5 Major Challenges Every Business Will Need to Overcome to be Successful

Running a successful business is all about responding to the challenges in front of you in the most effective way possible. Though the problems faced vary significantly from company to company, it certainly helps to know what a few of the most common are so you are ready to respond when you need to. After all, the world of business is Darwinian — the companies that don’t adapt are the ones that will become extinct. Blockbuster is a classic example and most recently Yahoo! and Sears Canada.

A Vast Amount of Competition

The internet has made it so much easier for anyone to establish a business. This means that you are likely to face more competition than ever before, and staying in business is the challenge that you are likely to find yourself up against. You find yourself in a battle of perception, focus and marketing. Establishing a trusted brand and a loyal following of customers is what you should be aiming to achieve.

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Speeding Up Response Time

In today’s interconnected world, consumers are a lot less patient than they once were. With so many different methods of communication available, you need to make sure that they are all well-manned. Firms like Skyresponse aim to help meet the instant alarm and notification needs of their clients. Ensuring that clients can access the information that they need as efficiently as possible is certainly a challenge that is worth taking on. And this is a constantly evolving problem as more and means of communication open up.

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Finding (and Keeping) the Right Staff

Recruitment has become a key issue for businesses all around the world. But the challenge doesn’t stop at getting them on board — it continues into making sure that they stay with your firm for the longest possible time. While the culture of small businesses is easier to manage, when it comes to larger firms, human resources becomes increasingly important. Talented members of staff are looking at what their companies can provide for them, whether this is flexible working or other in-work benefits.

Getting the Word Out There

Of course, there are more platforms out there to get your message across. The challenge remains in working out exactly what your message is and how best to communicate it with your target audience. Essentially, this is all based on increasingly advanced methods of profiling your customers and finding out exactly what it is that they are looking for. And this is an ever-evolving task as customer requirements evolve continually over time.

Reputation is Everything

The thread of this article has been all about connectivity, and this is very important when it comes to business reputation. Negative publicity spreads so much easier than it once did, and if you don’t take steps to manage this, you could find your business name completely tarnished.

Tackling each of these challenges head-on should be one of the priorities of every business owner. You should aim to reduce the risks where you find them and not shy away from the challenges you face.    

American business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor, Elon Musk at a Tesla Motors unveiling

3 Things Your Employees Need to Thrive

All entrepreneurs should have a good idea of how important their employees are. After all, if they are not up to scratch, then it is highly likely that this will negatively impact the business itself. Once the customer is affected by such occurrences, you know something really has to change. It is helpful to think of yourself as the facilitator of your employee’s success, as in this approach lies the secret to bringing about your business’ success. But for that to work, you need to have a strong idea of how to ensure that your employees thrive at all times.

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If you never tell your employees how they are doing well, then you might well run into some trouble. After all, being told that you are improving, succeeding, and so on, if hugely important, as it helps to know that you are on the right track. Without that kind of encouragement from you and your fellow managers, your employees are much less likely to feel inspired to achieve great things for themselves or your business itself.

Fortunately, you can show encouragement in a number of easy ways, ranging from a simple ‘thank you’ to doling out specific rewards to those who have earned them. Remember to be fair, honest and upfront with such rewards, otherwise they lose their meaning.


You might well be surprised at how much of an effect the office environment has on how well your employees engage with their work. They will be spending all of their time in that space, after all, and it is up to you to ensure that they are as happy as possible there. It is amazing what a small thing like not quite being comfortable enough can do to your business in the long run.

Therefore, be sure to give your employees the best in chairs, office desks, and anything else which they will be using regularly from day-to-day. The more comfortable you can make them, the more likely it is that they will be able to work to their own personal best standard.

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Without a proper understanding of their place in things, you might find that it is difficult for your employees to feel utterly engaged with their work. When they feel alienated from their own role in this way, it can be extremely concerning for the business as a whole. That’s why you need to find a way to ensure that they understand why they are doing what they’re doing.

When people have a good reason for carrying out their work, they will do so with greater energy and vigor, and this will markedly improve the business as well. Explain to each and every individual their place in the business; they will be grateful you did.

As long as your employees have these three, you will find that you are on the right track towards better employee fulfillment and a healthier business-to-employee relationship will develop.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Employees

Once all of the preliminary stages of a new business have been completed,  it is the workforce themselves which will take your project to the next level. It is only when finances are in place, premises secured and business plans finalised that you can turn your attentions to the workforce.

