Stop getting distracted!

It’s so easy to become distracted from your working day with the browser constantly open and the Internet always available to you. Leaving your Outlook client on all day is another massive distraction too – which is another story. Turn that off straight away!

If you are looking for ways to be smarter when it comes to putting some focus on your day, Read it Later could be a handy little application for you to know about. In short, it stops you from becoming distracted from what you were doing, without losing a piece of useful information, which could just disappear into the ether.

Read it later is a simple, free application, which has just had its second birthday and comes in three flavo(u)rs – Firefox, Iphone, or any other browser. You are surfing away – trying hard to meet a deadline, and of course you become distracted by an unrelated blog post or other snippet of information that suddenly takes you completely away from what you were trying to achieve originally.

Get into the habit of clicking the Read it later button, which installs into your browser… stop being distracted! What will then happen is that Read it later will file away the URL you were just going to look at for easy access later. You can continue to focus on what you were doing – safe in the knowledge that during you allotted ‘follow up’ or ‘spare’ time even – you can go back and examine the link…

Reading your filed away URLS…

If using Firefox, you can click on the ReadItLater dropdown on the right of Firefox’s search box to expand the list of items you’ve added. ReadItLater conveniently sorts the links by oldest added (you can change this), so you see the stuff that’s been hanging out there the longest at the top. You can quickly filter the list by tag, page name, site, or URL, too.

One of the really cool features of ReadItLater is that it automatically saves links to your Firefox bookmarks in a folder you specify. So if you’re already syncing your bookmarks across computers, your reading list goes to other computers.

In addition – at Being Smarter, we send the list to an RSS feed, which we can then view in Google Reader when time allows.

This is an excellent recommendation for business people serious about putting more focus into the day. It’s a great habit to get into reaching for that Read it Later button…

Demo for you below if you like the sound of it… watch it and then go and be more focused… like its million other users!

Do social networking applications have ANY place in business?

We are pleased to announce our second guest blogger signing to the Being Smarter blog – from a CEO who’s company is all about helping businesses to become smarter. Aaron McCormack is the CEO BT Conferencing and will be joining us regularly with his thoughts on being smarter in business.

So who gives a @$£%@ about the Tweeting and Blogging and Facebook updates of anyone, when we all have jobs to get done? I was much quicker to adopt social networking tools in my personal life. Although many Facebook friends are now professional contacts and it is hard to tell the difference nowadays.

Even Twitter (the “domain of twits” I used to say) has recently become an entertaining place for me (@aaronirish) following the updates from all the various riders in the Tour de France (#tdf)

But do these tools have any role to play in helping us, or anyone else, get our work done?

There is a view that companies enabling social networks for internal use will simply end up helping their people spend more hours gossiping and sharing pictures online, rather than helping people get things delivered.

I tend to agree.

Many of my colleagues disagree. They think that corporate social networking tools (those we know, and some that are yet to be invented) will be the way that people do business going forward. People point to the way that these tools help folks build stronger relationships, find the right resources, enhance knowledge management and gain wider perspectives. Books like the Wisdom of Crowds tell us that if we can find a way of sourcing everyone’s input in a group, then the group makes better decisions.

Because you are here reading this blog, you are more likely to believe that social networking tools are useful. But would you bet your own money on it?

Let us know what you think…

Aaron McCormack is CEO of BT conferencing a division of BT Group plc, one of the world’s leading providers of telecommunications services. For over 20 years, BT Conferencing has specialised in the delivery of robust, reliable and innovative conferencing solutions – backed up by high quality service and support.

How to really measure how profitable you are

We are delighted to announce today our very first guest blog post from Jake Willott, a smart business owner who wanted to contribute to the Being Smarter community… Take it away Jake.


Mark-up and Gross Margin are two different beasts

A clear understanding and application of the two within your pricing model will have a drastic impact on the bottom line.

Mark-up is the percentage difference between the actual cost and the selling price

£90 x 25% = £112.25

Gross margin (or gross margin) is the percentage difference between the selling price and the profit. Profit/Sales Price.

£22.50/£112.50 = 20%

These two definitions are extremely important because gross margin directly tells us how many of our £’s from sales are profit.

It is easy to make the mistake in thinking that if a product is marked up by 25%, the result will be a 25% gross margin on the income statement. However, a 25% mark-up rate produces a gross margin percentage of only 20%. By targeting the gross margin percentage vs the mark-up percentage, businesses in general can add an additional 5% profit to the bottom line.

A worked example:

If you increased the selling price of a product by 5% the figures then look like:

Buy at £90 sell at £120. £30 profit (or 25% gross margin)

Increase sale price by 5%. £120 x 1.05 = £126

The cost to us remains the same so the gross profit is now £36 and gross margin is 28.5%.

So the gross margin has gone up by 3.5%, which as a percentage of the starting 25% is an increase of 14%

So for a 5% increase on the selling price we’ve gained a 14% increase in gross margin.

Even better, let’s look at the cash profit. You were making £30 on the sale, now you’re making £36 – an extra £6. As a proportion of our initial £30, that’s a 20% increase.

A 20% increase in cash for a 5% increase in sale price.

The reason this happens (if you’re still here) is that any improvement in gross margin % is multiplied by the turnover.

In summary:

Figure out who your most profitable customers are, and we can only know that if we measure using the correct metrics.

And a small change in selling price has a large effect on increasing profit.

Jake Willott is the MD of Computer Medicine
The computer people who come to you