Category Archives: Business

Why you need report writing skills for business communication

Business communication requires a number of skills, ranging from effective presentation skills to the ability to understand graphs, charts and data. There is also the need to write effectively and concisely while including all pertinent information that can help to understand the communication sent out.

This is where report writing skills are important and will come into play. Report writing skills are different to normal business communication or simple writing skills as they encompass a different set of abilities, such as the ability to write objectively and factually rather than using emotion and persuasion in your pieces.

What are report writing skills?

Report writing skills are vital to effective communication in any office. The skills that are required for writing an effective report can include the following.

The ability to focus

This is essentially keeping in mind the objective of your report. You should not be distracted easily by information that does not relate to the report or is not necessarily needed for inclusion in the report as this will make for an unstructured and unfocused report.

An analytical approach

Being able to analyse and utilise data are essential report writing skills, as having an analytical approach will allow you to interpret the information you have been given, such as financial data, SEO numbers or performance data on employees. You’ll also have to make an analysis of the target audience, the purpose for which audience requires the report, the type of data the audience is looking for in the report, and the implications of report reading.

An objective mindset

When writing a business report that’s regarding an employee’s behaviour or a disciplinary action report, it is important to be able to take both sides into account without bringing emotion into play. Meaning that you will have to apply an objective eye to the information provided. It will not be conducive to decision making if you write a report that is fraught with emotion and is subjectively biased toward the employee in question.

The ability to be clear and concise

A report for business purposes does not need to be lengthy or convoluted, but rather it should be accurate, clear and concise, including only the most important details and information. This does not mean, however, that you should aim for a short document, but that you should practice the ABC of report writing: Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity. Your report can be over three pages long, but should never read like a conversational piece or include information that has no place in it.

Quality assurance

Simply put, quality assurance means the proof-reading, editing and fact-checking of a report, which further increases the effectiveness of the document and the information. It is important to verify every piece of information that goes into the report as not only will incorrect information reflect badly on you, but it can hinder any decisions made regarding the report, such as budget cuts or hiring a new employee.

How can report writing skills help in business communication?

Report writing skills can help improve business communication in many ways, such as improving general writing ability and boosting the effectiveness of further business communications. Some of the ways that having and improving report writing skills can help business communication:

  • The quality of writing in business reports will improve.
  • The content and format of business reports will always be correct.
  • General writing and document sequences will be logical and meaningful.
  • The presentation of business reports will improve, as will the formats.
  • The clarity and efficiency of all business writing will improve.
  • Organisation skills will improve, due to having to remain focused and accurate when writing reports.

Improving your report writing skills is of vital importance to any successful business communication and there are some effective ways that you can improve them aside from going on a report writing course, which in itself is extremely helpful.

Thinking before you write applies not only to report writing, but to every type of business communication you may be writing. It is important to ask yourself what the audience should know or think after reading the email, proposal or report. And if the answer is not immediately clear, then you may have started writing preemptively.

The writing structure you learnt in school does not cross over well into business writing, where you need to be direct and clear without writing long introductions and conclusions. Business reports should be direct in their message and remain clear and accurate throughout, so be sure to keep this in mind when writing a report that is meant for a business situation or will be read by an analyst or decision maker within the company.

Why businesses should be both on and offline

With the way the world is developing digitally and all about automation, it’s understandable to have expected “online” to be the only way forward. This, however, is not the case. Businesses should have both an online and offline presence and here’s why.

Offline to online

Offline only isn’t convenient enough for consumers. And while there are advantages to having a physical presence, which will be discussed below, making use of both will make business-life better.

Businesses may be hesitant to take themselves online as an issue of security. But if they get the proper guidance, training and security software their data will be protected and their business will be able to reap the benefits of being online. The online ecommerce platform is so large and diverse that businesses would also have to up their marketing game and learn about the rules of Google. But if you’re starting a business in 2017 and beyond, startup costs are more affordable by going online. So there certainly are benefits to online.

Benefits of integrating an online presence to a business include the ability to accurately and real-time track customer interactions with your site and products (in retail especially), to almost effortlessly increase the business’s reach and decreasing general operations costs. And those are just a few benefits.  

