Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Small business could be your best career move

Fortysix percent of jobs in Australia are in small business.
“It’s new small businesses that create jobs, adding around 1.4 million jobs every 3 years,” says Trang Du, founder of job matching platform Two Square Pegs.
Two Square Pegs partnered with the City of Yarra via an Annual Yarra Grant to help locals learn more about opportunities in the small business job market.

The What’s it like working in a start-up or small business workshop ran on 14 July at the Yarra Library with careers coach Naishadh Gadani from the Victorian Skills and Jobs Network and a panel of small business owners from the Yarra area.
“Small business is driving job growth and is a great place to look for work, but the owners often use more informal recruitment processes based on relationships and ‘cultural fit’ not just on skills” says Du
“You will work very closely in a small team, people have to get along,” says Onur Ekinci, founder of online learning platform Peer Academy.
“We use a prototyping approach to get to know our new recruit.” That means starting the working relationship on project-based tasks with set objectives. He hires based on the success of that project and describes the recruitment process is much like dating and searching for the ideal match. In the business community there is a lot at stake and business owners want to be sure they’re making the right decision.
Small businesses don’t tend to have HR departments or IT help desks. Vikky Gallagher, residential broker for local business Bruce Brammall Financial discovered working in a small business means wearing a lot of hats and having to learn on the go. She is a trained financial broker who also does the social media for her small business employer.
Gadani says, “We are now in a world where we will have a career portfolio”. He encourages people to rethink their career, rather than rely on traditional concepts of working in one organisation for your entire career.
The future worker’s career portfolio might look like part-time work alongside freelancing or consulting; or, if you are older and experienced, working in an advisory role with equity arrangements.
There are a range of industries in the City of Yarra. The Yarra Joblink site helps City of Yarra residents discover jobs with local small businesses. Being flexible and reaching out through informal networks as well as using local online platforms like Yarra Joblinks and Two Square Pegs is key to finding opportunities. Small businesses provide a great place to work with opportunities to learn and grow in a role.
Join the next City of Yarra and Two Square Pegs events on the 4 August with Diversity the innovation X-Factor in business and 8th of September with Speed networking for businesses and experts. www.twosquarepegs.com/events/

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

5 Tips for Getting Shit Done in Your Business


As a small or growing business, planning and prioritising can quickly become overwhelming. The never ending to-do list of short and long term tasks doesn't just seem daunting, it can actually prevent real progress from taking place as team members begin to lack clarity about where to focus their energy and efforts.

There is a method to controlling the madness, and as a small business owner, compulsive multi-tasker, and lead facilitator of the Hub Melbourne Getting Shit Done accountability group, I've learned a lot over the years about productivity. Here are my personal top tips for clearing your to-do list day after day.
1) Don't let your day-to-day and long-term goals collide and cancel each other out.
There is always something to be done when you're running a business or leading a team, and it can be easy to miss the forest for the trees. It can be frustrating to see your long-term goals neglected because of the daily grind, so make sure that you attend to both sets of tasks individually and collectively.
The key is to do the planning outside of your work hours. First, divide your year into chunks of time that are manageable, such as three months. Then, schedule special time with the other team leaders to determine what accomplishments you want to celebrate at the end of the term. If you were to throw a party or take everyone out for a dinner, what do you want to each be raising your glass to?
Weekly, review the long-term task list and make an executive decision about what needs to be done during the following week. Then, divide and conquer.
2) Don't let your daily planning get in the way of productivity.
Hit the ground running each morning. Leave 15 minutes at the very end of your day to map out your tasks for the following day. Leave it visible at your "work station" to dive directly into the next day. Select a couple of pens in your favorite colors and mark the hell out of your list each time you complete a task.
3) Utilise digital forms of organisation as they suit you and your team members, but keep a physical and hand-written to-do list at your work station to be seen at all times.
Take the time to assess how your team best communicates and what is easy for them. What software are they already familiar with? How is your team utilising the current systems that you have in place? Are they doing more harm than good, is there room for more utilisation, or is it time to start from scratch? Project management applications such as Asana and Basecamp are great tools, but only as much as the team benefits from them.
In our day and age it is important for teams to find a digital system that all team members can readily access and use. Make sure that you are always evaluating your current systems and adjusting when necessary, while also giving everyone the chance to adjust to new software.
All this being said, always keep a physical to-do list near you while you're working. Mentally, as you cross things off the list you will gain energy to see the rest of the list through.
4) Use the buddy system.
Sure, writing down your goals may up your chances of accomplishing them, but what about writing them down and then sharing it with one, or even five other people?
If you don't have a coach, mastermind group or accountability partner, now is the time to start. From helping you to clarify your objectives to throwing around ideas to kicking your butt if you don't do what you say you're going to do, the power of even a "plus one" is something you will constantly feel as you grow.
Possibilities abound for accountability. From online forums to international groups that hold weekly calls to fellow-business owners, it isn't hard to find support, if you ask for it. To get started, you may want to consider asking someone with a similar project or who is on a similar journey to do daily or weekly check-ins via phone, email, Facebook, etc. Tell this person everything, and let them hold you to your goals.
5) Reward good behavior.
It's Friday, the to-do list is clear, now what? Will you just sleep in Sunday and then start again on Monday, all the while checking and responding to emails without taking a breath? That's hardly sustainable. Create a reward for each day and week that you will gladly give to yourself once the work has been done. Daily, this reward may be as simple as turning everything off after 7pm (there are few things that can't wait until the next morning at this point). Weekly, a full day to unplug or a weekly Friday happy hour with your other hard working friends (or the other members of your team) may keep you pushing hard through your to-do list during the week.
Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Confessions From a Stay-At-Home Dad


