As employers, as retailers and as small business owners, mental health issues are often not far away from any small business retailer. The challenges confronting retail businesses today add to the challenges already there.
Sometimes, we don’t know we are experiencing a mental health challenge while other times it’s obvious and on show for all to see.
How we confront mental health challenges is important for us, our business and those presenting with issues.
While we are not trained professionals in the area, our years of working with small business owners confronted by challenges to their mental health have helped us develop some guiding principles.
Your GP is an excellent person to speak with. Explain to them how you feel and how this impacts on your life. Ask them to prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan. This is a government recognised plan. It can usually be prepared in a single double visit to the GP. This plan is the trigger to you gaining Medicare supported access to a psychologist for an initial number of visits, which can be extended depending on your situation.
Some people can feel a visit to a GP or psychologist is not warranted in their situation. While the medical professionals are the best to determine this, there are other resources you could explore:
Beyond Blue has published Business In Mind, a useful resource for small businesses on issues relating to mental health in the workplace. This is a good starting point for learning more. In the resource there are links to other resources that can help.
Finding mental health resources for small business owners dealing with mental health issues is not as easy as it is finding resources for managing the workplace for better mental health. It’s tough running any business and sometimes things can feel overwhelming. This is where networking can help as a first step, talking with others.
Small business owners feeling challenges within themselves need to treat themselves as employees and use the resources available such as:
We will help and support in any way possible. We would be glad to talk confidentially about individual situations.
It is tough work running a small retail business, working 70, 80 and more hours a week covering many tasks from business manager to cleaner to customer service to creating retail displays.
You can feel overwhelmed, snowed under and with your back against a wall … all at once, unable to make a decision, unable to move almost. It is not uncommon. Such are the challenges for small business retailers.
There is always something to do. Some days, often in fact, it can feel like no matter what you do you have more to do at the end of the day than when you started.
Here is our advice if you feel that overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do. Because doing nothing is not an option. Here is what we suggest…
Regardless of how busy you are in your retail business, we urge you to take time out every day for a brisk 20 to 30 minute walk outside, in the sun (or the rain), alone.
Leave your phone behind – the shop won’t burn down.
Listen to music or enjoy the sounds of the outdoors.
This is your time. 100% focussed on you. Your recharge. Your opportunity to think of nothing … and probably find that you have thought of everything once you return.
The best time to take the walk is when you feel most overwhelmed.
Walking, as a brisk pace can break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, the negative feeling about what is confronting you in the business.
Getting your heart rate up will be good for your physical and mental health.
A good energetic walk is an excellent opportunity to reset.
Being away from the business, other people and the phone will give your body and mind time to process – even if you are not actively thinking about the business.
If you are like me, stepping back into the business after a brisk 20 or 30 minute walk, you see things differently, decisions are easier, progress is real.
Days with a walk are far better than days without.
Footnote: this advice for business owners and managers to go for a walk when feeling overwhelmed is consistent with advice from mental health experts around the world. Better still, following the advice costs nothing.
Two weeks ago we published comprehensive advice for small business retailers on dealing with a cashflow challenge. It was not the first time we have provided business advice on cashflow management and it won’t be the last.
What makes us experts on cashflow management in small business retail?
This is a good question. We are retailers ourselves. We have 3,000+ retail businesses as customers. These points and our decades of service to small business retail position us to be able to help in this area.
Our advice was thoughtfully prepared, reviewed and edited, to ensure it spoke to the needs of local small business retailers, to help them in practical and genuinely useful ways.
We are grateful for the engagement of our small business retailer community, the follow-up questions, their engagement seeking help beyond our written advice.
Helping small business retailers beyond our POS software and with ready to use advice on managing a cashflow challenge is something we are proud of offering as part of our service at Tower Systems.
HERE IS OUR CASHFLOW ADVICE FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION.
In it’s simplest form, cashflow management is about ensuring a business has the cash necessary to meet its obligations and, hopefully, build reserves for the owners.
