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Workers and business owners alike held their breath during the last week of May as they waited for news on the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) annual wage review.

With the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) calling for a 6% rise and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) arguing to keep the increase at around 1.8%, the FWC handing down a moderate 3% increase seems to indicate that they have tried to balance the interests of workers with those who own and run businesses.


Slowed economic times a factor in the decision

There’s no denying that many Australian businesses are experiencing slower growth and rising costs – particularly in terms of energy bills.

While even a 3% increase (especially one that represents the third set well above inflation rates) will have an impact on some vulnerable small businesses, the FWC has been under pressure to weigh up business interests with those of the wider economy.

During a parliamentary committee back in February of this year, Reserve Bank governor, Phillip Lowe warned that leaving workers with less available cash to spend could put the brakes on consumer spending.

In handing down the decision, FWC president, Iain Ross, stated that he believed the increase would “not lead to any adverse inflationary outcome and nor will it have any measurable negative impact on employment.”

 ‘Must know’ stats and facts about the wage increase
  • A 3% increase will take the national minimum wage up to $740.80 per week (or $19.49 per hour). This is, incidentally, the highest minimum hourly rate in the world
  • This amounts to an increase of around $21.60 per week (for a full-time worker)
  • It applies to workers whose pay is set by the national minimum wage or a modern award (or, in some cases, a registered agreement). You can find a list of the affected awards on the Fair Work Ombudsman website or use the FWC’s Find My Award tool
  • The increase will take effect on or after July 1, 2019
Are there any actions you need to take right now?

The Fair Work Commission has advised that updating the pay tools with the new rates will take around 3-4 weeks. You won’t have to make any changes until they send out notification via email that the new tools are ready.

How business owners might manage the impacts

How much you are impacted by the decision will depend on what industry award your staff are employed under. If you already pay above award rates, then you may not have to make any pay increases (provided that the rate you pay is above the new award minimum).

If you do have to absorb a wage increase, these extra costs can only really be managed by:

  • reducing costs in other areas of the business
  • reducing staff hours
  • reducing operating hours
  • increasing prices
  • streamlining your products or services to only the most profitable offerings
  • adjusting profit targets

or, of course, a mix of ‘all of the above’. You may wish to consider seeking professional advice about how you can optimise your budget to prepare for wage (and any other cost) increases in your business.

And exhale…

If you have been holding breath for this FWC wage increase decision, then at least the wait is over. Now, you can start preparing your business for the coming 2019-2020 financial year. The fact is, business costs are always rising and are all too often beyond your control. What you can do is be proactive in making any necessary adjustments to your expenses and refocusing your efforts on serving your customers – because there’s truly no better strategy for growing your business.

The post What the 3% increase to minimum wage means for Australian business owners appeared first on Tenfold Business Coaching.

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The Tenfold team recently attended the 2019 Business Excellence Forum and Awards (BEFA) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and came away with heavier luggage thanks to the awards we won. For the third consecutive year, we won the highly contested award for Coaching Firm of the Year. And on top of that our business coach, Mace Rushgrove, won Business Coach of the Year. (This is the first win for Mace and the 9th time a Tenfold coach has won the award!)

The annual BEFA conference is always a great opportunity to tap into new strategies and cutting-edge thinking as leading business owners from Asia Pacific gather to exchange ideas and experiences. The conference also recognises outstanding performance in business, and it’s a field that is getting both larger and more crowded every year. The most inspiring aspect of attending the conference is looking around and seeing that every single person there is not only achieving great things in their business but they are still striving to be even better.

Some key takeaways from the conference:
  • You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  • You don’t get full time results from part time efforts.
  • The excuses you accept from others are the excuses you make for yourself.
  • Be x Do = Have. If you are average and you do average then you will have average. If you are great (your mindset, knowledge, attitude, skills) and you do great things (your behaviours, actions) then you will have great things (environment, lifestyle, self-actualisation).
  • If you don’t know where you want to be in five years then you’re probably already there.
  • Goals should stretch you. If you know all the steps to achieving your goal, it’s a not a goal; it’s a to do list.
  • Start now. Investing, learning, committing, taking action. Start. Now.

Thank you to our clients for choosing us to help you achieve great things – the awards reflect the results of You x Tenfold.

Thank you to our alliance partners who share Tenfold’s vision for delivering excellence for our clients.

P.S. We’re currently recruiting for another motivated professional to become a Tenfold Business Coach. Visit https://tenfoldcoaching.com.au/careers-at-tenfold-business-coaching/

The post Celebrating success at the 2019 Business Excellence Forum & Awards appeared first on Tenfold Business Coaching.

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Workers and business owners alike held their breath during the last week of May as they waited for news on the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) annual wage review.

With the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) calling for a 6% rise and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) arguing to keep the increase at around 1.8%, the FWC handing down a moderate 3% increase seems to indicate that they have tried to balance the interests of workers with those who own and run businesses.


Slowed economic times a factor in the decision

There’s no denying that many Australian businesses are experiencing slower growth and rising costs – particularly in terms of energy bills.

While even a 3% increase (especially one that represents the third set well above inflation rates) will have an impact on some vulnerable small businesses, the FWC has been under pressure to weigh up business interests with those of the wider economy.

During a parliamentary committee back in February of this year, Reserve Bank governor, Phillip Lowe warned that leaving workers with less available cash to spend could put the brakes on consumer spending.

In handing down the decision, FWC president, Iain Ross, stated that he believed the increase would “not lead to any adverse inflationary outcome and nor will it have any measurable negative impact on employment.”

 ‘Must know’ stats and facts about the wage increase
  • A 3% increase will take the national minimum wage up to $740.80 per week (or $19.49 per hour). This is, incidentally, the highest minimum hourly rate in the world
  • This amounts to an increase of around $21.60 per week (for a full-time worker)
  • It applies to workers whose pay is set by the national minimum wage or a modern award (or, in some cases, a registered agreement). You can find a list of the affected awards on the Fair Work Ombudsman website or use the FWC’s Find My Award tool
  • The increase will take effect on or after July 1, 2019
Are there any actions you need to take right now?

The Fair Work Commission has advised that updating the pay tools with the new rates will take around 3-4 weeks. You won’t have to make any changes until they send out notification via email that the new tools are ready.