With any new business you can have the best ideas in the world and state of the art technology behind you, but without the right employees, it is extremely unlikely that the business will survive.

That said, you should never underestimate the importance of the hiring process. Get it right now, and your business will grow and your employees with it. Get it wrong, and the chances are that it will never even get off the ground. Let us take a look at some of the steps you can implement to make sure that as a boss you are getting the most out of your employees.

Create the right work environment

One of the first things that you need to get right is the working environment, not just for you but also for your employees. A good working environment will not only serve to inspire and motivate but will allow you to maximise the potential of each and every one of your employees. A pleasant work environment makes for a happy workforce to ensure that it is clean, light and bright and it will attract, not only your ideal customers but also your ideal employees too.

Get to know them

The first contact that you will probably have with your employees is when their resume lands on your desk. Initially, you are most interested in their skills and experience. What position are they currently in, what does this entail, and is it relevant to you as a business? There then follows several rounds of interview, possibly a probationary period of and then, all being well, you hire them.

So far, so good but it shouldn’t stop there. Make an effort to get to know your employees as individuals. Take time to learn a little bit about their out of office interest along with their hopes and aspirations for the future. In so doing, your employee will begin to feel like a valued member of the team and will,in turn, want to do their best both for you and the company as a whole.

Development opportunities

If you have chosen well, it is likely that your team will be keen to take advantage of any  training and development that is available to them. By keeping up to date with what is available and giving them the opportunity to attend any relevant courses or workshops, you will not only have a savvy workforce but one that will stay and not be tempted by rival businesses.

Offer support

As a business grows and roles mature and develop, you may find that there are times when employees need more support. Whether it be in the form of resources, additional training or budget,always be aware and make sure that they are not afraid to ask you for help. You could also investigate the world of employee scheduling, whereby apps can be utilised to organise and maximise the efficiency of your staff and their work schedules.

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Keep lines of communication open

Many misunderstandings in the workplace often stem from poor communication. Try to be open and honest from the start with your employees to avoid situations like this. Make sure that you both understand each other’s expectations and try to set realistic goals which can be reviewed on a regular basis. An excellent tool for this is the staff appraisal, an annual or bi-annual one-on-one where both employee and employer can voice their opinions and concerns and solutions can be found and put into place.

Always make sure that you listen to your staff too. Active listening is a skill, so make sure you master it and it will pay dividends.

Pay them well

Within the confines of your budget, ensure that you pay your staff well. A good wage will motivate them, maximise their productivity and most importantly ensure that they remain in your employment. Where possible you could implement some sort of bonus scheme to recognise and reward particular successes and achievements.

If you have managed to put all of these steps in place, you should now find yourself the proud boss of an efficient, productive and happy motivated workforce. Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Three Steps to Properly Motivating Your Employees

Motivation — it’s something that comes in many shapes and forms, from gentle praise to cracking the proverbial whip. Keeping colleagues motivated isn’t just about one specific tactic, it is about a combination of efforts, and it all begins with you, the leader.

If employees disengage with their work, you can blame them for not working hard enough, which is the easy option, or you can take some appropriate steps to reset the balance.

Figure Out How to Improve Their Wellbeing

So many companies have things like a “relaxation station” or offer meditation classes or yoga.

But with the ongoing deadlines and amount of stress that people feel, a one-hour class isn’t going to cut it. And wellbeing is a term associated with things like mindfulness or enlightenment, but the real method to instill any sense of wellbeing in your workers is to give them a sense of purpose.

You’ve seen the type of person that clocks in and clocks out, they’re only there in body. Instead, you need to reinforce the difference someone is making by just doing their job. You can start workplace support programs or think of some employee recognition gift ideas to hand out on occasion.

A little way of saying thanks out of the blue will help to keep some morale up. And if you combine that with assigning duties that help give your employees a greater sense of purpose within the business, it will completely change their attitude.

Read also: Three things to consider when creating the perfect workplace


Simple, right? If they feel inspired, they will work better. But how do we go about doing this? From your perspective, it’s about leading by example.

Studies have shown that leaders who act in the interests of the team, instead of themselves, will inspire workers to become more trusting, cooperative, and committed. It’s all about being fair, and if you have previously operated with an iron fist, you may want to think about changing your leadership style and start off with a clean slate.

And when you’re acting in the interests of the team, make sure you work with them. Doing this as much as possible, either on a daily basis or a weekly basis will help to bridge the us and them-type gap that can occur in large organisations or places that lean towards an antiquated style of hierarchy.

