Posted on 3 Comments

Induction Training: What Info Should You Include?

You'll be surprised how much information new employees lack - something which can easily be remedied by an online induction program.
You’ll be surprised how much information new employees lack – something which can easily be remedied by an online induction program.

We’ve been talking about induction training a lot lately, and it’s because an induction training program is hugely important for all businesses, especially small businesses often using contractors or consultants. But induction training is also an important aspect of acclimatising a new employee to your organisation.

What’s Important for Newbies?

An induction training program should include all of the work health and safety measures that relate to your organisation, along with common information about where employees can find parking or the local café.

But most importantly, it should also include specific information that relates to a new employee’s department or position.

Things to include in your induction training program could be: who an employee reports to, how often the company carries out performance reviews, and what the pay cycle is.

This may seem overly basic, but these are common questions employees usually have when they start a new job. By providing this information upfront it demonstrates a level of transparency, and helps newcomers feel at ease – after all, there’s nothing more awkward that having to ask your new boss when you’ll be paid.

Your Employees’ Responsibilities

But you should also use your induction program as an opportunity to highlight the expectations and responsibilities of that new employee, by outlining their tasks and duties and when they’re expected to have them completed by.

You may have covered this in the interview process, but anecdotal evidence shows that the vast majority of new employees still don’t know what is expected of them until their first day on the job.

If their responsibilities and goals are still not properly communicated to them on their first day, they often spend the first few days and weeks uncertain about what they should be doing. This leads to frustration, which ultimately leaves them feeling disengaged and invariably wastes time and money – and they haven’t even started their job yet!

A properly executed induction training program helps to define the responsibilities and expectations of your employees, and also helps boost company morale and engagement – two important ingredients in any successful business.

***

If you would like to learn more about induction training programs, visit our website or request a quote from us.

Posted on 1 Comment

Our NEW Originate and Develop Concepts Course

It pays to think ahead about the competition before opening the doors to your business.
It pays to think ahead about the competition before opening the doors to your business.

We’ve just unlocked a new course as part of our Small Business Management Course that’s now available for individual enrolment – originate and develop concepts course.

This course was previously only available as part of our Small Business Management Course, but because it’s such an important first step in starting your own business, we decided to make it available for individual enrolment.

The course focuses on the all-important research phase of starting a business. In order to complete this course, students will need to already have an idea for a business, which they can begin researching.

In the originate and develop concepts course you’ll be looking at things like the geographical area your business will service, whether seasonal factors will impact it, demographics and other socio-economic information that may be necessary.

These are important first steps that many business owners don’t learn until they’ve already opened their doors, at which point realigning their business accordingly is often costly and difficult.

But if you’ve already determined that to start your virtual bookkeeping business, you need compete, say, with two other established bookkeepers who only offer straight bookkeeping services, you can offer BAS services and establish a point of difference between yourself and the competition from the get-go.

Knowing where your business stands in the marketplace will also aid you in marketing and advertising your business, while it’s also necessary to have completed this kind of preliminary research if you intend on securing finance from an investor or a bank.

In the course, you’re also required to isolate your ideal customer, which is imperative to ensure you’re delivering the correct products or services, but again, also helps you market your business directly to that person – because you know exactly, what they do and how to reach them.

So if you’ve been thinking of starting you own business, our Originate and Develop Concepts Course is just the thing for you. Visit our EzyLearn Online website for more information or enrol now.

Posted on 1 Comment

Why The Business Name You Choose Is So Important: Interview

Choosing a business name that is Google-friendly is important.
Choosing a business name that is Google-friendly is important.

Our Small Business Management Course teaches students everything they will need to successfully start and operate their own small business, which includes how to write a business plan. Throughout the duration of the course and particularly, when it comes to writing your business plan, you’ll need to think about what you’ll name your business. So what does make a good business name?

What’s In a Name?

For this post, we spoke to a business owner whose business has a rather distinctive name: CIA OPS’s Principal, Robert Crane. CIA — or Computer Information Agency — OPS is a Sydney-based technology consultancy firm, which focuses on assisting businesses and individuals improve their productivity using technology and smart business practices.

The name CIA OPS perfectly encapsulates everything Robert’s business does — provide his clients with information about computer-related technology, such as how to streamline a business’s processes for use with cloud-based software or training in Microsoft Office 365 — but at the same time, it’s also a conversation piece.

