Blog

Sep 03

4 Reasons DIY Bookkeeping may be costing you

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Thursday, September 03, 2015

I found this article on a blog by Matt McFedries a business owner based in NZ and I wanted to share it here as I thought it captures the essence of the "value" you get from engaging professional bookkeeping services rather than seeing it as a "cost" to your business. It also supports my work & life mantra " Work Smarter, Not Harder ". I hope you enjoy reading Matt's article:

Four reasons DIY bookkeeping is capping your business growth

I went for years doing my own bookkeeping. I thought I was saving money... but in hindsight I think the cost of not having a bookkeeper was far greater.

Here's why.....

Reason 1: Sporadic bookkeeping habits slow you down

If you don't have up-to-date data on how your business is tracking weekly or at least twice a month it's hard to change your tactics throughout the month to improve your results.

For example, if it's clear mid-month that your income is not reaching budget, then at least you have the rest of the month to focus on closing more deals. Remember there's only 12 months in the year – the more months you can 'win' the better. Finding out at the end of the month that you missed the mark is not ideal.

Reason 2: You'll miss opportunities to make/save money

Having an expert or third party reviewing your books on a regular basis is likely to yield opportunities to save on tax or make other financial decisions to optimise your position. Some of the best advice and insights I've had have come by simply having a 3rd party opinion from someone viewing my business from the outside.

Reason 3: Every decision you make taxes your brain

Every decision you make costs you. Some people have a greater capacity to make decisions than others. Let's say you could make 100 decisions each day across your business, how many of those decisions would you spend on deciding how to reconcile your bank? Or is your brain put to far better use elsewhere in your business?

Reason 4: It lightens your load. Wouldn't that be nice!

Everyone that's started a business understands the true cost. It's measured in risk, stress, time away from family and the inability to switch-off outside of 'typical' working hours. Having a bookkeeper that's on your team, enabling better decisions, suggesting ways to save you money and increasing your financial IQ can provide a significant relief to the constant battle you face each day to build your dream.

Lastly.

I believe there's two types of business owners in this world. Those that value their time and those that don't.

Unfortunately our DIY mentality can really hold us back, we end up working harder, not smarter and we do it for years on end. It might be time to wake up.

Sep 16

Xero Add Ons - How do I know which one is right for me?

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One of the major benefits of using Xero is the vast ecosystem of add-on partners. These are software applications that can integrate with Xero to create an integrated IT solution for a business to generate efficiency and productivity improvements that flow through to the bottom line.

However with more than 350 add-on partners in the Xero ecosystem, identifying the right ones for your business can be daunting.

Whenever we help businesses choose and integrate add-on partners, we look at a number of factors, including:

  • Does it improve a business processes?
  • Is it cost-effective?
  • Will it deliver a benefit to the business?

Let’s start with back-end applications, which help improve business administration functions. Our favourites include:

  • Receipt Bank helps automate the accounts payable data entry functions. (It’s one of Xero’s most popular add-ons.)
  • Debtor Daddy automates the follow-up of outstanding invoices, and has shown to reduce outstanding debts and improve cashflow.
  • Fathom and Spotlight both provide excellent reporting functionality and feedback to business owners.

On the flipside, front-end applications help improve the processes and experience between the business and its customers. Here are some of our favourite front-of-house applications.

  • GeoOp is a great add-on if you have a mobile workforce. You can allocate jobs, raise quotes and invoices, get clients to sign off on issues and let staff allocate their time and materials onsite.
  • Vend is arguably the best cloud-based Point of Sale application for retailers. It lets you order and receive stock (which then uploads to Xero along with the sales), and integrates with e-commerce platforms for online sales.
  • Deputy and Tanda are two great applications for staff rostering and time sheets that link to Xero’s payroll functions.
  • Re-leased and Sharesight are two of our favourite applications for investor clients. Re-leased lets commercial property investors manage their portfolio, while Sharesight downloads daily sharemarket information to help share investors monitor and manage their portfolio. Both applications integrate with Xero and upload information to reduce the data entry functions.
  • Unleashed and Dear Inventory are all inventory management applications. They allow business owners to monitor and manage their stock, and integrate with other applications to provide up-to-date information on stock availability and costs.

These are only a sample of the many applications designed to help small businesses improve efficiencies, productivity and bottom line results.

