Is this business continuity management?

Chesney Bradshaw, Lead Implementer and Auditor of ISO 22301, on Business continuity management

A business sits with more than R8 million worth of perishable stock three days before the lock-down period. What’s to be done?

Like other businesses of all sizes similar troubles arise.

Some losses have been unavoidable, but there are always things to do to minimise the impact of business disruption whatever the scale.

Questions start popping up from all directions.

What should we do about maintenance of our operations during the lock-down?

How can we continue to promote our business while customers cannot visit our stores?

What about paying wages and salaries?

If we run out of cash, what are we going to do?

Which employees are essential to our operations?

How are we going to deal with retrenchments?

Where can we reduce unnecessary overhead?

What if this lock-down takes longer than expected?

Did any of these businesses take time to think about business continuity management rather than stumble along in survival mode?

If they had, they would have been far better prepared.

A business continuity management system need not be onerous on management time and resources.

All it takes is coming up with a plan that identifies risks, assesses the potential impact of key risks and describes what will be done to recover after the disruptive incident.

If you need external assurance of your plan, a lead ISO 2301 auditor can run through your plan and system to determine gaps that need corrective action.

Instead of waiting for the next business disruption why not seriously consider calling someone in to help you with your business continuity planning. It would be far better to do this than wait for the next big knock that may knock out your business for good.

Need help with your business writing?

We have received many requests for assistance with business writing in the past few week.

People have approached us to review their CVs, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and even proposals to start businesses.

They want to write blog posts on my ideaaccelerator.co.za to help business people find customers. Others want to write emails to build customers lists.

Yet others are preparing themselves to jump into freelancing, consulting, coaching, becoming service providers and spinning off their hobbies into businesses.

I have more than 30 years business experience and have helped everyone from CEOs, managers, small (sometimes tiny) business owners and individuals (lawyers, salespeople and engineers and even horticulturists).

We will try to help where we can.

A quick review is free but if it’s work that’s going to take time and expertise, we can look into something mutually beneficial.

Are you worried about your email etiquette?

Are you worried about your email etiquette?

I was chatting to a prospective attendee who enquired via Facebook about the Better Business Writing Course.

Her main interest in the course was whether it would cover email etiquette.

It’s interesting that as a young person she was keen on email etiquette.

But she’s right. Businesspeople have many complaints about email. Messages with unclear subject lines, misspelled words, faulty grammar and wrong language. Spraying of “Reply All” emails.

Today with many businesspeople, even CEOs trying to look young and “with it”, the instant messaging, social media style of writing is flooding over into company business communication. But many feel uncomfortable with this over casual way of written communication because it’s not leading to clear and understandable messaging.

Let’s not knock instant messaging, Tweets and Facebook or Instagram comments. Take them for what they are worth. It’s a new style of writing influenced by social media and for those who want to feel in-the-know, up to date and look “cool”.

But social media Tweets, Facebook comments and instant messaging to friends and family just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to business.

Yes, in some workplaces, especially in those where top management is grooving on new advice from management consultants, it looks like the workplace has become a fun place, with smiles all around, casual clothes, employees on their cell phones taking social calls and having long chats and roaring laughter in the corridors.

Has everyone forgot how serious business is?

Have they forgotten that business is about serving customers and making profit?

If you don’t make profit, by serving customers with quality products at a price they can afford, then soon or suddenly the business will shut down. It’s as simple as that.

Many, many employees in this economy soon find out the reality of business. Especially when their services are no longer needed due to restructuring and retrenchment (because the business failed to pay attention to customers and profits).

In the Better Business Writing Course, I cover the foundation, bedrock of email etiquette — but much more than this. It’s about your reader and how you treat your reader.

A module on email etiquette is jam packed, brimming all over with advice, examples, things you can do right away to be respectful in your emails, warm up the tone of your written conversation with colleagues and customers and some special bonuses for those who attend the course.

If you’re wondering what email etiquette is all about and what place it has in communications at digital speed where it’s becoming harder to catch the reader’s attention, then book yourself on the Better Business Writing Course. It’s being held from 3-4 June 2020 in Johannesburg.

Places are limited deliberately to give specialized attention to attendees.

If you’re ready to book a place for yourself or your team members and want the course brochure, contact me via email on businesswritingacademy@tiscali.co.za or on our Facebook page.

Global study into writing effectiveness reveals businesspeople need to write more effectively

Less than half of people writing at work consider their writing to be extremely or very effective.

Key findings from the research include:

– Business communicators lack quality control in their writing process.

