The Importance of Managing Time Effectively: Setting Realistic Timescales and Other Tips
November 27, 2017
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Whether you're an entrepreneur or are employed by a large-scale company, time management is important. However, most people struggle to manage time efficiently and often get bogged down in non-essential tasks.

 

Without the ability to manage time efficiently, you will miss deadlines and fall behind on assignments. This will ultimately lead to unhappy clients/customers and increased stress. Thus, it is essential to master time management skills.

 

In this blog, we'll provide you with three tips for ensuring that you efficiently manage your time.

 

Start Early

 

Procrastination can damage your reputation and business. It's best to start early as this allows time for errors. Often people leave assignments till the last minute, which causes unnecessary stress and sometimes sloppy, inadequate work.

 

Try making a to-do list to keep yourself motivated

 

Break Large Assignments into Smaller Tasks

 

Breaking large assignments into smaller tasks help ensure that progress is being made. Sometimes, large projects may feel overwhelming and you may struggle to know where to start. Smaller tasks can make the project seem more manageable.

 

Try setting weekly or daily goals

 

Set Realistic Timescales

 

Setting realistic timescales or even overestimating deadlines can help prevent problems and delays. If you finish early, great – everyone will be happy. If you finish late, that could be the end of your career or business.

 

Realistic timescales also prevent you from becoming stressed as you won't be trying to accomplish too much work within a tight period of time. The above tips, such as breaking a large assignment into smaller tasks, can be used to determine a realistic timescale.

 

Try to complete the task two days before the actual deadline

 

Still struggling to manage your time effectively? For more useful tips and suggestions, check out some of our other blogs like our article on how to optimise your daily schedule for maximum impact.

 

The OM Team

How to Optimize Your Daily Schedule for Maximum Impact
November 7, 2017
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optimise

Optimising your schedule for efficiency is key. Whether you're balancing multiple responsibilities or tackling a stressful position, making the most of your working day can be a challenge. Thankfully, this is one subject that has received a ton of research.

Drink Coffee at 9.30 am and 2 p.m

Caffeine is an essential part of any workday. However, did you know that there are certain hours during the day that are the most effective for drinking coffee?

It all has to do with cortisol levels. Cortisol is a natural chemical that promotes alertness, which means that caffeine is most effective during periods of decreased cortisol.

Medical research reveals that cortisol levels typically peak about 30 to 45 minutes after waking. For most people, this means that cortisol levels drop at about 9.30 a.m and often they don't peak again until noon.

Most people also typically experience an afternoon slump around 1:30 to 5 pm. So, 2 p.m is the ideal time to have your second cup of coffee.

Take a Break

It may seem unproductive to take breaks, but research suggests otherwise. According to Science Daily, productivity dwindles after one hour so taking a quick break can help you to refocus. Breaks have also been proven to help sustain concentration and energy levels.

While most employees in the UK (the BBC reports 1 in 5), don't take lunch breaks. Lunch breaks have numerous benefits, not least of which include greater productivity, well-being, and job satisfaction.

Send E-mails in the Morning and at 2 p.m.

Research conducted by HubSpot revealed that e-mails sent at 6 am were more likely to be read, while e-mails sent at 4 p.m (just before the end of the day) had the lowest click-through rate. While different studies have reached different results, most agree that early morning and about 2 p.m are the best times for effectively sending e-mails.

Group Tasks Together

While it's commonly believed that multi-tasking increases productivity, this isn't actually true. A study conducted by the University of Michigan discovered that people were 40% less productive when multi-tasking.

It's actually more effective to complete similar tasks at the same time; for example, try scheduling next weeks meetings during a two-hour block. This will allow you to free up time for the rest of day to get things done.

The OM Team

5 ways to improve your business cash flow
October 13, 2017
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cash flow

Profit is always a top priority for entrepreneurs. Whether you're just getting started or are already established, you may be looking for a way to boost your cash flow. Cash flow is important as it allows companies to make investments and purchase necessary resources without delay. To help you boost your cash flow, this blog provides five top tips that entrepreneurs found most effective.