Online to offline

Online only is open to many customer service related issues, where delivery of the product doesn’t go as planned and is damaged when the customer receives it. And the process of emailing, phoning and trying everything in the book to contact and sort out a problem such as this is gruelling, frustrating and a waste of your clients time.

Online only is an expensive marketing effort and highly competitive market where a business is either easily found or on page two of Google’s search results. In other words, completely looked over. That’s why incorporating a physical presence, even in the form of a pop-up, can benefit the business and fill in the gaps.

Like the move to online, there is a hesitance to the issue of security when moving offline and operating in a physical location. But, again, there are ways to secure your physical assets and staff. As a quick and direct example, follow this http://www.turnstar.co.za/products/automatic-sliding-doors link for some security measures ideas.

The benefits to taking an online business and giving it an offline presence include “free” marketing efforts by having a physical something for consumers to see, solidifying a brand for consumers to physically interact with and the ability to establish and maintain consumer relationships, which encourages loyalty.

Why having both is a strong business move

One just isn’t enough.


Consumers want to enjoy both strolling and scrolling through at their leisure when it suits them. They want the option and the benefits that come with both, and what is a business there for if not to meet consumer demands?

And just because a business moves from online to offline, doesn’t mean that the innovation and technology have to be “dumbed down”. Customers are looking for consistency when interacting with your brand and there are ways to integrate the digital and physical experience in store.

Having both will drive traffic back to both platforms respectively. In-store marketing with promotional hashtags and online discounts will send people to the website to find out more and, likewise, online advertisements on the website and internet will send people to the nearest store to, again, find out more.

Therefore, having both means more business and happier customers.

Following digital footsteps

Some top online businesses that have made the integration into the physical-store world prove to be more motivation and inspiration for other online businesses.

Amazon surprised everyone by building a physical AmazonFresh Pickup and Bookstores. Their motivation was to give customers a drive-in pick up point after placing orders online as a seamless transaction. Other huge brands bridging the gap and creating new channels to conduct their business, are Disney and Under Armour.  

This integrative mission is all about the future of businesses efficiently satisfying the customer experience. Whether it’s a copy and paste effort of translating an online store to a physical building, creating a physical pick-up point from online transactions, or an effort to give consumers the option to browse and conduct business from the comfort of their own homes, there are, undoubtedly, reasons to make use of this omnichannel business experience.

Making team meetings efficient

No one really looks forward to Monday morning meetings in the office. You end up staring at the coffee shop out on the street from the window instead of listening and walk away when everyone else gets up. As a business owner or department head, it’s important to make your team meetings efficient. Productivity and morale will increase if you start the day on the right note and don’t waste anyone’s time.

Here are a few ways you can consider making meetings more efficient, obviously catering for your specific business, industry and team dynamic.

Agenda

You can’t expect a meeting to be efficient if there is no agenda to follow. Create an agenda to suit the goals of your meeting and be sure to stick to it. Have a greetings and quick personal catch up to start off with (using this time to take register as well), then discuss the agenda of the meeting so everyone knows what’s up, have your meeting and end off with highs and lows of the previous week, what needs to be achieved in the week to come and then down the coffee and get everyone back to work.

Having an agenda also makes it easier to write structured minutes during the meeting and make it easier follow afterwards. Minutes also provide outlines for the week to come where your team can start thinking about what they need to prepare.

Venue

If your team spends the whole day in the office, why not have your meeting out of office? In that coffee shop that Steve has been staring at all year. Changing up the venue gets everyone a little bit excited (like children going on a school trip) and they’re more likely to be invested in what you have to say. For some reason saying the same thing but in a different environment makes it more interesting and important.

If your company can afford to pay for a coffee for the creative team of six people, why not spoil them once a week while at the same time tricking them into attending a meeting? It’s also a great way for team bonding and it makes people feel more open to engage in conversations and business discussions.

Incentive & purpose

Your employees are more likely to want to attend and participate in a meeting if there is some sort of incentive involved (then again, who wouldn’t). It can be as simple as going to a cafe for coffee instead of staying in the office or bringing doughnuts if you need to stay in the office building and there maybe isn’t a coffee shop nearby.

