Are You Stuck in the Day-To-Day Operations of Your Business?

Business Operations is the compilation of all the activities carried out inside a company that keep it running and generating revenue.

In standard business plans, the operations section is dedicated to helping business owners understand what systems, tools, people, and processes will be needed for the company business model to function.

A few examples of business operations:

  • Creating and maintaining key systems needed to run a business, including customer service, billing, communications, marketing, deliver, and backup
  • Creation of processes, tools, and players for key systems within the business
  • Management of systems that control access and login information
  • Establishing decision-making guidelines for team members
  • Creation and maintenance of your Standard Operating & Procedures (SOP) guide
  • Setting up effective backup systems to control company information
  • Creation and management of systems that process payments
  • Implementation of business tools and software to manage multiple systems
  • Managing the process of delivering products and services to customers

The operations area is a constant segment of your business and requires daily attention.

And this where most women business owners get stuck!

In the beginning stages of your business, it was just you. Just you making all the daily decisions and executing the many tasks that must be performed each day to accomplish goals and strengthen your business model.

As your business model proved successful, the endless task list began to increase exponentially. Business decisions and responsibilities increased. Quiet, creative, and productive time to focus on growing the business was more and more limited and many times downright non-existent.

As women in business, we must stay focused on those areas of business that ONLY we can do – everything else must be delegated to a team!

The Visionary and CEO role in the business at this level needs to stay focused on very high-level leverage tasks that will grow your business, such as:

  • Big Picture Vision
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Delivery of Services
  • Content Creation
  • Creating New Products
  • Partnerships
  • New Sources of Traffic

Everything else you need to get off your plate – much of this lies in the day-to-day operations of your business.

If your business has reached six figures, hold on to your seat belt because your company has taken on a life of its own.

And this is the point where you are most likely feeling that you’ve hit a ceiling and are even feeling a bit burned out. You may not see how you will be able to grow past the current challenges.

Bad news… good news…

You won’t be able to break that ceiling when you are the only one in charge of everything. The good news is that it does not have to stay that way.

A seasoned online business manager is the perfect second-in-command to pull you out of the day-to-day operations and marketing management of the business. You’ll have the time, energy, and focus you need to work on those high-level leverage tasks that will grow the business.

You can’t possibly expect to grow if you don’t position someone else in your business to be your “Mini-Me” – to take the day-to-day operations and management of business off your plate with the support of a team. Your business is now bigger than you are, and in order for it to continue to grow, you must have your operations running smoothly and cost effectively.

Isn’t it time that you are LIFTED out of the day-to-day activities so you can work ON your business instead of IN it?

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20 Travel Tips for Savings Without Sacrificing Quality

Now that summer is in full swing in the northern hemisphere, scores of travelers are heading out for vacations. Travel costs are an issue for most travelers, especially now coming out of a prolonged recession.

Having been a keen global traveler, I am always looking for ways to find good pricing without sacrificing quality. These are 20 of my tips to be able to continue to travel while working with a budget.

Planning:

1. Traveling off-season is cheaper for 2 reasons. Although I have traveled to Siberia in January, there are many less drastic solutions. First, airlines will have reduced load factors and have reduced rates. Secondly, even the French Riviera’s top hotels start 50% discounts around the second and third week in Sept. For travelers that are not constrained by work or school schedules, they will find sunny skies and much less crowded tourist sites.

2. Location matters: Currently 5 star hotels in Madrid are at bargain rates, in some cases less expensive than in Athens. Central and Eastern Europe are very affordable in major capitals and even more so in the countryside.

3. Consider substitutions. In the past I was longing for a South Pacific island vacation but found Tahiti’s hotels too pricey. With the help of Air New Zealand, I substituted Rarotonga and Aitutaki for one-third the price. At that time the Cook Islands were largely unexplored providing a cornucopia of travel stories for my return.

4. Sports vacations carry special tariffs. In addition to hotel and airfare charges, active sports include extra charges for lift tickets, guides or scuba boat rentals. The best avenue is to do careful research ahead of time to identify less visible but equally attractive destinations. Although St. Moritz may be chic, I opted to ski in both Andorra just north of Spain and in Hafjel, Norway.

