Make a budget to follow your dream

Make a budget to follow your dream

 

You might not think so, but budgeting is one of the most creative things that you can do. Closing your eyes and making a wish is the way we humans dream.  Having a thought, making a plan and working the plan, makes our dreams or thoughts come true!   Budgeting is putting that thought on paper and if you are sticking to that plan, your dreams will come true.

I want to give some tips from my personal experience and years being part of many companies and their budgets.

There is still today a lot of businesses and people that don’t understand the reason why they have to have a budget.   I think it is because the definition for a budget, ”an estimate of income and expenditure for a specific period”, sounds so vague and uncertain.

But implementing a budget can change your whole cash flow issue and can be very rewarding, IF you are doing it correct and IF you are disciplined to stay focused on what you have decided.

 

Estimate your income

The first section of your budget is the income estimate.

Surely you must have something to work on, you can’t decide that I am going to do a budget with an income of R500 000.00 per month and you trust it will be there, no, you need to have previous sales history and projections to back a budget like that.

Whether you are working with actual stock or giving a service it is very important to make sure that what you using as a figure for your budget you can also verify.

A car salesman can’t have a budget of R500 000.00 income, if he has only stock of 20 vehicles and he knows his profit per sales is +/- R20 000.00 which will only give him a R400 000.00 income, IF he sells all of the vehicles.

A service person that is working per hour, can’t use an income of R200 000.00 and his rate per hours is R250.00 p hour. Even if he works 30 days in the month for 24hours a day he is not going to get to R200 000.00 income for the month.  Your budget must have a reason why you say you will be able to get that income.

For example, you work 10 hours a day at a rate of R250.00 p/hour and you know that with all the work you have, you will only be able to rest for 4 days in this month.

  • Days worked 26 days
  • Hours worked 260 hours
  • Total income for hours R65 000.00.

Your budget can’t be more than R65 0000.00 for the month except if you are going to get in another person to help and you can add more hours.

Rather make your income a little bit less, than committing yourself to expenses that is not going to happen at all.  Then you tell your bookkeeper “I told you a budget won’t work”

If your budget income is projected on actuals like stock, hours, capacity, and history of sales and not a thumb suck or wish list, I can assure you, the budget will work.

 

Plan your expenses

The second part of your budget is your expenses and I am sure I don’t need to tell you that if you have in your budget an income of R200 000.00 you can’t have expenses of R300 000.00!

There are different expenses on our budgets.

Monthly expenses:

Items like  telephone bills, internet service, rent, salaries and wages, fuel, printing and stationery, insurance and this can differ from person to person.

 These expenses are usually easy to budget for, because we have history and actual figures on which we can work our budgets.  Keep in mind situations where those expenses might increase for example, now we use more data for Zoom calls than Fuel for driving due to Covid 19.  Just take some time and think through your planning for the month and you will be able to see where there might be changes.

Yearly expenses:

Yearly expenses are expenses like your Licences on vehicles and also programs that we are using.

Instead of going into a panic because you have to have R10 000.00 one month for an accounting license renewal, budget it over 12 months and putting aside R833.33 per month and you don’t need to worry one month!

 

Saving

Now I have touched a very important part of budgeting, and that is the saving part and discipline part.   If you budget for a big expense or taxes or even a yearly fee, you need to keep that money in your bank every month as per budget.  The budget won’t help you, if you have that amount of money budgeted every month, but you are using all the money every month because it is available in your bank and when you need to pay your yearly bill…. the budget did not work.

Budget and saving work hand to hand.  If you are lucky to be in government you budget and they give you that amount of money that you budgeted for, for that month, but if you are in the private sector, you have to make sure that, the money you have budgeted for a certain expense on a certain time, will be available.

I find the best way to make sure you keep to your budget is open a separate savings or money market account.  Do transfers for the amounts that you know, is not this month’s expense, to that separate account, you can also earn some interest on that amount, if you choose the right account and then you know the money is not lying in the current account that you use for daily expenses.

 

Your wish list

The last part of your budget is your wish list.  I always keep a wish list apart from my budget to make sure that when good times are here and I made more profit than expected, that I spend it on the wish list items.  These are items that you know you need to better your work or service but there is no money available now.  For example, I have a printer, but would like to have one of those big printers that can scan and email lots of pages with a touch of a button.

