create environments where satisfaction is high and customer advocates are plenty.

This is an example of where customer satisfaction goes full circle. Not only can customer satisfaction help you keep a finger on the pulse of your existing customers, it can also act as a point of differentiation for new customers.

3. It reduces customer churn

An Accenture global customer satisfaction report (2008) found that price is not the main reason for customer churn; it is actually due to the overall poor quality of customer service.

Customer satisfaction is the metric you can use to reduce customer churn. By measuring and tracking customer satisfaction you can put new processes in place to increase the overall quality of your customer service.

I recommend you put an emphasis on exceeding customer expectations and ‘wowing’ customers at every opportunity. Do that for six months, than measure customer satisfaction again. See whether your new initiatives have had a positive or negative impact on satisfaction.

Related: 15 tactics to reduce customer churn

4. It increases customer lifetime value

A study by InfoQuest found that a ‘totally satisfied customer’ contributes 2.6 times more revenue than a ‘somewhat satisfied customer’. Furthermore, a ‘totally satisfied customer’ contributes 14 times more revenue than a ‘somewhat dissatisfied customer’.

Satisfaction plays a significant role in how much revenue a customer generates for your business.

Successful businesses understand the importance of customer lifetime value (CLV). If you increase CLV, you increase the returns on your marketing dollar.

For example, you might have a cost per acquisition of $500 dollars and a CLV of $750. That’s a 50% ROI from the marketing efforts. Now imagine if CLV was $1,000. That’s a 100% ROI!

Customer lifetime value is a beneficiary of high customer satisfaction and good customer retention. What are you doing to keep customers coming back and spending more?

Learn more about customer lifetime value:

  • Customer Lifetime Value For Beginners (4 Step Guide)
  • 5 Strategies To Increase Customer Lifetime Value

5. It reduces negative word of mouth

McKinsey found that an unhappy customer tells between 9-15 people about their experience. In fact, 13% of unhappy customers tell over 20 people about their experience.

That’s a lot of negative word of mouth.

How much will that affect your business and its reputation in your industry?

Customer satisfaction is tightly linked to revenue and repeat purchases. What often gets forgotten is how customer satisfaction negatively impacts your business. It’s one thing to lose a customer because they were unhappy. It’s another thing completely to lose 20 customers because of some bad word of mouth.

To eliminate bad word of mouth you need to measure customer satisfaction on an ongoing basis. Tracking changes in satisfaction will help you identify if customers are actually happy with your product or service.

6. It’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones

This is probably the most publicized customer satisfaction statistic out there. It costs six to seven times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing customers.

If that stat does not strike accord with you then there’s not much else I can do to demonstrate why customer satisfaction is important.

Customers cost a lot of money to acquire. You and your marketing team spend thousands of dollars getting the attention of prospects, nurturing them into leads and closing them into sales.

Why is it that you then spend little or no money on customer retention?

Imagine if you allocated one sixth of your marketing budget towards customer retention. How do you think that will help you with improving customer satisfaction and retaining customers?

Here are some customer retention strategies to get you thinking:

  • Use blogs to educate customers
  • Use email to send special promotions
  • Use customer satisfaction surveys to listen
  • Delight customers by offering personalized experiences

For more great ideas, check out these blog posts:

  • 9 customer retention strategies for companies
  • 7 customer retention programs that work
  • 11 customer retention tactics from the real world

Measure satisfaction to see how happy your customers really are

Lee Resource Inc. found that for every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent.

That is an alarming statistic. Most companies think they are the best and they have no unhappy customers. The reality is, 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain. In fact, 1Financial Training Services found that most simply just leave and never come back.

What are you doing to measure customer satisfaction and identify unhappy customers?

Customer satisfaction plays an important role within your business. Not only is it the leading indicator to measure customer loyalty, identify unhappy customers, reduce churn and increase revenue; it is also a key point of differentiation that helps you to attract new customers in competitive business environments.

I hope this blog post has shed light on why customer satisfaction is so important to the success of your business.

The 16 Best Snacks To Eat At Your Desk

What you eat all day doesn’t just impact your health and weight; it affects your productivity, too.

“If you eat high fat, high sugar meals and snacks you will be sleepy and have low energy overall,” says Lisa De Fazio, a healthy lifestyle expert and registered dietitian. “High fat foods take more work to digest. Candy causes sugar to spike in your blood stream then crash, and you also may have an upset stomach. Who can be productive with all of this going on?”

