productivity

Business Culture: Two Common Misconceptions Preventing Business Growth

Screenshot 2019-07-06 10.46.42.png

In many businesses, there are common misconceptions that represent less the business ethos itself, more the traditions businesses have simply become stuck in.

Misled assumptions about where, when and how people should work stifle companies’ ability to reach their actual potential, rather than their perceived potential, especially when rival businesses are now embracing new flexible ways of working. And with the current workplace looking young, bright and (no, not orange) flexible, it’s as prime time as any to set these misconceptions straight.

So here are two common misconceptions preventing businesses from their reaching their actual potential. 

1.   Team Happiness Doesn’t Influence Business Growth And Profit, Just Skills

Screenshot 2019-07-06 10.47.37.png

By nature of happiness being an emotion rather than a skill that can be measured or applied, it isn’t seen as a direct contributor to business success and therefore largely falls under businesses’ radar, in pursuit of skill-based goals. A business is the sum of its parts, and its constituent parts is the team. 

The happiness of the team therefore, is indispensable to achieving sustained optimal growth. Small increments of going the extra mile as a result of a team member feeling empowered, valued and trusted, are the seemingly small things that over time when multiplied by an entire team, can be the tangible difference between a business being successful, and a business that stands out above competitors. 

2.   The Environment Most Conducive To Productivity Is One Environment, And It’s An Office

Screenshot 2019-07-06 10.49.24.png

The environments most conducive to productivity have been left largely unexplored in the past under the overbearing weight of dated traditions and stigma around flexible working. What makes someone most productive, equates to anywhere and any time window that makes them most relaxed and focused. 

Depending on the individual and job role, this could be variations of home, a workspace, an office, starting early in the morning or late into the evening. The key misconception here is that there’s one environment most conducive to getting the job done, and that environment is an office to be in from 9 to 5 every day, every week, of every month. 

Once employers realise there are several efficient ways to get the job done outside of these confines, in ways that can not only benefit them by transforming business culture and growth, but the teamby instilling more trust, value and empowerment (A.K.A. happiness), progress can be exponential. 

The ratio of weight businesses apply to understanding how consumer attitudes and environments yield profit and growth, compared to the weight businesses apply to understanding how their team’s attitudes and environments yield profit and growth, is disproportionate and reflective only of their perceived potential, not actual potential, which this can enable.

For more posts on team productivity and business culture, keep in touch with our blog for regular posts on all things business.

In the meanwhile, view the latest article on Business Culture: 3 Ways To Get The Best Out Of Your Team  

 

 

 

 

6 Apps That Make You More Productive

hello-i-m-nik-295103-unsplash.jpg

In 2019 with endless advancements in technology, is it really doing what it claims to do and be enhancing our lives?

Or is it just distracting us from the things that do enhance it?

Digital literacy, that is: how to steer, moderate and utilise the benefits of technology, is as (nearly) crucial to modern-day life as the age-old curriculum. So here are 6 apps that make you more productive.

1.     Noisli

Deep work is the ability to focus on a cognitively demanding task without distraction, resulting in complex information being processed faster and results being produced quicker.

One app that encourages deep work is Noisli, a background noise generator aimed at using sound and colour to improve focus and boost productivity.

Noisli.com

2. F.lux

The computer app f.lux removes the effects of blue light by adjusting screen colour and temperature according to time of day and location. If you have read 3 Ways To Be More Productive And Streamline Your Workday you’ll understand that when it comes to that last 10-minute block of the day, you don’t want to be wasting any more time due to sleep (or lack of`) because of blue light brain stimulation.

Justgetflux.com

3. Boomerang

Aside from streamlining emails by turning off notifications and checking your inbox just twice a day at allotted times, Boomerang is a great way to schedule messages should you want to send emails outside of this window. You can also set up reminders that alert and prompt you if someone hasn’t replied within a few days.

Boomeranggmail.com

4. Magnet 

For Mac users, this is one of those apps that once you start using; you’ll never imagine doing without. For Windows users, the ability to divide a screen with the click or drag of a mousepad is an already familiar and highly useful tool in managing multiple windows throughout the workday.

The app Magnet divides your screen by half and half, into quarters or in variations of this, to ensure time efficiency when working across several windows. 

Magnet.crowdcafe.com

5. Trello Bulletin Board

A great way to brainstorm ideas, solidify tasks and create online mood boards, this customisable digital bulletin board is designed to keep all your thoughts across multiple mediums in one place.