To assess which ones are best for your business, ask yourself:

  • Does it reduce time in one of our business processes?
  • Is it cost effective (i.e. does the benefit outweigh the cost)?
  • Will it deliver a benefit to our business? (Note: this may not always be in direct dollars. For example, an integrated CRM such as Capsule may just provide better marketing opportunities and sales lead management.)

The number of add-on partners is constantly changing, with new partners arriving daily. As a specialist integrator MU Business Solutions can help you choose and implement the best solutions for your business as well as help with all of your training and bookkeeping needs.

To get the most out of Xero, talk to people in the know (such as MU Business Solutions) and get the applications that best suit your business needs.

Aug 09

3 Reasons why you should move to the Cloud

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Saturday, August 09, 2014




Embracing new technology can be difficult for many companies.

They want to make sure that it will be easy to integrate into the workplace and that it is a value added alternative to existing ways of performing tasks or producing items.

Is cloud computing of interest to your Business?

If you are trying to decide whether cloud computing is something that your company should be interested in you may find this information interesting and helpful during the selection and integration process.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a simple concept. It puts computer applications on the internet and users access it that way rather than downloading or installing a terminal-based program on their computers.

By putting the application or program online it offers a number of benefits that are not shared when the programs are installed directly on a computer’s hard drive, such as:

1) Cloud computing is affordable

For many companies, it can be a struggle to pay for expensive terminal-based programs.

There may be a limit on how many terminals can access a program and the time to install and expanding a program to accommodate a large number of users may be expensive. Cloud computing may still have a cost in order to access the programs or applications but it may be more reasonable than installed applications may be.

2) Cloud computing does not need you to maintain it

Part of the IT expense a company may incur is centered on maintaining systems and programs. With cloud computing, this is not an issue.

The applications are maintained by the company that created them which means that you do not need to worry about updating and repairing them yourself. This can help your company to substantially reduce the cost of its IT department.

3) Cloud Computing offers flexibility in terms of payment

Many terminal based computer applications or applications which are installed on a computer can be expensive and need to be paid for up front. This can be an issue for many companies especially if they are unsure whether a software package offers them the functionality that they need.

In this case, cloud computing can be a definite asset, since it is often possible to pay for these applications on an ongoing basis, such as a monthly one.

Keep in mind that cloud computing is not right for every company. If employees do not have access to the internet on an ongoing basis the applications will also be inaccessible.

This is where Xero and integrated add-ons come in. Traditionally staff out in the field did not have access the internet, but smartphones like the iPhone and Tablets such as iPads change this for the mobile workforce, allowing them to access files just like they were back in the office. If you want to learn more about Xero and how cloud software can help your business become more proficient, productive and profitable, contact us today for a free consultation


Jul 22

8 tips to improve your Time Management

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Saw this great article on Time Management...something we all struggle with right? And importantly, TM is something we can all be better at and benefit from, not only in business, but in 'life' !

Below you will find some simple and easy ways to improve your time management and productivity.  Most of these are common sense....but like most things in life, the 'KISS' principle doesn't always come front of mind so it is useful to to be reminded.... I hope you enjoy and find these tips useful!!  

1) To-Do lists

Ever heard of the Zeigernik Effect? Well, according to Webster, it’s a psychological term for the mind’s tendency to fixate on unfinished tasks rather than the completed ones. In 2011, E. J. Masicampo and Roy F. Baumeister, two Psychologists, did a study on the topic. The two concluded that your mind fixates on unfinished goals almost 75% more often than if you made a plan.

In order to maximize concentration, just make one to-do list. Multiple lists scattered around your desk doesn’t put the mind at ease. If you use a Mac, try using the Reminders application. It syncs with your iPhone so you can have everything you need at your fingertips at all times. If you are using a PC; check out Wunderlist, they have a free app for Android, iOS, as well as desktop and web-based extensions for Safari, Chrome and Firefox.
  

2) Stop Multitasking

Pride yourself on your ability to multitask? Chances are you aren’t as good as you think. According to the journal of experimental psychology, it takes your brain an average of 4 times longer to recognize and process each item you’re working on when multitasking. Just think about a computer – when you run more programs, your computer operates more slowly. The same is true for your brain.