But, unfortunately, she says, many people tend to make bad eating decisions during the workday.

“Boredom and stress often lead to mindless snacking on things like sweets and chips,” De Fazio explains. “Also, there may be limited healthy food choices or too many temptations around the office, like candy dishes on your colleagues’ desks, cupcakes for birthdays, or greasy pizza during lunch meetings.”

Time–or lack thereof–also plays a part. “One of the reasons people don’t stick to their healthy eating resolutions of bringing their own homemade prepared food, rather than ordering or eating out, is because of a lack of time,” explains Nicole Maftoum, a Lebanese clinical dietitian. “In a fast-paced world, fast food comes as the optimum solution.”

Maftoum says sleep deprivation also affects appetite and pushes one to eat twice the amount of calories that they’d typically consume in a day.

The experts say all of these factors make it easy for us to develop bad eating habits at work–but they’re terrible excuses.

Luckily, there are plenty of quick, easy, and inexpensive healthy snack options.

Almonds: Almonds are a great source of protein and healthy fat that is satisfying. “They contain nine essential nutrients; have the highest rate of proteins when compared to other nuts; have the highest rate of fiber (3.5g per 23 pieces) when compared to other nuts; are rich in Vitamin E (23 pieces provide 35% of the daily value of Vitamin E); and contain monounsaturated fats that help increase HDL levels,” Maftoum says.

Low-fat Popcorn: This low-calorie snack will satisfy your craving for something salty and crunchy, and it’s also a good source of fiber, De Fazio says.
Fresh Fruit: Fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals, and are full of great natural sweetness, Maftoum says. “They are also a great source of antioxidants needed for a stronger immune system and a better performance at work.”
Dried Fruit: Fresh fruit is always a great snack option “” but if you want to mix things up, try dried apricots, raisins, apples, or bananas. These snacks are sweet, chewy, high in fiber, and high in potassium.
Dry Cereal: The brain draws nearly all its energy from glucose, which is the most important simple sugar in human metabolism, Maftoum explains. “Consumption of low glycemic index foods like bran flakes will release glucose at a slow rate in the bloodstream, which will minimize blood sugar swings and optimize brainpower and mental focus.”
Protein Bar: Be careful with these! Some protein bars are packed with calories. Check the ingredients and make sure the one you pick has fruit, nuts, and fewer than 200 calories.
Mini Flavored Rice Cakes: Rice cakes are great because they are low calorie and come in different flavors. For instance, you can get cheddar or caramel, depending on whether you want salty or sweet, De Fazio says.
Pretzels: Though they’re salty, pretzels are low in fat and give you some carbs to hold you over until lunch or dinner, De Fazio says.
Frozen Banana: This is a great substitute to ice cream, which is rich in sugar and fat. A medium-sized banana contains the needed amount of glucose by the brain to perform at its best.
String Cheese or Cottage Cheese: If you have an office refrigerator, these are good sources of protein to have on hand. “Protein will keep blood sugar levels steady and will not make you sleepy,” De Fazio explains.
Wasabi Peas: These are perfect for satisfying any salty, crunchy, or spicy craving “” and they have protein and fiber, which will energize you and prevent blood sugars from dropping.
Hard-boiled Egg: This is an excellent source of protein, which will satisfy hunger and stabilize blood sugars. But be aware of the offensive smell! Eat your hard-boiled egg in the office kitchen.
Vegetables and Hummus: Hummus and veggies, like carrots, provide crunch, sweetness, and carbohydrates. “You get all the nutrients you need with this satisfying snack,” De Fazio says. The chickpeas in hummus are also a good source of calcium, iron, protein, and fiber, which prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly, Maftoum explains.
Tomato Juice: Sometimes when you think you are hungry or crave sugar, you are actually thirsty, De Fazio explains. Next time this happens, try drinking a can of low sodium tomato or vegetable juice.
Yogurt: Many yogurts are made using “good bacteria,” which is great for your digestive tract. Yogurt also contains probiotics, and offers protein, calcium, vitamins, potassium, and magnesium.
Apples and Peanut Butter: The apple provides fiber and carbohydrates for energy, while the peanut butter (you can also use almond butter) provides healthy monounsaturated fat and protein, which stabilizes blood sugar ups and downs. “This snack is so tasty and satisfying and will hold you over for a few hours,” De Fazio says.