Good cashflow management starts with the understanding that this is your business. You sign the lease. You sign up for any loans. You hire, train, motivate, manage and, maybe, fire the staff. You choose what you sell. You set your prices for most of what you sell. You control how the shop looks. You manage the promotion of the business outside the business. Yes, this is your business.
The cashflow of the business is a product of your choices.
It is critical for every business owner to own their business cashflow performance. Blaming others or external factors is a cop out. harsh as it is, that’s the truth.
This list is ordered by priority.
DEALING WITH A CASHFLOW CRISIS.
A cashflow crisis is when you can’t pay your bills on time or a sustained period of dissatisfaction with the cash reserves in the business.Too often, small business retailers ignore a cashflow crisis, leaving action until it is too late.
Here is our advice on how to deal with a cashflow crisis.
The cashflow achieved by a business is a product of your decisions. Be thoughtful in each decision and single-minded in your focus on a better cashflow outcome.
Thanks for reading. We hope 2019 is awesome for you.
Tower Systems International (Aust.) Pty Ltd
E | firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a new unbranded marketing video we have created for small business retailers.
This is another in our series of practical, everyday, advice for small business retailers.
Gifts for teachers can be lucrative not only at the end of the year but also through the year by establishing your business as a destination for gifts for teachers. As with much in retail, it takes a commitment of time, space and capital.
While you can make money sourcing a teacher pack from a supplier, you will make more by taking a broader approach.
Our advice is that you offer a selection of gifts for teachers including the traditional plaques, mugs, apple-themed, frames and pens but this you expand the offer to include other suggested gifts such as scarves, Charlie Bears, soap, fudge, plush, jigsaw puzzles and other premium gifts.
Don’t be restricted by the traditional teacher gifts. Also, don’t be restricted by a price point. We suggest you show how two or more students could pool funds to buy a bigger gift such as a jigsaw puzzle. Show your customers how they can do this. For example: $19.99 or $10 each if two of you share giving this gift. Maybe even consider a whole of class gift.
Promote the broader range of gifts with an appropriate sign such as: GIVE SOMETHING THAT WILL ACTUALLY BE USED.
Have your suggested gifts represented together in a location branded as gifts for teachers.
Be sure to include cards in your range – Thank You cards and blank cards. Consider packaging selected gifts and cards together to make buying easy.
Also consider a discount if customers purchase above a threshold for multiple teachers. For example, you could offer 10% off for purchases of $25.00 or more. Choose a spend hurdle that suits your area.
Marketing and promotion tips:
In years working with small and independent retail businesses, the team at Tower Systems has learnt plenty including the indicators of in which retail businesses theft is more likely to occur.
we take a best practice approach to theft mitigation in our smart POS software. There are extensive tools that benefit retailer, provide peace of mind and help act against the scourge off theft be it employee or customer initiated and executed.
Our experience is that theft is more likely to occur in businesses where stock is not managed properly.
By not managed properly we mean where:
Our advice on reducing the cost of employee theft and customer theft is simple – follow our advice, manage your stock and without a doubt the cost of theft in your retail business will be lower than it would have been.
If you think the cost of managing stock is too great, think about the cost of $25,000, $50,000 or even $250,000 in theft. Yes, we see this all too often in retail businesses – where stock is not managed.
Managing your stock = less theft and less theft = increases product and increased profit = you get more when you sell your business.
2018 is not even half over and already it has seen considerable attacks on computers and on websites. Each attack reinforces the need for all businesses, including small businesses, to have appropriate security and backup measured in place to protect business data.
Appropriate backup means:
Our advice is that you use a cloud backup service, like the Tower Backup service we offer. It works in the background, backing up without you having to do a backup. If your business is attacked, getting back to a clean and safe place is easy. Any reputable backup service should be able to offer similar to you.
Please do not put this off. Get protection for your business and your business data. You don’t want to be the person who does this after you have been attacked.
At the very least, backup every day, onto a USB stick for that day. While this is an old-school approach, it is better than nothing at all.
But let’s be clear, cloud backup is our recommendation. Our service provides you with a local backup and an offsite backup, in the cloud. This gives you two backups, excellent protection. We monitor the backups to ensure they are working. If we find an issue, we proactively call you. This is rare from a cloud backup service provider.