“Everyone’s heard of the CIA, as in the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency,” Robert says. “So when they hear CIA OPS, they immediately ask me more about my business and what we do.”

Interesting – and Easy to Remember

But because the name CIA OPS has already aroused people’s curiosity, they’re more engaged and interested in what Robert has to say. The fact CIA OPS is also easy to remember is another added bonus.

“Even if they forget the ‘OPS’ part,” Robert says, “They always remember the ‘CIA’ part and the fact we work with computers, which makes it really easy for them to find me Google.”

Is it Google-Friendly?

Which brings us to another important consideration you need to make when it comes to thinking of a business name. Thinking of something quirky and interesting which also represents what your business does is one thing, but ensuring it’s Google-friendly is another altogether.

Google has, in many ways, fundamentally changed the way we do business — and as a result, it has changed the way people select their business name, too.

If your business name is too obscure that it becomes too hard to remember, then it won’t work; if it’s too common that it returns hundreds upon hundreds of Google results, it won’t work, either; if it’s too long, too short, too boring — won’t work, won’t work, won’t work.

“You really need to think about what you’ll call your business, because that is one thing that’s hard to go back and change later,” Robert says. Make sure you check to see if the business name you’re thinking of using is being used already, or is too similar to someone else’s — which could land you in hot water, as you will lean in the intellectual property and general law module of our Small Business Management Course.

Robert’s advice: “Avoid names that include the words ‘solutions’ or ‘networking’ — they’re boring, too common, and pretty obvious — you know, all businesses hope to provide some sort of solution, for instance.

“Be original, give your business name some real thought, and test it out on your friends and family first,” Robert advises.

Being that your business name is so important, we recommend that our small business management students start thinking about potential names as soon as they start the course, so than when it comes time to finishing their business plan, they’ll have something in mind.

***

If you would like more information about our Small Business Management Course, click here. For information about the other courses we offer at EzyLearn, click here.

Posted on

Interview with Business Owner: The Benefits of Being “Hands On”

We interview Mark Darling about some of the keys to his hugely successful water business.
We interview Mark Darling about some of the keys to his hugely successful water business.

We recently wrote about the five attributes successful entrepreneurs possess, but one attribute that wasn’t on that list was being hands-on. Our Small Business Management course teaches students all the practical, hands-on skills you need to successfully start and operate a new business, but that hands-on attitude shouldn’t dissipate once your business is up and running.

Why It Pays to Be ‘Hands On’

With that in mind, we recently spoke to Mark Darling, the chief executive officer of Sip Water, a Sydney-based bottled water business, about why business owners should always be hands-on with their businesses. Mark’s history with the bottled water industry has been a long and storied one, but ultimately it’s been about success.

For many years, Mark operated his first bottled water business almost like it was still a small business even though it had grown to become the second largest bottled water company in Australia, behind Neverfail. Even as the large-scale operation that it had become, it was not uncommon for Mark to carry out many of the duties typically not expected of a managing director, like making deliveries to clients.

Eventually Mark’s business caught the attention of another publicly listed company to whom Mark eventually sold it; it was some several years later, that Mark decided to start Sip Water, this time a much smaller operation where Mark still makes water deliveries to his clients to this day.

Why Do What You Can Pay Others to Do?

The reason Mark still makes deliveries: because it makes his business more efficient, and his hands-on approach is something he attributes to the success of all of his businesses. “People often ask me ‘Why don’t you get someone to help you?’” Mark says. “But I always say ‘Well, why would I do that when I don’t need one.’”

Mark says that many business owners often feel they should employ someone to perform work they could really do themselves. “I’m sure it seems unusual for a CEO to make deliveries, but I do it because, this way, I know it’s been done,” Mark explains.

Perhaps this contradicts everything you thought you knew about business, particularly since its often drummed into business owners that in order to prosper they need to delegate; to step away from the smaller things so they can concentrate on the big things.

On this, Mark agrees, but adds: “If I can fit some deliveries into my day without it impacting on the other things I need to do, I will.” The idea is to only hire personnel that are absolutely essential to the running of the business. This keeps your overheads down and your profits up.

Rather than employing an admin person for your business because you feel that as the owner you shouldn’t be doing admin work, ask yourself whether you can conceivably do the admin. If you can, why hire an admin person?

