Best Ways to Send Money to the Philippines

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Although industry leaders like Western Union, PayPal, and Moneygram have been dominating the money transfer scene to the Philippines, several startups are giving the incumbents a run for their money. Technology has gradually stripped these companies off of their long-held dominion of cross-border money transfers. These seismic changes, according to the World Bank, has saved developing countries such as the Philippines as much as $16B/year.

If you’re looking to transfer money to the Philippines, you have plenty of options now.

So… What’s the Cheapest and Fastest Way to Send Money to the Philippines?

The straight answer is: IT DEPENDS.

When considering what’s “best” or “cheapest” or “fastest” way to send money to the Philippines, several factors come into play. They include the following:

  • your current country of origin
  • the amount of money you’re sending out
  • your recipient’s preference of receiving the money\s currency (dollars, euros, peso or Bitcoin)
  • personal preferences of both sender and recipient (turnaround time, accessibility, pickup methods, costs, and customer service)

The crew behind Time Doctor created well laid-out tables comparing hidden fees, currency conversion costs, and the average processing time if you’re sending money from the US, UK, Australia, and Europe.

Your Options in Transferring Money to the Philippines

Whether you’re an overseas Filipino employee who’s looking for the best way to send money to your family back home, a foreign entrepreneur outsourcing local web developers in the country or a foreign firm with a local entity in the Philippines, you can explore the common money transfer options below.

The list is a mix of the most popular to newcomers in the money transfer scene in the country.

PayPal

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PayPal is extremely popular in transferring money from anywhere in the world to the Philippines because creating an online account is intuitively simple, fast, and of course, free. Having your account “frozen” for certain “suspicious” reasons is one possible drawback if you’re sending money through this route.

Also, keep in mind that not all banks in the Philippines support fund transfer from PayPal. It could take 2 to 4 business days for the funds to appear in the recipient’s bank account. Lastly, be on the lookout for the additional (often hidden) fees.

A Php50 fee will be deducted from the total amount for transfers to bank accounts of Php 6,999 and below, while it’s free for remittances of Php 7,000 and above.

Coins.ph

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Ron Hose, Founder of Coins.ph

Ron Hose, Founder of Coins.ph

Another efficient way for Philippines money transfer is Coins.ph. They make money transfer to the Philippines frictionless and accessible to everyone, even through the use of a smartphone! Based in Manila, Coins.ph is one of the easiest, and most convenient way to send money in the country.

 

Here’s what Founder Ron Hose has to say:

“With Coins.ph, employers can save up to 70% when paying oversea employee salaries by avoiding wire fees and costly forex charges.

 

They can send funds over web and mobile to all major banks in the Philippines and Thailand, as well as cash pick-up across 10,000+ retail locations.

 

With cash deposit facilities via partners across 30 countries, employers can conveniently add funds to their Coins.ph wallets and send payments directly to employees in their own local currency.”

Whether it’s for paying your employees in the Philippines, or for sending monetary gifts to loved ones, Coins.ph is a platform you can explore.

Rebit

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Banking on the fact that “no single corporation or entity owns the Bitcoin network”, Rebit offers low transmission fees when transferring money to the Philippines. Their how-it-works page provides an in-depth look of their rates and turnaround times.

In a Reddit post, one of the developers behind the Bitcoin-based money transfer method emphasized:

One important thing that we are doing with Rebit.ph is that we will not be making money off of the USD to Peso exchange rate and will be using the fairest published rate available in the market.

One of Rebit’s advantage is that their prepaid cards make Bitcoin withdrawal a breeze. If you want an easy and hassle-free method of transferring money to the Philippines, Rebit.ph is a good pick. 

Transferwise

LogoTransferWise

Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and CEO of TransferWise

Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and CEO of TransferWise

With backing from elite entrepreneur Richard Branson and developed by the same people who built Skype, Transferwise boasts of their extremely low transfer rates – 1% for transfers from the US in USD, 0.5% for most other transfers, and 1% for the Philippine Peso. This is definitely game-changing when pitted against other medium such as PayPal whose extra fees can go as high as 4.5% (currency conversion rates included).