How business owners might manage the impacts

How much you are impacted by the decision will depend on what industry award your staff are employed under. If you already pay above award rates, then you may not have to make any pay increases (provided that the rate you pay is above the new award minimum).

If you do have to absorb a wage increase, these extra costs can only really be managed by:

  • reducing costs in other areas of the business
  • reducing staff hours
  • reducing operating hours
  • increasing prices
  • streamlining your products or services to only the most profitable offerings
  • adjusting profit targets

or, of course, a mix of ‘all of the above’. You may wish to consider seeking professional advice about how you can optimise your budget to prepare for wage (and any other cost) increases in your business.

And exhale…

If you have been holding breath for this FWC wage increase decision, then at least the wait is over. Now, you can start preparing your business for the coming 2019-2020 financial year. The fact is, business costs are always rising and are all too often beyond your control. What you can do is be proactive in making any necessary adjustments to your expenses and refocusing your efforts on serving your customers – because there’s truly no better strategy for growing your business.

The post 2.2 million Australians awarded a 3% pay rise starting July 1 appeared first on Tenfold Business Coaching.

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Our last two blogs have covered how to end the employment relationship when it’s a definite case of ‘it’s not me… it’s you’.

But what happens when it’s one of your star team members that wants to break up with your business?

How will you know? And what can you do to stop them walking out the door?

  The 7 employee ‘exit signs’ you won’t want to miss

We mentor our business coaching clients to be on the lookout for these seven changes in employee behaviour – they may indicate that your employee has one foot out the door.

 

Sign #1: A change in appearance
  1. You notice that your team member seems to have suddenly invested in a range of fancy new clothes, a great haircut and is generally looking more ‘polished’ than usual
  2. your employee appears to have slept in their every-day-is-casual-Friday clothes and… is that mustard from yesterday’s sandwich in their hair?

Decoded:  If you notice scenario ‘a)’, then it could be that the ‘dental appointment’ they have later is really with a new potential employer. On the other hand, if your employee has stopped dressing to impress, it could be a sign that they’ve mentally checked out (and it’s just a matter of time before the rest of them leaves the building too).

Sign #2: A change in attendance

Is your normally committed team member suddenly showing up later and leaving work earlier? Do you find yourself approving a stack of leave forms for sick days, time off for appointments and holidays? Have they developed a habit of taking extra-long lunches?

Decoded: Sure, they might be interviewing, but it may be that they’re just not ‘feeling it’ in their job anymore and are avoiding it as much as possible.

Sign #3: A change in performance

Has your ‘employee of the month’ suddenly become the ‘least likely to succeed’? Is your normally dependable ‘do-er’ suddenly missing deadlines and doing the bare minimum?

Decoded: Behaviour is communication, so if a team member isn’t performing to their usual standard, you can be sure something’s up. It’s possible that they’re bored, feeling under-appreciated or have come to resent something in their working life. Time to investigate!

Sign #4: A change in attitude

Is your normally friendly team member suddenly hard to get along with? Do they seem more problems focused or (to be blunt) a little whiny? Are you starting to get getting negative feedback and direct complaints from customers?

Decoded: Your team member might be stuck looking at work through a negative lens. Listen to their rants and complaints and look for clues behind their dissatisfaction. Are their comments directed at any part of the business in particular?

NB: This one needs to be managed quickly, because when it comes to company culture, open discontent can become contagious.

 

Sign #5: A change in volume

Has your employee suddenly gone silent? Do they sit through whole meetings without contributing any ideas? Have they stopped being as responsive to calls and emails? Have they stopped socialising with the rest of the team?

Decoded: This could be an indicator that your team member is no longer as invested in the success of your business. It could be that their focus has shifted away from advancing your agenda, and onto moving their own plans forward.  

Sign #6: They are networking more actively

Has your team member started putting their hand up to attend conferences or industry networking events? Are you noticing that they are suddenly very ‘present’ on LinkedIn?

Decoded: It could be that your employee is growing their network in order to widen their job search. LinkedIn activity should really tip you off -it’s no longer just a place to post your CV and hope for the best. The business networking site is really taking off as a primary source of new employment opportunities. If they are commenting on people’s posts and their number of ‘new connections’ is soaring, they may have plans to make use of those new ‘business buddies’.

Sign #7: Your spidey-senses are tingling

Sometimes you can’t put your finger on just one thing, but you just get a feeling that someone is a little ‘off’.

Decoded: You should always listen to your gut instincts – even if you’re off-base thinking that they’re about to quit, they may be going through something else that requires your support. Starting a conversation might help you uncover whatever is making your alarm bells ring.

Decoding the signs is just the first step

So, you’ve worked out that your employee may be a walking resignation letter time-bomb? Well, that’s only half the battle.

If, after some reflection, you’re sure your business is better off with them in it, then you’ll need an emergency retention strategy.

Why do they leave? Why do they stay?

According to employment experts at SEEK, there are three main reasons why employee’s abandon ship:

  • problems with working conditions or environment
  • lack of stability due to organisational changes or restructure
  • issues with management or leadership

They also identified the top three factors (that employers can influence) that improve employee retention:

  1. salary/compensation
  2. flexible hours
  3. working conditions/environment

Consider your business from an employee’s perspective. Can you identify any areas where you could improve? Reflect on these insights as you prepare to talk with your team member about what’s happening for them in their working life.

 

Three questions to help you formulate your emergency retention strategy

Schedule some time to meet with your employee. You’re on a recon mission to find out three things.

  1. Are they, in fact, thinking of leaving? You’ll first need to confirm that this is what’s behind their unusual behaviour. You’ll get the best results if you just ask them about the behaviours or changes you have noticed in a non-judgemental way. Be prepared that it may turn out that there is something else going on for them, such as problems in their personal lives.
  1. If they are thinking of quitting, what are their reasons? Try to just let your employee talk without defending yourself against their assertions. They’re more likely to address your question if they feel like you really want to know the answers.
  1. What can you do to change their mind? This is where the gold lies in your mining mission. You could be about to hear some useful insights about your business from the employee perspective that you had no idea about. You don’t have to take everything on board but keep an open mind and really consider their suggestions for improvement.

