Time is Money – Invest it Wisely

Time is a limited resource for most business owners, so it must be “managed” if you want to achieve your goals within the timeframe you set. Time management (or SELF-management) is all about setting priorities and sticking with them.

When it comes to managing your time (or self) consider this: There is a big difference between activity-tasks that keep us “busy,” and productivity tasks that take us closer to our goals. Most business owners are busy, but are they busy doing the right things?

Self-management requires discipline (no doubt about that). And at the end of the day, you need to find what works best for you. Here are some tips to improve your productivity:

1. Know How You Spend Your Time. Begin to track your tasks for a two-week period and be specific. Then build a list of tasks and people that wasted your time (or money) each day. Make a special note of the interruptions. Most people find this eye-opening. Once you recognise the time and people wasters, you can take actions to fix the problems.

2. Get Organised. It is easier to perform tasks when everything is where you need it and out of the way. This means clearing off your desk so you have room to work and eliminate distractions. Everything should be in a file or binder (in a drawer, cabinet or bookshelf). If you need help organising your space, check out “Organising for Dummies” or get help (there are people who do this).

3. Create a “To Do List” and Use It. When you identify a task that needs to be completed, put it on the list and give it a priority (low, medium high). When you plan your weekly work, pull tasks from the list and always do the high priority tasks first. Don’t forget to continuously evaluate the priority levels you have assigned; time can change some of these.

4. Plan Your Work. At the end of the week, plan your next week AND at the end of each day, plan the next day. According to Brian Tracy, every minute spent in planning saves as many as 10 minutes in execution. In other words, 10-12 minutes planning can save you two hours in wasted time and effort throughout the day. What would you do with an extra two hours per day?

5. Block Off Time to Work on Tasks. The tasks on your “To Do List” will remain there unless you block off time to work on them. When planning your week, block off chunks of time and assign tasks to them. Don’t work on anything not on your list and don’t try to accomplish everything in one week.

6. Break Down Big Tasks. Big tasks can appear overwhelming (so they quickly get put aside). Break them into smaller chunks that are more manageable. Then schedule time to work on them.

7. Delegate or Outsource. Always look for opportunities to delegate or outsource recurring tasks or low-value activities. Did you know that 50 percent of time wasted in business is due to lack of trust? This is because the owner doesn’t think others can do it as well or micro-manages the team. Give your team the tools and processes; then watch them shine (and see how much time you gain for more valuable activities).

8. Use a Tickler File or Follow Up System. Lose the out of sight, out of mind mentality that drives many business owners to keep files visible. Rely on a tickler or reminder system to insure important deadlines are met.

9. Don’t Procrastinate. Work on the tasks you dislike (or those that are more complex) first. Then, they won’t be hanging over your head or causing your mind to wander. Plus, you’ll feel great when you check tasks off the “To Do List.”

10. Hold Calls (Or Send to Voicemail). If you block time to work on important tasks hold that time sacred and don’t permit interruptions except from a handful of VIP’s. Block off time to return calls each day at your convenience. You may also find that when you are not so accessible, others will handle the “issues” and some problems will actually resolve themselves.

11. Handle Mail (or Email) Once. When you go through the mail apply the following formula: Delegate, Action (add to ‘To Do List’), File or Trash. Do not put aside to handle later or you simply end up with multiple piles of unaccomplished tasks.

12. Strive For Excellence, Not Perfection. Results come from taking action. By striving for perfection, you delay taking action or delegating tasks to others.

13. Learn to say NO. Those two letters are the best time-management tools there are.

A wise man once said, “When you spend your money, you can earn more. But, when you spend your time, it’s gone forever.”

Time is your most valuable asset. Invest it wisely!

If you would like to speak with one of our business coaches on how you can use your time more effectively contact us on 01 891 6220 or email ireland@actioncoach.com

How To Make 2015 Your Most Successful Year Yet

Create Your Winning Business Plan for 2015

It’s that time of year when we look forward to the year ahead and make promises to ourselves about how we can do better in 2015 – both on the business and personal front.

You may set out your personal goals to go on that exotic holiday you have day-dreamed of, or buy a new car, or in my own case, build your dream home!

Similarly in business we all want to do better. Like any living thing, if a business isn’t growing, it is dying right! Therefore, for 2015 you may have a vision to grow your sales; to increase your profits; to improve efficiencies; or for example to launch a new product and corner a new market. But do you have a plan in place to make it happen?