Splitting the Work/Life Balance Properly

Something that German companies are very hot on is banning work emails out of office hours (except for when there’s an emergency), and this is one simple way of making sure that work life doesn’t spill into home life.

It’s not just as simple as banning emails, but you need to create a work culture that embraces the work/life balance. You may wish to start the day on a positive note with a bit of exercise.

It can raise some eyebrows, but if you prioritise looking after yourself in the workplace, not only does it benefit everyone from a health standpoint, but their productivity will increase dramatically.

It’s very simple, but hard to implement. Yet it’s not impossible to achieve.


How to Keep Your Business Afloat When Failure Is Not an Option

Every business owner dreams of achieving success. Sadly, not all companies make it, and a large proportion of startups fail (8 out of 10 entrepreneurs according to Bloomberg) within their first 18 months. 

That’s a whopping 80% crashing and burning.

There are many reasons why businesses fold and taking steps to prevent common obstacles can make all the difference.

Here is a simple guide to help you keep your business afloat.

Value your team

Most company owners rely on a team of people to hit their targets and make the venture profitable. If you’ve got a great set of employees, don’t take them for granted or let them slip through the net.

If you’re impressed, tell them. If you’re in awe of their dedication, make sure they know that they’re valued. Offer opportunities to progress, try and make the working day enjoyable, and encourage teamwork.

Lead by example, and don’t be afraid to get to know your workforce. If your employees are happy, they’re likely to be more productive.

If your star players feel undervalued and they’re worried that they’re working for nothing in return, offers from other companies may turn their heads.

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Have a plan B

Every business should have contingency plans in place to enable them to carry on and recover if things don’t go to plan. If you’re running a distribution business, for example, it pays to be aware of services like those offered by New Era Fuels.

If you own an online shop, have you got access to the relevant tech support you need if your site crashes? Think about what could go wrong, and try and ensure that you have a solution for every eventuality.

If you can minimise the risk of downtime, this could make the difference between going under and staying afloat.

Every business encounters hurdles along the way, and if you can bounce back with minimal collateral damage, this will improve your chances of making a real go of it.

Keep an eye on the numbers

Ultimately, success in business depends on the numbers. You may enjoy your job, or you might have a great idea, but if you’re not taking any money home, you won’t be able to keep the company running.

Accounting may not be your strong point, but don’t underestimate the importance of keeping an eye on the books, and making sure you have a firm grasp on the numbers.

Think carefully before you invest more money, and make sure any risks you take are calculated.

Look at your income versus your outgoings, and if the margin isn’t big enough, think about ways you can cut costs and make savings without impacting on the quality of the service you provide.

If you employ too many members of staff on temporary contracts, for example, you could consider hiring freelancers or outsourcing when their contracts expire. This gives you access to the skills you need without tying you to annual salaries.


If you’re a business owner, you probably don’t even want to entertain the thought of failure. The sad reality is that many people can’t make their venture a success.

Hopefully, this guide will stand you in good stead and help you to keep your head above water.

It’s Time To Focus On One Important Aspect Of Your Business

What’s the most important aspect of your business to you personally?

It could be income, expenditure, customers, your staff, your workplace or something else. There’s no wrong answer here.

For today, let’s focus on your staff. Without them, your business might not be running.

Working for a company is a two-way relationship. You want your staff to carry out roles so your business can succeed and achieve its goals. Your staff wants to be employed by your business so they can earn money and develop their career. In both cases, the two parties need to be happy. If one party isn’t happy, then the relationship is going to break down, and quickly.

If you’ve hired a new person and the relationship isn’t working out, do the right thing and cut the cord. Firing employees is hard, but if it’s not working then it’s only fair to cancel the employment so both parties can move on. This goes for unhappy employees as well; if you can’t work within terms that leave both parties fulfilled, it’s high time you moved on.

A good, united workforce will do wonders for your business goals, but it shouldn’t always be about your business. Looking after your employees should come with no ulterior motives.

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So, how do you get the most out of your employees?

It’s easy – speak to them as though they are the human beings that they are, and not like they are there for your benefit! Find out their interests and where they want to go in life. Try and create a band of friends, rather than a group of staff. Try and get everyone working together and bouncing ideas off of each other. Foster a real team spirit.

If your employees are disheartened, offer them a shoulder to cry on and try to pick them up so they can move forward. Pointlessly punishing them is going to cripple your team. Likewise, if your employees are doing well, you should be presenting awards. Appreciate your staff when they are doing well and offer them a boost when they are not!