 

If you’ve been fortunate enough to get some answers to these questions, thank your employee for being open and honest and let them know that you’ll take their views and ideas into consideration.

You can now decide how to use this knowledge to formulate a plan to reel them back in. The strategy you use to accomplish this will depend on the employee and their individual reasons for wanting to leave, but (to boil it all down to its simplest form) your plan should centre around re-engagement. All the research shows that a truly engaged employee stays put.

 

Tips for keeping employees engaged and in your business

To avoid these employee relationship emergencies, think about how you can build retention strategies into the day-to-day of your business.

Here are our top tips:

  1. Make sure that there are opportunities for employees to develop and be challenged by their role. This will re-invigorate their interest and keep them from getting ‘stale’.
  2. Working conditions and environment are mostly within your control – could you offer a more attractive salary package or increased flexibility? Could you work on improving your team culture?
  3. While organisational change and restructure is unavoidable, be sure to keep an open line of communication with your team about these changes. There’s nothing like uncertainty to make people look for more stable employment opportunities
  4. Seek to continuously improve leadership within the business. Allowing employees an appropriate amount of freedom to innovate and have impact often comes down to ‘leading’ rather than simply ‘managing’.
  5. Build a mechanism for gathering employee satisfaction feedback into your processes. It should never be assumed that your team are happy with the status quo.
Just before you go…

It’s a bit of a blow to the ego when you find out that a valued employee wants to leave your business. But the silver lining comes in the opportunity to view your business from your team’s perspective. Through open and honest employee communication and feedback, you can gain invaluable insights that will help you build a business that is also a great place to work.

The post 7 signs that your employee might be planning to quit (and how to win them back) appeared first on Tenfold Business Coaching.

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Do you have a clear roadmap to follow for termination of employment in your business?

Look, staff dismissal is not something you’ll ever truly get used to but it’s a skill that you must build in order to keep your business productive and legally protected.

If you don’t have a clear process in place for how to fire a team member, then you’ll need to fix that. Today. It is important to ensure that you can always meet your legal and personal obligations to your staff – even when you mean to end the employment relationship.

Our blog on 8 sanity checks to get you ‘off the fence’ about employee dismissal covered off the decision-making process, as well as how to give a problem team member that ‘one last chance’ – to set your mind at ease that firing them is right course of action.

This week, let’s look at the mechanics of employee termination: we’ll walk you through a basic employee termination procedure and give you a rundown of some simple (and high-level) steps you can take to help meet your legal obligations.

But first a disclaimer

We are not experts in employment law. The information included is not intended to replace formal legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for guidance about your particular case.

Step 1: Giving notice of dismissal

Best practice suggests that you do this in person. It is wise to have someone else from the business in the room with you during these discussions. If your business does not have a dedicated HR resource, another senior member of your team is the next best choice.

Let your employee know that they may have a support person in this meeting with them. They must understand, however, that if this support person happens to be a lawyer by training or profession, they are not allowed to act in that capacity during this meeting.

If meeting in person is not possible, you may hand-deliver the written notice at your employee’s last known address or send it via pre-paid post.

7 tips for having ‘the conversation’ the right way
  • Don’t blindside your employee – Let them know that the meeting is regarding their future at your business and that they may wish to bring a support person. Try to give 24 hours- notice of this meeting.
  • Explain the reasons for your decision – In most cases your employee will already know why you are firing them – it will either be the result of misconduct or a failure to improve performance in accordance with your development plan. (See our previous blog for ideas on how to creating a plan for improving performance). Redundancy is a bit different, because the employee is not at fault (see the below section on redundancy for more on this).
  • Listen to what they have to say in response – ‘procedural fairness’ dictates that your employee must be given the opportunity to respond to your allegations and intention to terminate their employment. They may or may not present you with valid reasons why they should not be fired (and you are not obligated to be convinced by them) but it is important to let them have their say.
  • Script it out – sometimes high-pressure situations make us forget important things we needed or wanted to say. Having an outline and a checklist handy can prompt your memory and take some of the pressure off.
  • Document everything – make sure that you have all details of the meeting (including who attended and what the agreed outcomes were) in writing. It will help to have a paper trail of all communication with your employee if you end up defending a case in front of the Fair Work Commission.
  • Prepare yourself for an emotional response – you can expect your employee to have a strong reaction, whether it is to get angry, shut down or even burst into tears. Hold a space for them to process the news and try to stay calm yourself. It’s ok to acknowledge their feelings and allow them to vent but don’t feel you have to put up with belligerence, threats or violence.
  • Allow them some dignity – time the conversation during lunch or at the end of the working day while there are the least number of other employees around. Encourage them to go home and take some time to gather themselves before they anything further.


NB: In cases where misconduct is the reason for firing your employee, it may be best to escort them from the premises to prevent loss of intellectual or physical company property.

 

Step 2: Preparing the paperwork

In most cases, at this point, you are required to provide your employee with written notice of the day of their termination of employment. You could also consider supplying a statement of service and an employment separation certificate.


Determining notice periods

Your employee can either work out their notice period or you can pay it out to them (known as ‘payment in lieu’).

If you pay an employee out their notice period, the amount they receive must reflect the full rate of pay for that period, including:

  • incentive-based payments and bonuses
  • loadings
  • monetary allowances
  • overtime or penalty rates
  • any other payments they would usually receive

The minimum notice periods are set out according to length of service:

Period of continuous service Minimum notice period
1 year or less 1 week
More than 1 year – 3 years 2 weeks
More than 3 years – 5 years 3 weeks
More than 5 years 4 weeks

NB: Employees over the age of 45 who have completed 2 or more years of continuous service must receive an additional week to the minimum notice periods outlined above.

Exemptions from notice

You are not required to give (or pay out) notice for employees who:

  • are employed in your business on a casual basis
  • are fired due to serious misconduct (ie fraud, theft, violence or serious breach of occupational health and safety)
  • are part of a training arrangement (other than an apprentice)
  • are a daily hire working in the building and construction or meat industry


NB: Always check the award agreements for your industry, as this will override the ‘minimum’ scenarios for notice periods and payments outlined above

 

Statement of Service

This is a document outlining your employee’s position with your business, their length of service and a quick summary of the work they performed.