Here at Tower Systems we take data security seriously. We provide best-pracie advice. Our customers are welcome to use our service or another, our recommendation, however, is that they do something – to be protected.
Too often small business retailers think about data security after they have been affected. Hence this advice here and in our weekly emails and elsewhere in our touch points with customers.
Small business retailers tend to like marketing they can see. Like the ad in the local paper or the catalogue in letterboxes.
You seeing your own marketing is irrelevant. In fact, it is as irrelevant as many catalogues stuffed in letterboxes.
The best marketing today is about entertainment, accurate engagement measurement, faster delivery and more immediate in-store engagement.
Take the old-school catalogue . Artwork, printing and delivery will take three to six weeks and cost you or your marketing group around $1,500, maybe more.
In many locations, that $1,500 could have funded 60 Facebook campaigns reaching 2,000+ people, carefully targeted with accurate data on engagement.
While catalogues play a role, that role today is far less than two years ago.
A retailer told me they liked the catalogue because they could see it whereas they could not see a Facebook post. This is an old-school view.
In your Tower Systems POS software, you can easily to pitch that you are locally connected business. For example, you can serve, on receipts, local information relevant in your area:
We can help you do this, we can help you show through the software how your business is better for the local community than any big business competitor.
BEING LOCAL BEYOND THE SOFTWARE.
Here are four ideas you could consider to show off a local connection. This collection of ideas is all about things you could do that are newsworthy for the local media:
While none of these ideas is about you selling product, each does better connect your shop with your local community and that is vital.
Here are other tips on boosting the local connection:
In October last year we published this short video for small business retailers with our thoughts on the imminent arrival of the first Amazon warehouse in Australia – in the context of then shrill reporting. we have received wonderful and appreciated feedback from customers about this.
The shrill reporting has continued. Our advice remains the same. We are grateful to be helping small business retailers grow in the face of change.
We get to see plenty of terrific VM displays in our travels in retail and at trade shows. here are a couple of terrific displays we saw in Atlanta a week ago.
Older employees can being terrific value to a retail business that is keen bring change to the business. Young employees cost less and this is a common appeal among retail business owners.
An older employee could bring more value to the business, they could leverage a better return on labour investment for the business. Here are other benefits that can be available depending on the background, skill set and work interest of the older employee:
When you are looking to fill a vacancy or a new role in the business, consider older person for these and other reasons you can think of. The could bring to the business skills and interest the you can leverage more valuably than the skills and interest of a younger lower cost employee.
Of course, the value of any employee depends on your hiring, training, management and motivation of them.
The post of this post is to suggest that next time you hire you think about an older employee.
Note: The federal government jobactive restart program can help Australian businesses that hire older employees financially:
Restart is a financial incentive of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over.
Older employees can bring new insights and energy to a business. The right hire could be just want the business needs to explore new traffic opportunities.
Retailers using the Xero POS software link from Tower Systems are well positioned to reduce the impact of employee theft on their retail business. Here is how…
Also, thanks to powerful data tracking including deep security data tracking, you can rely on this software to help you manage theft so as to ensure the impact on the business is minimised compared to what would be the case if you were not using the Tow3r Systems POS software Xero interface.
There are many stories from small business retailers where Tower Systems has helped uncover, resolve and even prosecute in situations of employee theft. We have specialist experience in helping small business retailers in this stressful and expensive area of business operation.
Tower Systems has brought its theft mitigation experience to the Xero link to leverage this ti maximum benefit for its small business retail customers.
In our work with small business retailers our help often passes from POS software help to business management help.
recently, we were asked for advice on when and how to quit stock. here is the template advice we have created, which is useful in many types of retail businesses.
Advice for small business retailers on quitting stock
If you want to quit stock, quit it, quickly. Quickly means different things to different people. To me, this think it means 7 days … gone and out of the shop in 7 days from when you decide to quit the products.
The easiest way to quit stock is for your shoppers to understand the deal. Understanding the deal starts with how you brand the sale.