According to Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and CEO of TransferWise:

“When you transfer money internationally, banks and brokers often hide the real cost so you end up paying more than you thought you were going to. They might say it’s ‘free’ to send your money, but they’ll then apply a mark-up on the exchange rate that they often don’t tell you about.
At TransferWise, we’re always completely transparent about the total charge and we make that as low as we can. We use peer-to-peer technology to get rid of hidden charges entirely, making us much cheaper and faster than using a bank.

 

We’re making sure that it’s our customers that benefit and not the banking system.”

Xoom

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As another web-based money transfer player, Xoom allows your recipient to receive the funds you send through its partner banks in the country ( BPI, BDO, MetroBank, and PNB) and payment centers. They also offer door-to-door delivery or cash pick-up.

 

Payoneer

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With Payoneer, your recipient gets a branded prepaid MasterCard and can withdraw the money on ATMs minus the steep bank fees. You can check their info page for businesses who are looking into paying remote employees. Like Paypal, we recommend verifying for hidden fees (for both sender and recipient.).

Western Union

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This option is ideal if your recipient wants to withdraw the funds instantly (money-in-minutes option). Additionally, with roughly 8,000 locations in the country, withdrawing funds is convenient. Money transfers (done via online transaction or in person by visiting agent locations) can be possibly sent to a bank account, Western Union location, or mobile wallet. Fees for each transaction will vary on the amount of money sent and your turnaround time preference.

Final Thoughts

As a business owner, there are many ways to transfer money to the Philippines. Thanks to the ever-advancing technology, plenty of online platforms allow money transfer Philippines to be done with ease.

What other money transfer methods have you used in the past to send money to the Philippines? Why did you choose that option? We’d love to know more about these options (and the rest of our readers as well!) so share ‘em in the comments.

5 Tips to Resuscitate Your Restaurant’s Dying Social Media Strategy

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Does this sound familiar? Your restaurant’s Facebook page has nearly 1K likes. You tweet whenever you feel like it.  People even post awesome photos of your bestselling desserts on Instagram. Yet for the past year, signs of revenue growth are nowhere in sight.

What exactly is going on?!

Asking people to like or follow your diner’s social media pages won’t give you the boost in sales that you’ve been hoping for. As a restaurateur, you have to be always a step ahead of the game in terms of social media marketing.

After all, dining out is a social experience in itself. After asking recommendations from family and peers, 8 out of 10 respondents will look for more information about a restaurant online. And oh, when Twitter recently struck a deal with Google and gave away their data to the search engine giant, your restaurant’s real-time tweets is now all over the search results’ front page.

The good news is you’re about to learn how to specifically leverage social media platforms to create a groundwork for your restaurant’s success. We outline the following road-tested social media tips for restaurant owners below!

1. Step back and reevaluate your existing goals for your restaurant.

What are you using social media for? Would you like to build a solid following? Or announce a change in the menu? Perhaps, you’re keen on cultivating relationships with existing fans and followers? No matter where you are in the customer journey cycle, a clear social media marketing goal is critical.

2. Establish a clear, distinct brand voice and be consistent with it across all platforms.

In her book Renegades Write the Rules, social media evangelist Amy Jo Martin wrote “People don’t connect with logos and taglines; they connect with other people. So you have a choice: build a business that doesn’t truly connect with its intended audience, or build one that does. The number one branding question today is not, ‘What is your brand?’ but rather, ‘Who is your brand?”

And if millennials make up a huge chunk of your target customers, all the more reason to get your act together and aim for consistent branding across channels. A survey by SDL asked roughly 1800 millennials about their purchases during the first quarter of 2014. The key findings, from the perspective of social media branding, is that these young consumers glide from one channel to another and more than half (60 percent) expect a consistent brand voice in all platforms, whether online or offline.

3. Ask and ye shall receive!

You’ve increased your likes, fans, or followers by 200 percent for the past month! Now what? The next step is to gather insights from these people and gain a better understanding of their needs and preferences.

Fortunately, with social media, you can be creative in your customer surveys! “Would you be interested in (insert new dish here or a possible promo)” is one simple yet effective way to solicit market perception on a campaign or idea you’re considering. The information you’ve gathered will act as your foundation for future marketing campaigns such as running a contest (which we discuss below) or coming up with your target marketing persona.