There are a few solutions to this issue, but for starters, stop being a “martyr multitasker.” Beyond that, the key is to weed out distractions. Utilize the “Do Not Disturb” function on your phone and on messenger applications. There’s no shame in doing one thing at a time, and there’s a good chance you’ll be more effective than any of the multi-taskers on your team.

 

3) Group Similar Tasks

Grouping similar tasks makes getting through to-do lists a hell of a lot easier. The University of Maryland has published a study supporting this fact. The study identified increases in retention and cognition from grouping. In essence, when you group related tasks, you remember more and thus perform better.

So instead of having lists like this:
- Call Jeremy,
- Employee Logs,
- Post Update on Twitter,
- Call Emily,
- Facebook Post

Make something that looks more like this:
- Employee Logs
- Sales Calls
o Call Kyle
o Call Laura
- Social Media Marketing
o Twitter
o Facebook

Grouping will put your to-do lists in a logical, fluid format; allowing you to tear through work and get that promotion in no time! (Okay, we can’t promise a promotion.)

 

4) Prioritization Is Crucial

You only have 4 hours to complete your entire to-do list during a typical 8 hour workday, according to research by McKinsey Global Institute. Spend time on non-critical tasks, and your chances of falling behind increase dramatically. Prioritizing this list is a crucial first step in managing your time and maximizing your output.

If you have trouble with prioritization, try the Time Management Toolkit from Mind Tools. The urgent/important matrix helps you identify where each item on your to-do list should be prioritized.

How to use the matrix:

sqrl-important-matrix

 

1. List all of your tasks no matter how big or little.

2. Rank those items in order of importance from most important to least important.

3. Now applying the urgency of anyone task, plot the to-dos in the graph.

4. Use the graph to help guide which items should be performed first, and start cranking out some work!

 

5) Time Yourself

Motivation has been linked to the subjective sense of future time according to a Stanford University study on human development. “Amount of time left” is a primary trigger for different emotional states – lose track of remaining time and watch your stress levels rise. Timers serve the purpose of identifying the exact amount of time which remains. The goal here is that by staying on top of remaining time, you can prevent the high levels of stress associated with needing more. You know, prevent the “oh shit” moments.

There are multiple timers to choose from and most phones have a timer application already included. If you need something on your computer, Mac users can find MenuTimer in the app store, which sits in the menu bar, and sends an alert when the time is up. Orzeszek Timer is a great option for PC users.
 

6) Don’t Be A Procrastinator

Unfortunately, to the one in five people who are chronic procrastinators, deadlines have no effect according to studies by MIT and the National Bureau of Economic Research. Fuschia Sirois of Bishops University identified procrastination has its roots in self preservation. By putting off negative feelings towards the future, you can be happy now (e.g. ‘productively’ alphabetizing your magazine rack) while ignorantly hoping to be more in the mood for your paperwork later.

There are 3 key traits to identifying procrastination;

1. Openly welcoming distractions
2. Using excuses as reasons
3. Giving in to despair

To overcome procrastination, focus on the negative feelings which come from not doing a particular task. You can take this a step further and write “Because of Procrastination” on a Post-It Note and stick it somewhere visible to other people. Whenever a negative outcome arises from procrastination, add it to the list. You will not only be reminded of the consequences of procrastination, but it may motivate you to avoid adding anything else to that list. And well, start getting shit done.
 

7) Take Control of Your Email

Almost half of each day is spent on email related tasks. Taking control of your email requires making a few key changes to save time. We will concentrate primarily on Gmail, however these options are available in many email clients.

Conversation View

The conversation view brings each separate email in a conversation, both sent and received, and combines them so you can quickly view the message in context.

Enable the conversation view in Gmail by going to the icon (top right) and selecting ‘Settings’. In the General tab, within settings, change “Conversation View” to ON.

Organize It

Identify common themes in your inbox and put them into folders (labels in Gmail). Each particular ‘theme’ is different for everyone, but the principle remains the same. Working with different customers? Set up a different folder for each customer. This allows quick access to each conversation between you and that customer.

To create a new label in Gmail, click the icon (top right) and select “Settings”. In the Labels tab (next to General), select “Create New Label”. Now you’re ready to go label crazy.

Establish Rules and Filters

Rules and filters keep your inbox cleaner by automatically redirecting incoming mail to folders, sending canned responses (we cover that next), or marking it as read or spam. By using the rules/filters function, you can prevent unimportant emails from distracting you from work.