Multiple boards can be created, each containing cards that can be filled with anything from thoughts to ideas, tasks and pictures. Each card is dynamic, so they can be dragged and dropped within a list or moved to a different one as well as shared with other users for commenting and task assignments.

Trello.com

6. Slack

Built for team collaboration across multiple workspaces, Slack works for businesses seeking to coordinate a team through communication and information transfer, or for freelancers looking to operate across different workspaces in one place.

Each workspace is collaborative and organised by channels, projects or team members, with seamless integrations to tools and services such as Gmail, Google Drive and Adobe Creative Cloud.

Slack.com

 

 

 

3 Ways To Be More Productive And Streamline Work

carl-heyerdahl-181868-unsplash.jpg

The great thing in life is efficiency. If you amount to anything in the world, your time is valuable, your energy precious. They are your success capital, and you cannot afford to heedlessly throw them away or trifle with them.

–Dr. Orison Marden

Have you ever broke down the hours in a day and thought if you really needed to, how much you could get done in 16 hours?

Ways to be more productive and streamline work are high on any modern day business agenda.

The general 8-hour sleep, 8-hour work, 8-hour play routine varies from person to person, but one thing remains undisputed; a day accompanied by structure and deep work can achieve more than a frantically busy, fragmented one can in a week.

So what are the factors most conducive to maximising productivity? 

1.     Routine

Timings are everything. A start and finish time bookends each day to allow a window of complete focus, the same way it can allow a switch off when the day is finished. This relates more to freelance and flexible workplaces; but whatever the hours you work, make sure to pin down a start and finish time and stick to it militantly.

When a routine is so ingrained that it’s equivalent to going autopilot, it takes one less thought process from the day’s decisions; in turn minimising time on admin and maximising time spent on work.

2.     Structure

Being mindful of exactly what a day can fit in if you break it down incrementally, is quite eye-opening. There are many ways people can divide a day up, but whichever you adopt, it will dictate how you see your time and the opportunities available within it.

Writer and TED Speaker Tim Urban, breaks it down (minus 7-8 hours sleep) into 16-17 hours or 1,000 minutes, broken down into 100 10-minute blocks, which is what we get each day when we wake up.  

Screenshot 2019-05-29 12.28.31.png

Throughout that day we spend 10 minutes of our lives on each block, which when looked at as a whole, reveals interesting clues on how we use those 100 blocks we get each day, and how we can make our day more productive and streamlined.

 

“How many of them are put towards making your future better, and how many of them are just there to be enjoyed? How many of them are spent with other people, and how many are for time by yourself? How many are used to create something, and how many are used to consume something? How many of the blocks are focused on your body, how many on your mind, and how many on neither one in particular? Which are your favorite blocks of the day, and which are your least favorite?”

3. Streamlining

To increase efficiency and productivity(particularly after implementing an allotted window for deep work), all email notifications should be turned off, with emails only being checked twice a day at the likes of 11am and 4pm. The sporadic and spontaneous alert of email notifications not only interrupts your train of thought; but switches it completely off the task and onto the subject of the email, suspending any chance for deep work to enhance productivity.

Once notifications are off, it’s a good idea to set an auto-responder, saying something to the effect of, “Thanks for reaching out. I currently only check my emails at 11am and 4pm each day, to increase efficiency and productivity.

If you require assistance that cannot wait please get in touch on [YOUR PHONE NUMBER].” Being in control of incoming information this way, can structure and streamline your day in a way that enables deep work, not debilitates it. 

 

Efficiency when maximised, slots work into a finite window of confined, deep, productive focus, where a lot can get done in a shorter space of time. Optimum productivity needs practice, maintenance and work but when mastered over time, it can transform the way you approach your life and opportunities within it. 

 

We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.

–Earl Nightingale

How to Stop and Prevent Entrepreneurial Burnout

Entrepreneur Support

The biggest secret to an entrepreneur’s success? They don’t try and do everything by themselves. It’s a phrase we've probably all heard before, but often we forget to put it into action.

As you’ve started your business, have you ever felt or done any of the following?

·      Feeling like you are running on empty

·      Feeling overwhelmed

·      Taking your work home with you

·      Decreased Productivity

If so, you may be experiencing entrepreneurial burnout, and if you want to ensure any type of success for you and your business, you should make some changes. Get out of a mental rut by changing your scenery and your normal routine. Change your work environment for a day if you can to clear your head. But most likely, you may need some wider changes like re-structuring your business strategy or expanding your team with virtual support to combat this common pitfall.