1) Incentives for Early Payments and Penalties for Late Payments

To encourage customers to pay their bills or invoices on time, using a payment system can be a good idea. Providing incentives for early payments can encourage customers to pay earlier, while penalties decrease the amount of missed payments.

As your company's cash flow depends on invoices being paid, setting up a payment system is essential.

2) Evaluate Old Contracts and Expenses

Established companies often have outdated and old contracts with suppliers. These contracts should be assessed regularly, including researching any recently emerged suppliers, to make sure you're still getting the best deal. There may be a company that can better meet your needs.

Similarly, any outgoings should also be assessed. There may be direct debits that you no longer need like that Spotify account or printing service. Eliminating these expenses can increase your overall cash flow.

3) Look for Ways to Improve Efficiency (Upgrade Material and Train Staff)

Another great way of increasing cash flow is by ensuring that both staff and equipment are operating efficiently. Old equipment can slow down the production process, which ultimately decreases cash flow. At the same time, employees may not be using the best or most efficient processes and as a result, may be wasting valuable resources.

4) Stretch Out Payables

While some suppliers are unhappy with bi-monthly payments, stretching out payable can help spread expenses across the month. Instead of paying all your bills at the beginning of the month, spacing this out can spread out expenses and ensure that you have enough cash flow for the whole month. This is a particularly great technique for cash-poor companies.

5) Determine the Best Areas for Investment

Analytic tools, such as Google Analytics, can be helpful for making smart investments. Through assessing the data provided on these platforms, you can ensure that money is being spent on successful marketing campaigns. This data also helps companies use resources efficiently, eliminate any unnecessary outgoings, and ultimately increase cash flow.

These are just some of your options for increasing cash flow. Ensuring that you have enough cash flow to last the month, is undoubtedly important and techniques that work for some companies may not work for all companies. For more business advice, check out some of our other blog posts for Opus Matrix.

The OM Team

The Importance of Sleep: Your Life May Just Depend On It

Are you feeling overworked and tired? According to leading neurologist Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, you're not alone. Sleep deprivation is a very real problem in the UK as roughly 66% of adults in developed nations fail to get the World Health Organisation recommended 8 hours of sleep.

The Harmful Impacts of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can cause numerous health and mental problems. In fact, sleep deprivation has such serious impacts on our well-being that over 20 large-scale experiments have conclusively confirmed that it can lead to an earlier death.

For example, an adult sleeping only 6.75 hours a night, without medical help, is only likely to live till their early 60s. According to Matthew Walker, sleep deprivation negatively impacts every part of your body. With nearly 50% of adults trying to survive on 6 hours or less of sleep a night, this is a problem that desperately needs to be fixed.

The Social Stigma Against Sleep

Why then is sleep one of the first things we sacrifice when life gets busy? Matthew Walker believes that the importance of sleep has been undervalued and there is a significant lack of information on the harmful impacts of sleep deprivation.

It also certainly doesn't help that Western society equates success to a lack of sleep. In Western society, productive and successful people don't sleep – just look at Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill's claims of only sleeping a few hours each night.

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

However, by sacrificing sleep, we are also sacrificing our well-being. Matthew attempts to communicate this message and challenge the social stigma against sleep in his recent book Why We Sleep.

Why We Sleep takes a thorough look at the benefits of sleep: better mental health, creativity, ability to lose weight, and even sperm count. It also presents information about the many drawbacks: increased risk of cancer and heart attack, impaired judgment, shorter lifespan, a greater chance of disease, and more.

Sleep deprivation is a serious problem facing modern society.

After reading Why We Sleep, you'll have a new perspective on the importance of sleeping at least 8 hours a night. Though if reading the full book may cause you to lose sleep, The Guardian's article The Shorter You Sleep, The Shorter You Live provides a good overview of the basic facts and messages within the book.