In Gmail, go the the icon (top right) and select “Settings”. Then, select the ‘Filters’ tab at the top and hit ‘Create New Filter’. The drop-down window allows you to identify different criteria for the message, and select ‘create filter with this search’ to identify the action taken by Gmail.
 

8) ‘Canned Responses’ in Gmail

Canned responses are essentially email templates in Gmail. They can be used for anything from thank you notes to press releases to status updates. If you don’t want it to feel as if you’re writing a formed letter to each of your correspondents, just make more room to add a personal touch at the end with each message.

How to Create Canned Responses

1. Go to the icon (top right) and select ‘Settings’.
2. Select Labs from the tabs at the top
3. Find ‘Canned Responses’ in the labs and Select Enable.
4. After Canned Response is enabled, select Compose to create a new email.
5. Write the body of your Canned Response (Be sure your Signature is not in it – That will show up later)
6. Select the icon at the bottom right of your email
7. Put your cursor on the ‘Canned Responses’ text
8. Select ‘New Canned Response’ and Create a Name

How to Send a Canned Response

1. Select ‘Compose’ (or reply)
2. Click the icon at the bottom right
3. Put your cursor on the ‘Canned Responses’ Text
4. Select the Canned Response you would like to send.

Note: These steps can be used when deleting Canned Responses as well. Just select the Canned Response you want to delete from the bottom of the list.  (source: getsqrl.com)

Jul 17

No more shoe boxes of receipts !

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Thursday, July 17, 2014

Receipt Bank is a fantastic add-on to Xero that makes the accounts payable function an absolute breeze. The MUBS team are big fans and users of the app themselves, so they know their way around it.

Imagine completing data entry for a bill by:

1)    snapping a photo of a bill or receipt with your smartphone

2)    touching the screen once to send it off to Receipt Bank

It really is that easy! Once you have submitted your receipts and bills, Receipt Bank, through a combination of cool technology and a great team of people, will enter them line by line, ready for one-click export from Receipt Bank into your Xero file.

Forget about keeping the paper copy (the ATO accepts scanned copies of bills for your records), save some trees and buy back some precious time to spend either growing your business or improving your lifestyle.

Pricing for Receipt Bank starts at $19/month for a single user account with a 75 bills per month processing limit.

Intrigued? Excited? Give us a call to talk more about how Receipt Bank will work for you.

Jun 20

Want to Increase the Productivity of your Business?

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Friday, June 20, 2014

Found this great article on the GeoOp blog. It provides some great tips for the business folk from the trades & services sector and wanted to share.....enjoy!


Many small and medium business in the trades and services sector such as plumbers, electricians, cleaning organisations and maintenance and repair services to mention a few, express the annoyance that they spend far too long performing menial tasks that bear little or no relation to the core process of the service that their business actually offers. For new owners, it’s particularly challenging as they’re suddenly expected to become accountants, HR managers and advertising specialists all at the same time.

We see this especially in trades and services businesses where often the business owners are spending their evenings and weekends completing paperwork and sending out invoices. For these reasons, it becomes essential to find ways to cut down on the time spent on these tasks and maximise the actual productivity of the business.

We’ve compiled some top tips on increasing the productivity in your business utilising some technology and changes in thinking.

 Embrace mobile technology and get your systems in the ‘cloud’

It is now possible to run your business from the palm of your hand using a smartphone or tablet device. Sure it takes some getting used to and perhaps a change to your systems, but so does working less and going on more holidays. With GeoOp you can easily create, assign, quote, cost and invoice all of your jobs from your smartphone or tablet. There are a number of other apps you can use to keep an eye on your business as well including accounting and invoicing apps, stock and inventory and CRM systems depending on your requirements. All of these increase your productivity and allow you to access up to date information in real time, from anywhere.

Invoice right now, yes now!

One of the biggest headaches for tradies is the financial side of the business. Especially managing the time from job completion, to invoicing and finally being paid. Making things like invoicing easy and enabling the capability for the business owner to be able to choose when they’d like to invoice with the instant availability of the job details and charges through a job management system like GeoOp enhances productivity. If you wish, you could really speed cash flow by enabling staff to invoice once the job is completed.