Here are CoStartup & Go’s top tips to stop and prevent entrepreneurial burnout:

Re-balance.

This is and will always be the first step. Taking care of your emotional, physical and mental well-being. The easiest and fastest way to bring yourself back to balance is to get a good night’s sleep and to increase your water intake. Balancing your body can go a long way in helping you become more productive as an entrepreneur.

Get organised. Get clarity.

Making time to organise yourself and your business will allow for some much-needed strategic vision for the entrepreneurial journey. What people often don’t realise is that as an entrepreneur or startup, there is so much changeable action that occurs and that your business needs to be ready for. Funding doesn’t come through? Pivot your product or service line. Funding does come through? Ramp up your marketing efforts. Being able to execute your plan while staying flexible is a true key to sustained success.

Schedule Breaks.

For entrepreneurs, we know that the clock never truly stops, and that if you want doors to open, YOU are the only one who can make it happen. But creativity and ideas emerge when your mind is still, when you allow yourself to focus on other things, and when you take some time off. Make it a part of your day to take short breaks to allow your brain to expand and your imagination to wander. And make sure you make a conscious effort to shut the laptop down a few nights and weekends.

Delegate.

If you are wondering how you are ever going to get all your work done now that you are sleeping so much and taking breaks – the answer is easy: Focus your work efforts on the most important tasks that add value to your business. Avoid time suckers and tasks that take up much of your time and energy but in the end, can be done by others. Investing in a virtual assistant is so important as it allows you to excel in the areas that you are best at, and you can outsource and collaborate with others on areas you don’t have time for. But don’t limit your scope here – startups and entrepreneurs can use virtual support for social media, web development, bookkeeping, email management, marketing administration, events management and much more.

Gather a Support System.

Going it alone with an idea and a laptop is admirable, but can quickly get lonely and discouraging if you don’t have a smart network around you. Slowly build a support system around you with people whom you can bounce ideas off, keep you motivated, and at times can keep you accountable. Using a flexible co-working space is perfect for fuelling natural relationships. Check out the options at The Office Group for flexible co-working memberships.

Ultimately, success as an entrepreneur isn’t about the number of hours you put in, but about what you do with those hours. Are you using your time wisely? Why not book a free consultation with CoStartup & Go to see how we can help increase your productivity?

The Biggest Secret of Highly Productive & Successful Start-Ups

Productive Entrepreneurs and Virtual Assistants PA AND GO

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, your business success and productivity depends entirely upon you and your decisions. Everything from website design and search engine marketing to business operations and monthly finances is dependent on you.

One of the most valuable secrets of highly successful entrepreneurs is actually quite simple: they don’t try to do everything themselves. They delegate their work so they can grow at a faster rate than they could do on their own. But don't just take our word for it - here are 40 highly successful entrepreneurs giving evidence to why they hired virtual assistants.

But for some, it can be challenging to give up control, confusing to know where to start looking for people for your team, and seemingly expensive to hire a full-time employee. 

This is where hiring virtual support from a consultative team can exponentially help your business. The scope of remote working is changing and for many start-up and small business owners, VAs offer lean and flexible benefits. Moreover, company growth comes from more than just diary management and administrative tasks. Having a core support team that can adapt to your needs – whether it’s bookkeeping, social media, IT support, video editing, or event organisation – can help increase productivity and growth in your business, and also offer a better work-life balance for you.

It’s time to get more productive so you can focus on the most important aspects of your business. Here's how you can do it:

Visualise Success and Set Goals

Get clear about what your business goals are and how you want to achieve them. Create solid systems and processes that work for your business. At this point, you can get a better grasp on what areas you will need to invest in for the long term. You set clear expectations about what you want and need and it is easier to bring someone in to help you achieve those goals in a collaborative way.

Let Go and Delegate Tasks, Projects or Business Functions to Your Operational Support Team

Focus on what motivates you, what moves you, what you started your business for in the first place. When you spend your time doing the things you love in the business, your creativity and great ideas come to the forefront much faster. Then you can communicate to your support team how to execute those ideas, so you can move on to the next one.

