Twin Consulting Blog Posts

All the posts created for Twin Consulting were for Commonsense Marketing via Elance. The job which started in 2012 and continued through 2013 is described in the client’s brief:

2 articles per month for HR site – 2 weeks apart (can be scheduled). Topics and reference articles will be provided.

Each article to contain:
– Major heading with keyword in first 4 words – using H1 style
– At least one sub heading (preferably 2) using h2 style (with a keyword)
– One keyword or keyword phrase with link to website home page. This link to be in last 1/3 of each article.
– image with alt text and caption

Articles to be uploaded to relevant blog, pasting using Word box first to strip MS code. Before publishing preview final layout and ensure
– that correct H1, H2, paragraph and caption styles have been used
– image has been optimised for web (under 100k), size is less than 300 px wide, is left aligned and has vertical and horizontal spacing to ensure text is not butting up against the image
– tags and categories added,
-SEO form completed – using title with keywords, description (160 characters max) and keywords added.
– article is submitted to ezine articles using correct author box.

Here are some of the blog posts I completed (from the most recent):

Connecting with More Prospects and Customers

Penny Swift

It doesn’t matter what type of business you work in, prospects and customers are key to your success. If you don’t have prospects and you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.

So how can you go about connecting with more prospects and customers?

The first step is, quite simply to identify prospects. There are many leads that you can follow, and once you have pinpointed prospects, you can start the process of converting them to customers. Then you can get on with your business of providing the best products and services available in your particular industry.

Read more…

Working on the Business, Not In It

Penny SwiftAnyone who has started their own business will appreciate how difficult it can be not to be involved in the decision-making and day-to-day running of the business. After all it’s only human to want to keep a handle on everything that happens and make sure that everything runs smoothly. The business is your ‘baby’ and you want to be sure the people you employ do it right. Furthermore, when there’s a problem or an issue that needs to be resolved, it’s your responsibility to sort it out.

But if you want your business to grow, and continue to expand, you need to ‘let go’ and allow others to deal with the nitty-gritty day-to-day running of the operation. Instead of working in the business, you need to step back, look at the bigger picture, and work onthe business.

As BC (Bertie) Forbes, founder of Forbes Magazine so sagely said: “If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out of business”.

Read more… 

Corporate Sustainability

Penny SwiftCorporate sustainability is a must-have in business today, particularly when it comes to environmental sustainability. But there are big question marks in terms of how businesses can position themselves to be innovators and develop strategic plans, as well as implement change.

In the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in the fields of corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility in the Western world. Corporate managers, government agencies and regulators, as well as academics like those at the Australian Centre for Sustainable Development (ACSBD) are engaged in ongoing debate on the subject. It is a learning curve that many are involved in.

Read more…

Strategic Thinking in Business

Penny Swift
Professor Ronel Erwee, a core member of ACSBD’s strategic thinking research team.

Strategic thinking and organisational leadership has become something of a science; so much so that the Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development (ACSBD) at the University of Southern Queensland has a dedicated on-going research program on the topic.

Core members of what is known as ACSBD’s Strategic Thinking Research Syndicate are Prof. Ronel Erwee, Dr. Luke van der Laan, and Dr. Rene Malan. Together they have researched strategic thinking and strategy making in a number of private and public areas in Australia. These include hospitals, regional councils and a number of organisations. They are currently researching strategic thinking capabilities in regional universities, as well Australian companies that are moving from Phase 4 Efficiency to Phase 5 Strategic Proactivity (which are two critical phase models of sustainability in business).

What is Strategic Thinking?

Read more… 

CEO’s True Role

Penny Swift
The legendary CEO, Thomas B. McCabe challenged the role of CEOs in the mid-20th century. What he said then is what businesses now realize is in fact the CEO’s true role.

The ultimate objective for any CEO is to ensure maximum profits for the business – and if it’s a company, for its shareholders, specifically in the short term. Right?

Wrong!

While there are thousands of MBA graduates out of much-heralded universities, including the business schools at Harvard and Stanford that have been taught this, a growing body of business people worldwide are rethinking this maxim.

Instead of focusing on profits, the trend is for CEOs to recognise the value of business leaders concentrating on business growth through positive customer relationships and public relations.

 The MBA for the CEO

While there is no doubt that the internationally recognised Master of Business Administration (MBA) qualification has become one of the most geographically portable post-grad courses available, and one that is considered by many companies to be a prerequisite for managers and CEOs.