It can also be more intricate like incorporating some staff training course material into a section of the meeting (nothing that will take up too much time) but something that your team can learn from and take with them at the end of the meeting. You can even start a kind of book club and get everyone to read a chapter a week of something industry related, and during your weekly meeting, you have a short discussion on what was taken from it and how it can be applied in your own business.

Whatever you do, make sure you end the meeting with a purpose or call to action. With the book club example, the purpose will be to read the next chapter. But you also need to bring work back into focus and make sure that when everyone leaves to get back to work, they know exactly what is expected of them for the week and what needs to be completed or brainstormed by the next meeting. It will force your team to stay alert during the meeting and make their own notes.  

Relevance

The best thing you can probably do to make your meetings efficient is to keep them relevant. Relevant to your team, relevant to your company and relevant to your industry. If it’s not going to help the team go forward, then it can be saved for coffee-machine chatter. Moving off topic can waste so much precious time and then you don’t end up getting to what the meeting was initially called for.

Timed

With relevance comes managed time in a meeting. But in every meeting, make sure your agenda, and the items on it, have a time limit. More importantly, make sure you stick to the time limit. Time is money in the business world and you can’t afford to waste it.

Minutes

Lastly, if you want the key points you made in the meeting to remain relevant throughout the week, you need to designate someone to take minutes and distribute them after the meeting has been conducted. It keeps those who were absent, or maybe not focussing, up to date with what last week’s feedback was and what this week entails.

Would you look at the time, it’s time for a team meeting. Don’t forget the doughnuts!

Your home (office) away from home

For most, their careers consist of getting up in the morning and going to work until the end of the day. At work, they interact with colleagues, use office supplies and equipment and stick to a strict work schedule. But for some, earning money doesn’t involve commuting to and from an office. Whether you’re a business owner, entrepreneur or sales representative, you’re likely to be based at home with sporadic visits to clients or partners.

This type of career comes with unique challenges. Your schedule, deadlines and interactions are all in your hands and it can be difficult to stay motivated throughout the day and week. Especially with all the temptations of leisure at home and plenty of time on your hands. If you’re one of these people and are wondering how to optimally conduct your business at home, you’re in luck. Here are some things to consider when working from home.

Your routine

At this point, you’ll know that a schedule is near impossible to maintain at home. Everything that makes your life enjoyable is under the same roof – food, television, sleep. It can be quite the task to work a set number of hours a day when you’re not surrounded by colleagues who all work those same hours.

In order to be your optimally productive self, you need to set up a routine that you can stick to. There’s no use telling yourself you’ll work from 8 to 5 when you’re not a morning person. Consider when you’re the most productive and adjust your work schedule accordingly. Just keep in mind that the people you’ll do business with will likely follow standard working hours. Keeping that in mind, working from 6pm to late won’t be the best option.

Once you have you scheduled worked out, stick to it by seeing it as your office hours. In other words, you have to get up and get ready at a certain time in order to get to work when you need to.

Your social life

In an office environment, you’ll have many interactions with colleagues around the coffee machine or over lunch. When you work from home, you won’t necessarily have these social breaks unless there are other people at home with you. This can damage your productivity as these social interactions provide you with time to clear your head and sometimes even the opportunity to discuss work-related ideas.

To avoid missing out on these necessary breaks, leave time in your schedule for breaks, social interactions and idea creation. Take some time every hour or two to make a cup of coffee and stretch your legs. This will get the blood flowing again and you’ll be ready for another productive session.

Avoid checking your phone constantly. Instead, leave time in your schedule to answer any personal texts or catch up with friends and family over the phone. Who knows? Gran might have a brilliant idea for you to explore. And lastly, head to your nearest coffee shop over lunch for a bite and a quick internet browse to see what’s going on in your field that day.

Your environment

Office spaces are designed to be conducive to work. Your house, on the other hand, might not be. It’s important to have a designated space for work where you can sit at a table and plug in your computer. Ideally, this space won’t be in your room.