Big vision thinking cannot happen alone. Think back to some of those great ideas that you had in your head that never came to pass because there was no plan to see them through. Having lots of great ideas and goals, but no clearly defined and written plan to make the most important ones happen is detrimental. What happens is you end up focusing on EVERYTHING and NOTHING gets achieved.

That’s why, particularly at the start of every New Year, it is crucial that you take time to develop your plan.

At ActionCOACH we highly recommend you take one day out of the office (so you are not to be distracted by all those phone calls and knocks on your office door) every quarter to:

  • Review your successes over the last year and last quarter, and identify the challenges you encountered. 
  • Set out your annual and your quarterly goals for the year ahead.
  • Make them S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.
  • Identify the strategies you need to employ to achieve these goals.
  • Select the team members most suitable to take ownership for particular project goals. 
  • Write it all down, share it with your team, and most importantly make sure it is a live document by setting out our team’s KPI’s (Key Performance Indicator’s) based on your plan! 

Once you have a plan in place you now have control of your business and the direction it is going. This is when your business will really take off!

By having a plan you are one step closer to reaching your true heights in 2015.

So let’s all get planning for 2015. What big goals have you to make 2015 your most successful yet?

By Fiona McGinn

If you would like some advice on how to write an effective business plan; what goals you should be focusing on; and the strategies you need to undertake to make them happen, then join us and a packed room of like-minded business owners, at our 2015 Business Planning Workshop, next Wednesday 14th January in The Maldron Dublin Airport Hotel from 9am-5pm. 

Call 01-891 6220 or CLICK HERE to register your place 

How To Become An Award Winning Business

As we move into the final quarter of 2014, awards season begins. But have you ever wondered how other businesses in your industry become ‘Award Winning’ companies and what you should do to become one? The answer is simple – focus & results. Results breed Results!

The rewards for becoming an ‘Award Winning’ Business are big;

  1. Ego booster: It’s always nice to receive praise for doing something well.
  2. Exposure: Winning gives you a reason to reach out to the press and social media and share your success story. In addition, the event itself provides a great opportunity to network with other business owners and with local or national press.
  3. Increased Sales: Promoting your success through the right channels will naturally bring new leads to your door as they hear you are the best at what you do.
  4. Team Motivation: Such accolades help to keep you and your entire team motivated.
  5. Recruitment: You will attract the right kind of team into your business – the best want to work for the best!
  6. Customer Service:  Finally, if you set yourself and your team a goal to win a business award the level of service in your business will improve.  If you win you will strive to maintain your great standards.

So, how do you become an ‘Award Winning’ business?

One of our clients Rhyno Mills, an agri-business based in Castleisland, Co. Kerry recently won Best Retailer at the ActionCOACH Business Excellence Forum 2014 which took place in Brighton, England. These awards honour the achievements of business owners and their companies, not just in Ireland or Europe, but from around the world. Rhyno Mills was one of six finalists from around the globe in this category, and was declared as the overall winner.

So what did Rhyno Mills do to stand out from their competition?

Rhyno Mills began working with ActionCOACH Business Coach, Helen Burns, just over 18 months ago. The owners of this family-run business knew their business had massive development potential but they also knew that in order to grow the business they needed to have proper management structure in place. To facilitate that process they contacted us.

In preparation for the anticipated growth phase, ActionCOACH began working with Rhyno Mills on all of the following areas of their business:


Firstly business owners Paudie and Joe set to work with Helen on developing a strategic plan for the business which defined Rhyno Mills Purpose, Values, Goals and Envisioned Future.

Having a clear vision for the company allowed the owners to identify and put in place the correct management structure to bring the company forward.

Through the employment of a new management accountant and the promotion of a supervisor to production manager the two owners, Paudie and Joe can now focus on GROWING the business rather than working IN it. Key areas of focus include innovation, strategic alliances and planning.

The team are now lead, empowered and supported by management and are also encouraged to work far more independently.


Communication has been enhanced through devising the companies – Purpose, Goals and Envisioned Future, and sharing these with team members. During a team alignment day with ActionCOACH, the team were actually involved in devising Rhyno’s company values.

Each team member also completed a DISC Profile. This allows both a team member themselves and Management better understand of each team member’s core strengths and potential.

Communication has been improved through regular meetings & training. Regular training seminars are held for the sales team including training from an industry-specialised nutritionist.