Instead of wasting money on unnecessary stuff, keep to your wish list, and then you will eventually have everything you wished for.

 

As Abraham Lincoln said –   “The best way to predict your future, is to create it”

 

7 tools to help you delegate

7 tools to help you delegate

Delegating is probably one of the most under-used human resources available to us. If you are anything like me, I have spent years doing everything myself because I either don’t have the time to show someone how to do it or I just get on and do it myself because then I know it is done properly. But I have found that as the years go on and I take on more responsibility the same old problem remains – Time. There are never enough hours in a day or days in a week or weeks in a month. I just keep wishing for more time.

This is exactly what delegating does, it gives you more time. The freedom to focus on what you need to be doing and allowing others get the rest done. Let’s name this: Operation create a work force. Your work force will become your anchor. A space where you delegate tasks, ideas, meetings, projects with the sole purpose of making sure that everyone is contributing to making the pie. The problem we find ourselves in when we try to make the pie entirely by ourselves is that we end up with a dozen pies that are not entirely cooked through because we have spread ourselves thin and tried to give at least 80% to everything and 100% to nothing.

I was reminded lately that you need to learn to trust the process, pick a team, trust this team and begin moving your ship forward.

 

So where does one start?

Firstly you need to assess what you need help with, instead of making a to do list – make a what not to do list. This will help you realise what you will you be delegating – what these tasks look like and what their focus area is – administration, sales, marketing, projects, operations, finance/accounting, etc. By knowing what your focus area or areas are, this will allow you to know who you are looking for and what you are looking for in a candidate.

Secondly you need to hire a virtual assistant. This will allow you the flexibility to work at your own pace, and without the added pressure of office space. Your VA will be able to be molded to carry out tasks the way you like, follow policies and procedures that are in place, and be only a phone call away.

 

There are 7 tools and applications available to you that will make delegating easier

  1. Todist

Todoist allows you to keep track of your own tasks (personal and business related) as well as assign tasks to your team. Todoist also allows integration with Gmail that will allow you to assign a specific email to an individual.

  1. Asana

Asana allows you to manage your team, projects, workflow and processes all in one space. You can easily find out the status of a project, view setbacks and closed tasks, no matter where you are.

  1. Kantree

Kantree allows you to assign tasks, leave comments, track progress, and easily create reports.

  1. Zapier

Zapier allows you to create connections/integrations between 300 different applications. You will be able to assign ‘zaps’ automatically from one platform to any of the others, for example if you receive a social media alert in Gmail, you will be able to send a response immediately from Gmail, should you receive a new lead, you will be able to respond to that lead or assign it to another team member.

  1. Stepshot

For those that would rather not have to train someone because it would take too much of our time initially without realizing that in the future it could save us hours, stepshot is here for you. Stepshot allows one to record the steps to be completed in a process or how to perform a specific action and then share this recording with your teammates. This app will save you training time as the team member will always have a reference to revert back to, if required, and can easily be used when onboarding.

  1. Slack

Slack is a communication tool that will allow you to have group chats, individual chats and keep private notes, all in one application. One of the biggest advantages is that Slack allows you to create multiple channels that can be specific to a task, a project, a discussion, etc. and the ability to only have specific member assigned to various channels. This will allow decisions to be made quicker, to get information out faster and allow swifter turnaround time.

  1. Hiver

Allows you to setup shared mailboxes within Gmail which will allow you to easily assign emails to teammates, track the team member and the status of response, meaning that your company will never miss an email or an opportunity again.

Not only will delegation free up your time but any one of these applications will be beneficial to the process.   Remember delegation is key and if done right you can build a strong and successful team around you.

Will Virtual Sales do as well as Direct Sales?

Will Virtual Sales do as well as Direct Sales?

The global pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in virtual sales, but there seems to be a continuous divide when it comes to developing sales strategies for the future.   Can we   return to the classic method of face-to-face direct sales as soon as circumstances allow,  or joining the revolution of going full virtual.    What should we plan for in the “new normal”?

This time last year, I was waking up at the crack of dawn to brace the Johannesburg morning rush to get to my first client meeting in Pretoria. Today, I am working virtually for an American company. My first Zoom meeting is at 3 p.m., which is 8 a.m. Central Time Zone in Tennessee. I have gone from meeting clients in person every day, to calling and emailing them. Building virtual relationships with the time difference has been quite an adjustment, but I am enjoying not having to sit in traffic for hours. As someone with experience on both sides, this is my take on the two strategies.