Read more…

How to Keep Your Best Staff

Penny Swift
Career Monitor Model

Twin Consulting is using a brilliant new tool to help business owners retain their best staff members who might otherwise suddenly decide to move onto greener pastures. Called Career Monitor, it provides a customized retention interview for valued employees. The process enables you to identify key staff members who are contemplating leaving the organisation. It also provides an analytical tool that can be used to ascertain what must be done to ensure valued staff members stay with the business and continue to help grow it and their careers.

The Career Monitor Process

Instead of waiting for employees to hand in their notice and then conducting an exit interview, the Career Monitor process involves a series of questions that enable employees to rate the business, as well as their role in the business.

Designed around research results gleaned from studies with 10,000 participating employees working in various businesses from 2008, the process includes a number of critical impact questions.

Read more…

Using Facebook for Business

Penny SwiftWhile Facebook began life as “a small project” that the young US entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg built (in his words) to “help everyone around the world stay connected with their friends and family”, it has become a powerful business tool that has taken word-of-mouth marketing to a new level.

More than a billion people all over the world “like” and comment on Facebook, on average 3.2-billion times every day. There is no doubt that it is a force to be reckoned with.

Like all forms of social media marketing, using Facebook to promote your business entails thinking out of the box. But it is not just about presenting an idea to your target audience; this type of marketing exercise involves engaging your current and potential customers. You provide an informative platform, and invite them to communicate on this platform. Good and bad things are likely to be said (so there’s a risk factor); and while you or your marketing team players can engage in the conversation – and lead it – you cannot control it.

But ultimately, what Facebook can do for a business (big, medium or small) is provide a very special “customized presence” for the company’s brands and for the business itself.

Read more…

CEO – Traits of Good Leaders

Penny Swift
Gilman Wong, CEO of Sirtex Medical, who took the top accolade in the 2012 Executive of the Year Awards, proving he knows how to be a good leader.

We have leaders and followers in all walks of life, not least in the world of business. But when it comes to the position of chief executive officer or managing director, there tends to be a perception of power and money – rather than leadership.

The hugely successful Harvard-qualified serial entrepreneur, Stever Robbins, himself CEO, COO and kingpin of several profitable business ventures, describes the position of CEO as “the most coveted, and least understood” jobs there is in any company. While people consider the CEO as a powerful, “magically competent” person, this is far from the truth. Instead, says Robbins, a successful CEO will delegate some of his function, and concentrate on being a good leader.

Duties of a CEO

Read more…

Using LinkedIn for Business

Social media has changed the world of marketing and become a force to be reckoned with during the past few years. But it’s more than just a social affair. The social media has given individual and businesses amazing options in terms of how we create, connect and share what we have online, particularly with a niche social network like LinkedIn.

Social Networking

Penny SwiftIt’s important to understand how social networking works, particularly for those in business.

In its simplest form, social networking involves forming substantiating online social networks for communities of people who share common interests and activities. Sites like LinkedIn allow users to create personal profiles and then interact using these connections, sharing media, sending messages and blogging. Most importantly, social network enable you – and your business – to extend way beyond your personal network.

Used correctly, social networking can be an incredibly powerful tool in your business operation.

The LinkedIn Concept

Read more…

Grow Your Business with Good Customer Service

Penny Swift

You need customers or clients to grow any type of business, so ensuring you provide good customer service is really a no-brainer.

Every contact you have with your customers gives you – and the other people working in your business – the opportunity to improve public relations and enhance the reputation that your business has in the marketplace. It also increases the likelihood that customers will continue to do business with you and ultimately increase the bottom line figures of your business.

Read more…

Grow Your Business by Networking

Penny SwiftNetworking is one of the most powerful ways to grow a business. The question is how to go about doing it the right way.

Hugely successful American entrepreneur, Jeff Hoffman describes the process as “a giant game of connect-the-dots”. You know you have to get from a certain point to another, but there are stepping stones you need to access to get there. If you find the right people, they can become a bridge that will help you connect the “dots”, at the same time helping you to save both money and time while you grow your business.

A Serial Entrepreneur Who Relies on Networking

Jeff Hoffman makes no secret of the fact that he has relied on a big network of business-orientated people to build his many entrepreneurial businesses. From his first travel software company CTI that he launched while studying at Yale, he now works with the USA government (including the Executive Office of the President) helping to support economic growth initiatives worldwide.