The OM Team

What’s the Most Important Thing to Focus on When Building Your Business?
September 20, 2017
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Surround yourself with skillful people

Starting a new business can be a daunting task. It's difficult to even know where to begin. Unsurprisingly, many budding entrepreneurs often start by asking: 'what's the most important thing to focus on'? Well, according to the co-founders of FoodStirs, surrounding yourself with smarter or more talented people is one of the most important things.

Surround Yourself With Skilled Individuals

In a recent interview with Entrepreneur Network, co-founders of FoodStir (a baking service for children) explained some of the benefits of surrounding yourself with skilled individuals. For example, co-founder Greg Fleishman stated that multiple perspectives are helpful for making sure you hire the best candidates.

From selecting potential candidates to creating new business plans, skilled individuals can be a great asset to the company. After all, as the common saying goes 'the whole is only equal to the sum of the parts'.

Retaining the Best Employees

Not only do skilled employees need to be recruited and hired, but they also need to be retained. Employee retention can be particularly difficult with talented employees as headhunters are often looking to swipe the brightest and best employees with unmatchable offers. One way of making sure this doesn't happen is by creating a strong and healthy corporate culture.

Creating a Healthy Corporate Culture

A recent article by Forbes argued that a healthy corporate culture is vital for corporate success. A healthy corporate culture can be defined as an atmosphere where all employees feel valued and work together.

As a result, this often leads to a number of corporate benefits such as increased employee retention and productivity, better quality goods and services, and even improved company reputation. It can also help to attract skilled employees.

Key Take Away

In short, it is extremely beneficial to invest in corporate culture as it is the employees that often determine the business' success. To ensure your company's success, attracting, hiring, and retaining skilled employees should be a top priority. The overall outcomes of investing resources to create a healthy corporate culture are well worth any expenses.

The OM Team

Juggling Motherhood and Running a Business
motherhood

Juggling motherhood and a career is something that I have recently spent a lot of time considering. While I am excited about becoming a mother, I am also worried about my career. I have very strong career goals, but also don't want to miss out on my child's growth and development. Entrepreneurship may just be one way that women (and men) can do both.

Things to consider...

There are many benefits to running a business. Running a business or freelancing allows great flexibility in terms of work hours and location. This means that you could work after your child has gone to bed or while they nap and from the comfort of your own home. However, on the other hand, it also requires that you can multitask and devote enough time and effort to both.

In order to successfully run a business and juggle motherhood, it is important to have a good support system. Whether it's your partner, family, or friends, a good support system is essential as running a business and motherhood are both time-consuming. You may simply need someone to clean the house during a busy week or care for your child while you attend an important meeting or meet a deadline. It would be impossible to juggle so many important roles without responsibilities occasionally conflicting.

While running a business undoubtedly has many advantages, there are also some disadvantages. Entrepreneurship comes with a certain degree of risk. You may not be able to predict your monthly income or may suffer financial setbacks. My father was an entrepreneur and growing up our family went through many financial highs and lows. I don't believe that children need to be expensive, but some financial security is required to meet their basic needs. Therefore, it may be best to have savings before starting a business or a partner that can help provide some financial security.

From a personal perspective...

From a more personal perspective, freelancing allows me to continue to pursue my career goals despite being heavily pregnant. However, one of my biggest problems is motivation. It can be challenging to be motivated to complete assignments after not having slept well or when there are a million chores requiring my attention. I have two tricks that I find particularly useful when I'm struggling with motivation:

  • Setting deadlines

I find it very useful to set deadlines (even for open-ended assignments) as this prevents me from waiting until the last moment. I also find it helpful to break longer assignments into multiple deadlines so that I don't end up overwhelmed. These deadlines help me to stay focused and accomplish my goals, while also juggling my other responsibilities.