10 Steps to Developing and Managing a Budget

by

Developing-and-Managing-a-Budget2401

Having a formal and structured budgeting process is the foundation for good business management, growth and development.  Very similar to our personal finances, discipline and planning should be the cornerstone of a business budgeting process.

So where do we begin?  As with most things that come with managing an organization, budgeting needs to be driven by the vision (what we are trying to accomplish) and the strategic plan (the steps to get there).

Organizations that stay focused on their strategy and plan know exactly where they want to spend their resources and have a plan to help keep them from spending money in areas that do not line up with the vision (what we are trying to do) and mission (why we are doing it).

10 Steps to Developing and Managing a Budget

1. Strategic Plan

Every organization, no matter the size should know why it exists and what it hopes to accomplish.  This is articulated through a written Vision and Mission Statement.  A Strategic Plan is the HOW the organization plans to achieve its mission.

The first step in the budgeting process is having a written strategic plan.  This ensures that organizational resources are used to support the strategy and development of the organization. It means budgeting toward the vision.

2. Business Goals

Annual business goals are the steps an organization takes to implement its strategic plan and it is these goals that need to be funded by the budget.  Goals need to be developed and there needs to be accountability for achieving goals, which is the responsibility of the management team, board or business owner.

The budget provides the financial resources to achieve goals.  For example, if your organization has outgrown its facility and there is an objective to increase space, there needs to be dollars budgeted to expand or move the business operations.

3. Revenue Projections

Revenue projections should be based on historical financial performance, as well as projected growth income.  The projected growth may be tied to organizational goals and planned initiatives that will initiate business growth.

For example, if there is a goal to increase sales by 10%, those sales projections should be part of the revenue projections for the year.

4. Fixed Cost Projections

Projecting fixed costs is simply a matter of looking at the monthly predictable costs that do not change.  Employee compensation costs, facility expenses, utility costs, mortgage or rent payments, insurance costs, etc.

Fixed costs do not change and are a minimum expense that need to be funded in the budget.  For example, if there are open staff positions, the cost to fill those positions should be part of fixed cost projections.

5. Variable Cost Projections

Variable costs are costs that fluctuate from month to month, supply costs, overtime costs, etc.  These are expenses that can and should be budgeted and controlled.  For example, if higher Christmas sales drive overtime costs temporarily, those costs should be budgeted.

6. Annual Goal Expenses

Goal related projects should also be given budgets.  Each initiative should have projected costs associated with the goals.  This is where the cost of implementing goals are incorporated into the annual budget.  Projections of costs should be identified, laid out and incorporated into the departmental budget that is responsible for completing the goal.

For example, if the sales department has a goal of increasing sales by 10%, costs associated with the increased sales (additional marketing materials, travel, entertainment) should be incorporated into that budget.

7. Target Profit Margin

Every organization, whether they are for-profit or not-for-profit, should have a targeted profit margin.  Profit margins allow for returns for the business owner or investors.

Not-for-profit organizations use their profit margins to reinvest into the facilities and development of the organization.  Profits are important for all organizations and healthy profit margins are a strong indicator of the strength of an organization.

8. Board Approval

The governing board, president, owner or head of the organization should approve the budget and keep current with budget performance.  Again, similar to your personal finances, the owner should be reviewing monthly financial statements for the following reasons.

  • To monitor budget performance.
  • To be familiar with all expenditures.
  • To safeguard the organization against misappropriation of funds or employee fraud.

9. Budget Review

A budget review committee should meet on a monthly basis to monitor performance against goals.  This committee should review budget variances and assess issues associated with budget overages.

It is important to do this on a monthly basis so there can be a correction to overspending or modification to the budget if needed.  Waiting until the end of the year to make corrections could have a negative affect on the final budget outcome.

10. Dealing With Budget Variances

Budget variances should be reviewed with the responsible department manager and questions should be raised as to what caused the variance.  Sometimes unforeseen situations arise that cannot be avoided so it is also important (just like your personal budget) to have an emergency fund to help with those unplanned expenditures.

For example, if the HVAC system suddenly goes down, and needs to be replaced, this would be a budget variance that needs to be funded.

Good budgeting processes can help develop and advance an organization, while sloppy budgeting and monitoring of budgets can blindside an organization and affect its long-term financial health and viability.

Finally, without customers, there are no revenues to budget.  For this reason, strategic plans and budgets should be targeted at one thing and one thing only – the customer.

This is why it is imperative to identify who your customers are, find out what they want and budget dollars to put systems and processes in place to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.