Often people believe that the larger your team, the more professional your business will seem; the more it will seem like a big business. But some big businesses are like icebergs: they appear a certain way on the surface, but it’s what lurks beneath the surface you need to worry about.

In the case of Mark’s original bottled water business, not long after selling it to a well-known, publicly-listed company — or big business — the core company which purchased it went out of business, taking the business Mark had built down with it.

The Moral Is…

The moral of the story, as Mark sees it, is that his attitude towards running his businesses is right: if you’re hands-on with your business and you know what’s happening with it, then you’ll avoid the calamities that often engulf other businesses: closure due to poor management.

***

Our Small Business Management Course teaches students everything they need to know about successfully starting and operating a small business, including payroll, financial planning, and the like. To see our full suite of training courses, click here.

Posted on 1 Comment

How Would You Like to Earn a Share of $237 Billion?

Want a share of $237 billion? If you're in business it's up for grabs!
Want a share of $237 billion? If you’re in online business it’s up for grabs!

If you spent money on Christmas pressies recently, you’re a small part in the continual climb of online trading in this country. Did you know that in 2012, the value of online trading in Australia reached $237 billion dollars? This represents a 25 percent increase year-on-year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This increase in online revenue reflects the growing number of small businesses moving their operations online, either in part or entirely — and it’s largely thanks to new technologies facilitating e-commerce for small business.

The Growth of Online Businesses

Prior to 2006 the online marketplace was all but monopolised by the eBays and Amazons, organisations that had the resources to create the necessary infrastructure needed to allow customers to shop entirely online. After 2006, when we first moved our MYOB training courses online, offering a completely online shopping experience was just starting to gain popularity among the small players like ourselves; in the years since, it’s now pretty much become the norm.

As platforms like WordPress have made it possible to create and maintain a website without any design or HTML knowledge, theme clubs like Woo Themes, which provide web-themes to suit a range of different business types, now even include ecommerce plugins that can be linked with a PayPal account.

By offering you services online, you’re opening yourself up to an entirely global customer base, allowing you to offer new or different services than you did before. Since we moved our business online, we’ve also been able to build on our business — this year we added the highly popular Small Business Management Course to our suite of training courses, for example.

For some businesses, moving online is more of a necessity, a way to stay competitive in a world with ever-evolving technologies. For example, new cloud accounting software like Reach (and we offer a course in Reach Accounting too) makes it easier for small businesses to manage their own books, without needing the services of a bookkeeper.

***

For many bookkeepers this could spell doom and gloom, or it could provide them with the opportunity to venture into the business of training people on how to manage their own books. As a bookkeeper looking to extend their services into training as well, by setting up a website with an e-commerce facility, you could partner with us to sell vouchers to our training courses.

With a share of $237 billion up for grabs, now is a good time to consider offering your services online, particularly when it’s become so darn easy! We even offer WordPress training courses, which covers setting up ecommerce, so you’ve no excuse for missing out!

Posted on

Does Your Business have a Facebook Page? Here’s 6 Reasons Why You Should!

Do your small business justice and develop a Facebook page.
Do your small business justice and develop a Facebook page.

After they complete our small business management course or MYOB training course many of our students go on to start their own home-based bookkeeping business. Among the many things you learn in our small business management course is how to effectively market a small business.

Why Market?

For any new business, it’s important to market your new business so develop new leads and customers, but it’s also important that your marketing costs don’t outweigh your income. In the marketing module of our small business management course, we talk about Google Adwords, which is a low-cost way to advertise your business online, using keywords.

Another Option is Facebook

Facebook is also another option for businesses large and small, but we think it works particularly well for small businesses, due to the community-minded nature of Facebook, itself.

There’s an old saying around EzyLearn: People like to do business with people they know, like and trust. Facebook helps you to develop online relationships with your customers, allowing them to get to know, like and trust you.

