I’ve just returned from the Alysham Young Chamber Breakfast Event and I have to say it was a great one! It is lovely to see young people taking such an active role in local business and it creates the entrepreneurial drive that we need to sustain us. Well done guys, I really enjoyed myself.
On April 20, 2010 BP became the face of one of the most devastating environmental disasters since Hurricane Katrina. Various people and organizations have been quick to point out BP’s failures, but what have businesses been able to learn from the situation?
1. Poor leadership affects more than the company– Company’s become their product and consumers tend to view companies through their actions. Executives lead their customers as well as their staff; their decisions affect everybody their company comes in contact with. As a company you are your decisions so you must decide what is more important, the product or the profit. BP cut corners because profit is important in business; we owe them a thank you. Thank you for reminding us that quality is the most important service we can bring to our customers.
2. Honesty is more than just PR- BP has been extraordinarily honest about the spill, how it happened and why what they are trying isn’t working. I think that there is lesson to take from this strategy. Your customers want to know what’s going on; by being honest you can give information on the situation and tell your side of the story. You control the spin and in business, that’s a desirable situation.
3. Disaster Planning is something every business, regardless of industry, should do-Every business has valuable information to guard, whether it’s client information or intellectual property. The beginning of a good disaster plan should have these elements:
· Alternate location of client information and company files that can be accessed remotely.
· A plan of action for uncontrollable external influences. If it can happen to your company, you should plan for it.
· Clear understanding of who is in charge and how to contact that point person in the event of an emergency.
· Companywide exercises to prepare your staff. Drills are a great way to practice what should happen if something terrible happens.
· In order to protect their information, companies have to be vigilant in disaster planning and safeguarding information.
4. Cutting corners creates more work in the long run- The decision to skirt safety issues has created more work for BP and its leadership team. Instead of dealing with the safety issues, BP has had to deal with an ecological disaster. Is there an issue in your business that you have been avoiding, hoping it will go away? Deal with it, before it snowballs into something too large to handle.
As a business owner every situation is an opportunity to learn something about your customer, your industry and you. The best part about heading a company is controlling where it goes. Every challenge you face will teach you something valuable, just like BP.
Is Your Head in the Clouds?
Cloud computing is the next big thing in business, but what exactly is it? Why is it better than traditional computing? This article investigates cloud computing and what it means to small businesses.
Cloud computing has a few characteristics that distinguish it from typical computing. The main differences are:
• Cloud is completely done on the internet.
• It is being sold on demand. You pay for only what you use; as a small business that is a pivotal point.
• The services are sold a la carte. As a consumer, you are not required to pay a pre-packaged deal. You chose what you want to use and consequently use only what you need.
• Cloud can be fully managed by the providers.
Public or Private Cloud?
Private cloud aims to let companies choose which services to have in house and which services to have virtually. The downside of this arrangement is it is still a very expensive way to get an IT infrastructure in place. You will still have to spend the capital for the in house services and you won’t get a break on the IT Administrator salary or work requirements.
Public cloud has everything accessible from a virtual perspective. You have the option of Software as a Service (SaaS) where your vendor gives your company an IT infrastructure while allowing your customers to access the service from anywhere. Think of Project Management tools like Manymoon. Public cloud also brings hardware as a Service (HaaS). HaaS allows companies access to hardware that is virtually managed and hosted, to get a better idea think of Amazon’s EC2 or Google Apps.
So, What are the Benefits?
Cloud Computing is a big step forward for small businesses and can offer a variety of benefits. Some of the benefits offered by cloud computing are:
• Less capital required and less expensive maintenance costs.
• Better customer service available, both Microsoft and Google offer a 99.9% uptime on their cloud computing service.
• Cloud makes it easier to deploy security applications. Your entire infrastructure is remotely managed and updates and maintenance are easily handled.
• Greater employee satisfaction and flexibility. You are only using the products and services your company needs, so your staff is not bogged down with applications that you don’t use. Your employees can work from anywhere, helping you to create that ever elusive work-life balance.
• Easier to reallocate your resources. It becomes easier to see the bottom line and to evaluate where your resources should go and how to move forward.
• Ability to complete and deploy disaster planning. Having your IT infrastructure virtual makes disaster planning a breeze. You now have your client information and files in a secure, offsite storage center. If something should go wrong, that information can be accessed from anywhere.
Small businesses are usually behind the curve, but cloud computing levels the playing field. The ability to compete with the big boys just got a whole lot easier.
Shavit, Y. ( 20 Nov, 2006) Amazon, Microsoft web services edge toward direct competition with MSPs.
SearchNetworking Channel.com retrieved from http: search networkingchannel. target.com/news/article/0,289142,sid100_gci1230786,00.html
Wetherford, B. ( 27 May 2010). Time to kill the private cloud. IT News for Australian Business.
Retrieved from http://www.itnews.com.au/News/175953,video-time-to-kill-the-private-
For more information on Manymoons, visit their website at https://www.manymoon.com.
For more information of Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing, visit website at http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/.
A recent conversation with a my former college professors gave me the push for this article. In my line of work, you often hear business owners and executives talk about the need for their businesses to run more efficiently. They need to really focus on smart use of resources and to ‘do more with less’. This made me wonder, should businesses want to be efficient or effective?
Webster’s defines efficiency as an effective operation measured by costs and effectiveness as an efficient use of resources in terms of benefits. It’s easy to see why companies use the two terms indiscriminately. So really what’s what?
If your sole goal is to reduce the cost of resources (staff, money or time) then your goal is to be efficient. In other words you are looking to find the most cost effective way to run your business. If your goal is to produce a service or product that meets a very specific customer or industry expectation, then you want to be effective. Can the two terms meet each other halfway? I don’t know, but I think it’s a good goal. Before you try to implement any changes in your company, it may be worth asking
• What do you want to do?
• What do you need to do to be effective?
• What are you willing to give up in order to produce your products/ services quickly?
• Will your customers accept slower work for a higher quality standard or is speed a driving factor in their decision making process?
• Do you have enough resources readily available to accomplish your goals?
• How does your company measure quality and is it realistic?
• Do your quality measures reflect your customer’s expected quality threshold?
Sometimes companies are led down the path of efficiency by either internal or external forces. Sometime’s it’s both. In our current climate efficiency is something that companies innately run to in an effort to keep their head above water, but I think that it is worth asking if efficiency is where your company should be looking.
Every business across every industry has one thing in common: a business process. Understanding your business processes and the value they can bring to your organisation can mean the difference between providing a service and adding value that your clients can see. A business process can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. A business process is made out of all the steps it takes to produce your goods or services. Discovering where you strengths and weaknesses are can provide your company with substantial savings and can empower your staff to take ownership of the products and services you provide.
Where Should I Start?
• Indentify your key business functions.
• Use a critical eye to evaluate how to meet the needs of these functions.
• Consider any available alternatives and then ask yourself why you aren’t using them.
What Should A Process Show?
• When the activity starts and stops.
• What staff members or department is responsible for each part of the process.
• Where and how your suppliers and vendors affect product or service delivery.
• All of the supervisor/manager contact points.
What Does an Efficient Process Look Like?
• Consolidated tasks.
• Staff empowered to make and enforce decisions.
• Tasks occurring in a natural and logical order.
• Minimal waste.
While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a starting point that will help you make the most of your business.