Employee Separation Certificate

This is used by Centrelink to ensure that any government benefits or payments paid to your employee are correct according to their employment status with your business. You can find out more about submitting these online on the Human Services page.

 

Step 3: paying out entitlements

At the termination of the employment relationship, your employee should receive a final payment that includes the following entitlements:

  • any remaining remuneration still owing
  • any ‘pay in lieu’ of their notice period
  • any accrued annual leave/long service leave entitlements
  • the balance of any time off instead of overtime that the employee has accrued (but not yet taken)
  • any redundancy pay or entitlements if the employees has been made redundant and is eligible

You may deduct any leave ‘in advance’ that an employee has already taken but not yet accrued from their final pay.

NB: Failure to comply with your obligations under the relevant Commonwealth workplace laws carry a penalty of up to $63,000.


The difference between termination and redundancy

An employee may be made redundant when the business no longer requires a job to be performed. This may occur because of:

  • new technology
  • a slow-down in sales or complete closure of the business
  • a geographical relocation of the business
  • a restructure due to a merger or takeover

Since this loss of employment is through no fault of the employee, some businesses are required to provide a redundancy payment.

There are various rules and exceptions that apply according to the size of your business and what your industry award specifies. A comprehensive outline of redundancy for small business can be found on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

 

What about unfair dismissal?

The Fair Work Ombudsman defines unfair dismissal as “when an employee is dismissed from their job in a harsh, unjust or unreasonable manner.”

The rules are adjusted slightly for small business owners (ie those employing less than 15 people).

Most notably, for an employee to claim unfair dismissal they must have been employed on a ‘regular and systematic basis’ (ie full time, part time or casual) for 12 months or more. After this period, a dismissal will be deemed ‘fair’ as long as the small business owner has acted in accordance with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.

NB: If you need support and advice on meeting your obligations, you can contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

All’s well that ends well

It may be one of the less pleasant parts of running a business but firing staff is a necessary skill. The basic procedure outlined above should provide you with a springboard for developing a tailored process and policy in accordance with the particular obligations and legal requirements of your industry. Ending the employment relationship as well as you can leaves you and your employee in the best possible position to move forward with dignity and learn as much as possible from the experience.

The post Straighten up and fire right: A step-by-step of employee dismissal in your small business appeared first on Tenfold Business Coaching.

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The Tenfold team recently attended the 2019 Business Excellence Forum and Awards (BEFA) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and came away with heavier luggage thanks to the awards we won. For the third consecutive year, we won the highly contested award for Coaching Firm of the Year. And on top of that our business coach, Mace Rushgrove, won Business Coach of the Year. (This is the first win for Mace and the 9th time a Tenfold coach has won the award!)

The annual BEFA conference is always a great opportunity to tap into new strategies and cutting-edge thinking as leading business owners from Asia Pacific gather to exchange ideas and experiences. The conference also recognises outstanding performance in business, and it’s a field that is getting both larger and more crowded every year. The most inspiring aspect of attending the conference is looking around and seeing that every single person there is not only achieving great things in their business but they are still striving to be even better.

Some key takeaways from the conference:
  • You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  • You don’t get full time results from part time efforts.
  • The excuses you accept from others are the excuses you make for yourself.
  • Be x Do = Have. If you are average and you do average then you will have average. If you are great (your mindset, knowledge, attitude, skills) and you do great things (your behaviours, actions) then you will have great things (environment, lifestyle, self-actualisation).
  • If you don’t know where you want to be in five years then you’re probably already there.
  • Goals should stretch you. If you know all the steps to achieving your goal, it’s a not a goal; it’s a to do list.
  • Start now. Investing, learning, committing, taking action. Start. Now.

Thank you to our clients for choosing us to help you achieve great things – the awards reflect the results of You x Tenfold.

Thank you to our alliance partners who share Tenfold’s vision for delivering excellence for our clients.

P.S. We’re currently recruiting for another motivated professional to become a Tenfold Business Coach. Visit https://tenfoldcoaching.com.au/careers-at-tenfold-business-coaching/

The post Celebrating success at the 2019 Business Excellence Forum & Awards appeared first on Tenfold Business Coaching.

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There’s one task that fills small business owners and managers with dread more than any other: firing staff.

It’s the toughest of the tough conversations; a humiliating and upsetting experience for your employee and one that forces you squarely out of your comfort zone.

No surprise, then, that many business owners ‘solve’ the issue by avoiding it altogether. But a problem employee can do a lot of damage to your business and your wider team while you drag your heels, taking a ‘wait and see’ approach.

Bottom line: you need to take action. But the process for making the decision to dismiss an employee often depends on what they have (or haven’t) done.


Summary dismissal: Firing can be ‘easier’ when you have no choice

Sometimes deciding to terminate employment is reasonably simple – for example, when your staff member has been involved in serious misconduct. This is usually in the form of:

  • theft
  • violence
  • vandalism
  • fraud
  • a major breach of occupational health and safety

In many cases, immediate dismissal is often appropriate – even necessary – especially if safety is an issue.

NB: If you have a valid reason to make a police report about the incident at this point, be sure to do so. It can help you substantiate your case if your employee decides to take an unfair dismissal case to the Fair Work Commission.

What about ‘grey area’ dismissals?

Making the decision to fire someone can be more complicated when it’s an under-performance issue.

On one hand, whether your staff are not delivering on their potential or they fail to perform despite working as hard as they can, the result for your business is the same – the work isn’t up to standard and your productivity will suffer.

On the other hand, in a small business your team can feel like a part of your family. This complicates things, because you genuinely care about your staff, so you may find yourself giving them too many ‘second chances’.

You also may worry that you’ll regret your decision – what if all they needed was the right encouragement or some clearer instruction? What if you are sending them on their way unfairly or prematurely?