You should aim to develop your staff and not just for the sole purpose of bringing more experience into your company. This should be about the employee and their professional development. If your employee is interested in boosting their digital skills, like details by Simplilearn, for example, then send them on a relevant course! Don’t train your employees for the sake of it, send them only on training courses that will be of interest to the individual member of staff.

Keeping a motivated workplace shouldn’t be a hard task, but plenty of employers create this scenario with pointless morale boosting exercises that leads to less interest and enthusiasm from their staff. It’s not rocket science and if you stick to the basics and treat your staff like the people they are then you’ll have no problem succeeding in this area! Keep your employees happy, and your business will benefit, but remember, this is not solely for the sake of your business!

Stop, Collaborate And Listen! How to Get The Best Out Of Your Team

If you’re a business owner, you’re probably aware of the importance of your team. It’s very difficult to make a company a success without the right people around you. In order to get the best results, you need every person to pull their weight and work towards shared goals. If you’re keen to get the best out of your team, here are some tips you may find useful.


Adopting an open door policy

In popular culture, there’s a vision of a boss as a domineering, unapproachable individual who sits at the head of the table barking orders. In reality, most company directors aren’t like this. Most employees respond well to an environment, which makes them feel safe and supported. It’s beneficial to have boundaries as a boss, but this shouldn’t come at a cost. An open door policy enables people to come to you if they want to chat or they have issues they’d like to discuss. It makes you more accessible, and it promotes communication and interaction. It’s good for bosses to have an idea of what’s going on, and to get to know the workforce. Hearing what people say to you is only the first step. It’s also essential to listen and to react. There’s no point in your employees coming to you if you’re not going to address the problem or take ideas on board.

Promoting collaborative efforts

Some people prefer to work alone, but many enjoy collaborating with others. Teamwork lifts your spirits, and it can also increase efficiency. As the boss, you can promote working together in many ways. You could design an office with areas to throw around ideas and enjoy discussion and search for meeting and conference venues that provide facilities for group activities. You can also encourage socialization and offer group rewards and incentives for outstanding performance. If you’re chairing a meeting, make sure you give everyone a chance to speak. Some people may be more forthcoming than others, and those who are shy may need a little encouragement.

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Injecting some fun

You’re probably not going to have a ball at work every single day. However, it should be possible to combine having fun and getting results. If you enjoy your job, it makes sense that you’ll give more. If you dread every day, you’ll spend hours clock watching. As an employer, try to make work fun for your team. You don’t need to kit your office out like Google’s headquarters, but the odd social event and relaxed meetings can make a world of difference. You’ll find that a happy workforce is also a productive workforce.

The vast majority of bosses rely heavily on their team. If you get the best out of everyone on a daily basis, you’ll notice a host of benefits. The atmosphere will be pleasant and employees will look forward to the next day at work. You’ll reap the rewards of increased productivity, and this should be reflected in your sales figures. Listen to what people are telling you, and make time for your employees. Encourage teamwork, and have fun.

What Are Your Employees’ Top Priorities At Work?

All good business owners know that the people in the company are the most important part of all.

As long as they are well looked after and know what they are doing, it is much more likely that the business will succeed far into the future. However, it can often be a difficulty knowing what exactly you should be doing to keep your employees happy. There are many ways to approach this problem. By far the most effective, however, is to ask them. If you are seeking feedback from your employees, you will find it a lot easier to do the things that they are looking for. This will result in a much more successful working situation. In this post, we are going to look at some of the main priorities that employees tend to state. Let’s take a look and see how we can integrate them into the nature of the work.

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Open, Honest Communication

If you ask people, you will hear many of the same results again and again. One of the most central concerns for many employees is that the working culture embodies a sense of open communication between all individuals. This is something which is often spoken about, ironically, but not put into practice. But an office full of people who are happy to talk to one another is one which is likely to get a lot more work done. The best way to promote this particular quality is quite simply by practicing it yourself. You will find that your employees soon respond in kind.

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There is a certain degree of privacy which all employees want in the workplace, particularly in certain settings. An obvious example is the ability to retire to the bathroom without having to mention anything. This is something that a lot of people feel the need for, but that is not all. Your people might also appreciate the installation of an office phone booth. That way, personal calls can be made out of earshot of colleagues. Privacy allows people to feel more comfortable in their workspace, which in turn leads to more passionate workers. It will also cause them to respect you as a manager all the more.