Read more…

Business Growth Through Failure

Penny Swift
Cass Phillipps of FailCom has learned to grow through failure

It is vital for any business to plan for success, but it is just as important to learn from failure. Failure doesn’t only teach us what we have done wrong, it is also a tool that can help us get things right next time around.

Writing in a recent issue of the popular print magazine, Entrepreneur, adjunct professor of journalism at Rutgers University in the USA, Christopher Hann made this bold statement: “It (failure) can be a useful, even transformational, force for better business practices.”

Accepting Failure Can Help Your Business Grow

Failure was, for many years, a subject that was taboo – a subject that was kept behind closed doors, or symbolically swept under the carpet. But failure, in one form or another, is inevitable, and thankfully many people are now happy to discuss their failures and share how they have helped them – and their businesses – become successful. Some have even established formalized forums and groups where failure is the subject of discussion. For instance:

Read more…

The Right Way to Market to Your Prospects

It doesn’t matter what size business you have, or what it is you sell, marketing is the element that could make the difference between success and failure. But it’s important to get your marketing strategy right.

One of the biggest mistakes that many businesses make is to focus their marketing messages on their company and themselves rather than the customer.

The fact is, to attract attention, you need to solve the issues that your prospects are having. That’s why they visit your website or business premises. They want help. They want to buy a product or service which will solve a problem.

If all you do is say “Welcome to our Website”, we’ve been in business for X years and we offer these products and services, then you’re not proving that you can help. This approach doesn’t pass the “So What” question. It shows that your focus is on you, not on your potential customers.

Read more…

Align Staff with Corporate Goals

Penny Swift
Employees need to know and understand your corporate goals and what is expected of them

To be successful in business, it is essential to have employees with the right skills who will play a pivotal role in achieving corporate goals. By aligning staff with established business objectives, you can ensure that they know how and why to use the skills they have.

Further, the investment you make in your employees – in terms of salaries and training – will be targeted, and will reflect the strategies needed to make the company successful.

It’s all about managing people. So how do you align staff with corporate goals?

Read more…

Improve Workplace Relations

Good Workplace Relations Improve Profits

Penny Swift
Happy staff work better and are more likely to want to contribute to the success of the business.

It should make sense to every person in business that caring for employees is in the best interests of any company or organization. It isn’t just that this is an ethical way of working; if workplace relations are poor, then staff won’t care. And that is enough to affect overall profits at the end of the day.

Management and supervisors should therefore do everything in their power to inspire, motivate and encourage their employees.

Businesses that Overlook Staff Values are Likely to Underperform

It is a sobering thought that the gap that exists between the way employees perform in reality, and the way they are capable of performing, costs companies in the USA somewhere around $100-billion, and in Australia, between $17- and $25-billion. Those are staggering figures.

Read more…

The Role of Human Resource Management in Business

Penny Swift
Motivation and training are both important HR functions

Human resource management (HRM) is one of the vital functions of any business, along with general management, operations, finance, purchasing, marketing, administration and public relations. It doesn’t matter what type of business is carried out, or what form of enterprise the business is, there always will be HRM activities.

In very small businesses, it is often the business owner or the employed manager of the business who undertakes the HRM function; but if there are at least 50 employees in the business, there will usually be a dedicated HR division.

Unfortunately too many small business owners negate the importance of HR, and in many instances decisions regarding employees are made that have adverse long-term consequences for both employees and the business.

What HR Managers Do

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Good Human Resource Management Requires Strategic Workforce Planning

Penny Swift
Critically important posts are not always easy to fill

For any business to be successful it needs people with the right training and talents in the right field – depending on the type of business you own or manage. But even the best human resource management teams face the challenge of managing supply and demand of people available for critically important job positions. You might have the perfect mix of employees right now, but what’s your workforce going to be like in a few years time?

Indeed one of the most demanding functions of human resource managers is planning for future change in the workforce.

While there is no doubt that Human Resource Management (HRM) is absolutely critical for the long-term success of any type of business, but there will be pitfalls that HR managers consciously need to avoid.

Pitfalls HRM Teams Must Avoid When Planning a Long-Term Strategy for the Workforce

Read more…

Australian Employers Fail Without Proper HR Planning

Penny Swift
Good HR planning is essential when downsizing any business. Photo by jurvetson (Flickr.com)

It is a fact of business life right now that many Australian employers are being forced to downsize. But without proper HR planning, they can damage their businesses long-term.