  8 ways to ‘sanity check’ your decision to terminate

When our business coaching clients find themselves unable to make a decision regarding the future employment of one of their team, we mentor them to look at the issue from a few different perspectives:

  1. Trust your gut – straight up, if the thought of firing them is occurring to you, it means that something is setting off your internal ‘alarm system’. It’s at least worth an investigation.
  1. Consider whether the role has ‘outgrown’ them – sometimes when a business grows quickly, or there are sudden technological changes, it becomes obvious that an employee no longer has the required knowledge, skills or depth of experience to do the job. If training or mentoring won’t solve the problem in the timeframe required, then you may have to consider letting them go so you can re-fill the position with a better ‘fit’.
  1. Ask yourself, ‘what if’:
  • What if I had the chance to put together my ‘dream team’ – would they make the cut?
  • What if there was a job opening in my business and they applied – would they get the job?
  • What if they threatened to quit – would I try to stop them?
  1. Get an objective perspective – often if we believe someone’s efforts aren’t up to standard, we’ll see their every move through that lens. Ask someone to objectively assess your team’s performance – do they bring up the problem employee?
  1. Ask your employee outright – if you have attempted to address this team member’s lack of performance in that past, ask them why they think they haven’t been able to make the changes. Do they blame others or take responsibility?

 

  1. Reflect on the cultural impact – by the time a problem staff member’s behaviour or lack of performance has forced you to consider termination, chances are there have been significant negative impacts on the wider team. Whether they’ve had to pick up the slack, put up with poor manners or constantly fix mistakes, it is bound to affect your credibility as a leader if it appears that you are failing to address the situation. If other staff are regularly making complaints about one of their own, the issues they are raising are likely just the tip of the iceberg.
  1. Consider the business costs of taking a ‘wait and see’ approach? – is delaying the decision to end the employment relationship costing you productivity, money and general staff morale? If the answer if ‘yes’ then you have to put the welfare of your business first

 

  1. One last tough question: are you partly responsible? – try to remain objective as you examine any potential role that you may have played in creating the issues you have with your employee. Ask yourself:
  • Have I offered and facilitated proper training in all aspects of the job?
  • Have I been clear in my expectations of this staff member?
  • Have I provided them with feedback explaining that their work isn’t up to standard and worked with them on a plan for how they can improve?
  • Did I (eeek!) simply hire the wrong person for the job?

 

Giving your employee ‘one last chance’

Often when an employee isn’t a complete disaster, or isn’t intentionally doing a poor job, it’s often appropriate to give them an opportunity to fix the problem. This, at least, gives you peace of mind that you’ve done all you can.

First, fair warning

You may have heard the old ‘three-strikes’ rule (ie that you are required to provide an employee with three warnings before you can let them go). This isn’t strictly true, but unless it’s a case of gross misconduct (where you may terminate employment without notice), you should give an underperforming employee fair warning.

NB: We mentor our coaching clients to formalise this process. While verbal warnings are legally valid, written warnings are preferable in terms of ‘evidence’ – especially if you end up in front of the Fair Work Commission defending an Unfair Dismissal application. Therefore, if a verbal warning is given, it should become your policy to document, date and sign off that this has occurred.

At this stage, if your team member’s employment is at risk as a result of their conduct or failure to perform, you should make this clear and allow them to respond to your assertions. Their reaction may be to:

  • apologise and ask for a chance to improve
  • share insights about aspects of their role that make it difficult or impossible to meet your expectations
  • reveal that they are experiencing personal difficulties that you were not aware of
  • claim that you are being unfair and refuse to acknowledge the truth of your allegations or take responsibility

This reaction can be very revealing about the character of your employee and may well affect your ultimate decision about whether or not you feel they have a future with your business.

Making a plan for improvement

If you are satisfied that there is a good chance that your employee is able and willing to improve, you’ll need to work together to create a development plan. A basic plan should cover these six elements:

  • Clearly communicate your expectations – you will need to explain to your employee what the expected standards are and detail how they are not meeting them
  • Areas of focus – list what they would need to improve upon to get their performance up to standard
  • What actions they must take – lay out a clear and specific plan for how they can implement changes that help them meet your expectations
  • Measurement – detail how you plan to gauge their improvement
  • A reasonable timeframe – provide a deadline for when they need to have achieved this by
  • Support – get their input on how you can assist them as they make these changes

Agree upon a schedule for checking in on how they are progressing with the plan. Are they making the necessary changes? Great! There may be hope for their future with your business. If, on the other hand, they just don’t seem to be lifting their game, despite all your ongoing support, its time to let them go.

NB: It is much easier to navigate this process if you have clear policies in place that detail (for both yourself and your employees) how things like performance, written warnings, development plans and dismissal will be managed. This way, employees will be familiar with performance management processes and will know what to expect.

Decision made… what now?

At this point, either your hand has been forced by your employee’s gross misconduct, or they have failed to demonstrate improvement despite being given every opportunity to do so. That’s it – they have to go!

So… what comes next?

Join us next week as we lay out a roadmap for firing someone the right way – ie with a compassionate and respectful approach that minimises risk to your business, while also preserving your employee’s dignity.

The post 8 sanity checks to get you ‘off the fence’ about employee dismissal appeared first on Tenfold Business Coaching.

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The average person makes around 35,000 conscious decisions daily. Cereal, or toast? Black shoes, or brown? Left, or right? Answer the phone, or let it go to voicemail… just thinking about all the sliding doors moments that happen in a single day may have you wishing you could just stay home and watch TV. (Netflix or Stan? Aaargh!)

Take on a leadership position – as the owner of a small business, for example – and that decision-making burden just got a whole lot heftier. Plus, the consequences of the decisions that cross your desk can often have a significant impact – not just on you, but also for your business, your finances, your family, your team, your suppliers and your customers.

Decision fatigue: the struggle is real

That ‘I-can’t-face-making-one-more-decision’ feeling that hits by mid-afternoon? You’re not imagining that. It’s called decision fatigue and it can negatively impact your ability to make the best call.