Fair Treatment

This next one should go without saying, but it is always worth looking into. The truth is, the last thing you want to do is to treat your employees unfairly or unequally. Doing so is likely to result in them not appreciating you as a manager. If you are always promoting fair treatment across the board, however, everyone in your employ will be a lot happier. Of course, part of the difficulty here is ensuring that your upper management team also do the same. It is a good idea to keep a close eye on your colleagues here. If it seems as though somebody is promoting unfair treatment, then make sure you have the relevant disciplinary procedures in place. This is both a moral and a legal concern, and it is also one of your employees’ most important priorities.

6 Rules For A Happier and More Productive Workplace

Encouraging a positive working culture is one of those things which can take a lot of practice. There is usually plenty of trial and error involved before you see the results you want. Nonetheless, there are some basic rules which can help you to forge a more positive working culture in no time at all. Many of these rules are easy to live by; others less so. But they are all necessary if you want to improve your business from the ground up. No matter the size of your business, following these rules is likely to help hugely. Let’s take a look at how to make your workplace more productive today.

Put Wellbeing First

Many businesses, particularly larger ones, fail to properly look after their employees’ wellbeing. But the truth is, taking care of the people in this basic way must be the first step. Without this, there is little chance that the rest will properly fall into place. But how can you expect to help your employees take care of themselves? In part, it is a matter of ensuring that nobody is overworked. This makes a huge difference alone, as overworking leads to increased stress and a higher likelihood of contracting a disease. It also means actively encouraging people to take breaks. If you can help it, don’t let people sit at their desks during their break. They need to be able to stretch their legs and actually get away from the office for a while. This really does make a huge difference. When you make the health of your employees a priority, you are setting a precedent which is going to pay off in the long run.

Know What To Do In An Emergency

No matter how careful you are, there is always the chance that something will go wrong in your workplace. Emergencies happen all the time, and there is only a certain amount you can do to avoid them. The most important thing is to ensure that you have a clear plan in place for if the worst does happen. Again, your priorities here should be the wellbeing of your employees. When a serious incident occurs at work, it can be surprising what an effect it can have on your employees psychologically. Having a critical incident stress management plan in place can help a great deal.

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Don’t Be Afraid Of Communication

What really keeps things alive in a business is the communication between colleagues. When a workplace suffers from a lack of communication, it really shows in the quality of the work. Conversely, one which encourages open and honest communication is likely to be one which brings out the best in people. The best way that you can bring about this change in your workplace is by embodying it as fully as you can yourself. You will soon find that your employees start following your example, and this will lead to a more open and communicative working culture.

Focus On Employee Development

Plenty is lost when a business stops thinking about the individual as an individual. On the other hand, your business is likely to go far if you actively embrace each employee’s independent development. Doing so is also likely to be a plus for the business itself. After all, the more developed the employees are, the better the quality of work is bound to be. Work hard to ensure that your employees are allowed to develop as fully as possible. If necessary, allow regular training days if you think it will help them develop.

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Show That You Trust

The more responsibility you place in the hands of your employees, the more capable they will feel in their role. This will then result in more trust on your part – and so a virtuous cycle is created. If you are worried about giving people too much responsibility in the early days, then start small and slowly build it up. This way, you can be sure that you are not rushing anyone into anything they can’t handle.

Be Flexible and Generous

People are likely to appreciate their work much more if you allow the job to work around them a little more. It is always a sound idea to be as generous as you can with things like holiday and sick pay. This doesn’t mean going over the top with it – nobody will respect you then. However, if you err on the side of generosity, it is likely to pay off in the long run. By the same token, try to be as flexible as you can around what kind of hours people work. You could even allow certain roles to work from home.

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Join the Live Debate via Virgin Disruptors on ‘Your Workplace Wellbeing: at What Cost?’

With moderator Emily Chang, the San Francisco-based anchor of Bloomberg West, this year’s panelists include:

  • Richard Branson (Virgin Group founder)
  • Tony Hsieh (Zappos CEO and founder)
  • Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO)
  • Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post CEO)
  • Jackie Reses (Yahoo CDO)
  • Jim Clifton (Gallup CEO)

Read my guest blog on Virgin.com featured as part of their workplace wellbeing series

It’s already kicked off, but it’s not too late to join the LIVE* discussion/debate now by clicking the image below:

Virgin disruptors 2

*In case you missed it, you can still watch the discussion/debate.