A sign with SALE on it could mean anything. I suggest you NOT use this.
A sign with, say, 50% off could be confusing as they don’t know the starting price and some may not understand percentages.
Sign with HALF PRICE is more easily understood but they still do not know the starting price.
If you really want to quit stock, I suggest you have tables or dump bins at price points: $1, $2, $5 – or that ever is appropriate to you.
I have tested this. I have tried $9.99 priced an item at 50% off, half price and $5.00. The $5.00 pricing worked the best, by far.
This is our recommendation on quickly quitting stock: get the price messaging right.
If your price messaging is hard to understand or if there are too many different price messages you could be creating a barrier and this could stop you achieving the sales outcome you want.
Also: display the product for a sale. i.e. not pretty. Reorganise it daily. Keep it separate to the premium merchandise.
It is difficult hearing an adult cry on the other end of the phone when you pick up the call expecting it to be a regular business to business discussion. This time was different. Their story was one of hurt and pain, considerable financial hurt and considerable personal pain. They were distressed. They did not see how they could go on with business, they were so upset.
Our job in the call was to empathise and support, to not judge and to help them navigate next steps in what was a complex and unexpected situation.
The person on the other end of the phone was a retailer using our POS software. They called because they had just discovered an employee theft situation. While they knew they had tools in their POS software for early intervention on employee theft, they had not used them, until now, following a suspicion.
It turned out their suspicion was wrong. The person stealing from them was their most trusted employee, a family friend.
The first few calls with the customer about this were about them, about our customer, helping them navigate their own distress, so they could continue to function, to keep their business going, while they did what was necessary to have the theft dealt with formally by the authorities.
In addition to structured advice on handling any discovered employee theft, we provide help and support personally for the business owner, to help them personally deal with the violation they feel because of the theft.
We help the business owner(s) personally in several ways. These including pointing them to professional counselling services, physically being with them in the business when taking steps to deal with the theft, doing independent research on the theft so the authorities have the evidence they will need, being a pillar of support and strength for the retailer, ensuring they know we have their back and that how they feel right now will pass as they step through dealing with this.
While we are not professionally trained counsellors, we have been involved is supporting retailers from many different businesses in navigating the discovery and management of employee theft. We take care to support the person first, to ensure they are okay and reinforce that they will be okay. We help them as they pass through emotions ranging from hurt, anger, despair and hate. We take their hand and offer ourselves as a pillar of strength.
We do this because we have been there ourselves, in our own retail businesses over the years. We draw on our own experiences as we find this helps.
If you are new to owning or running a retail business it is likely that you have been too busy opening the business and settling in to have time to pay attention to basic advice about running the business.
Business consultants and others who advise business owners, too, often get caught up in big picture strategies and themes to deal with the basics.
In the interests of helping new retailers and retail shop mangers, here is a checklist of basic retail business advice, headlines mainly – not too much detail, just enough to remind you of key areas which need attention to build a stronger and more profitable retail business.
This checklist has been developed over the years of us supporting plenty of start-up small business retailers. The list is based on things we often see them neglect or forget.
We have grouped the advice into business areas.
Hiring, training and managing employees
Too often new retailers and retail store managers look for advice to react to situations. Consider the headline advice in this article early on and revisit it regularly to ensure that you have a strong and healthy business.
Tower Systems has the back of small business retailers.
We believe in their value economically and socially to Australia and Australian families.
Small businesses matter.
They give people their start in work.
They are an excellent training ground.
They often pay more tax as a percentage of income than big business.
They serve local communities.
They provide a level of personal service you rarely see in big business.
Here at Tower Systems we only sell our POS software to small business retailers. For the reasons we outline here. This has always been the case with us. We don’t chase big business customers.
Being small business focussed means our customers can trust that we have their backs in our services and in our software. This gives them confidence that the software they purchase from us is for their size and type of business. It means they are not using software that a big competitor also uses. This plays to their point of difference.
Here is what is different for our customers, by purchasing software from our small business focussed POS software company:
Tower Systems is a small business focussed POS software company. As our motto says, we’re here to help.