There are two things you can do to offset the effects of decision fatigue in your day:

  1. Tackle important decisions in the morning – sure, you can’t always predict when a decision will have to be made. However, if you can delay delivering your verdict until the morning, you could head off a major lapse of judgment. Schedule important decision-making in the first half of your day to make sure that you are fresh and focused.
  2. Automate as many small decisions as you can
    Simple things like eating the same thing for breakfast each day, ‘scheduling’ your wardrobe and allocating routine tasks to certain days of the week can all help to reduce the number of small but frequent decisions in your life. By lightening your thought load, you’ll feel less ‘worn out’ when you need to make a tough call.
You’re just seven steps away from making any decision

No matter what decision you are making (or which method you choose) there are seven stages involved:

  • Clarity – you recognise that a decision must be made
  • Get your data – you must work out what information you need and how and where to get it from. This information may be sourced internally (What do I want? What do I believe?) or externally (online research, talking to other people etc)
  • What are your options – there are usually several scenarios to choose from (or no decision would need to be made). At this stage you will need to map each option out to its natural conclusion
  • Weigh it up – you will need to call upon both your rational thoughts and your emotional responses to rank each scenario in order of preference. Assess the potential of these alternative pathways in terms of reaching your goals.
  • And the winner is – time to choose! While it is likely that you will end up going with the option that made top spot in your list from step 4, there may also be scope to combine some of the alternatives on that list. (Keep an open mind!)
  • Just do it – made your decision? Then act!
  • How did it go? – this might be the most important step of all (and the biggest opportunity for growth). Did your decision resolve the issue? If not, you may need to repeat certain steps in the process. For example, you could return to step 2 and gather more information that might help you identify other alternatives. You should also take the opportunity to examine what went well in your decision-making process and what might work better next time.

 

4 tools to help you make better business decisions

There are many ways to move through the steps outlined above. Since different decisions require different approaches, it can be handy to have a range of tools in your belt.

We mentor our Tenfold coaching clients to use a combination of these four tools when trying to determine the best course of action:


Pros and Cons ‘Plus’

There’s nothing like the good old ‘pros and cons’ list to help you visualise the elements for and against an option. However, not all elements are created equal. When hiring, for example, cultural fit is far more important than previous experience using an easy-to-learn software program.

This is where the ‘plus’ comes in. You can give the appropriate ‘weight’ to the elements on your lists by applying a points-based ranking system. When you tally the numbers at the end, you’ll have a more realistic view of whether the pros outweigh the cons (or vice versa).

 

Scenario Planning

Scenario planning is like creating one of those ‘pick-a-path’ books we all loved as kids. It gives you the opportunity to fully imagine how each of your potential decisions might play out, without having to live with the consequences!

You’ll need to:

  1. Choose several likely scenarios based on current trends within your own business, your industry and even at wider society levels
  2. Map out and ‘rehearse’ the future for each of these scenarios
  3. Use this information to make a choice that works against a backdrop of all the trends you identified in the first step
Pre-mortem

This is where you imagine travelling forward in time to a reality where the worst-cast scenario has occurred. You can then work backwards, addressing the steps that you would have taken to end up there. This works because it bypasses our natural bias towards believing that things will most likely work out. It also gives you and your team the opportunity to safely raise concerns and issues about each scenario, without seeming unsupportive or like a ‘naysayer’.

Red Teaming

This is a military method of quality-checking your decisions. By making it someone’s mission to disagree, you are provided with an outsider’s perspective (and a devil’s advocate). This method helps overcome ‘groupthink’ (where people in groups tend to agree to keep the peace) and highlights the weak spots in each plan. Your red team achieves this by:

  • challenging assumptions
  • exposing hidden threats
  • identifying missed opportunities
  • stress-testing plans and strategies

You could allocate someone within your business to perform this function or (for high-stakes decisions) you might bring in an independent facilitator to lead the exercise. Either way, it’s a valuable tool for boosting objectivity in your decision-making.

 

5 Tips to help you avoid analysis paralysis

If you’ve used one of the above tools to move through the seven decision-making steps and still can’t choose, you’re suffering from analysis paralysis. Basically, you’re over-thinking it.

These 5 tips might help get you over the line:

  • Set a deadline – applying a little extra pressure can stop you dragging your heels. Set a date (or timer if you really need to get the job done) and when time’s up force yourself to choose. No. Matter. What.
  • Go with your ‘gut’ – instinct counts for a lot when it comes to decisions. If an option seems like the best choice on paper, but something gives you pause, then trust yourself. Something is setting off that internal alarm. Go with what feels
  • Remember that ‘done is better than perfect’ – remind yourself that it is very unlikely that any one option is the ‘perfect’ decision. If there was a clear winner amongst the alternatives, then it wouldn’t be such a tough call. Trust the process – if you have done due diligence you can’t go too far wrong.
  • Understand that you can’t please everyone – sometimes a decision that benefits your business will be at odds with what other stakeholders (team members, customers, suppliers etc) may prefer. Instead of trying to meet everyone’s expectations, back yourself and remain positive about the choice you have made. You may be able to ‘sell’ people on the benefits once they understand your perspective.
  • Remember that most decisions aren’t ‘permanent’ – chances are that if you realise that you’ve wandered down the wrong path, you can pivot and head off in another direction. It may mean some inconvenience or extra cost but learning from your mistakes can be a great education.
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision” – Peter F. Drucker

The process for decision-making is the same whether you are selecting a tie or determining your next strategic business move. The only difference is that the stakes are higher, so you are more aware of that process. If you have trouble making tough calls in your business, the four tools above will help you weigh up your options and stress-test your plans so you can move your business forward with confidence.

The post The Tenfold Business Coaching guide to tackling tough decisions appeared first on Tenfold Business Coaching.

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We’ve worked with a number of business coaching clients who came to us seeking guidance on navigating the sale of their small business.

A few had received unexpected (and somewhat underwhelming) offers from potential buyers. They realised that they needed guidance on how to improve the ‘kerbside appeal’ of their businesses to attract the best price.

Some simply felt they’d taken their business as far as they could on their own. They were thinking about selling to someone who could take what they’d started to the next level.

A couple had simply lost passion for their business or felt ‘stuck’. Selling just seemed like their only option.


Every business plan needs a good exit strategy

In our previous blog series about succession planning in your family business, we touched on selling as a potential exit strategy.

The key takeaway from that series was that, regardless of which strategy you choose, leaving your business should never be done on impulse. A successful transition of ownership takes significant planning and preparation.


Six ways you can prepare your small business for sale

We mentor our coaching clients to follow this plan for preparing for sale.
(Fair warning: there have been some unexpected outcomes… but we’ll come back to that.)


Time it right: the lifecycle of a business

There are four stages in the business lifecycle:

Startup – Growth – Maturity – Decline/Renewal (or Harvest/Exit)

The ‘sweet spot’ for selling is often said to be somewhere between the end of the growth stage and the beginning of the maturity stage.