13 Ways To Concentrate At Work

1. Prioritize Tasks
You can improve your focus by tackling the big jobs first and leaving the small stuff till later. Make a list of what tasks are the most important. Your “A List” might include anything with a deadline of today or tomorrow. The “B List” would consist of projects needing to be completed next week, while the “C List” catches loose ends like checking your email. “If you fail to prioritize tasks, this can lead to organizational and distractibility issues,” says Simon Rego, PsyD, director of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Training Program at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
2. Corral Your Email
Even the most focused individuals can quickly be led astray by the incessant ping-ping-ping of incoming emails. But if a person is already prone to distraction, these incoming signals can derail the whole day. Rather than read email as it comes in all day and night, set aside specific periods of time to do this. “Most patients find this very useful because we’re almost slaves to always having to be available to emails and phone calls,” says David Loewenstein, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
3. Limit Other Distractions
Persistent voice mails, the 24/7 availability of the Internet, and even casual conversations outside your office can drive you to distraction and away from the work at hand. As with emails, set aside specific times to check and answer voice mail messages. And depending upon what project is the most pressing, you may even consider turning off your computer to eliminate the endless allure of the world wide web. “If you don’t turn your computer on, you don’t get distracted,” Rego says.
4. Break It Into Bite-Size Chunks
If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, this may well be because you’re taking on too much at one time. “If you feel stressed or anxious, you can assume whatever task is making you feel (this way) is too big,” Rego says. “Therefore smash it into smaller, more manageable bits.” If you’re anxious about needing to write something before the end of the week, break it down so that you feel more focused. Set realistic goals one day at a time or even one hour at a time.
5. Work In The Same Location
Working at Starbuck’s one day, the library another and your home office yet another will make you super-vulnerable to distracting external stimuli, says Rego. But if you habituate yourself to one place, your mind gets used to the area and can rev up to actually make you want to work. “Being consistent in your environment and trying to work in the same place at the same time increases your natural tendency to do work in that area,” Rego says.
6. Find A Quiet Place To Work
The ideal would be to have a private office with a door but this isn’t always realistic in today’s world of Dilbert-like cubicles. If your boss isn’t open to giving you your own office, there are ways to minimize distractions even in a small cubicle. If you have to share your space, try to share it with someone who does more computer work than phone work and ask he or she to conduct meetings in other, more open spaces
7. Set A Timer
Setting a timer to go off at certain intervals can help bring a wandering mind back to the task at hand. “Have it go off as a cue to ask, ‘Is what I’m doing right now one of my important A-List items? Am I on task?’” says Rego. If you’re off task, this is a reminder to get back to what you were doing. You can also use a timer to try to gradually extend your attention span, from 10 minutes one week to 12 the next and 14 the next.
8. Declutter Your Workspace
Having a neat, clean work space can help improve organization and focus, but be aware that moving items around on your desk can be a double-edged sword. When cleaning your desk suddenly becomes a priority even with other deadlines looming, that could mean trouble. “If all of a sudden it’s so important to clean [your] desk, that could be a red herring,” says Rego. “Call it for what it is … Be honest with yourself. What is the function of what [you’re] doing right now.”
9. Plan Your Days
Many people with ADHD find they are more efficient and productive if they use a day planner or a personal digital assistant (PDA). A compact PDA is especially useful because it can be carried with you and programmed to send messages and reminders, perhaps a 30-minute “warning” bell before an upcoming meeting. That way you can make sure you’re prepared and on time. “You will always have cues that will orient you,” Loewenstein says.
10. Use Relaxation Techniques
“If you have ADHD and are impulsive or distracted, that can become even greater if you are under stress,” says Loewenstein. That’s why it’s so important to take breaks where you can relax, be it just deep breathing, meditation or working with imagery. “These things will help get people into a very focused state,” says Loewenstein. This way, you can get a sense that everything is not equally urgent and take the time to reassess. Do you need to finish this job now or can it wait? “It gives people a chance to recalibrate,” he says.
11. Take Notes
Taking notes in a meeting or while you’re on the phone can help you remember items later. You can also use the notes to highlight new items for your A, B and C lists. And there’s another advantage. “If you have problems processing auditory information in a meeting and become distracted, taking notes is great because you’re processing in another modality,” says Loewenstein.
12. Maintain A Routine
“In general, anything that you can routinize that you know you have to do and it becomes overlearned is very, very good,” Loewenstein says. If “you’re constantly losing things, that just puts added pressure on your life.” This could be something as simple as putting your house and car keys in the same place every day so you don’t screw up your whole day. “That’s one less thing that can go wrong,” says Loewenstein. The same goes for your organizer, notebooks, pens and briefcase.
13. Surround Yourself With Organized People
Many successful people with ADHD have one thing in common: They’ve set up the right supports. That means getting really “together” people around you. “If you’re a business person, you have to make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who are really well organized and who like to organize the day,” says Loewenstein. “Getting the right people around you, particularly if you’re in an executive position, is absolutely invaluable.”