Results of Downsizing Without the Appropriate HR Planning

A recent survey undertaken by Drake International indicates that a large number of Australian employers are downsizing their businesses in an ineffective manner. Driven by the need to cut costs, many have not been concentrating on improving productivity or reducing waste. Instead they have simply been retrenching staff without appropriate HR planning.

The result, the survey found, is that the motivation and morale of employees who stay with most affected companies is at all time low. The direct consequence of this is that productivity is getting worse, rather than better. Dollars are saved short-term but not long-term.

Read more…

Fair Work Implications of Staff Working on a Public Holiday

Penny Swift
Snacks and champers might keep your staff happy during the festive season, but there are additional legislated entitlements when it comes to public holidays

Whether it’s Christmas, New Year, or one of the other public holidays that are observed in the Australian states and territories, employers have certain obligations in terms of Fair Work. And that doesn’t mean you can get away with offering a treat – like a Christmas party – in exchange for overtime.

Penalty Rates for Public Holidays

Fair Work Australia warns that if you decide to keep your business operating (or open) on a public holiday, most staff will have to be paid “penalty rates”, depending on the contract or agreement you have with them.

Pay and Penalty Rates

Since the Fair Work legislation (Fair Work Act 2009) came into force, the Fair Work ombudsman has been assisting businesses to phase in what he calls “the modern award rate” which is in line with legislated minimum pay rates, allowances and specified penalty rates. There are very clear pay and conditions guides, together with “pay tools” that can help you to ascertain the rates of pay for your business. It all depends which type of business you are in.

Read more…

Personnel Management Must Be Transformed

Penny SwiftOld-school “command-and-control” personnel management is rapidly making way for a “trust-and-track” approach that increases employee loyalty and productivity.

Rather than telling your staff what to do, you need to communicate why they should be doing whatever it is you want done, and explain your reasons for how it should be done.

It doesn’t matter whether you are running an office or operating a factory floor, old-fashioned transactional leadership in business and industry needs to make way for what is being termed transformative leadership.

And it doesn’t stop there. Employees also need to be convinced that those in control actually care about them.

The Key to Leading People in Your Business

Read more…

Focus on Workplace Relations When Business Structures Change

Whether you are downsizing, relocating, redeveloping or simply growing your business, your employees have an important role to play.

While it is true that there are times when they won’t be directly affected, there are reasons why it is vital to focus on workplace relations and ensure that employees know what’s going on. As a business owner or manager, it is also vital to know what your obligations are, and how your employees’ entitlements might affect your decisions.

Benefits of Including Employees in Change-Related Decisions

It stands to reason that when people working within a business are involved in decision-making and the implementation of new strategies, they will be less likely to complain and challenge these changes. This will make it a lot easier to implement change, and new strategies are likely to be a lot more successful. Ultimately this will result in employees being considerably more productive.

Read more…

How to Develop an HR Strategy for Successful Business

A good human resource executive (or department) will be a strategic asset to your business. But to ensure a brilliant HR strategy, a good HR professional won’t necessarily be looking at people first and foremost, but rather at business perspectives.

Put simply: first a good HR manager will consider your business needs; then he or she will look at your business from the perspective of the people working for you and with you.

How the HR Professional Can Add Value to Business

The concept of an HR professional has changed quite radically in recent years.

Previously HR pros were considered to be the custodians of admin duties, like payroll and dispute management. But today, a good HR person will be doing a lot more; including helping to build the business, and looking at how to improve the performance of the business. Of course budget constraints and other elements are important, but PERFORMANCE is the key word.

Read more…

Workplace Health and Safety is the Responsibility of Employers and Workers

Health and safety in the workplace not only protects employees and minimizes risks, it also helps to retain valuable skills, increase productivity, and generally improve business outcomes.

But this doesn’t mean that workplace health and safety is the sole responsibility of business owners and managers. In fact legally, the management of health, safety and the wellbeing of those in the workplace is a responsibility that must be shared between workers and persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs).

Australia’s New Workplace Health and Safety Law

Australia’s new Work Health and Safety Act 2011 defines “health” as both psychological and physical, and states that by working together to manage health risks and maintain wellbeing within the work environment, PCBUs and workers can ensure that everyone working remains safe and healthy.

Read more…

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