  • Leaving the house

I sometimes find working from home particularly challenging due to the number of distractions (chores, husband, etc.). Thankfully, this can easily be addressed by leaving the house and working in a coffee shop or library. Leaving the house also breaks up rather solitary days.

Why Collaboration is the Key to a Successful Business
collaboration

Collaboration can take many forms. Whether its collaborating with other SMEs, between coworkers, or clients, collaboration has become an important part of many businesses' frameworks.

As the world has become increasingly globalised, businesses have had to adapt their methods of collaboration. For example, programs such as Skype, Google Chat, etc. now allow for coworkers located in different countries to work together on projects.

Collaboration is a relatively new concept and as a result many individuals and businesses are often hesitant about group work. Employees may worry that not everyone will contribute equally and other people may receive undue credit.

Equally, businesses may worry about having to address cultural conflicts and any associated expenses. Regardless, modern business trends have caused collaboration to become essential for meeting global demands and maintaining a competitive edge.

Collaboration Increases Efficiency

Working within a group can greatly increase your efficiency. If everyone contributes equally, it allows you to tackle larger projects in less time. Since everyone typically has different skills, it also means that you can play to your specific strengths within the project.

On the other hand, it also means that you don't need to try to master new skills as it is likely that another group member or coworker already has the experience to accomplish that specific element of the project. However, with everyone contributing their expertise, the project should overall be significantly stronger.

Collaboration Increases Flexibility

Modern technology has created a host of online collaboration platforms (Skype, Google Docs, Slack, etc.) that allow employees to contribute to projects – regardless of their location or working hours. As markets become increasingly international, a greater diversity of skills and insights are required for success.

These online collaboration platforms help employees to merge and share various ideas and skills that ultimately produce more effective campaigns or projects. In addition, these platforms have also been demonstrated to increase employees' levels of engagement and ability to be better informed.

Collaboration Improves Customer Satisfaction

Social media has drastically impacted businesses as they can now easily engage directly with customers. As a result, customers can now collaborate on marketing campaigns and business development.

Customers are valuable sources of information for determining the health of a company and can greatly influence the company's growth.  For example, identifying actively listening to customers can help companies to discover gaps in the market, fresh ideas for campaigns or products, and even to create content. Collaborating with customers can directly contribute to the company's success.

Here at Opus Matrix, we place collaboration at the heart of everything we do and our website offers many platforms to help you connect with other individuals. For example, our skillshare platform helps freelancers network and contribute their unique skills to accomplish larger projects or create businesses. Alternatively, our numerous online groups and projects are another great networking opportunity. Regardless of how you choose to collaborate, Opus Matrix helps you to share ideas and develop your true potential.

The OM Team

Five Essential Traits for Becoming A Successful Entrepreneur
5 entrepreneur traits

Have you ever wondered what kind of person makes a successful entrepreneur? Are entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs predestined to be successful? Or does their success hinge on traits that have been developed over time? Whether you're only just emerging onto the market or have an already established business, we explore the top five traits that most successful entrepreneurs possess.

Persistence

One of the most common barriers to developing a successful business is having to face constant rejection. In fact, some of the most iconic entrepreneurs like Henry Ford and Walt Disney went bankrupt before making it big. These failures should be viewed as opportunities to learn about what worked and what didn't work. Those that can undergo these hardships, learn from them, and come back stronger are far more likely to become successful.

Belief

In order to preserve, belief in both yourself and your product or company is essential. It motivates you to work through difficult and stressful situations and encourages you to take risks. Only those that take risks can challenge the status quo and significantly disrupt the market enough to reap the financial rewards. Risk taking is certainly not for the faint hearted and it requires substantial confidence or self-belief.

Bravery

Successful entrepreneurs must be daring and brave. Most people fear the unknown and unpredictability. Running a business is undoubtedly unpredictable. You may not know how much money you'll make each month or if certain risks will pay off or be devastating. However, every success comes with the possibility of failure. This can be incredibly scary and is all about controlling our response to the unknown. As Brian Tracey, career development expert, states, 'the key to success if for you to make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear'.