During the process, four team members left Rhyno. There are seven new employees and several staff members have been promoted or changed roles to better avail of their strengths and potential.


1. The ActionCOACH Four Hour Recruitment system has been implemented, ensuring new team members are the right fit for the company.

2. An induction program has been introduced for new team members.

3. A new sales system with specific targets, KPI’s and incentives has been implemented.

4. New management accountant and accounting & CRM system has been introduced to ensure all KPI’s are delivered quickly, accurately and regularly.

5. The sales team now each have an IPad so they have access to all relevant real time information.

The Results

The results that came from working on all of the above areas have been simply massive for Rhyno Mills and helped to earn them the title of Best Retailer 2014, beating stiff competition from around the globe. From implementing all of the above, Rhyno Mills have achieved:

  • 44% Increase in Sales.
  • Introduced new plant and systems which has doubled production output and enhanced the quality of their feeds.
  • Introduced new product ranges customised to individual farmers specific requirements.
  • Increased transport availability to improve on the speed and quality of their delivery service.
  • New specialised staff employed to deal with the current and projected increases in production and sales.
  • Increased focus on driving all aspects of the business.

On winning this prestigious award, the present Managing Director, Paudie O’Connor, said:

All our employees are highly trained people, whose dedication, integrity and ability we value immensely and we are committed to working with the farming community to provide the feeding and nutritional solutions that they require.

This along with other positive changes in Rhyno Mills have been aided by our business coach Helen Burns. We firmly believe that the potential for the company is enormous and we have only just begun to realise that potential.’

So, the question now is what have you implemented in your business to achieve massive results and which Award will you enter first?

6 Great Ways to Increase Cashflow in Your Business Today

At ActionCOACH, we often refer to cashflow as the life-blood of your business. By managing the money that is coming into and out of your business well, you will keep your business alive and allow it to thrive. However, even the most profitable business ventures will fail if they run short of cash.

If you are experiencing cashflow problems you are certainly not alone. In fact, cashflow is one of the most cited reasons why more than half of Irish businesses fail in their first four years.

Here is just one example of how we helped one of our clients in the retail industry improve cashflow and increase sales in their business:

The Challenge:

Our client had a very profitable retail cash business but were constantly at the top of their overdraft and could not see a solution to their problem.

When we started to work with them, one of the first things that stood out for us when analysing the numbers, was the high level of stock held –this was the core of their problem.

This particular company held over €500k of cost price stock, their belief, as with most retailers, being that they needed to have stock in place just in case.

We conducted an inventory check and found that over €350k (70%) of the stock was on hand for over 12 months. Therefore the bulk of the businesses profit was tied up in stock,  and in reality 60% of this was now out of fashion and unlikely to sell at full price. 

We also identified, when reviewing their sales figures, that our client was purchasing stock that they felt people wanted as opposed to what people were actually buying. For example 27% of the value of stock was one particular type of product, however this product was only 11% of sales.

The Solution:

The key strategy employed was to put in place a new purchasing policy to identify their A/B products – those that sell and have the best margin, and stop ordering C/D products.

Purchasing was reviewed weekly as opposed to the previous ad hoc strategy of waiting for the salesman to call.

We also renegotiated credit terms with our suppliers from on average 45 days to 60 days, which gave us more time to sell the inventory and reduce our Cash Gap liability.

Finally, to reduce the amount of stock on hand, we also opened an Outlet Store at a nearby premises to sell on the stock that was on hand for more than 12 months.

Year on year, we helped our client to reduce the amount of stock on hand held at year end by 27%.  Their gross margin also increased by 11% from 56% to 62%. We also reduced the amount of days spent in overdraft from 198 to 76 days.

Our 6 key take-away’s from this case-study in order to help you to improve your cash-flow today are:

  1. Conduct regular stock-takes and review your purchasing on a weekly basis.
  2. Measure your best selling & highest margin products.
  3. Stop purchasing those ‘hard to shift’ products.
  4. Implement a strict purchasing policy.
  5. Reduce old stock and increase your cash-flow by having a stock clearance sale.
  6. Contact your suppliers to renegotiate your credit terms in order to give you more time to sell stock and reduce your cash gap liability.

If you would like any further information on how ActionCOACH Business Coaching can help you grow your business in the right direction get in touch on 01-891 6220 or email: ireland@actioncoach.com

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