4. Figure out your restaurant’s target persona.

What’s a target persona? The folks at Buffer did a great job in explaining target personas in marketing. Imagine what it’s like to be your target prospects and customers. Are they young professionals? This is more likely if you have a coffee shop that is a short walk away from the business district. Or if you’re a vegan restaurant, yogis will fit your target persona more than Crossfitters. Often, crafting your target persona involves surveys, interviews, educated guesses, and competitor research.

Generally, a fictional marketing persona should provide a glimpse of your real customer base. Once you have a couple of personas in your toolbox, you can already proceed with your social media campaigns.

5. Run social media contests!

Who doesn’t want a freebie? Everyone does and social media platforms are the perfect venues to hold a contest. If you’re kinda on the fence about social media contests, these statistics from Hubspot prove that contests are a huge boost to customer engagement and carving out a loyal following:

  • Contests can increase new audiences by 34 percent on average
  • A third of entrants don’t mind receiving email updates from participating brands
  • Running your contest on mobile increases the number of entrants by eight times
  • Sweepstakes (e.g. Instant Win apps) is the most effective way to hold a contest if your goal is to increase fan base (entrants can turn into subscribers) while photo contests work best if you wish to boost customer engagement.

By and large, a social media contest can provide you with these two game-changing benefits:

  • Whether you get 50 or 500 entries, contests will generate buzz and drive people to your restaurant’s social media page.
  • Once you have this people’s attention, you can collect valuable data (such as email addresses for future newsletters or mobile phone numbers for weekly special reminders) from the entries. Be careful not ask for too many details though.

The Takeaway

By following the above-mentioned steps, you are more likely to increase fan base and engagement via your restaurant’s social media platforms. Stay posted for more of these tips!

Do you have social media insights to share? Or have you tried the steps we suggested? Let us know in the comments section below! 

44% of Small Business Owners Are Not Financially Literate

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Modern day entrepreneurs and small business owners are touted as the new Renaissance men.

For one, Examiner.com hailed Elon Musk as the next Leonardo da Vinci. Meanwhile, serial entrepreneur Creel Price, considered one of the most brilliant business minds of our times, founded what he referred to as the Entreprenaissance movement. He believes that we are in the throes of a similar renaissance or revival of the entrepreneurial spirit, with small businesses thriving more than their corporate counterparts.

The unfortunate reality is that many of these modern Renaissance men have a flimsy foundation in terms of financial literacy.

Weak Financial Literacy Among Entrepreneurs

Small business owners and solopreneurs of the 21st century may have the most profitable idea or even the grit to persist after multiple setbacks and failure. Yet, weak financial literacy is one of the top reasons why small businesses don’t make it during the first couple of years.

Last year, The Financial Post reported the findings of an Intuit Canada survey on small business owners and their knowledge of financial basics. Below are the main points of the survey:

  • 44% of small business owners have below average financial literacy skills and only 18% could be considered above average.
  • Statistics Canada data shows that 85% of startups make it through their first year but only 51% survived for five years.
  • 8% of entrepreneurs make their debut with less than $5,000, mostly funded out of their own pocket in the form of personal savings, credit cards, and lines of credit.

In the same vein, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants have the following key findings in their 2014 report on financial literacy among entrepreneurs worldwide:

  • Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and particularly informal businesses or SMEs in emerging markets, face significant financing constraints that undermine their contribution to employment, productivity growth and innovation.
  • At 8–14% per annum, business mortality rates are substantial even in the developed world and were still on the rise until recently (OECD 2013b). An entrepreneur’s’ lack of financial capability is often portrayed as part of the reason for the substantial churn in the sector (New Vision 2011), even though many business exits are arguably not ‘failures.’
  • After controlling for other relevant variables, self-employed individuals in a sample of developing countries (Armenia, Colombia, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey and Uruguay) performed worse than the general population on standardized assessments of their ability to monitor expenses, to budget, and to live within their means.

Financial-literacy-for-small-business-owners

Expert – Approved Financial Advice for Small Business Owners

Sure, there are hundreds of financial tips out there to help small business owners navigate the treacherous financial waves.