However, if you wanted to conduct any checks or you didn’t want your staff to see the final charges being invoiced out, you or an accounts person can invoice at regular intervals, as all the information is available on hand. Just ensure you set specific times whether it’s daily or weekly to ensure it’s done regularly. GeoOp integrates with great cloud accounting solutions so you can seamlessly have your invoices in your accounting system, saving you needing to duplicate the information. It also allows for your general ledger to be updated and your profit and loss reports done.

Take payments on the road

Talk to your bank about setting a mobile EFTPOS facility or if they have a payment app available so your staff and contractors can take payments and deposits while out in the field speeding up productivity. GeoOp integrates to payment solutions such as St George Bank and DPS Payments as well, so any payments taken out in the field are correctly reflected against the job.

 Outsource

Spending hours a month doing your books and GST, or are you missing opportunities to bring in new business because you’re out fixing up mistakes? Look at what you can outsource to so you can spend more time on billable hours and leveraging the time you do work to the fullest.

Automatic customer scheduling

If you’ve got regular jobs you complete for customers, you can create recurring jobs in GeoOp and set the frequency as well to save you time inputting them. You can also grant your customers individual login details to be able to input, edit and see the status of their own jobs. With website integrations available too, even new customers who have just found you can request a job. Enabling these features means increased productivity for you and your office staff and increased communication and transparency with your customers as well.

Talk less

Improving communication between team members and access to information on clients can vastly speed up productivity on the job. Often previous job history is needed while on the job and many phone calls are needed to find it. With GeoOp you can bring up a full job history of the client while on site and move onto fixing the problem straight away.

Get online

With majority of customers now turning online to find their next tradie, their local tradie or references for a businesses’ work, you must get online. Whether its through a website, social media channels, blogs etc you need to ensure its easy for your customers and potential customers to be able to find you and find out about you.


Jun 11

Xero helps you get paid faster - The stats prove it

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Wednesday, June 11, 2014

We all know what a great and fun tool Xero is to use to manage the financials of your business. 

Well, data now conclusively shows cash flow benefits derived from using Xero cloud accounting solutions. Analysis shows that on average Xero users have reduced the average time for invoices being paid by a whopping 15 days !

By following some simple rules, you can improve this significantly:

These are just some of the ways.....

The key message is "it's not hard",  so what are you waiting for !



Jun 05

7 Tips on how to Develop a Small Business

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Thursday, June 05, 2014


There a many things you need to do to build a successful business. Here are seven top tips :  

Must focus functions: 
1. Leadership & Direction  
2. Marketing & Sales  
3. Product & Service Fulfilment  
4. Administration & Finance.

Delight your customers. Focus on their needs rather than on getting them to accept what you have to offer. Surveys show that most customers change suppliers because of the perception that their current supplier doesn’t care about them. So focus on delighting them.

Get good people around you. This applies to mentors and mastermind groups - people with experience from whom you can learn, gather ideas and fast-track your success. It also applies to your advisers and to the people you employ as your business grows.

Work 'on your business, not just 'in' your business. It is easy to get so focused on the demands of delivering products and services that we ignore the other elements of building the business. Allocate time to work on things such as your marketing, strategic direction, planning, and both personal and business growth.

Learn and implement. We received an email from a client recently thanking us for introducing them to a Xero 'add on' because it dramatically increased their efficiency and productivity saving them $000's of dollars. The key message here is that they implemented the information received. Knowledge without implementation is just knowledge. Knowledge plus implementation equals unbelievable results.

Make sure that you have passion and that comes through all facets of your business

Remember that your business is a means to an end, not an end in itself. To be successful in business you need to lead a balanced life so don’t become so absorbed in your business that it becomes your life and everything else falls down around you.

