Using outdated tools and being surrounded by digital clutter makes it difficult to optimize the time you spend at work. However, optimization is key to your brand’s success, and a crucial part of turning your small business into a smart business. Fortunately, there are some “simple” things you can do to improve your productivity and profitability.
1. Use the Cloud
We Work says it’s time to start using the cloud. In fact, you’re probably already doing so without realizing it. This is because cloud services include anything that doesn’t have a native application and information stored and accessed on your computer. For instance, Dropbox stores data on their servers and synchronizes your files and documents so they’re available from any internet-enabled device. Through the cloud, anyone in your office can access the same files and document organization on their computer or phone so that everything is consistent.
There are three ways the cloud can help you today:
- Online appointment booking allows your customers to book their own appointments from their own computers or mobile devices. They can even prepay for them. Free services here include SimplyBook.me and CheckAppointments.com. With these services you’ll eliminate phone and email tag since they easily integrate with your web page – if you don’t have one, they’ll even provide you with one.
- Take notes easily and quickly so you never forget anything important again. Apps like Evernote run on Windows, iOS, and Android. This app makes it easy for you to record, store, and share your notes while you’re on-the-go. With about 34 million users on Evernote today, you can’t go wrong when it comes to freeing up your valuable brain space, so it has room for more important things.
- Managing your finances is a huge part of your business’ success. While you’ll want to make sure that you choose the right bank for your financial plan and take advantage of all the programs they offer, you’ll also want to use a credit card control app that lets you increase your cash flow and manage your day-to-day customer cash and credit control tasks. This is where Mint comes in. It’s a financial planning app that’s used by over 8 million people. It’ll help you gain a better understanding of your spending habits.
- Invest in a business phone system. This will let your customers reach you any time, regardless of your location.
2. Create Business Goals
While setting and remembering business goals doesn’t necessarily fall under “productivity,” it’s definitely an important part of becoming a “smart” organization. You need goals that help you focus on effectively managing and reducing your overall budget, increasing your market share, increasing your revenues, and improving your customer satisfaction ratings with CRM like Copper. With these in mind, you can spend your valuable time focusing on what actions take priority in your to-do list. Start your day by reviewing these goals. Studies show that doing so will make you 33% more likely to achieve them.
3. Develop a Holistic Approach
To create an intrapreneurial system you’ll need to make sure your business fosters entrepreneurial attitudes, provide space for the exchange of ideas, and helps assemble the necessary funds to bring these ideas to fruition. Although your resources may be limited, if you only have a single initiative (e.g. a training program that fosters entrepreneurship) you won’t be successful. True success requires you to be committed to directing resources to at all the important elements that are involved in an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
4. Nurture Entrepreneurial Talent
Business Families says you also need to nurture entrepreneurial talent by offering rewards and incentives to employees who openly identify problems and offer you solutions for them. You can do this by:
- Building and protecting an honest value system your employees will feel free to share ideas and collaborate.
- Involving all your employees makes your employees feel free to offer you suggestions.
- Establishing a culture where it’s okay to try something and fail at it allows your employees to venture out of their comfort zone and learn from their mistakes. It also makes it more comfortable for everyone to discuss possible improvements that’ll benefit your business as a whole.
This will provide the setting you need to develop new processes, products and services. It’s something that Yahoo has learned. Marissa Meyer encourages here employees to come forward and speak out. She embraces their previous in an internally compiled and openly circulated list that includes everything from small to very important items (e.g., coffee machines, product design processes). This has helped her to solve many of Yahoo’s issues and improve company culture. Of course, this is something that will take some time and a commitment from your stakeholders to keep moving forward, step by step, together. However, ultimately, you’ll realize that your employees are your company’s greatest asset and you need to nurture each of their individual talents.
When you have a cold, stifling environment you’ll kill your employees’ entrepreneurial spark. You can tell that you’ve created this environment simply by looking at how you solicit and respond to employee suggestions. While nurturing entrepreneurial talent is never easy, it’s possible. This is something that even organizations who have made a commitment to nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation can still fail at. As such, you really need to make a continued commitment to (re)designing your company so that it nurtures entrepreneurial talent.
5. Remember Your Company’s Uniqueness
Remember, there will never be any two organizations or ecosystems that are exactly the same. While many people refer to Silicon Valley as an “ideal entrepreneurial ecosystem,” even it has its issues. Its saving grace is its unique combination of different factors including outstanding talents (partly driven by academic institutions like Stanford), ample availability of capital, and a truly entrepreneurial culture where work is more than just a job – it’s a lifestyle!
Today, a growing number of people define themselves by what they do. As such, there’s a growing incentive to innovate. This is what should drive you as you work to develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem. You don’t want to simply duplicate something like Silicon Valley because your underlying factors aren’t the same nor can they be altered easily. Instead, start by understanding your community’s strengths and weaknesses then creating a strategic roadmap of your own.