In a recent study by IGF Invoice Finance, it was found out that a third of the businesses they surveyed rely solely on Google and social media for sound financial advice instead of talking to experts. “Without (expert) advice, SMEs simply cannot make an informed decisions, and in business an uninformed decision is often a wrong decision,” said Tracy Ewen, managing director of IGF Invoice Finance.

The main takeaway of the report is to seek guidance from organizations and licensed professionals who know exactly what they’re talking about when dispensing financial advice, such as investment tactics or how to identify permanent assets.

Once you have set up an appointment with a financial advisor, you can also count on the following practical and expert-approved tips that we have curated from highly reliable sources:

  • Get to know the basics. Start with the basics to understand your accountant or financial advisor’s language. Learn how to read balance sheets, income statements, and inventories. Understand the cash flow and supply chain process.
  • Stop treating your enterprise as your personal piggy bank. This is one of the most common pitfalls of new small business owners. Often, they overlook the fact that what they have in the bank has nothing to do with their own spending power. Several experts recommend paying yourself a fixed monthly salary and to learn to live within those figures.
  • Have a separate business account. Aside from resisting the temptation to spend your business finances for personal matters, this will help prevent confusion once tax season kicks in.
  • Practice the lean methodology. Here’s what financial advisor Barry Glassman has to say about it in The Forbes:

Companies like Starbucks or Proctor and Gamble test new concepts on smaller markets before launching their products worldwide. Small companies can learn from this approach. Develop a prototype to get the product out, launch it in smaller markets, test it, get feedback, pivot, and then refine it.  By using this cost-effective process, you’ll have a refined product or service designed to the taste and needs of potential clients because they told you what they liked and wanted along the way.

 

  • Determine your business priorities. Growth happens when you have direction. What do you want to accomplish in the next 12 months? Do you want to expand with franchises? Or maintain the existing company size but come up with new products? Identifying your specific goals will also help you set a clear-cut business budget.
  • Embrace (rather than resist) technology. Financial management tools and payroll inventory software can make your life easier as a business owner. These technological advancements have even made it possible for both employees and employers to work effectively and be location-independent at the same time.

The aforementioned list is just the tip of the iceberg! We’re eager to hear your opinion and thoughts about advancing financial literacy among small business owners too.

The Dark, Ghastly World of Manual Scheduling and Attendance

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Psst! Are you still using punch cards, time clocks, or any other form of manual scheduling to track employee attendance and schedule? If you are, we have bad news.

Sit down for a minute and consider the following statistics:

  • A full 95 percent of employees steal from their employers through time theft. More than 30 percent of these employees perform time theft by writing in earlier arrivals or later departures, or having a co-worker clock them in or out,  – 2013 survey, Kessler International
  • Buddy punching accounts for 2.2 percent of gross payroll losses – Nucleus Research
  • Businesses lose an average of 4.5 hours per week per employee in time theft – that’s more than half the amount you pay for a regular employee in a day. – American Payroll Association
  • Each year it costs companies an average of $65 per employee to collect, calculate and enter payroll data. Unauthorized overtime adds yet another $292 per employee, and mistakes in time calculation and employee fraud combined cost an additional $430 per employee. Therefore, manual timekeeping methods cost companies an average of $787 per employee annually. – G&A Partners

The aforementioned figures are worth pondering, right?

Now let’s dig further into the dark, ghastly world of manual scheduling and attendance.

Behold the TERRIBLE TRIO!

The Deceitful Paper-Based Time Sheet

Paper-based scheduling and attendance can be as simple as jotting down everyone’s name in one column and putting in the number of hours they’ve done in a week on another column. Often, login and logout times are jotted down too. It sounds uncomplicated but here’s why this method is outdated:

  • Reconciling time sheets, accounting for vacation leaves and overtime, and adjusting schedules takes a lot of time! What if the staff doubles in number for the next six months? The horror!
  • There’s a lot of room for error, whether intentional or not. Garbled handwriting, anyone?
  • Since it’s taking you forever to go over the time sheets, pay is most likely going to be delayed. Delayed pay means unhappy employees which, of course, leads to a decline in productivity.
  • It’s not shareable. Sure, you can have neat photocopies of the time sheets but at the end of the month, most of them are lost or mangled into pieces.

The Abominable Manual Time Clock

Many businesses still stick to the manual time clock because of its low cost. In comparison to time scheduling software, it’s obviously less expensive. But really, how certain are you that the time clock is saving your business money?