May 31

Take Visa Without Paying For It – New Options for Online Invoicing

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Saturday, May 31, 2014


eWay PayThis surcharge on Xero's online invoicing

Last year Xero added the ability to take payments the moment a business issued its invoice through online invoicing with Xero Pay Now. Now payment providers are building on the service with advanced features that give offline businesses the advantages of e-commerce but without the cost.
eWay is the first provider to release a surcharge option called Pay This that lets businesses add custom surcharges for MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and American Express cards. The Xero user sets the amount for each type of card and the surcharge is applied when a customer pays an invoice through Xero’s online invoice portal.
Xero confirmed that eWay is the first provider globally to add this service and added that other providers would soon roll out their own versions.
“If you take PayPal and credit card on an e-commerce site you’re more likely to process a payment because the customer has more options. We’ve just brought that mentality to the Xero system,” says Trent McLaren, eWay’s “Xero ambassador”.
Surcharges present a neat solution to a growing problem. Businesses complain about high fees on card payments but customers often prefer using plastic.
Despite a proliferation of alternative payments systems, credit and debit cards remain the preferred method for making payments and are expected to make up three quarters of all point-of-sale payments by 2017, market research firm Javelin Strategy & Research has reported.
Businesses that help customers to pay invoices online are likely to decrease the amount of time it takes to get paid. “Instead of that eight-week cycle you’re (getting paid) in days, not weeks,” McLaren says. Even if a customer baulks at the surcharge for a credit card and opts to pay by direct deposit, “we’ve still done our job in terms of helping that customer improve their cashflow”, McLaren adds.
Xero claimed it had statistical evidence that online invoicing and payments reduce the time to collect on invoicing by nearly three weeks, based on analysis of four million invoices lodged through Xero.
Surcharges give businesses the flexibility that customers demand without paying the credit card suppliers’ costs, and they have received a lot of support in Xero’s feature requests forum.
“Partners and users want to pass that credit card fee onto the customer paying the invoice,” McLaren says. “It allows you to recover the cost of having an online payment system.”
The surcharge process is fairly simple. Payment providers can tell the type of card from the first six digits of the card’s number. Xero displays the surcharge on the online invoice’s payment screen in red and the customer is prompted a second time to acknowledge the surcharge before paying it.
eWay charges a range of rates that drop with volume and start at 2.9 percent of the purchase price plus 13 cents. The percentage can drop to 1.9 percent or lower by paying a monthly subscription of $49 a month and up.
This compares somewhat to PayPal’s 2.4 percent plus 30 cents standard merchant rate, which reduces as monthly revenue rises.
Online invoicing, online payment and credit card surcharges fall under Xero's Banking 2.0 concept. It builds on the work done by MYOB with its M-Powered Services which pioneered the ability to add a tearaway chit on the bottom of paper invoices to receive credit card payments. (This technology hasn’t yet yet made it across to MYOB Essentials or AccountRight Live !!)
eWay, led by technologist Matt Bullock, is pushing ahead with the Banking 2.0 concept. It has consolidated the admin and paperwork for businesses wanting to set up a merchant account for Xero Pay Now by handling the approvals process on behalf of the Xero user’s bank.
eWay’s next project is to add automatic late fees to invoices paid through Xero’s online invoicing portal.
Businesses taking advantage of this burst of innovation should see their payment timeframes drop as a result.

May 27

Is your business drifting along? 5 Ways to "Reignite" your Business

Posted by Mitch Uzelac at Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I don’t watch a lot of television, but recently watched a show called Kitchen Nightmares hosted by the infamous Gordon Ramsay .

If you are not familiar with the show, Gordon, one of the world’s best chefs and restaurateurs, goes into a failing restaurant with the goal of helping the owners turn it back to profit within just five days.

After watching a couple of episodes, it became apparent that he follows a simple formula.  Five steps which are universal and principles which can be applied to any business or industry.

So if you’d like to break through your business plateau and achieve greater heights, read on and consider putting these ideas into practice.

1. Get Re-Inspired

When Gordon Ramsay arrives at a restaurant, the business owner is completely flat, bereft of ideas and hope. 

Months or even years of hard work and dwindling profits have taken there toll and the owner is in complete survival mode and stressed to the max. At this point, Gordon could launch into ‘lets fix this’ and ‘lets fix that’, but it would be a complete waste of time, because you can’t achieve anything if you are mentally and emotionally spent.

So Gordon initially works with the owner to help them re-ignite their passion. He believes that if a business stinks it’s because the owner stinks, so that’s where he starts – from the top down. Often he will start with a basic question: “Why did you go into business?” 

When you are in a state of perpetual stress or exhaustion, you can't possibly expect to run at optimum capacity. No wonder you cant get inspired or excited. So if that’s you: stop now, take a breather, break and do whatever you need to do to get re-inspired. Think about why you went into business in the first place? What are the things you love about what you do. Get back to basics.....