– Nearly half of all communicators find it difficult to know what their audience wants to read.

– Communicators are too focused on increasing quantity.

If you want to improve your business writing the Better Business Writing Course gives attendees two days of learning and practice to write with more impact.
I have 30 years’ experience in writing for businesses. I take attendees through plenty of exercises so they can put what they’ve learnt into practice in the workplace.
The next Better Business Writing Course will be held from 3-4 June 2020. Places on the course are limited to 10 for effective individualised learning.
Send an email to businesswritingacademy@tiscali.co.za for a full course brochure.

Better Business Writing Course 3 – 4 June 2020

Please email me on businesswritingacademy@tiscali.co.za for a full course brochure.

If you have a few moments, I’d like to tell you about the Better Business Writing Course. It will help change the way you and your employees communicate with colleagues and customers … for greater success in this uncertain economy.

The Better Business Writing Course gives attendees two days of learning and practice to write with more impact.

Writing well is crucial in an era where few communicate face to face, low attention spans abound, inter-generational communication is complex and communication at digital speed demands fast action.

Teachers and lecturers aren’t the real culprits of unclear and ineffective writing. Who’s to blame? Does it really matter? My point … better writing avoids damaging relationships and prevents costly mistakes to your business.

Attendees will quickly achieve better results with colleagues, customers, buyers, sellers and exporters.

Many people come into business unaware of business writing courtesies, hold false assumptions about using social media messaging for business correspondence, aren’t aware of cultural and diversity sensitivity and don’t possess the ability to put into words what they require from colleagues and customers.

I have 30 years’ experience in writing for businesses. I take attendees through plenty of exercises so they can put what they’ve learnt into practice in the workpace. This course includes more than business writing… I provide an understanding of business, including communication, selling, negotiation and handling tricky business decisions.

I’m sure you agree that securing orders and contracts, winning new business and retaining existing customers is vital for growth now. No one wants to lose valuable business through ineffective writing.

The next Better Business Writing Course will be held from 3-4 June 2020. Places on the course are limited to 10 for effective individualised learning.

To avoid disappointment, please send me an email for the course brochure. The early-bird discount is generous. A special package for holding the course inhouse is available.

It will make a big difference to your bottom line for a small but important investment in your skills or that of your employees.

Please email me on businesswritingacademy@tiscali.co.za for a full course brochure.

Kind regards

Chesney

Sweaty palms and pounding heart when you reply to a business email?

You feel tension in your stomach after receiving an email where you are faced with a rude or even hostile response.

With sweaty palms and pounding heart, you wake up at four in the morning with the issue buzzing in your head like a mosquito.

How are you are going to reply with an answer that is satisfactory for both parties?

It could be high stakes. It could mean the difference between you getting into a lot of difficulties, being reprimanded by your boss and your customer. What are you going to do about it?

Attend the better business writing skills course to find out how to deal with difficult writing situations. You will experience greater confidence.

Others felt the same way but when they attended the Better Business Writing Skills course, run by the Business Writing Academy, they found that they became more effective at handling difficult situations whether, angry customers, baiting and biting colleagues and bosses from hell. To attend, click on this link .

Businesses with a higher purpose (and it’s not what you think)

Photo by Marek Szturc on Unsplash

I’ve spoken to some small business owners recently who are helping young people, denied opportunities, into the workplace, to learn skills and also sending them to university.

At Business Writing Academy we make sure that at least one young person denied opportunities attends our professional business writing skills course at no charge.

One of the owners told me that his prime motivation for starting his business is to give young people, denied opportunities in large companies and corporates, to get experience. He is committed to assisting these young people excluded from opportunities. He’s very excited about his successes. One youngster did very well with him and was snapped up by a large supplier. 

Another business person I personally know has trained several young people. He gives him an opportunity for a decent salary and the benefit of his guidance and training. It’s wonderful to see what he has done for the youngsters of his local community where large institutions won’t let them in.

Another business person has gone yet further and brought in young people, who have been shown the door by large companies and similar institutions. He has sent one young person to study at university after training with him and is very proud of this young person’s achievements.

With young people being denied opportunities, told that they mustn’t even apply, chased away, small business owners are playing a great role in uplifting these young people from the communities where they do business.

Please don’t think these young people should come to you with “experience”. As the most successful business said to me, he prefers to take a youngster from his community who has absolutely no experience and he can train the young person himself. 

If you are a young person and wish to attend a professional business writing skills training course run by the Business Writing Academy, where you can learn all about what it takes to write business correspondence persuasively so that others will understand you clearly and you can make better progress in the business world, then contact BWA and we will put your name down for the next course. 