Five Ways A Weak Manager Will Set You Up To Fail

botanic-gardens-sign-for-forbes

Most of us grew up drinking toxic lemonade.

We were not taught to pay attention to our five senses, but now we are learning that we must! We were taught to respect authority more than our own bodies. The training started when we were tiny kids.

We can look back now and see how many destructive things we learned from our elders. With luck we learned more valuable lessons, too!

Now we know that fear and trust are the two energy fields that flow through any workplace. If you’re good enough at your job or you catch the attention of higher-ups, a fearful manager above you won’t like it. He or she will make it very hard for you to succeed — or at least they’ll try.

You have a choice when you’re working under a fearful manager. You can jolly him or her along and help the fearful one become less skittish. You can partner up with him or her and let your manager see that you are happy to make him or her look good along the way to growing your flame.

If you don’t like that plan, you can leave the fearful manager and go to work for someone else — or go to work for yourself!

Once a fearful manager decides you are too hot to handle, he or she will try to trip you up. They’ll set you up to fail. Here are five ways your fearful manager might go about their plan to “cut you down to size:”

They’ll give you “dog” projects that are bound to fail and will tie you up for months

For years people have said “If they change your title to ‘Special Projects Manager’ you know it’s time to go.”

Your boss doesn’t have to give you a title with ‘Special Projects’ in it for you to get the message. You can tell where the energy is flowing in your organization.

You know which projects and initiatives are the most closely tied to the organization’s future, and which ones its leaders care about. When your manager decides to neutralize your energy, he or she will stick you on a project that no one cares about and that will take you out of circulation for months.

Should you take on the dog project to be a good citizen? You can take it on and launch a job search, internally and externally. Look at it this way: a waste of resources is a bad business decision and a disservice to shareholders. If your talents are being wasted, don’t stand by and be a party to that crime!

They’ll restrict your access to people outside your department

We got a call from Martha, an HR person with a big flame. Martha is dragging her company into the 21st century bit by hit. Her CEO loves her energy and ability to get things done. However, Martha doesn’t report to the CEO.

She reports to the CFO, who isn’t as comfortable with Martha’s culture-building activities as he could be.

Martha’s CFO boss told her “Why don’t you go through me when you need something from one of the executives here?” Martha was horrified, but she kept her cool. She said “What would be the business benefit of that process? I have never heard of a situation where an HR Manager goes through her boss to communicate with her internal clients.”

The CFO was acting out of fear, of course. He had never thought about an HR Manager having internal clients. He backed off. He said “Well, let’s keep talking about it” and Martha kept up her campaign to humanize her workplace. A month later the goofy “go through me” idea was forgotten, but only because Martha made it clear in her body language and her voice that she is not someone you can push around.

They’ll assign you impossible goals

Every aspect of a job is negotiable. That is true whether you’re working the drive-up window at Burger King or an executive-level position. If your goals are so out of reach that you don’t stand a chance at hitting them, you have to say something.

Boss: So, here are your goals. You have to double inventory turns this quarter and double them again next quarter.

You: Great. So, where do these goals come from? What is the  logic behind them?

Boss: I set these goals. Next question?

You: It would be irresponsible of me not to let you know that the goals are impossible. They are not tied to any actions that are within our capability right now. I can share with you a plan for getting us to these goals but I can’t sign on to hit them when I know that we can’t — no organization could, with our resources and given our current situation.

Boss: Then that’s the first problem you’ll have to solve, I guess.

Now you can see that your growing flame is impossible for your boss to deal with. Maybe you weren’t thinking about changing jobs, but something has to give. Sometimes Mother Nature knows what’s best for you — more than we do!

Don’t be angry or resentful when you run into a fearful boss. Your power is showing — that’s what your boss doesn’t like! Of course he or she is trying to squash your flame. You are a growing plant that has outgrown its pot.