Creativity

Successful entrepreneurs must have the ability to 'think outside the box' to see novel market opportunities and explore uncharted territories. No one becomes successful by simply copying current products or services. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs, such as Nikola Tesla (inventor of the electric car and alternative power), are renowned for being able to see opportunities that others could not. Despite criticism, they were resourceful, brave, and determined enough to make their innovative dreams into a reality.

Resourcefulness

To survive in a competitive market and overcome challenges, successful entrepreneurs must be adaptable and flexible. However, this flexibility extends beyond simply a willingness to change, but should also include the ability to quickly discover innovative solutions. All companies and entrepreneurs will undergo a series of changes before becoming successful. These changes rely on creativity as well as the willingness to adapt or in other words, resourcefulness.

The good news is that all of these traits can be cultivated through hands-on experience, speaking with other successful entrepreneurs, or other learning opportunities. To get started, check out some of our related blogs such as 'It's never too late to start a business' or 'work smarter not harder'.

The OM Team

How do I determine whether I am capable of starting a business?
start a business

This is undoubtedly a question that many entrepreneurs wonder before starting their own company. Starting a company can be scary as it involves leaving behind the security of a salary for the unknown. On one hand, you get to be your own boss and may ultimately make more money, but on the other, it could end in failure. Many entrepreneurs unsurprisingly are filled with fear and doubt. However, there are certainly some things that you should consider before taking this step.

Do you have enough time?

A new business requires dedication. It may mean that you'll have to work unconventional or extra hours. Yes, even sometimes weekends and evenings. It will probably also require your complete attention. Therefore, if you're undergoing other major life changes, such as starting a family, it may not be the ideal time.

Despite the intense time requirement, you'll also need to make sure that you have a good support system in place. This support system needs to be able to help you achieve some balance so that, regardless of the long hours, you also have enough time to relax and avoid burnout.

Are you good at making decisions?

A successful entrepreneur must be able to make decisions – both large and small. Unlike conventional jobs, you'll be in charge of making all or almost all of the decisions. These decisions will greatly impact the future of your company and will involve some risks.

You should be able to consider all the potential pitfalls and benefits of a decision to ensure your company progresses in the right direction. Most successful entrepreneurs, therefore, can think analytically as well as creatively and incorporate both of these aspects into their decision-making process.

Not only should you be able to make smart decisions and have a clear vision of your company's direction, but you must also be able to make these decisions within intense or stressful situations. With the success of your company resting on your shoulders, stress will be unavoidable.

How well do you know your potential company?

Starting a business requires a great degree of confidence and belief. In order to remain confident in the face of criticism and rejection, thoroughly understanding the product or service you are trying to sell is essential. This understanding will also allow you to identify your unique selling point, which will greatly shape how you market and sell your company. It will also help you to identify gaps within the market, your target audience, and create an effective business plan. This doesn't mean that your direction can't and won't change. In fact, your vision and understanding should constantly evolve alongside the growth and development of your company.

Anything else to consider?

These are only some of the questions that should be considered to determine if you are capable of starting your own business. There are plenty of other questions and logistics that must be addressed before taking the first step and no business venture should be undertaken without careful consideration.

The OM Team

How to turn that Hobby into a Business
hobby into businessPhoto credit: happyskrappy via Foter.com / CC BY

It might seem absolutely crazy to leave a job in our unstable financial times but is there ever really a right time to change your hobby and passion into a career that you create and love?

No-one wants to have regrets when they are old and not have chased their dreams and passions. It is possible to turn your hobby into a career!

A recent study by YouGov released on International Women’s Day found that more women than men want to turn their hobby or passion into a career.  48 % of female respondents wanted to turn their hobby into a business compared with 39 % of males.  The fact that more woman want to work for themselves isn’t surprising with the existing traditional work structure, the gender pay gap and the nursery fees.