It could take a few seconds for an employee to punch in and out, yet much time is required to record and compile the raw data. In short, you need to hire an extra pair of hands to do all these things. The funds that you supposedly save goes into the daily wage of the employee who collects and processes the data.

Next, you could be paying for work that isn’t done in the first place! Enter buddy punching. It’s not common for one of your employees to text a co-worker to kindly clock in for him because he may be running late for work. Or worse, someone from production got a nasty hangover last night, can’t get to work, yet one of the team members clocked in for the absentee today because they’re BFFs.

And there’s the costs of time cards. It may look insignificant at first but the monthly costs could quickly add up, particularly if you’re adding more employees.

Lastly, like it’s deceitful sister – the paper-based time sheet, the manual time clock is a vast magnetic field for errors.

The Sinister Spreadsheet

What’s so sinister about the humble Excel spreadsheet?

Let’s talk about dueling spreadsheets. While there’s no princess to be saved nor kingdoms to be claimed, dueling spreadsheets can be a waste of time, money, and effort in the long run. This occurs when multiple versions of the same spreadsheet do not reconcile with each other.

This Smart Data Collective post explains dueling spreadsheets well:

It happens because the data in a desktop spreadsheet is not bound to a single source that everyone is working from. It may be a single source, but the data may be collected at different times. There may be changes to formulas or additions or deletions that take place, and not everyone is on the same version. This is what happens when spreadsheets are used in repetitive, collaborative enterprise processes.

Research by Ventana on the dueling spreadsheets scenario revealed that 43 percent of their respondents reported that it happens frequently or all of the time, and one-third (31%) find it happening for the most important process that utilizes spreadsheets.

Despite these findings, organizations continue to embrace spreadsheets because “they seem to believe that, like the weather, you can complain about these issues but you can’t do much to change the situation.”

Put an End to the Terrible Trio of Manual Scheduling and Attendance!

Now that we’ve revealed the evil ways of the terrible trio, the PayrollHero team would love to help you prevent the above mentioned pitfalls!

Our ridiculously client-focused approach guarantee that we’ll be with you as you battle your way out of the dark, ghastly world of manual scheduling and attendance. Isn’t it about time that you seek an automated time and attendance system that provides real value for what you’re paying for?

Get in touch with us today and we’ll help your business transition quickly to a seamless time and attendance management system!

 

5 Legit Reasons Foreign CEOs Should Start a Business in the Philippines

5 Legit Reasons Foreign CEOs Should Start a Business in the PhilippinesTwo weeks ago, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda announced that the Philippines jumped five notches higher in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report for 2015. Lacierda attributed the economic boost to innovation, institutions, and macroeconomic environment.

Meanwhile, a Bloomberg report earlier this year indicated that the country’s economy in 2014 grew by 6.1 percent, making it the world’s second fastest growing economy, next to China’s who went up by 7 percent. These recent figures are proof that the country has tremendous potential for both foreign and local businesses who are looking into opening or expanding their operations.

In 2013, we asked David Elefant, owner of Dayanan Business Consultancy to share his thoughts about doing business in the Philippines. His contribution was a gem for foreign CEOs who wanted to do business in the country but found themselves at ground zero.

Why Choose the Philippines for Your Next Business Venture

This year, we compile a solid list of reasons why foreign CEOs should choose the Philippines for their next business venture!

Business registration is a breeze

Horror stories of bureaucratic red tape are fortunately dwindling in number! For non-locals, registration approval roughly takes fifteen (15) working days from acceptance of your documents. We suggest you bookmark this helpful list of requirements before you march your way into the appropriate offices. Or you can enlist the help of experienced business consultancy firms.

Locals speak excellent business English

In 2012, the Philippines was the world’s top country in business English proficiency. This is a result of reinforcing English as medium of instruction for both public and private schools in the the country. Furthermore, the newly-implemented Enhanced K to 12 Basic Education Program (K-12 Program) underlines the country’s commitment in advancing the nation’s education system. Additionally, the country’s literacy rate is currently at 97.5 percent.