During the startup stage, any value the business has is tied up in its potential. The level of risk is most often too high for most buyers.

At a business’ decline/renewal, the business sits at a crossroads. A much greater level of investment, repositioning and change within the business may be required to entice prospective buyers to offer their best price.


Get yourself in the right headspace

In a perfect world, you’d have been thinking about selling your business since the day you started it. But realistically, not many small business owners think this way.

Most have an emotional attachment to their business; they dreamed of creating a certain lifestyle and an ongoing source of financial security for themselves and/or their family.

Look, you may love your business ‘warts and all’, but a buyer will be making a business decision, not an emotional one. To make the necessary changes that will attract the big bucks, you’ll need to develop some objectivity.

Which leads us to…


Change your lens and put on some customer-coloured glasses

This is the key to really whipping your business into the best possible shape. To increase buyer appeal, you will need to:

  • demonstrate an exemplary financial record
    No one wants a financial ‘fixer-upper’. At the very least you’ll need to prove that the business enjoys a stable cashflow. Make the investment and get the best financial advice you can afford – you’ll see the benefits come sale time.
  • remove the risk
    Aim to create stability by locking down informal agreements, long-term real estate deals and generally tying up any other financial loose-ends. If your revenue depends on just one or two big clients, you may need to work on diversifying your income stream. The ultimate goal is to make a potential buyer’s decision to purchase as easy as possible.
  • develop an independent, top performing team
    Make sure all your staff have completed any necessary training and accreditation and support them to fill any gaps in their skills and experience. Make sure that everyone in the business can perform their role in your absence. Being able to step away from the business is an attractive prospect for buyers. It also helps protect your team’s future employment with the business (since they are less ‘dispensable’).
  • create and document failsafe processes
    Processes and information are of no use to a prospective buyer if they’re all stored in your brain. They’ll want to know that your business is run using effective management systems. Make sure you can demonstrate the you regularly run up-to-date reports on accounting, performance and customers and act upon the insights gained.
  • show great potential
    ‘Room to grow’ is an essential element of attracting a top offer for your business. Buyers will want to know they can expect a good return on investment (ROI) and growth is a big part of that.

 

Spy on successful sellers in your industry

Just as with selling your home, keeping track of what comparable businesses sell for can be a good way to get a handle on the market and understand what variables affect a business’ perceived value. You’ll also get a feel for how ‘in-demand’ a business in your industry may (or may not) be.

 

Know your worth

There are a few ways you can get an idea of the value of your business. None are an exact science – there are always other factors involved – but even a general figure can help you make key decisions about what next steps you wish to take.

Value of assets
This method quite simply gives you the value of the business based on its current assets (cash, stock, equipment, intellectual property etc), minus all liabilities (debts, payments due etc).NB: This isn’t a very reliable method for valuing a successful business, since it doesn’t take goodwill into account. ‘Goodwill’ refers to the less tangible value a business has. Factors such as brand equity, reputation, business history, location etc can mean that a business’ true value is much greater than a ‘value of assets’ calculation suggests.

The ‘ROI’ method
This common valuation method uses the expected return on investment (ROI) to calculate the value of your business:

  1. Work out your average net profit (look at net profit for the past few years to give you some idea of how your business typically performs)
  2. Calculate the expected return on investment (expressed as a %) –  ROI = expected profit/cost x 100
  3. Calculate your selling price –  Selling price = (average net profit/ROI%) x 100

The earnings multiple method
This method takes your earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) and multiplies it by a ‘business earnings multiple’ to calculate your business’ value.

NB: Since the ‘multiple’ varies according to industry and business type, as well as the level of risk and growth potential of your business, we mentor our coaching clients to seek professional advice from a business valuer for the most accurate figure.

Keep an open mind about who your potential buyer may be

Its common to imagine that whoever purchases your business will bear more than a passing resemblance to yourself.

You may be surprised, therefore, to see a competitor or larger company come sniffing around hoping to ‘buy up the competition’. You may even receive an ‘out of the blue’ offer from an unexpected source – an existing employee, for example.

The type of buyer your business attracts will have a direct impact on the kinds of offers you receive. To achieve the highest possible sale price, we mentor any of our coaching clients looking to sell to stay open to all possibilities.

Of course… there may be one potential ‘buyer’ your hadn’t thought of

More often than you’d think, having made all the preparations for sale, some of those clients who had been so keen to hand over their business to the highest bidder, never quite get around to putting up that ‘for sale’ sign.

Anyone who has prepared their home for sale will understand why. Now that you’ve fixed up all the niggling problems and given everything a proverbial ‘fresh coat of paint’, you’re seeing your business with new eyes.

If, at the end of this process, you’ve done such a great job of preparing your business for sale that you’ve sold yourself on keeping it, that’s still a great outcome. Now you can just enjoy it!

A ‘seller’s mentality’ is best for your business

It’s important to build and grow your business in a way that ensures it would fetch the highest price possible – even if you have no intention of ever selling. Why? It forces you to adopt best practices. By optimising your business ‘for sale’ you unlock all the potential. Then, by choosing to stay in it, you get to be the lucky one who reaps those rewards.

The post How preparing your business for sale can help unlock its potential appeared first on Tenfold Business Coaching.

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What makes you so special? Why should customers choose your business over all the others out there doing the same thing?

If trying to answer those questions gets you down, don’t despair just yet.

Sure, chances are that your business is just one of many in your local marketplace offering your product or service. And new competitors enter the market All. The. Time.

BUT

As an established business, you have an edge over any fresh competitors. New businesses are untested in the market – they’ll need to create a way to differentiate themselves. That may (or may not) be in line with what customers are looking for.

There is already something about your business that makes you unique. That ‘secret sauce’ that makes your loyal customers choose your product or service and recommend it to their friends.

You just haven’t uncovered it yet.

  A compelling reason to buy

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what helps your brand stand out from the crowd. You may sometimes hear it called your ‘point of difference’ (POD). Either way, it’s a statement about the value you bring to your customers’ lives.

 

It means you can stop trying to be ‘all things to all people’

When you ask the average business owner who is their target market, they’ll often shoot back with ‘anyone with a pulse’. But the truth is, when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.