Question : What can you do to re-ignite the passion for your business?

2. Own a Niche

Once the owner is in a more positive state and has restored some energy,  they can start to look at fixing their problems. The first step is is to clarify their niche. What’s a niche? It’s the position that you hold in someone else’s mind. The problem is, that many businesses try to play it safe and when they start struggling they go after any opportunity that moves. They try to be "all things to all people".

Someone says, “Do you do pizza?” And the owner says, “No, but we will tomorrow,” The owner then tells their chef, “Go buy whatever you need to buy because we’re making pizza.” “Oh and arrive two hours earlier because you need to prepare all of the dough.” Once this happens a few times you start to lose your edge. You go from ‘that business that does amazing food and great service’ to ’that restaurant that tries to cater for everyone but not very well’. This then spills over to the culture and 'feel' of the restaurant which looks sloppy and unstructured.

Gordon coaches "you need to stake your claim". “We’re going to be the most authentic Mexican restaurant in Sydney”. Then make all your food, decor and service decisions based on that claim, without deviating. Remember you can’t be all things to all people, so pick something you are passionate about and put all your focus and energy into it...consistently and stick to it!

Question: What's your niche? Is it clear and can customers see and feel it?

3. Trim the Fat

Once Ramsay has helped the owner to identify and own their niche, the conversation invariably rolls onto the menu ie the products they are selling. In almost every single case I have seen they are offering way too many things on their menu. In fact, one Indian restaurant was offering over 150 items. Gordon says, “We need to cut this down to around 12″.

As you can imagine this conversation goes down like a lead balloon, because it sounds crazy, right? And completely counter intuitive. But as Gordon explains, you can’t be remarkable if you are doing too many things. And remarkable is what you need to be because people can get "average" anywhere and what's more never go back.

Furthermore, with a smaller menu you can buy stock in bulk, preparation is much easier and meals get served a lot faster. The result is lower costs, better quality and faster service, which ultimately means a lot more profit.

Question: What can you 'trim' in your business?

 4. Communicate Effectively

Once the niche and products are nailed, the next major problem area to work on is People and Culture. After years of stress and financial pressure, relationships are usually at breaking point. Gordon normally handles this by getting everyone together.

He then goes through one person at a time and asks, “What’s going wrong? What’s broken? And how should we fix it?” Now whenever this happens I’m always amazed at the looks on people’s faces. They’re shocked, because they’re literally hearing everyone’s ground breaking wisdom for the first time. You think if a business was struggling they would be talking about this sooner, but in most cases, these owners have never bothered to ask anyone else’s opinion.

Once everyone has shared and the owner has really listened, Gordon encourages everyone to start adopting their new behaviours and work together as a unit, rather than despondent individuals. Over the next few days he keeps reinforcing and reminding people to speak up and to listen intently when others are doing the same.

Question: How often are you asking your team questions and 'really' listening?

 5. Create an Experience

With staff communication back on track, now it’s time to focus on the most important person in any business – the customer. Usually the business owner has been so preoccupied with his or her own drama they don't see they are coming across often cold to their customers and at worst, completely rude!

With their focus back on track, Gordon rallies the troops and tells the team, “We need to create a knock-their-socks-off experience for your customer.” This involves all of the things that staff know, but over time have forgotten or lost – things like being enthusiastic, eye contact, smiling and helping customers into their seats. Then once customers are feeling good, Gordon encourages them to bring alive the menu and continually ask if they’d like another drink or if they’d care for dessert. Clearly all factors that help increase the restaurants average dollar sale.

But ultimate true test is to create an experience that will make the customer want to come back and feel compelled to share with friends and family. Repeat customers and referrals – the life-blood of any business.

Question: What are 10 things you can do to 'WOW' your customers?

Final Thoughts

While Gordon is over the top at times  and the subject matter about restaurants, the lessons learnt are valuable and apply to any business or industry.

The biggest 'takeaway' for me is that every business is a reflection of the owner or 'leader'. It all starts with "me". Ofcourse,  staff have a role to play, but if they are not performing, it is up to the 'leader' to show the way, be clear and demonstrate the desired behaviours and mindset. Only then can we expect our staff to follow.

So try it. What have you got to lose? Follow the principles above and enjoy putting them into practice. You may be very surprised with the outcome !