The way I distinguish virtual from direct sales would be, quality versus quantity.

 

Direct Sales – Quality

Direct sales would be the quality approach. The focus is on face-to-face interactions. The value of the relationship between business and client is heightened because of the personal bond created. The client’s trust is built on meetings where informal conversations can lead to a higher chance of client retention. Even if the number of clients reached is considerably lower, because of the time taken to build the relationship.

 

Virtual Sales – Quantity

Virtual sales would be the quantity approach due to the access to a larger spectrum of potential clients from various industries, and the ease of contact via electronic platforms i.e. email. It is a great way to determine which industries to target and eliminate the ones that do not bring in positive metrics or sales. However, maintaining good relationships with clients can be difficult because of not having the face-to-face factor, and managing a concentrated customer base can create a lower chance of client retention.

To further differentiate the two sales strategies, I will use the 4 A’s model: Acceptability, Accessibility, Affordability, Awareness, and the selling of sweaters as an example for each.

 

4 A’s Model

Direct Sales

  • Acceptability – Why should customers buy our sweaters? Are they priced according to the quality we are offering? This component can be used in the sales pitch to potential customers.
  • Accessibility – Ensuring the store is stocked up with sweaters and positioned where customers can easily see and reach them.
  • Affordability – Are our sweaters priced to attract our target markets? How are the sweaters priced against competitors at stores nearby?
  • Awareness – Can customers see that we sell sweaters in our store? Are they visible on mannequins in the display window? Do we have a sign?

Virtual Sales

  • Acceptability – Why should customers buy our sweaters? Are they priced according to the quality we are offering? This component can be used in the product title and description on the website.
  • Accessibility – Having a website that is easy to navigate, and mobile phone optimised, so customers can effortlessly buy sweaters from any device.
  • Affordability – Are our sweaters priced to attract the desired target markets? How are sweaters on competitors’ websites priced?
  • Awareness – An email campaign, targeted at a group of potential customers to inform them about our brand of sweaters.

We can see from this, that the mechanisms of the 4 A’s in both approaches often coincide and have similarities.

Adapting to the current climate and adopting a sales process that not only protects your team, but also grows your business, is essential.

A combined approach of both sales strategies based on your company’s goals and objectives, would, in my view, be the most beneficial in these uncertain times.

Executive Virtual Assistants – This is How We Can Help You

Executive Virtual Assistants – This is How We Can Help You

A few years ago, Virtual Assistants were unheard of. Even two years ago when I started as a VA, I was asked “You are a what?”

Fast forward to 2020 and Virtual Assistants are taking on the world. The world is faced with a pandemic and now even companies who would never have considered a VA, are looking at their new world with new eyes and new ways of spending their resources. Time and money being the most prevalent. It has been shown that people can work from home and still get their work done, giving more faith in this system by producing the same results.

Smaller companies who do not have the desire nor the capital to rent office space can hire an Executive VA to assist with numerous tasks. This helps reduce overhead and HR costs as time bundles can be agreed on without having to deal with the stresses of employing permanent employees and adding to their head counts.   It will be very interesting to see how many companies evolve into virtual offices in this new world of ours. I for one would also like to know the positive environmental impact this could have.

The list of tasks an Executive VA is able to assist with is tailored specifically to each client. Below we look at 5 of the most common areas of assistance we are asked for.

 

5 Ways A Virtual Assistant Is Essential To A Virtual Office

Let’s be honest, if you’re running your own business and putting all your time and energy into making it a success, mundane administrative tasks don’t sound very attractive and although time consuming, they are imperative to running a successful business.

Depending on the type of company, these tasks can include:

 

Diary Management

Managing your diary as well as for other team members.  Scheduling, rescheduling or cancelling meetings can at times be challenging. Having an Executive VA do this for you takes the pressure off the organizer and makes meetings take place with no issues.

 

Meeting Management

Preparing agenda’s, information packs and compiling attractive presentations also requires you to spend a considerable amount of time to do these right! An Executive VA who has these skills can produce high quality work on your behalf. They can also help by taking and distributing minutes allowing you to get back to work.

 

Travel Management

Shopping around for a good deal on flights and accommodation takes time and patience. There are so many websites available these days and one has to find and compare prices to make sure you are not over paying for something and that you are travelling within your means.