Like many people, you may dream of spending less time at work, more time to collect kids from school, less time commuting and more time enjoying your hobby.  Whatever your passion, starting any business is risky and we share our top 10 tips when taking the plunge into self-employment.

  1. Do your Research

Learn as much about the industry as you can. Get to really know your competitors. Check out their products, turnover, pricing and how and where they advertise. Find out how you can provide better or different.

  1. Take the time to name your company

Naming a company is something that is never considered for long when moving from a hobby to a company but it’s one of the most important decisions you will make. Search Company’s House to ensure the name isn’t taken. Check Social media Channels to ensure that these are available. Check to see if your website domain name is available.

Consider your company’s name in 5 years from now.  Does it allow for product expansion? Does it limit your location or offerings?  Think Big!

  1. Visit Business Gateway (https://www.bgateway.com/)

Business Gateway are a great source of information, no matter what type of company you are creating. They will advise you on any latest grants that are currently available in your area. These grants can change monthly so we recommend building a close relationship with your advisor.

You can also receive access to lots of free workshops and training support ranging from creating a business plan, tax, marketing, web design, networking and social media. Business Gateway can update you with all the employment and funding support provided by the job centre and local council for taking on any staff.

  1. Write a Business Plan

A Business Plan is a great way to write down all the thoughts in your head. A Business Plan can change daily but it is important so that everyone you work with understands what you're trying to achieve.  A Business Plan is required before applying for any Loans, Funding and Grants. Business Gateway can help you create a business plan and provide templates to start with

  1. Keep your day job until the Business has proved success

It’s so tempting to chuck that job and follow your dreams but the reality is with any business you need a constant source of money. Having guaranteed funds in your account is just what every new business needs.

The job doesn’t just provide financial help. Your place of work can also be a great place to network and sell your products. Word of mouth is free and this won’t be as abundant when you go freelance. Tell everyone about your business.

  1. Expand your Network

Once you have taken the plunge, Being an entrepreneur can get lonely. Networking is a great way to grow your business. Try to attend as many training events, workshops, conferences, and entrepreneurship groups to expand your network and get the word around about your business. It’s a great way to meet like- minded entrepreneurs.

  1. Get Digital Savvy

Every business should be thinking digital in 2017. Grow a strong social media profile on all major social media websites, including Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and Google Plus. Learn all aspects of Social Media from Facebook to Blogging at Business Gateway or You Tube.

Check out Opus Matrix too. Optus Matrix Is the Perfect Social Network for Female Professionals to seek exciting resources, new opportunities and collaborate with other inspiring females. Facebook and Linked In Groups are also a great way to connect socially.

  1. Work Hard

Do it. Go for it. Throw yourself into it. Don’t look back. Work hard, but be prepared to work more hours than you ever have in your day job. You will make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes and move on. It’s the only way you will learn. No-one else is in your shoes. Only you will understand your business journey.

9.Be Patient

Most businesses aren’t profitable in the first few years. It may take you years to pay yourself a salary similar to what you had before. Growing a business or brand can take years longer than you ever imagined.  Are you and your family prepared for that salary drop for the next few years?

  1. Don’t Give Up

Everything always takes longer than expected and it can be difficult to keep things going when you're not seeing instant success. Most businesses fail because: It got too hard; they were sick of being poor and were tired of failing.

Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs haven’t succeeded because they had the best idea or the best product. It was their sheer persistence in not giving up.

It might mean a pivot in your business. It might mean that you experience extreme lows to turn things around but as Rocky Balboa said “it isn’t about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”

Designed by women, particularly for women at every stage of their Freelance journey, The benefits of joining Optus Matrix are absolutely fantastic.

You can sign up to Opus Matrix now with FREE membership on all plans for a limited time only.

The OM Team