You’re going to launch a stealth job search and look for a job where you have room to grow, working with a manager who wants the same things you want.

Fear of change — specifically, fear of a job change — is the reason so many people stay stuck in bad jobs and going-nowhere careers. You won’t get stuck — you’re on your path!

They’ll ignore you

When I was about 23, I was asked to make a presentation at my company’s national sales meeting.

I had to create a manual for our salespeople and sales managers to use in training their new recruits in the field. I had never done any ales, but luckily for me the manual was mostly about dealing with customers and their issues, and about dealing with headquarters.

Since I had been in our customer service department for several years, I was able to write the manual in a Q & A format without much trouble.

I asked my manager to look over the manual but she was too busy. I had it reviewed by our law firm. My manager didn’t make it to those meetings, either. She ignored me and my project completely.

My manager never saw my 100-page manual before the national sales meeting. Later it hit me that she wanted to distance herself from it (and me) in case the salespeople didn’t like it. Luckily, they did. My manager was hedging her bets. She wanted to maintain plausible deniability in case my manual and/or my presentation bombed.

You will run into fearful managers who aren’t sure whether you are friend or foe. You will singe them with your flame without meaning to.

They’ll chip away at your confidence

The best way to make someone nervous and throw them off their game is to tell them that other people are saying bad things about them. A fearful manager will chip away at your confidence by passing on negative remarks that others – especially higher-ups — supposedly said about you.

Here’s how that will go:

Your Boss: So Mike, what went wrong at last week’s production meeting?

You: Nothing. Why do you ask?

Your boss: I heard Catherine, the VP, saying she wished your numbers had been more solid.

You: Hmmm.

You’ll go see Catherine — not in a panic, but calmly. You’ll ask her “Catherine, were you missing any numbers you needed from me after last week’s production meeting?”

Catherine will say “No — why do you ask?”

You’ll say “No reason – have a great day!” because you’re too well-brought-up to say “A fearful manager put that bug in my ear — don’t worry about it!”

20 tips to boost your income

PROPERTY

As a family’s biggest asset – and its biggest financial commitment – the family home is the most obvious place to look for ways to generate cash.

1 Take in a lodger
It means giving up the spare room and giving up some privacy. However, the rent is tax-free up to £4,250 a year – or just over £80 a week – under the Rent-a-Room scheme.

Householders should inform their insurance company first. For details go to www.direct.gov.uk.
Suitable for: Empty-nesters and young buyers struggling to pay their mortgages.

If you do not have a spare room, you could consider turning the living room into a bedsit.

2 Rent out the garage or parking space
Obviously, this only applies to those who have a spare space and who live in areas of high demand. Spotted on one South London street last week was a “To Let”sign by a parking space in the rear of someone’s garden – for £150 a month.

Owners of properties near major sporting events and other attractions often also turn their lawns and drives into make-shift car parks.
Suitable for: Those with a garage or spare bit of land who live in towns and cities where it is hard to park.

3 Rent out the whole house
This is an option for those really strapped for cash. Rather than wait for arrears to mount and risk repossession, renting out the family home and moving in with relatives or to a much cheaper property may be a better solution than losing it.

The other advantage is that if the family moves back in after a year or so, then the gains made when they sell should remain tax-free. Mortgage lenders and insurers should be informed.
Suitable for: Anyone seriously struggling to meet mortgage payments and who does not want to sell up when prices are falling.

4 Get domestic help to live in
Four-in-10 households now employ domestic help, spending an estimated £7billion a year, according to a recent survey from Legal & General. Those with larger properties who cannot bear to give up on their home help, can offer a free room in exchange for so many hours of cleaning and ironing each week.
Suitable for: Property-rich but cash poor – those with larger homes but smaller incomes – who do not want to give up the domestic.

5 Change childcare for an au pair
Childcare is now one of the biggest bills for those with young families, costing up to £39,000 a year, according to the 2008 Daycare Trust survey.

The yearly cost of a nursery place for a child under two averages over £8,000 a year in England – and is rising by well above inflation. This is cash that has to come out of taxable pay.

An alternative for those who need between five and seven hours of childcare a day for five days a week is an au pair (and they double as a babysitter, saving even more). Au pairs plus – as they are called – can work up to 40 hours a week.
Suitable for: Mainly those with school-age children who can get low-cost before- and after-school care, babysitting and a home help from £60 a week.