5. Apartment/house swap or rentals: I have not tried this myself but have friends that are enthusiastic about swaps/local residence rentals from Brazil to Paris. I recommend making certain the location is safe and convenient.

6. Stay outside the city on a local commuter train or subway route. Paris airport hotels have had low rates for a decade with Metro walking distance.

7. Combine with work or family visits or other add-on’s. From domestic to international trips, airlines may allow lay-overs at minimal to no charge. I discovered flying to the Brazilian Amazon from Washington that an extended connection in Panama City, Panama would allow for sight-seeing or sleeping for a few hours before traveling on.

8. Research shows that booking on Tuesday or especially Wednesdays provides the best rates.

9. Depending upon your destination, the day of the week for your travel matters. For popular vacation sites, mid-week rates tend to be best. Conversely, cities like New York that are major finance/business centers often reduce rates on weekends.

10. Cruises are especially expensive for solo travelers since the cruise lines’ break even points can equal 104%. As a result, they often need to fill every cabin with two passengers plus sell drinks and souvenirs daily. Do the math the next time you see 2-for-the- price of 1 advance purchases. This is likely the best rate.

Air Travel:

11. For airline deals, consolidators may have the cheapest price. Alternatively, the longest connections and most frequent stops will always be less expensive than non-stop service.

12. Economy can still be a good value and not as daunting as it may seem for long distances. I have flown on some of the world’s longest flights in economy. Many airlines offer small charges for economy seats that have more leg room or leave a middle seat empty. While first class on a wide-body jet is an enormous step-up, on a smaller plane it may be little better for space than exists in economy, especially on the front row.

13. Getting to and from the airport: Every major capital seems to have local monopolies making airport transportation costly. Combined with the fact that airports often are 45 minutes outside the city, the best option for daylight arrivals may be a local train, subway or airport bus. In the south of France, I paid $2.00 for a commuter train ticket from the Nice airport to arrive within walking distance of my 5 star hotel in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. (The hotel limousine was $200!)

14. Airline add-on’s: Take as little luggage as you can easily carry/push. In addition to increased airline charges, the above options at both ends are limited if you pack too much. Moreover, after an overseas flight, do you want to stand in baggage claim as bags are offloaded for 300 fellow passengers?

Hotels:

15. When you are congratulating yourself on the great rate you locked in, remember that most do not include taxes. In New York City, there are several layers of local taxes to consider.

16. Don’t pay for what you won’t use. Even if your workouts are a key part of your daily routine at home, will you need to pay for a hotel with special health club facilities? Outside of resorts or the tropics, major capitals don’t often have swimming pools so do extra laps before heading out.

17. Staying connected: Internet charges may run $25/per day. If there is no free WIFI, visit the local cyber cafĂ© and combine your morning’s cappuccino with checking/sending emails. Know what your data plan provides abroad. Even if you don’t open emails, when they hit the local cell tower, you are paying. The bill could be more than the airfare so plan accordingly.

18. New hotel openings or recently upgraded ones often feature short-term promotionals. Last year the Hotel Castille located near a top high fashion atelier in an elegant Paris neighborhood had hugely discounted rates following their reopening and upgrade to 5 stars.

Meals:

19. There’s nothing like a local mini mart or full-service grocery store for bottles of water and snacks rather than raiding the minibar. For forgotten items, find local brands as substitutes. If you can’t get by without your morning’s coffee or tea, pack a small electrical tea kettle, tea and coffee bags with hot chocolate packets for unrefrigerated coffee creamer.
Souvenirs/Gifts:

20. On trips abroad, I always do my Christmas shopping and pick up birthday gifts for friends and family. For quality and pricing, avoid the tourist shops and go where local people shop. In Slovenia, I took a public bus to a shopping mall and although lacking a common language, found really distinct items to purchase.

Travelling to Europe in an LPG Car

Going to Europe over the summer for a holiday is a popular trip for many people and their families. However, if you have an LPG car there are a few tips and helpful hints you should know.