A liberalized, trade-oriented economy

The Philippines allows for a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) investment scheme which most of its neighboring countries emulate. This guide by the Philippine Embassy in Netherlands explains the BOT scheme succinctly:

Government corporations are being privatized and the banking, insurance, shipping telecommunications and power industries have been deregulated. Incentive packages include the corporate income tax, reduced to a current 32%, with companies in the Special Economic Zones are subject to only 5% overall tax rates. Multinationals looking for regional headquarters are entitled to incentives such as tax exemptions and tax and duty-free importation of specific equipment and materials.

Young, educated, and globally competitive workforce

While Japan, Germany, and Italy are worried about their aging working class, the Philippines’ young workforce sustains the country’s attractiveness to foreign investors. 

National Competitiveness Council private sector co-chair Guillermo M. Luz considers this as a sign that the country will become, in his words, a very good investment site well beyond 2030. On the other hand, neighboring Asian countries such as China, South Korea, and Hong Kong, this report noted, will soon face a greying workforce which could potentially slow down the nations’ economic growth.

Last August, Oliver Segovia also pointed out in this Harvard Business Review article that a profound shift in the mindset of the younger workforce has pushed the country into steady economic growth.

“Traditionally, business process outsourcing was associated with high-volume, low-price work. Today, the mainstream appeal of Silicon Valley is turning young Filipino workers who might have been satisfied with a call center job a decade ago into a creative and entrepreneurial class seeking a deeper connection with innovation-driven and mission-focused companies. Working for a venture-backed start-up is the new status symbol,” Segovia wrote.  “As a startup founder, my biggest competitors in the talent market are no longer the local family conglomerates. They’re tech companies from the U.S., Germany, Singapore, and Japan coming to the Philippines.”

Low costs of living

Data collected between July 1, 2013 to Jan. 2, 2015 revealed that the Philippines is one of the world’s cheapest countries to live in.  The living costs for the countries surveyed were measured against that of New York City, touted as one of the most expensive in the world.

After Manila was recently considered as a costlier city for expats by Mercer’s 2015 Cost of Living Survey, several foreign entrepreneurs have opened operations  outside the nation’s capital.

Here’s an excerpt from a Tech in Asia article:

While Makati City, which is home to startup cluster Area 55, was identified as the most economically competitive region in the Philippines, cities outside Metro Manila had a very good showing. The CMCI ranked their economic competitiveness according to three equally weighted pillars, including economic dynamism, government efficiency, and infrastructure.

By these measures, five of the cities in the top ten most economically competitive were located outside the National Capital Region. These were Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao, Naga City in Bicol, Davao City in Davao, Iloilo City in Western Visayas, and Cebu City in Central Visayas.

Warm, Hospitable Locals

The country is globally known for its abundant supply of sun, sand, and sea! The warmth of the tropics also extends to its people who are equally open and hospitable to foreigners! As one of the happiest nations worldwide, foreign CEOs will find themselves working with accommodating, resilient, and endearingly kind locals. And who wouldn’t want a happy workforce? Happy employees are in fact more productive!

In conclusion, the Philippines has a perfect balance of happy, hardworking locals, low costs of living, and a competitive economy. All these elements can work to your favor as a foreign CEO who is looking into starting a business in the country.

Still curious about what it’s like to set up a business in the Philippines? Get in touch with the PayrollHero team for more insider info.

And if you’re looking into setting up a restaurant in the Philippines, this FREE starter kit was put together to give you high level information about the Philippines, share some thoughts from restaurant owners, and present relevant statistics from our market research.

You’re welcome!

Get Everything Done as a Small Business Owner (And Still Appear Calm and Cool)

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Not having enough time is a struggle that many small business owners deal with.

It’s that overwhelming feeling of trying to tackle everything in your to-do list but you feel like time is racing against you too. Before you know it, dusk has settled in (or dawn if you’re a night owl) but you have nothing tangible to show for it.

Where did all the time go?!

Working long hours to accomplish each task you’ve set yourself for the day is not the solution. We outline three science-backed, actionable steps to leverage the 168 hours you’re given in a workweek.

With this, you can stop feeling you don’t have enough time, and eventually get things done. NO SUPER POWERS REQUIRED

Forget about managing time. Focus on your energy instead.