In terms of the elements inside of the room, some planning can go a long way. Think about the kind of work you do. Are you constantly on the phone with clients? Make sure you have a phone nearby. Do you need to scan a lot of documents? Ensure that your scanner or printer is close enough that you can easily access it. Nothing ruins workflow quite like having to go find the equipment you need.

In order to make your workspace fully functional, you might need field-specific equipment. Whether you’re employed and working from home or running your own business, there will be equipment finance options for the apparatus you need.

Your sanity

Lastly, it’s crucial to look after your sanity. By implementing these guidelines, you should be able to strike a balance between home and work life. The most important thing to remember is that these things are separate. When you’ve reached your knockoff time, close up until tomorrow and get some rest. After all, you won’t be very productive if you burn out.

Remember why it is that you’re working. Keep the goal in mind and remind yourself of the rewards your hard work will earn. But also afford yourself the necessary time to rest and ready yourself for the next working day.

It’s time to upgrade your office space

Office spaces can make or break a company’s reputation. For many clients or customers, it serves as their first impression of the product or service offered. If not their first, it certainly contributes to the general impression of the brand. In today’s visual society, it’s no longer enough for your office to be practical and professional. It needs to say something about what you do and how you do it.

So, if your office space is still stuck in the functional stage, it might be time for some upgrades. Making minor changes will go a long way in representing your brand positively and increasing its appeal to your target market. Think of times you were in office spaces and how the appearance influenced your perception of the company. Whether it was good or bad, it definitely said something about what you were paying for.

Your look

The first and most obvious place to begin your upgrade is your office interior. But it’s not as easy as, out with the old and boring and in with the modern and stylish. Your office interior should match your company brand. This means that your office should reflect not only your products or services, but the personalities of the people who work there too. If you have a young and dynamic staff, it makes no sense to decorate your offices like a traditional study. The same goes for the inverse.

Start by giving your walls a fresh coat of paint. This is an opportunity to bring some colour into the space if that fits the feel of your business. Otherwise, simply applying a fresh coat of the existing colour will also freshen up the space. Next, try to change up the lighting in the building. Something as simple as opting for bulbs with warmer lighting can drastically change the feel of your office. You could also include some coloured lights in the reception area to add some vibrance. If there are sofas or other forms of seating in the space, add some decorative pillows for an extra pop of colour and detail. You can then easily change the office style every so often by just replacing the scatter cushions.

Your tech

With your stylish new office space, your old technology will seem out of place. It’s time to consider upgrading or replacing some of your machinery assets. Look into getting computers that will best suit the needs of the company staff and optimise their performance. There are machinery asset finance options for technology, which are available so you don’t have to use up all your capital in one go.

Next, it’s time to update how your information and data is shared in the office. Switching over to digital data transferring platforms such as Google Drive will not only streamline your office’s workflow but will also save paper and add to your green status. All your data will be in a secure and easily accessible location, and your staff will no longer have to lug around binder after binder of printouts.

Your staff

The final and strangely least likely place to implement change is with your employees. A common thought process is that a happy employee is a hard working one, but few business owners actually take this to heart. By implementing a few feel-good initiatives, your company morale will improve and production will soar.

Treat your employees to some new office chairs. Not only will this improve the general appearance of the office but with the added comfort, your employees will happily produce better work. Get a coffee machine for the kitchen. Your staff will be more productive if they can take quick coffee breaks inside the office. And the smell of coffee will add to that great new vibe you have in the building. Try out some bonding activities where employees can mingle and have fun inside the office. Start a lunch party so employees are encouraged to share meals and stories. This can be done in the normal lunch hour (so no loss in actual work hours) and within a budget. Simply providing beverages or snacks should suffice if everyone still supplies their own lunch.

You can also play around with other ideas like Friday games nights where employees stay after work and take part in card tournaments, for instance. Make it commonplace that weekly winners are rewarded with vouchers for time off. Interactive events like these can result in employees looking forward to coming to work.

Ultimately, you can optimise the effect of your brand on consumers by ensuring that your office space feels inviting. Your systems will function efficiently and your staff will feel comfortable and satisfied. Welcome to your new business.