Communicate with and Effectively Manage Your Virtual Assistant

Once you have systems in place, consistent communication is key to maintaining an effective and successful relationship with your virtual assistant. Mapping out your goals with your VA and then being able to constantly check in with him or her, via email, phone or Skype, sets an expectation for excellence and ensures that your investment in a flexible team is always adding value.

One of the great aspects of PA&GO’s services is our consultative approach to operational support. You won’t be hiring a VA who you’ll never meet and never have real contact with. You will be engaging an experienced team that adapts with your changing business needs. Get in touch at sales@costartupandgo.com and we can see which package can fit your business needs in a FREE initial consultation.

The Best Productivity Apps and Software Tools for Collaborating with Your Virtual Assistant

productivity apps and software tools for virtual assistant

These days, closing a deal or launching a product or service can come from the swipe of a finger. In a quick-moving and adaptable start-up world, it’s essential that all members of your team – including your virtual assistants, project managers, marketers, and IT help – are all flexible and open to communication.

Using virtual assistants for different aspects of your operational support can create a lean and structured system that allows you as the business owner to think, plan and grow your business, rather than get stuck in the execution. When it comes to the practical aspects of collaborating with a virtual support team, there are several tools, apps and programmes that allow for effective communication and project management.

There are countless new tools that are developed everyday, but we’ve found that these are our top picks for creating seamless efficiency and productivity for the modern entrepreneurial team.

Apps and Programmes for Your Start-Up Team

Asana

Easily manage projects and workflows within your team. Track projects, set responsibilities, and turn conversations into collaborations with Asana's sleek interface. It integrates with several other tools and it’s simply a great project management tool, whether your team is virtual or not.

Slack

Communicate within your team across channels and private messages. Fully synced with all of your devices, it also integrates with Google Drive, Asana, Dropbox and more.

Basecamp  

If your virtual support provider is doing more project or client-based work, we love Basecamp for its checklist system and its ease in going back and forth between parties to share files and progress reports. It also has a built in calendar system that allows for a centralised schedule that you can add to your favourite calendar.

Skype for Business

We still find Skype to be one of the most streamlined tools to use for communicating with your team if you want to use face-to-face calls, but it's also still an inexpensive and effective tool when your virtual assistants need to make conference calls or overseas calls without fuss.

Zoho Vault

The entire Zoho suite is a pretty integrated and comprehensive operating system for business. Though it’s not the most user-friendly, it has exceptional functionality, so pick and choose your most needed features for what works best for your business. That being said, we absolutely love Zoho Vault. As a virtual assistant, it’s imperative to keep your team’s passwords and personal information secure and this tool is perfect for keeping credit card information, passwords and more safe.

Hootsuite

The are many tools for social media management, and we like Hootsuite as it is inexpensive and easy to use for social media scheduling and analytics. The ease of use can work from freelancers to major corporations, and Hootsuite simplifies the social media marketing game for virtual support.

TripIt

Are you or your team taking a lot of trips? TripIt streamlines the travel planning process with instant itineraries, team calendars, and safe storage of travel documents.

Time Doctor

Time Doctor is a remote time tracking application built specifically to track remote employees’ productivity. Unlike other apps that just have screenshots, Time Doctor tracks your actual productivity so you can improve how productive you are at particular tasks. With integrations with over 27 different software applications, including Basecamp, Trello, Asana, and Slack, you can manage both your time and your team's productivity wherever they are based and for whatever project they are doing.

Xero

If you are an entrepreneur or start-up, you may find yourself without a large finance or accounting team. In that case, Xero is a fantastic cloud-based accountancy software that gives you a real-time view of your cashflow. With Xero, your virtual assistant can now easily manage invoicing, PO creating, payroll, and deal with expenses without problems.

LivePlan

Following on from Xero software, Liveplan is the perfect tool for the entrepreneur or small business as it takes all the guess work out of pitching, planning and tracking the financial and operational progress of your business. And it doesn’t stop with creating the business plan and forecasts. Liveplan is a living document that integrates seamlessly with Xero and allows you to stay on budget, make sure you hit targets, track sales and expenses, and overall keep a steady look of your companies' profit and loss – and adjust your business plan accordingly.

What tools do you use to manage collaboration with your virtual assistants?

Hiring a virtual assistant isn't simply about answering telephones without contact with the business owner and start-up team. PA&GO is redefining what virtual operational support looks like - in all areas of your business - and it involves real communication and collaboration with a personal touch. Get in touch to see how PA&GO can help grow your business today.