This may sound counterintuitive at first. Yet there’s actually a science to it. Tony Schwartz, CEO and founder of The Energy Project and co-author of The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy Not Time suggested a different approach to productivity in this Harvard Business Review article.

“The core problem with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy is a different story,” Schwartz pointed out.

Working on The Energy Project, Schwartz and his team consulted with business leaders and owners, and evaluated their time-management efforts in parallel with their productivity. In their findings, they found out two fine points that are actually hurting one’s productivity:

  • Multitasking
  • Infrequent breaks within the day

Multitasking, according to Schwartz, slows you down. “A temporary shift in attention from one task to another—stopping to answer an e-mail or take a phone call, for instance—increases the amount of time necessary to finish the primary task by as much as 25%.”

Instead, he recommends taking ultradian sprints – being fully focused for a specified amount of time and taking breaks in between these specified time blocks.

This approach is grounded on human physiology. Psychophysiologist Peretz Lavie referred to it as “ultradian rhythms,” or natural cycles that take place within the 24-hour sleep wake cycle. In a nutshell, humans have 90 to 120-minute cycles during which we gradually shift from a high-energy state into feeling burned out. This is why taking frequent breaks are crucial.

In another Harvard Business Review post last year, author Ron Friedman examined why foregoing breaks at work is a recipe for disaster:

Studies show we have a limited capacity for concentrating over extended time periods, and though we may not be practiced at recognizing the symptoms of fatigue, they unavoidably derail our work. No matter how engaged we are in an activity, our brains inevitably tire.

Still not convinced? Ferris Jabr of The Scientific American laid out several studies in this in-depth look of how frequent breaks can actually help you regain attention, be more creative, and improve your decision-making skills.

The Action Plan

Devote all your attention and focus to a specific task for a certain time block such as responding to emails or crunching out your team’s current payroll.  Figure out what works for you – experiment on 30, 60, or 90 minute intervals – and ride the waves of your own ultradian rhythm rather than go against the flow.

Next, step away from your work to do non-work related tasks for a specific period of time too. Logging in to Facebook doesn’t count! Why not have a short chat with one of your employees? Or play foosball with the team?

In hindsight, not all hours were created equal. Therefore, it is best to schedule your tasks based on when you are feeling the most energetic and engaged!

Sketch out your ideal work week.

As a small business owner, planning things ahead is most likely second nature to you. Yet apart from scheduling meetings or outlining what needs to be done for the entire work week, have you thought about designing your ideal week?

Michael Hyatt, author of the New York Times bestseller Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World wrote in this short yet succinct post:

Sure, you can’t plan for everything. Things happen that you can’t anticipate. But it is a whole lot easier to accomplish what matters most when you are proactive and begin with the end in mind.One of the ways I do this is by creating a document, I call “My Ideal Week.

The Action Plan

Hyatt suggested that it’s like drafting your weekly budget, but instead of allocating your finances, you are planning out how you will spend those 168 hours you have in a week.

But structures are supposed to hinder creativity, right? Well, it turns out that small business owners like you need a system in place to empower yourself into regaining focus.

Georgetown University professor Cal Newport who runs a blog on productivity has this response:

Sometimes people ask if controlling time will stifle creativity. I understand this concern, but it’s fundamentally misguided. If you control your schedule: (1) you can ensure that you consistently dedicate time to the deep efforts that matter for creative pursuits; and (2) the stress relief that comes from this sense of organization allows you to go deeper in your creative blocks and produce more value.

Newport further explained:

A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.

By and large, you are less likely to get frazzled once Monday kicks in because you have already made the decision by designing time blocks (including the breaks in between) in your calendar within the week

Delegate and automate.

You can be the most awesome small business owner in the world but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re also the most prolific blogger, most proficient accountant, or the most welcoming receptionist.

In a survey of small businesses, it turns out that “day-to-day store operations” is the most time-consuming task identified by the owners and managers.

So how do you  go about your mission to gain new customers or forge meaningful relationships with your existing clientele if you’re busy with the day-to-day store operations? Impossible, right?

The Action Plan

Do more of the things that you are good at and quit wearing multiple hats. You can either delegate accounting functions to an independent contractor or start automating payroll and inventory management tasks.

It all boils down to embracing newer technologies to find more time for the things that truly matter to your small business.