Firstly, LPG vehicles are not permitted in the Eurotunnel. This is not a safety issue; LPG cars have been proven safe to travel in the tunnel by independent testing. However when the tunnel was built, there were not enough LPG vehicles on the roads in Britain to deem safety testing cost effective. Ferries allow LPG vehicle to cross the channel. Terms and conditions do apply, including turning LPG tank off whilst on board and presently your LPGA Approved Certificate when boarding. Adhere to these two requests and you can cross the channel to France no problems. A statement from a ferry company about carrying LPG vehicles can be viewed at http://www.fuelture.com/magazine/Drive-your-LPG-car-in-France-Italy-and-the-rest-of-Europe/.

You have now arrived in Europe with your LPG car; you need to fill up with more gas. Europe has a huge LPG supply; however LPG is more commonly known as Autogas or GPL. Most fuel stations supply LPG and road signs for stations are marked “+GPL” if the station supplies LPG. Similar to taking a kettle or travel iron with you to Europe, you may find that you need an LPG adapter to refuel your car. There are three different types of adapter. For more details on travelling to Europe with an LPG car, issues such as explanation of adapters, station locations, and fuel prices visit http://www.fuelture.com/magazine.

Travelers Tips On Tipping

For many travelers, one of the central sources of angst and confusion is how to tip in a manner that is neither miserly, nor extravagant. Travelers run into far more situations where tipping is a concern than they would in their everyday life at home. And it’s made more uncomfortable due to the fact that when visiting abroad, the customs are foreign and easily misunderstood. Taxi drivers, porters, valets, waiters, and barbers/hairstylists are just some of the people you will encounter who will provide you with a service, and may or may not expect or require a gratuity.

The first key to understanding tipping is realizing the situation at hand. Starting with restaurants, the general rule is between 10-20% of the bill before taxes. Some people choose to tip extra if they feel the service is outstanding, while many will leave a small tip or not tip at all if they feel the service is terrible. However, not leaving a tip because the service did not meet expectations can often lead to a confrontation. It is often better to leave some kind of a tip; but be sure address the situation with the manager. It is also vital to know the local customs when it comes to tipping. In America, tipping is expected, and we are known to be some of the most generous tippers around. Many people in the service industry depend on tips to supplement their wages, which are often set artificially low in expectation of the tips they will receive. The key thing to remember is that tipping is a personal decision, but it affects others. So the idea of treating others as you would want to be treated clearly resonates. Be wary of restaurants that add a tip to the bill automatically: no one should pay two tips for the same meal.

In Europe, workers in the service industries are generally paid higher wages than in America, and therefore tipping is not always customary. When people do tip they generally tip less than in the states. However, it varies from country to country. Central European countries like Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Holland tip between 5-10% as a common practice, although it is not always required to tip. Countries like Spain and Italy are not advocates of tipping. In France and the Scandinavian countries, a service charge is included in the bill, while Ireland and the U.K. generally adhere to an optional tipping policy. When traveling in Europe, unless you are in Spain or Italy, it is generally a good idea to leave a tip close to 10% unless the charge is included, or the service was not satisfactory.

Traveling in Asia is often a culture shock, and this is magnified when it comes to tipping. While most of the globe follows the thinking that gratuities are required, or at the very least expected, many countries in Asia strictly forbid it, and many service workers will be offended if you attempt to tip them. Tipping is not the custom in India, China, Korea, Taiwan, and especially Japan. Likewise, in Australia and New Zealand, tipping has not historically been a custom and it is not expected, although the practice is growing, and has become especially common in the tourist areas.

Other parts of the globe also have some guidelines for tipping. Canada is very similar to the U.S., as is Mexico. The key thing to keep in mind when traveling is to be respectful of the customs in the country you are visiting. It is also better to lean towards generosity rather than stinginess when in doubt. Also, keep in mind that many restaurants and hotels add on a charge for gratuity, so carefully inspect the bill before leaving a tip. Furthermore, if you are traveling on business it is especially important that you represent yourself well. Always be sure to tip well when it is called for, and give your client the impression that you are interested in seeing others succeed. Tipping is definitely a touchy subject for many, but if you can master it, then you will enjoy yourself far more, and also ensure the happiness of those around you.