Fun fact: sometimes your target market is your USP

Well, the fact that you only serve them. particularly if you are a service-based business. When you can concentrate on truly meeting the needs of one specific group of customers, your whole business becomes so much more focused.

You’ll also carve out a reputation as the expert in your niche. Once every element – from your service packages to your phone message – is designed to delight that particular group of customers (who no one else is chasing), competition is much less of an issue. Why would they go to anyone else?

 

What else might your USP be?

There is no right answer to this question. Your USP is most likely hiding somewhere unexpected. It may lie in your location, your processes, your suppliers, your customer service, a promotional offer or guarantee, your brand story, your personality, your values…

In fact, it’s easier to say what it shouldn’t be.


It’s probably not that your product or service is ‘the best’

This claim is hard to prove and a very subjective one at that. Plus, it puts you in competition with everyone else. The ultimate goal when uncovering your USP is to find a way to operate in a market of one.

Don’t try to be ‘unique’ for the sake of it

Make sure your USP meets a demand or need. There’s not much point being the only place that sells snow gear near Uluru.

It’s not something you can just ‘make up’

Your USP must be truthful – something that you and your team believe about your business. If you don’t buy it, there’s no way that your customers will.

For example, you can’t honestly market a home renovation company as ‘convenient’. Customers wouldn’t believe it – they know that even the most minor of renovations always lead to upheaval at some point. But (as long as it is true) you could highlight that your experienced team works quickly, respectfully and uses proven systems to reduce the impacts of your work on their daily lives as much as possible. That sounds credible (and very appealing).

What might help you discover your USP? Try to learn from the best

If you need some examples of how to identify what your ‘thing’ is, take a look at some of the biggest brands.  A great example is from car hire company, Avis. A while back, they were a consistent runner up to market leader, Hertz. Turning this seeming negative into a positive, they put it right out there in their tagline ‘We’re number 2. We try harder.’ A bold move – but it tripled their market share in just four years. Who doesn’t love an underdog?

Zig when others zag

It seems obvious, but it bears repeating that you should keep an eye on the competition and make sure your USP goes against the grain.

Take Aldi. They could have tried to compete with Woolworths on ‘freshness’. They may have pointed that while Coles’ prices may be ‘down’, Aldi’s are lower still.

Nah.

Aldi knows that their unique selling point is that they are… well, unique. Perhaps, even, a little odd. But in the best kind of way. The prices are low, the service is low-touch and there’s that whole ‘middle section’ – where else can you buy a jackhammer, a mini solar panel and an electric tie rack when you pop in for milk and bread? So, they went with ‘Good different’ – it sums them up nicely.


Understand that features aren’t benefits

Some USPs are weak because they focus on a feature, rather than the benefit to the customer. For example, a corporate cleaning company shouldn’t focus on the fact that they get your office clean. That’s a given. But maybe they happen to use low-allergen products, reducing asthma flare-ups (and therefore employee sick days). This benefit to the customer may form the basis for their USP.


Mind your (4) Ps

Product. Price. Place (or distribution). Promotion. These are the 4 Ps of marketing. There may be something you do differently from your competitors in one of these elements. Online gifting company, RedBalloon, nails all four ‘Ps’ but chose the convenience of their online distribution channel (place) as the basis for their USP. Being able to shop a wide array of options in one place makes choosing a perfect – and maybe slightly unusual – gift incredibly easy for their customers. Even at the last minute. That’s an easy sell.

Go through the (e)motions

USPs are not always purely logical. There may be an emotional reason why customers might prefer your brand over the competition. First you will need to understand what emotional needs your customers have, then you can work out how you meet them. A high-end garden and lawn maintenance company might, for example, build their USP around their customers’ desire to ‘keep up with the joneses’.

 

The most important source of intel: your customers!

Like I said, as an established business, you have been tested in the market. There’s a reason why your loyal customers keep coming back for more. If you haven’t done it yet, ask them why they choose you.

Make it a regular part of your sales process to ask for a review and you’ll have a constant stream of insights. Look for patterns in the positive feedback – your customers may just serve your USP up to you on a silver platter.

 

USP in action: my local pizza places

I’m not sure if they got together and held a USP summit, but the pizza shops in my local area have this ‘point of difference’ thing licked.

There’s one place that makes tasty, mid-priced pizzas. Nothing revolutionary toppings-wise but they’re dependably good, offer online ordering and a reliable delivery service. Plus, they make a must-try Nutella dessert pizza. Yum.

There’s a second place that makes high-end woodfired pizza with exotic toppings. They charge at least 25% more but they really are premium (there are things drizzled with truffle oil on the menu). There’s an eat-in option in a classy but family friendly environment. They play nice music and serve wine. There is takeaway (pickup – no delivery). BUT no Nutella pizza.

There’s another pizza store that’s a little way further from me. It has OK pizza at low prices. It delivers. It’s not as reliably great at the first option (plus, again, no Nutella option). BUT it is always open – even on days when everything is shut.

Try to get an order from any of these places on a Friday night and you’ll need to wait at least 45 mins. They are all wildly successful because they are not really in competition with each other. They all serve very different groups of people with very different needs.

Once you find it, spread it everywhere

Having a USP will help you really turbo-charge your branding, marketing and sales efforts. Everything should be geared towards clearly communicating your USP to your customers. Your logo, taglines, website copy, even the colours you use in your marketing materials should be developed with your USP in mind.

Once you have your USP, you can be more confident that you will be more effective at connecting with your customers. Afer all, the whole concept of a unique selling point is customer-centric – it’s not about why you are in business, it is about which people choose you and why.     

No one is ‘you-er’ than you

Uncovering your USP is an important step in really growing your business. It makes positioning and marketing yourself so much easier, because it offers a clear vision of who your products and services are for. It also makes deciding to buy from you a breeze for your customers. They won’t need to sift through all the options when you make it so easy to see why you are the right choice for them.

So, even if you haven’t yet discovered that ‘specialness’ that makes your customers choose you every time, rest assured that (in some small but important way) your business is unique. Just like everyone else’s.

The post What’s your ‘secret sauce’? Uncovering your business’ USP appeared first on Tenfold Business Coaching.

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