But in case you’re still not convinced, here are another 6 reasons why you should be on Facebook:

  1. Population and penetration: We know that over 1 billion people are on Facebook, but what’s the penetration rate for a market, like the USA, for example? 67 percent of internet users in the US are on Facebook; in Australia that penetration rate is much higher—82 percent.
  2. Age: Facebook skews young—83 percent of 18-29 year olds are on Facebook—but the 45-54 age-bracket has also seen 46 percent growth since the end of 2012.
  3. Income: The incomes of Facebook users higher than any other social media platform. 73 percent of Facebook users earn more than AUD$75,000 compared to 17 percent for Twitter.
  4. Mobile: Social media is the most popular social media app on smartphones and accounts for 66 percent of total social media sharing on iphones.
  5. Gender: Like every other adverting medium, Facebook also skews toward women, but it’s still more gender neutral than Google+ or Pinterest.
  6. Education: Nearly 75 percent of Australian Facebook users have some form of university or tertiary education.

If you’re looking to target any or all of these demographics for your small business marketing campaign, then create a Facebook page and start marketing your services to your followers.

Posted on

Get Your Business Noticed for FREE: The Difference Between PR and Marketing

PR is about getting word of your business out there for free, often by providing people with obligation-free information.
PR is about getting word of your business out there for free, often by providing people with obligation-free information.

At EzyLearn, we’re committed to helping students of our MYOB courses gain employment as an MYOB bookkeeper or even start their own bookkeeping business; it’s why we provide you with lifetime access to our MYOB training courses as part of our commitment to continuing professional development. We also offer students a small business management course, which can be extremely relevant for bookkeepers who want to branch out and operate an existing small business or start one from scratch. One of the topics we cover in our small business management course is marketing for small business and we thought it was worth devoting a blog post to pointing out the difference between the two.

The Difference between Public Relations and Marketing

For some reason, marketing and PR are two activities that are often confused with one another. Perhaps that’s because many companies combine their marketing and PR departments, or maybe it’s because people don’t really understand what PR is.

At its most basic PR is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and it’s public. Marketing, on the other hand, is the business of promoting and selling products or services, which includes market research and advertising.

It’s important to keep these two definitions in mind when undertaking either activity, because if there’s one thing PR is not, it’s selling, which is the ultimate goal of marketing.

That doesn’t mean that PR won’t result in eventual sales, but it shouldn’t be the primary objective of a PR campaign, (although it’s not uncommon for many established PRs to forget this subtle nuance between the two).

If it’s done right, PR is a great way to generate buzz about a new business or product, particularly for small businesses that may not have a huge marketing budget.

Simple Ways You Can Create a Buzz for Your Small Business

For a home-based bookkeeper or virtual assistant just starting out, PR activities to generate interest in your business could include holding an event with other home-based bookkeepers or virtual assistants and inviting local business owners along so you can educate them in the benefits of employing a remote worker.

The goal for an event like this would be to build relationships with your “publics” — people that may come to employ or use your services—but not necessarily to win new business on that particular day.

Alternatively, you could contribute to a few online business publications on what it’s like being a remote worker, or seek opportunities to be quoted in those publications.

Ultimately, that’s the goal of any PR campaign: to gain exposure for yourself or your business by educating and informing first. The selling part comes second, which is where PR differs substantially from marketing, of which the ultimate goal is to promote and sell.

***

If you’re a remote worker, why not give your business a PR boost in addition to your regular marketing activities — contact us and tell us your success story. In fact, this very blog is always looking to hear how our students are doing since completing one of our courses, so if you’re now working remotely as a bookkeeper or a virtual assistant, get in touch! It’s great exposure for your business.

 

Posted on

Superannuation News: What is the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House?

Allocating everyone's super into different super funds can be taxing! Now the government's stepping in to help.
Allocating everyone’s super into different super funds can be taxing! Now the government’s stepping in to help.

One of the modules we cover in our MYOB course is the tricky business of payroll, which includes the even trickier business of superannuation. Over the last 12 months there’s been a raft of changes to the superannuation guarantee, including its gradual increase to 12 percent, which came into effect this July. But super just got easier.

Super: Confusing and Consuming

Many small business owners find managing the day to day items confusing enough without having to look after payroll — a complex, but all-important aspect of any business. Fortunately, the Australian Government has recognised that the superannuation requirements are making payroll and increasingly complicated business that many small business owners struggle with.

Making super contributions for your employees is not just complicated — it’s also time-consuming. Under the current tax laws, each of your employees have the option of selecting their own super fund, which means you can be making super contributions into different super funds for each of your employees. With the Government’s new initiative The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House, those days are over.

The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House

Every small business with 19 or fewer employees is eligible for this free service that enables you to make just one secure superannuation payment to The Super Clearing House, which is then distributed among your employees to their nominated super funds.

The Super Clearing House minimises the paper work and red tape associated with superannuation for small businesses and also allows you to nominate a regular contribution amount for each of your employees, so you can easily meet the superannuation guarantee obligations.

Using The Super Clearing House won’t affect the rest of your payroll requirements in MYOB — though it does look like it’s a direct competitor for MYOB’s M-Powered Superannuation — and once you register for The Super Clearing House service online, you can access it 24/7.

***

For more information on The Super Clearing House, visit their website, the Department of Human Services website or download The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House reference guide here.

Posted on 2 Comments

CIA Provides Secrets about Linkedin

LinkedIn: The Living CV

I’VE WRITTEN A NUMBER of posts about the power of LinkedIn to replace the traditional resume, but after speaking with an expert from CIA (Sydney-based company, Computer Information Agency or CIAOPs) I learnt some new secrets about Linkedin. Robert Crane, CIA’s Director, shared some tips as to how and why LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to help you get a job AND find more customers.

Robert-Crane-Digitar-web-linkedin-secrets
Robert Crane is the Director of Computer Information Agency

Here’s what Robert had to say…

One of the greatest advantages that Internet based technologies can provide is leverage. Nothing could be more the case than with social media. Unfortunately, too many businesses and professionals fail to see the potential that it can provide themselves and their businesses. Probably the most effective social network for business is LinkedIn.

You may be surprised to know that LinkedIn in has been around for over a decade. It was around long before Facebook and Twitter as a source of connecting business people together. LinkedIn allows you to create a personal or business profile to which you can add all kinds of information.

[quote]Many professionals use LinkedIn as a “living CV” where they can post their career and achievement records for others to view.[/quote]

Sharing that information with others help them grow their potential network and makes it easier for others to locate people with the right skills.

The True Power of LinkedIn

This is where the key technology of search begins to reveal the true power of LinkedIn, for not only can you share your information with others, independent parties can search LinkedIn and locate individuals with the skills they need. This is reason why so many HR people use LinkedIn to locate and target individuals with the skills they require.

[quote]Posting resumes and trawling employment website is now ‘old school’. Indeed, the highest quality applicants are signed up via Linkedin even before a job is offered.[/quote]

Is It Too Late for You?

This means that if you are not using Linkedin your competition probably already is. So what can you do to catch up?

  1. Firstly, you’ll need to create a LinkedIn account and then fill in the information about yourself. The more professional information you provide the better. It is also important to include a professional headshot as part of the profile so if you don’t have one of these go out and get one.
  2. Once you have all your information entered start looking for people and associates you know who are already on LinkedIn. When you find them send them an invite to ‘connect’ with you on LinkedIn.
  3. Once you network starts to grow make sure that Linkedin becomes an ongoing part of your business strategy. Don’t let the information you have entered get stale. Revisit your account regularly and ensure it is always as current as possible. As you meet new contacts look them up on LinkedIn and ask them to ‘connect’ with you. Always be looking to grow your network and don’t be afraid to ask people in your network for introductions to others on Linkedin.
  4. When you start to feel comfortable with Linkedin use the testimonial feature to ask business contacts and clients for referrals. These referrals can be directly posted on your profile for all to see.
  5. Nothing lends credibility like endorsement so always continue to seek them out and grow the number that you have. Once the endorsements start to flow make sure you direct other information about your business to your LinkedIn information. Use it on your website, business cards, etc.

Other Powerful LinkedIn Uses

The more you work with LinkedIn, the more powerful you will find it. When you need something you can ask your network of contacts, you can search their skills for what you need, and you can join any number of special interest Linkedin groups on the very topic that you are seeking assistance on. Because Linkedin has become such a worldwide tool for business, chances are you’ll find the person or business you’re looking for, if you know how to use it.

Jump On the Social Media Bandwagon

I went to a seminar recently and heard Nick Bowditch from Facebook speak. He said that the businesses engaging with, and using, social media will be the ones still around in 5 years. Perhaps it’s arrogant to think that social media is so mighty, but given the speed with which technology is moving these days, and the ferocity of competition, it’s better to build a profile, reputation and brand that people know, like and trust — and social media is the opportune way to do this.


Social Media and Digital Marketing online training course_comp

Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.