Closer to the time we will send you our selection criteria and a brief writing test to see what level you are on and whether we can assist.

Small business owners need to look their own local communities and their youngsters — these are the most marginalised in this society right now.

CEOs say job candidates lack verbal and writing skills

One senior executive commenting on the recent business leaders survey says society’s dependence on communicating via technology is stripping away verbal and written communication skills.

She advises companies to train employees on how to communicate verbally face-to-face and learn professional and business writing skills.
More needs to be done, using the available skills levy to train employees in verbal and business writing skills.

Companies taking on interns should provide them with the necessary training in verbal and business writing so they can be better equipped for the competitive and changing workplace.

The truth behind why companies are experiencing communication breakdowns, lower productivity and losing money and goodwill is poor business writing. Effective writing skills strengthen relations internally and with companies you do business with.

Book your staff on business writing skills training here.

(Source: 2019 Business Leaders Survey.)

Why aren’t your business communications working?

In these economically stressed times, it pays to make sure that your business communications are effective as they can be. 

Right now why not go check out your website or Facebook page and see when you last updated it. 

Have you recently looked at the emails your employees are sending out to prospective and existing customers? 

Just a cursory look at small and medium-sized websites shows that the way they are communicating and the content that they are providing are missing the mark. Sometimes there is too little information, other times there’s too much information. The writing is often dense, elliptical and not easy on the reader.

How can you expect to attract customers when your written business communications are not up to scratch?

Take for instance “About Us” sections on websites. Often they don’t tell an inspiring story of how the founder or owner of the business went about forming the business. There’s nothing about how the owner searched all over for a solution to a problem and had to come up with the solution himself or herself because there was nothing on the market. A kitchen company owner uses his story effectively on radio. In short, he couldn’t find anyone on the market to build kitchens as he wanted them done and now 14 years later he continues to have a thriving business. 

It doesn’t make sense to continue to leave your “About Us” section unchanged. Update it with something compelling instead of letting it lie there like a static listing in a business directory.

We are scratching the surface here. There are many areas where effective business writing can and does make a difference to your business income. It’s important not to leave this important communication to amateurs. Get in a professional, have them look over what you’ve got and let them go ahead and make the necessary changes. 

In most cases, the fault of ineffective emails and other business correspondence can be remedied by the business owner through sending their staff on business writing skills. Just remember that most of the training available is ineffective, produced by former school teachers and college and university lecturers who haven’t been exposed to the real world of business and selling. 

If you’ve got a problem with your business communications, let us know and if we feel we can help you, we will. 

Please remember it doesn’t make sense to continue wasting time and money on ineffective business communications when businesses are offloading thousands of people and global and local demand is at a low point. Scarce sales will go to those business owners who make their communications work for them in this economy.

Catering for the sales and marketing communication needs of small businesses

Chesney Bradshaw

Businesses are enjoyable to work with in communications whether it be sales and marketing because they predominantly have an optimistic outlook. This is particularly so with small businesses where the owner may have hocked his or her life savings on the business and is going flat out to prove that she or he can be successful. 

This energy and enthusiasm is contagious and work with entrepreneurs like this is exciting. It’s very exciting when an entrepreneur or small businesses has come up with a new business idea, a new process or system or even new technology – often these innovations can help so many customers.

I started a long time ago to assist small businesses with their communication needs. I remember my first one. It was a woman entrepreneur was starting a new domestic cleaning businesses way back when businesses like this were unfamiliar to households. I contributed in the form of writing marketing communications for her. It was most pleasing to see how her business grew and how her business fulfilled her wish to never ever work for an employer.

I have gone on to assist businesses with their marketing and communication needs ranging from search engine optimisation, social media for business to business profiles. This is over a period of 30 years and I have built up a strong foundation in understanding the needs of business, helping them to attract customers.

Those business people who keep quiet about their businesses are selling themselves short. They have may have good reasons for doing this. That’s all very well in a market with a few competitors. But when competitive intensity increases, you need to communicate – communicate with existing customers and potential customers.

A Facebook listing, not updated regularly or a website that is more or less a static brochure, won’t do selling and marketing for your business. You need to invest time and a little bit of money to advertise your company, your product and yourself (because people like doing business with people they know and trust).

If you need help with your sales and marketing communications, please let me know and I will see if I can assist. I don’t take on new clients without much thought because one has to see if there is a fit between the services I can offer and the business owner’s objectives. Even if you just need a review of what you are putting out in the marketplace, contact me and I can make some profitable suggestions.