The baby monitor on my bedside table comes to life and jolts me out of my deep sleep. I check the time. Dawn is still an hour away, but I silently cheer a full night’s sleep. I have a phone interview for a part-time role scheduled for this afternoon, so I have planned a busy morning for my son in the hope that he will have a long afternoon nap.

My wife and I have recently swapped roles - she has returned to full-time work and I resigned from my marketing communications role to stay at home with our 18-month-old son. I love the change, but it’s not without its challenges. Epic sleep battles, tantrums in public, long waits in the doctor’s office, nappy changes in the boot of my car, and that could be just one morning.

I am currently looking for part-time work to help supplement our household income, keep one eye on my career progression and have something of my own to achieve other than being a dad. My son is in day-care two days a week, which allows me to attempt to juggle work with my dad responsibilities. To date I’ve had a few hours of freelance work here and there, but most of my time has been devoted to actually finding work opportunities.


What is a Career path?


I am not overly enamoured of the traditional job recruitment market. It often seems that if your CV doesn’t include local experience in a role very similar to the one they are hiring for you simply won’t get an interview. Frequently I wonder if a consultant has actually read my CV, or do they simply spin it through a keyword search software program to assess whether it’s a perfect match with a role’s Key Selection Criteria. There is very little time invested in discovering a candidate’s unique qualities, skills or experience; and as such there is a lack of innovation in the industry.


I have not followed a ‘traditional’ straight and narrow career path, but instead opted for a winding route seeing me work in roles in event management, marketing communications, and social media. I have also gained international experience working in the Middle East. I believe my experience provides a diverse perspective; however, where I see versatility, passion, and discovery, recruiters tend to only see limitations.


Online recruitment sites are basically more of the same too. Seek can be a fantastic resource, but at times it’s really seems like one big gigantic black hole that sucks that amazing application you spent hours slaving over into oblivion.


Attempting to find part-time work through the traditional recruitment avenues has been a challenge. At the same time, I am also well aware that this challenge can be significantly harder for people who do not share my “privilege”. Privilege being the idea that certain demographic traits - white, male, middle class, young (ish), able-bodied, for example – give people specific benefits in society. Many organisations appear to be taking steps to create a diverse workforce, but in reality Australia still has a very long way to go. The recruitment industry must play a significant role in this process.


The industry is ripe for significant disruption and innovation. I have had more luck to date discovering roles through my personal network and a number of non-traditional recruitment businesses than traditional methods like Seek. These companies are trying to harness the power of informal networks and highlight difference over uniformity. They recognise that there is a significant market of diverse professionals with untapped skills and experience, and a fast growing demand from small businesses for affordable and flexible expertise. Both these groups need to find ways to connect with each other. This is where the challenge lies and where my job search continues.


My son has finally gone off to sleep and I have three minutes to spare before my phone interview! If only I could use that as an example of my strong planning and operational skills. I sit down at my desk with my notes open, glass of water on one side, baby monitor on the other. I say a little prayer to the sleep Gods and wait for my phone to ring (on silent of course).