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Recognising burnout - before you get burnt

Whilst you've just had a summer holiday and hopefully are rested and refreshed, it's important to remember that burnout can sneak up on you. Burnout is a contributing factor in the downfall of many SMEs. What once made you joyously jump out of bed can leave you hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock.

There are many reasons for burning out:

- Burning the candle at both ends. Driven workaholics often find their ambition pushes them over the edge.

- You're tired and bored.  You've been a mouse on the same wheel for too long and productivity is probably slipping along with your enthusiasm.

- You're under-stimulated. Your current role offers few challenges and little recognition of your skills. You feel unmotivated, on a one-way trip to nowhere.

Any bells ringing? Perhaps it's time to figure out why you're feeling this way in order to make effective choices and get your career on track. Your job accounts for roughly 40% of your waking life - generally it should be stimulating and enjoyable.

The concept of green business is nothing new. As the world embraces cloud based software and aims to reduce carbon emissions, it's time to get on board - whether you're motivated by minimising costs, attracting energy conscious customers or making a difference.

According to the EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) most businesses can reduce their carbon footprint and save at least 20% of their energy costs. It's estimated that 10% can be saved through simple no/low cost actions (with a payback of 12 months or less) and a further 10% with some investment and a longer payback of 1 - 5 years.

Nominate an energy saving leader who'll oversee the development of a meaningful plan and its implementation. Remember it's best to make several changes at once.... you'll notice a real difference and happily monitor your on-going success. Being energy conscious should be a part of your business' daily decision making process.

For more information visit the EECA business website at You'll find some nifty tools and calculators to help you measure your existing footprint and the success/savings you'll achieve as you implement subtle changes in your business.

The Remote Workforce

Working remotely can be an attractive proposition for both employers and employees. The virtual worker is rewarded with job flexibility - providing their services from home, separate or even multiple office locations. The employer can streamline their business, and minimise overheads.

The fundamental reason for this increasingly popular workforce is the growing access to technology. Technology such as the smart phone and tablet are becoming mainstream amongst professionals. We can now perform tasks very effectively from almost any location. Quite simply, technology is driving efficiency and communication.

Remote workers can wear whatever they want, avoid traffic and related travel costs, potentially dictate their working hours, all while avoiding the bulk of office distractions and internal politics. In some industries, it's highly likely that this style of working and managing will be prevalent in the future.

As the world heads towards the 'post PC phase', now is the time to test the 'remote office' with your staff. If you remain inflexible you may miss the boat and run the risk of losing touch with your employees and customers. If your competitors are cutting operating costs by managing a virtual workplace, this will be reflected in their prices and their share of the market place.

There are possible downsides. Workers may feel out of touch, find it harder to communicate with their seniors, losing sight of a tasks and predetermined outcomes. Achieving the ultimate remote work balance will be important and perhaps heavily dependent on management.

Not everyone is suited to this style of working - or managing. The virtual workplace suits self-motivated employees, capable of working around distractions, and comfortable working in solitude. If your employee doesn't tick these boxes then perhaps they're better off in the office.

Holidays for busy business owners

Think you don't have time to take a holiday? Holidays are vital for tired, stressed business owners. Not only is the habit of taking regular holidays linked to reduced mortality and lower incidence of heart disease, but holidays have myriad benefits.

Going away with friends and loved ones, or taking solo time out is great for your mental health, reducing risk of depression and also alleviating stress. Extra sunshine helps boost Vitamin D and a few hours' extra sleep helps our well-being in general.

Holidays also allow more time to bond with family and make exercise fun. Go for walks on the beach, a city walking tour, hiking and tramping or playing backyard cricket.

Depending on your destination, you are likely to expand your mind also. All that botany, marine biology, history and culture leave little room to stress out about the banalities of the office. And there is the added benefit of keeping your mind challenged and taking your family members on a voyage of discovery.

Renting your beach house out?

New rules on claiming expenses for mixed-use assets such as holiday homes (assets being used both privately and for earning income) have been passed in to law.

Previously expenses have been subject to a private to business ratio (including when the asset was available for use even if it wasn't being used). The new rules restrict the deductibility of this expenditure by limiting the expenditure allowed for the period that the asset is available for use and not used.

Even though these rules have just been enacted, they actually apply from 1 April 2013. If you own any assets such as a holiday bach or a boat and rent these out during the year, please come and talk to us. The government has publicly stated they are expecting an extra $50m in revenue from these new rules, so they will be enforced.

Call us on (09) 576 4166 for assistance.

Whether you're planning a new product, a new business venture or simply brainstorming, here are some tips to help boost creativity and innovation within your business:

1. Don't assume the current way is the right way. Challenge long standing processes that are currently used within your business and promote evolution of new systems and ideas for your business. Be a innovative as you like.

2. Ask the questions - what are you doing and why? Don't stray from your original mission unless it's clear the new route will be beneficial. Always align your tasks with your goals but make sure you assess these regularly so you know what you're doing and why. It's a form of tracking.

3. The first solution may not be the most effective.  Hurrah you found one! But don't stop there. Refine it to ensure it's the best solution, test it, put it to use and then adapt as necessary.

4. Meet new people in new industries.  It's amazing what happens beyond your bubble. Open yourself for new viewpoints and creative avenues that could relate to your business. Find out about business networking evenings in your area and go along. Take team members that you think might be interested in what's being presented; you may be surprised at what you learn about other industries.

5. Inspire the team  with real business success stories. Encourage them to learn and relate. Invite guest speakers to team meetings or watch inspirational clips together on YouTube.

6. You can't learn less.  Regularly research new ideas or possibilities. You never know what will trigger a fantastic idea. Most of this can be done online through social media, but encourage brainstorming and team input on project or product business possibilities.

7. Don't bury issues - celebrate them. Make problem solving fun and have the team break from their daily tasks to brainstorm. You could learn a lot from their fresh perspectives ad they'll enjoy being part of the decision making process.

8. Your employees are your first/most important customer. Treat them with the necessary respect and value their opinions.

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