An Executive VA is able to do all the research for you, they can make flight and accommodation bookings on your behalf and arrange any transfers or other travel requirements you may have. They can also ensure that deposits, if required, are paid in time and apply for visas if necessary. An added bonus is that you don’t have to rush or be disrupted in your day to check in online, this can also be done for you.

 

Company Representation

An Executive VA could be the company’s point of contact and working within the agreed parameters and proxies allows the VA to make executive decisions so that owners and team members can do what they do best, run their business. The VA can focus on building client and stakeholder relationships for the company while always being available to your customers.

 

Administration

One of the most important fundamentals in any business, however, still one of the most mundane parts of the job for any boss.

Following up on payments, making online payments, logging urgent calls are all small tasks but can take up valuable time. An Executive VA is able to assist with these tasks as well as other perhaps more valuable tasks such as compiling databases and reports, doing market related research, reconciliations and generally be the go-to person to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page and ensuring clear communication between all of them at all times.

The list literally can go on and on… and the benefits to you and your company can too!

 

The opportunities in staying safely at home

The opportunities in staying safely at home

I have stopped listening to the news and reading stories on the spread of the virus, infected numbers, businesses closing, staff being retrenched, and what is allowed at each level. Some would say this is naïve, but to be honest my heart just cannot take it. As humans we are built to want to help those that we can. We tip the car guards and petrol attendants, we give the waiters/waitress 15-20% and not only 10%. We buy extra food for the security guards of complexes and will always try and give what we can to the less fortunate, but during these times it is difficult to give when you do not have much yourself.

So, I have decided to rather focus on the opportunities during this time. Spending time we wouldn’t normally get with our children and partners. Getting to things around the house you have said you will do for years. Sitting down to finish that baby book. Finally organizing your workday, schedule and tasks. Finishing tasks you have not found the time for. And most importantly being able to switch off.

 

Enjoy your home

Just as we are built to want to help others, we as South Africans are built to work. It is inbred in us, every day revolves around what time to wake up to miss the traffic, how much can we get done in the prescribed office hours, what dinner will take the quickest to cook, then it is cleaning, laundry and prep for the next day to start it all over again, never mind the additional hours put in, in the evenings on emails and tasks that you just never got to during the day.

This driving work force, it still lives on, but within the four walls of every home, it looks a little different. There is the extra hour or two of sleep as traffic is no longer a problem-child, there is no hours lost sitting in traffic, struggling to get to the office to attend to emails and meetings. This time is spent cooking breakfast and enjoying one extra meal a day together as a family, some days it is attending to emails in your pajamas, exercising at lunch time and vacuuming at 16:00 before cooking dinner. The weight on my shoulders seems a little lighter.

 

Smell the roses

Not everyone has little people running around ruling their homes but, in our house, this is exactly what we have. Our little one is an early-riser, so our mornings start before the sun has risen and is fast-paced. Running and jumping and swimming and reading and snacking and eating and falling and climbing. I get tired just writing this, but these are moments that we normally miss, that we are not around to enjoy. Although it is crazy and some days, I feel the years I am losing off my life span, I wouldn’t trade it for getting back to the real world. I am starting to worry about how I am going to go back to the normal.

 

Do it now!

Before isolation it was a case of ‘why do today what can be done tomorrow’ so in essence it was never gotten to. The glass cabinet I’ve been meaning to reorganize has been done, the baby book I never got around to finishing, is almost complete, the meals I always wanted to cook – are finally being cooked, the painting project I wanted to start has started, and the book I wanted to read, has been read. The tables have all turned. The emails I can do tomorrow, the document can be reviewed tomorrow, the project can start tomorrow. And off course none of these missing a deadline but rather being done when you can within the required timeframe. The chicken seems to be running around with all its body parts for a change.

Everyone is worried and scared, industries are facing turmoil, turnover is at an all-time low, and every single person is doing what they can to not only survive but keep sane. During the time it is difficult to stay positive and to looks for the good in each day but all it takes is one thing a day. One task that makes you happy, makes you feel lighter. One extra hour spent with your little people doing something that makes them smile and laugh. Take 20min to have that cup of coffee outside with no cellphone or laptop. Finally finish the sorting of all your emails or finishing that one task that has been lagging at your side.

 

Everyday do something for you, something that makes you smile, makes you feel lighter.