6 Turn the second home into a holiday rental
Over 600,000 of us own a second home, with 240,000 of these in England and many more abroad.

Second-home ownership has risen by a fifth in the past 14 years, during which time house prices have tripled. Now a study from Capital Economics predicts that some 60,000 of these could be sold off because of the slump.

An alternative is to let it. This will affect the homeowner’s tax position so they should seek advice first – and also inform their mortgage lender and insurer.
Suitable for: Anyone with a second home that they could rent out to long-term tenants or as short-term holiday lets.

POSSESSIONS

The average household is estimated to have £1,000-worth of unwanted goods lying around – goods that could be turned into hard cash.

7 Sell unwanted and valuable items
Heirlooms left to gather dust, collectable china that is never used, the flat-screen TV that is no longer affordable and never-worn designer clothes – all are relatively easy to sell on online auction sites such as eBay.

The alternative for valuable antiques is an auction and for low-cost items, try a car-boot sale.

The credit crisis is already hitting home, with families now selling off the family silver – eBay says that fine jewellery sales are up 69 per cent and antique furniture sales up by 30 per cent.
Suitable for: Everyone. Those who cannot face mastering eBay can use a service such as www.serialsellers.com or www.i-sold4u.com. Look online to find what is selling.

8 Convert goods to cash
Pawnbrokers – usually old-fashioned jewellery shops – offer a way to turn valuables into cash. Pawnbroking contracts last for six months with interest charged monthly.

The alternative is to sell the item – for example, in Cash Converters – for money upfront or to use the company’s buy-back scheme – giving cash today that has to be repaid in 28 days, when the goods are bought back plus a fee. Valuables can mean anything from a watch or set of golf clubs to a musical instrument.
Suitable for: Anyone who is desperate for cash in a hurry.

TIME

Anyone who has time to “sell” can generate cash.

9 Put in more paid overtime
One-in-five employees is paid overtime, according to the TUC. However, even more put in overtime that is unpaid, with some five million people in the UK missing out on potential earnings of £4,955 a year. Asking for at least some of this to be paid can be a fast way to generate extra income.
Suitable for: Anyone putting in free overtime – and who is brave enough to ask to be paid for it.

10 Take on a second job
One-in-10 workers now has a second job to boost income. The advantage of working unsociable hours at nights or Sundays is that the pay tends to be higher.

Wages for even low-skilled jobs, such as shelf-stacking in a supermarket (which can also offer staff discounts), can be up to £8 an hour. Other possibilities include bar work, mini-cab driving and being a security guard.
Suitable for: Those who need the cash and who also have the necessary stamina.

11 Sell from home
Direct selling is the largest provider of part-time earning opportunities in the UK – with sales of £2billion every year. Companies range from long-established names such as Avon to Amway to Usborne books and The Pampered Chef.

Earnings can be as much as 30 per cent of everything sold. Be aware that some companies pay in kind, rather than cash. Always use a member of the Direct Selling Association – www.dsa.org.uk.
Suitable for: Anyone with the time and inclination who enjoys hosting parties and does not mind selling to friends and family.

12 Sell your time
Our time-poor society creates opportunities for anyone based at home – either because they are retired or looking after children.

Offer to take in deliveries for neighbours (to save them waiting in all day) or to let in builders/repairmen etc. Then encourage them to recommend your service to others.
Suitable for: Anyone at home all day.

SKILLS

13 Set up as a freelance
The same skills that enable millions of employees to earn a living by day can be sold to others at evenings and weekends. Provided the employer agrees (to ensure job security and that any employment contract is not breached, it is best to check first), it is possible to sell skills – typing, bookkeeping, graphic design, copywriting, editing – to others through sites such as www.PeoplePerHour.com.
Suitable for: Anyone who has a skill that can be sold on a freelance basis.

14 Teach others a skill
It could be years of practising yoga, a reputation as an artist, being a brilliant bridge player or having a musical talent – anyone who has a skill and the ability to communicate can turn this into a money-spinner by learning to teach it to others.
Suitable for: Those highly competent in a particular area and who are prepared to teach others (and possibly train for a professional qualification to do so).

15 Sell what you make
From the local café selling home-baked cakes made by a stay-at-home mum to a cottage industry selling hand-crafted pottery or hand-knitted sweaters – there are thousands of small businesses successfully selling what they make. For food in particular, it is essential to ensure regulations are met. Visit www.businesslink.gov.uk for guidance on setting up a business at home, marketing and red tape.