The Bottom Line

The key takeaways to getting everything done in your small business are to manage your energy rather than time, sketch out an ideal week, and consider delegating and automating repetitive tasks.

What time management tips are currently working in your favor? Which ones didn’t work?

Share your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!

Be a Better Manager in 10 Minutes or Less

managing-your-employees

Many would like to believe that people quit jobs because of greener pastures such as better pay and greater benefits. In reality, employees leave because of their managers.

Not convinced? Survey results by the market research firm Gallup released last April revealed that half of the 7,200 respondents left jobs “to get away from their manager.”

As a manager, you may have failed to realize that your small yet talented team of employees are walking out the door not to pursue fatter paychecks, but because of management.

Put simply, it has to do with you.

Such sobering statistic should be treated as an opportunity for small business managers to build a team culture of supporting one another. Like most relationship issues, there is no one-size-fits-all formula to becoming an excellent manager.

The following tiny, yet meaningful gestures can certainly make a difference though. The best part is you can do them in 10 minutes or less!

Call everyone by their first name.

In this book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote:

Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Likewise, social experiments proved that calling people by their first name makes it more likely for them to comply to your requests.

Make an effort to get to know everyone in your team. Your employees are humans too. They have lives outside of work — they have a family that they deeply care about or hobbies and interests that keep them busy outside the office. Take the time to figure these things out and greet them by their first name the next time you are in the office. By doing so, you build rapport that will eventually lead to trust in the long run.

Dig deeper into each employee’s resentment.

Most employees have their own version of what they are currently bitter about in their jobs. For some, it’s working extra hours and not being able to spend dinner with their family. Or missing a few drinks with friends every Friday night. Perhaps, it’s the lack of flexible hours within the workweek.

It varies for everyone but the takeaway here is to check on these resentments regularly. Subsequently, ask your employees about an activity outside of work that they consider important and pry them for possible solutions (they can extend work hours the next day, shorten lunch breaks for a couple of days, or ask someone to cover for them temporarily).

Doing this quick exercise will prevent resentments from evolving into a full-blown mess of hatred and bitterness.

Ask your employees for advice.

Ha! Why would a manager do that? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Social psychologist and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Robert Cialdini offers one seemingly counterintuitive yet effective suggestion to making your employees like you: Ask them for advice. This could range from personal advice like book recommendations to professional advice such as asking their opinion about social media platforms that they deem are ideal for your digital marketing campaign.

By and large, this gives the impression that you, as a manager, value their opinions. Bonus points if you follow their advice and update them that you’ve done one of their suggestions!

Provide specific compliments and insert a negative comment in between.

The keyword here is specific. Sure, it’s easy to give out praise. “You’ve done a great job” or “Keep up the good work” are nothing but empty words of encouragement. Go out of your way to specifically determine the things that each employee has done well. Sincere forms of recognition are always appreciated.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to give out constructive feedback when an employee is obviously off track. In this Harvard Business Review article, the authors talk about the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio:

The average ratio for the highest-performing teams was 5.6 (that is, nearly six positive comments for every negative one). The medium-performance teams averaged 1.9 (almost twice as many positive comments than negative ones.) But the average for the low-performing teams, at 0.36 to 1, was almost three negative comments for every positive one.

The key point is to keep your negative comment as objective and rational as possible. Furthermore, consistently giving compliments ensures that you are within the ideal 5.6 to 1 praise-criticism ratio.

Offer one thing (no matter how small) to help an employee achieve a personal long-term goal.

Everyone has their own set of side-projects, long-term goals, and bucket lists. Say one of your web developers has been thinking about learning Python. Or someone from your sales team is keen about filling in one of the graphic designer posts.

Every so often, employees are interested in upgrading their arsenal of skills or learning things outside of their expertise. Why not do one thing to help them achieve these goals?

Offer to shoulder half of the paid online Python course to the web developer. Or ask the sales rep if he would like to shadow one of the designers for an hour each week? These little things will keep your employees motivated. The more they’re excited about their work, the greater the chance that they’ll work hard for you.

Final Thoughts

Tiny acts of appreciation and kindness are often overlooked, yet they have the biggest impact to becoming a better manager. Put them into action today and see what happens next.

Tell us about the results in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter!