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Category Archives for Office Organisation

Time To Plan For The Year Ahead

Happy 2011! The start of a new year is always an exciting time for me. I love the thoughts of what the year ahead might bring … a time for planning for the year ahead and going after my goals – personal and business – with great gusto. I usually take some time in the first week or two of January to really focus on my own business – reviewing, planning and setting goals. Something that helps me with this process is a 30 Point New Year Business Checklist that I drew up about 5 years ago, just for my own use. Since then I’ve been sharing it with all my clients and, if you think it might be helpful for you, I’m happy to share it with you too. No catch … no cost … just click the image below to download my checklist now.

Donna-Marie's 30 Point New Year Business Checklist

No matter what sort of business you are in, I wish you a safe, healthy, prosperous and, most of all, a very happy 2011!

Top 7 Free Mind Mapping and Flow Chart Programs

Mind mapping and flow charting are great ways to brainstorm and get thoughts down on paper quickly and easily and are a fantastic resource for success in small business.

Many people may not realise that there are several web applications that allow you to create mind maps and flow charts for free. Check out these seven top mind mapping and flow chart programs:

  1. Bubbl.us – Bubbl.us can make some great looking charts. It’s a good tool for creating charts that you plan to print and distribute. Using it is not exactly intuitive, however with a bit of playing around it’s not too hard to figure out.
  2. Lovely Charts – This free site can make some very attractive charts, too. It has colorful graphics and is very easy to use. It also allows you to make some really cool organisational charts. Their 90 second tutorial will explain how to get started.
  3. Mindmeister – This is another online mapping tool that’s very easy to use. I like that it integrates with Twitter and iPhone.
  4. Xmind – This application is also quite straight-forward to use. You don’t actually use it online, however. Instead, it’s downloaded to your computer. The basic version is free, or you can buy a one year subscription to the professional version for $49 (US).
  5. Freemind – This is another downloadable software tool that helps with mind mapping and general organisation of thoughts and tasks. It is a finalist for the 2009 Community Choice Award in the category “Most likely to change the way you do everything”!
  6. Gliffy – Gliffy is a great tool that is user friendly and intuitive. You don’t even have to sign up to try it out. And, in addition to creating flow charts and mind maps, you can draw floor plans, create Venn diagrams and do all sorts of other cool stuff.
  7. Mindomo – This program is completely online, and is a great mind mapping tool. I wasn’t sure whether to include this in the list as the free version limits you to seven private maps. However you can purchase a paid subscription for $6-$9 a month. So while the ‘free’ component is limited, I decided to include this in the list anyway as it’s definitely worth considering.

My suggestion is that you try out all these free mind mapping and charting tools and compare them for yourself. You’re sure to find one that you feel comfortable with and may be surprised by how much this can help you with all your business and personal plans and projects.

Safety In Your Workplace … Even If You Work From Home

As a business owner, you owe a duty of care to keep all people involved in your business safe to the most reasonable extent possible. Failure to make your business safe could result in injury, liability, or lawsuits, which could damage you more than financially. Even if you work from home, knowing what you need to be aware of should be part of your overall business management strategy.

Success In Small Business Means Safety For All

When business owners talk about safety in the workplace, the first thought is often for workers or employees. But in reality, small business safety is about keeping everyone safe – everyone from you to your clients and customers, and even to the delivery person. Your level of care and responsibility will directly impact your success in small business, as any injury or accident could easily put you out of business or at the very least impact the rates and fees you pay on insurance and settlements.

When you think about safety in the workplace, think about it from all perspectives. Consider all the individuals, including children and adults, who might come into contact with your place of business, and who might require you to think outside the box a little to keep them safe.

Small Business Safety – Things Big, Things Small

Big, glaring safety hazards may be obvious corrections to make, but it is often the little things that are overlooked that cause trouble and safety issues. Look at every aspect of your business and infrastructure to ensure safety.

  • Look at large units like heating, air conditioning, and electrical systems and equipment, and hire licensed professionals for maintenance and repairs
  • Look at small hazards like sharp objects, loosened fixtures, uncovered wall plugs, and peeling paint (especially if it is old)
  • Take care with chemicals that are used – store away from the public and train staff to use responsibly and safely
  • Check and maintain guards and safety mechanisms on mechanical equipment; be sure all equipment is regularly inspected and in good working order
  • Properly store flammable liquids and gases and use responsibly
  • Be sure poisons and acids are properly used and kept strictly away from the public
  • Train staff in their jobs, proper handling, and emergency procedures
  • Be sure that emergency equipment such as washes and fire extinguishers are always readily available, and always in working order
  • Prepare emergency and evacuation plans
  • Provide a safe, healthy work environment
  • Pay strict attention to hygiene of the workspace and of staff, particularly where food is involved
  • Repair all disrepairs
  • Maintain property in the event of storms and weather that increase likelihood of falls and so forth
  • Remember that confidentiality and information safety is of equal importance, and always maintain security protocols

This is a general list of considerations for businesses, but local regulations and governmental or trade safety requirements will always trump a general list. Be sure to contact the appropriate authorities and follow their guidelines for safety, and also for liability and insurance requirements.

People working from home are not immune to issues of workplace safety. Any business where people may come onto the property, even if just for a casual meeting, owes a debt of responsibility to clientele and employees, and confidentiality and information security are issues even for the most remote and physically detached businesses.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to small business safety – it’s something that can never be overdone. Make sure that your business is safe and secure in every way so that you protect both yourself and those who do business with you.