When starting a business, you should register with the tax authorities – www.hmrc.gov.uk.
Suitable for: Those with a hobby or skill – knitting, carpentry, cooking, jam-making, pottery or arts and crafts – who believe there is demand for what they make.

MISSING AND UNCLAIMED MILLIONS

If you need some extra cash, it is worthwhile searching drawers and documents for forgotten assets.

16 Unclaimed assets
It is estimated that £15bn lies unclaimed in forgotten life insurance policies, investments and pensions as well as unclaimed Premium Bond prizes and free shares from former mutual building societies. These can all be traced through the Unclaimed Assets Register (www.uar.co.uk). Searching the register costs £18, with 10 per cent of this going to charity.
Suitable for: Everyone – but particularly those who have moved and as such may be harder for financial companies and former employers to trace.

17 Unclaimed tax credits
Britons will miss out on £3.6 billion in tax credits this year, according to a new report from IFA Promotion, the organisation that promotes independent financial advice. This includes one in every four pensioners who fail to claim their Pension Credits, resulting in a wastage of just over £2 billion.
Suitable for: Anyone on a low income or a pensioner should check entitlement to tax credits. It may surprise some families that tax credits may be available for those households with combined earning of as much as £66,000 a year. Visit www.hmrc.gov.uk to check entitlement.

18 Overpaid tax
In addition, eight-in-10 people pay more tax than necessary, with the average person paying £290 more tax than they need to each year. The most common sources of waste are:

  • Tax paid on savings. £263 million of tax could be avoided by sheltering investments in Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs). Also consider a Friendly Society savings account or products from National Savings & Investments. In addition, some £330 million could be reclaimed each year by non-taxpayers who have had tax deducted from savings.
  • Too much tax on investments. Transfer assets to a lower or non-taxpaying spouse to ensure income is taxed at a lower rate – or not at all. Making the most of the annual capital gains tax allowance (CGT) – which allows profits of up to £9,600 per person to be taken tax-free this year – could save couples £264 million each year. For more tips visit www.unbiased.co.uk/taketaxaction.

Suitable for: Everyone, particularly those with savings and investments.

19 Compensation claims
Unfair credit card charges, mis-sold endowment policies and mis-sold payment protection policies mean consumers may get money back. Anyone charged £20 or so for late payment or being over the limit on a credit card can get the excess above £12 refunded for the past six years.

Anyone who has remortgaged in the past few years and was charged a mortgage exit fee higher than in the original mortgage agreement can also claim compensation. Visit www.moneymadeclear.fsa.gov.uk.
Suitable for: Everyone should check if they are due some compensation.

ASSETS

This section is for those who are really desperate and possibly already in debt.

20 Cash in investments, endowments or the pension
It is not an ideal time to cash in any investments. However, those who are desperate can consider cashing in their policies. Always seek independent financial advice, as investors can offer suffer penalties for cashing in policies before their term is up. Visit www.unbiased.co.uk to find an independent financial adviser.

Also consider selling rather than surrendering endowment policies (investors often get a higher price) using a traded endowment policy company. If an endowment is linked to a mortgage, check with the lender first.

Anyone with a personal pension who has reached the age of 50 can take up to 25 per cent of this fund – free of tax – and reinvest the rest until retirement. Those with employer pensions may find it harder to take the cash early.
Suitable for: People with immediate needs, including those with larger pension funds struggling to meet liabilities such as private school fees.

Case study: net extra cash

Like one-in-10 workers, Helen Castree, 29, has a job on the side – earning extra money in the evenings and weekends working as a freelance part-time personal assistant.

After getting married a couple of years ago, she was looking for a way to generate extra income to pay into the mortgage before starting a family.

“I thought that, as I have a skill, I might as well use it,” said Mrs Castree, from Shropshire. She found the easiest way to get work was via the internet and signed up with the free service, www.PeoplePerHour.com, to bid for work – which can be done remotely for businesses and individuals across the country.

“I have been able to get involved in a range of projects including copy typing, web content design and administration, all work that I can do in the evenings and at weekends,” said Mrs Castree.

“This extra work puts me on a much better financial footing and does not cost me anything as I work from home and already have a computer.

“When we start a family, it will be an ideal way to supplement our family income as I can fit this type of work around children.

“It is also important to remember that you are running a business. I keep records and receipts of all income and spending and take a proportion out of each job and set it aside for my tax liability.”