Welcome to our September business eNewsletter focusing on efficiency in the workplace.
Quote of the month:
“Make yourself an efficient spark plug, igniting the latent energy of those about you.” – David Seabury
In this Issue…
- Top 16 Small Business Management Apps of 2018
- A Workplace That Works: How to Create a Workspace That Improves Productivity
- Why You Need to Have Efficient Marketing
- A Simple Hack to Improve Your Company’s Efficiency
Top 16 Small Business Management Apps of 2018
By Kristina Skindelyte, Guest Contributor
The right business apps can benefit small business tremendously by making work more efficient, teams more aligned and information more organized. Cutting down on tedious and time-consuming tasks can help business owners and their staff become more productive and focused, allowing business to grow on solid foundation of good business practices.
1. Tipi is among the newest team communications tool. It encourages asynchronous communications model where people do not need to respond to messages in real-time. This boosts productivity, team alignment and optimizes the time and resources. Some of the main features include real-time chat, private and public folders, and convenient integration with email. The app has a cool feedback feature that can help increase team engagement.
2. Slack is one the most widely used team communication apps, best known for facilitating instant communication between team members and fun integration of tools like Giphy to get your cat photo fix of the day. In some circles, however, it is receiving some backlash for it being too addictive – with teams spending a lot of time chatting about work as opposed to getting work done.
3. Join.Me is an easy-to-use voice and video conferencing solution. Even though Skype remains the most popular voice and video communication tools around the world, join.me is a great alternative for those who need advanced voice and video meeting capabilities, including instant screen share, file transfer, internet calling, meeting tools, salesforce integration and more.
4. Trello is an app that can help your team manage multiple projects in an easy-to-navigate platform. In essence, the app allows creating and assigning project tasks that are organized as movable cards. The app organizes what you are working on by creating, assigning, updating and monitoring how different tasks are being completed.
5. Zenkit integrates a lot of work organization tools into one. It offers both a Kanban board, mind mapping tool, a to-do list and a calendar. It is essentially a project management resource library that helps with both task management, scheduling, resource allocation and even budgeting.
6. Basecamp helps organize your team work flow by compiling the information into projects. You can discuss the project progress in a chatroom or a messaging board, upload files, create a to-do lists and make use of a calendar to mark the important project dates.
Motivational Task Management
7. Carrot is a to-do list with a personality. If you need a nudge to complete tasks, Carrot can certainly help with motivation. All you have to do is get things done to get rewarded. You don’t want to know what happens if you don’t complete the tasks at hand.
8. Parallels Toolbox helps speed up a variety of simple tasks by offering a plethora of tools that you can access with an individual or team account. Access a number of tools that can help speed up building presentations, perform screen captures, launch several apps with one click or archive files in bulk and more.
9. Astro Mail is an AI-powered application that can take care of your emails from multiple accounts, prioritizing emails by way of importance, while cleaning up the email box from unnecessary clutter. Features include smart notifications, email snoozing and calendar customization.
10. Fuze is a high-definition, cloud-based video conferencing tool that integrates messaging and convenient file upload system in hopes of enhancing collaboration for an ever-growing mobile workforce.
11. Pocket allows you to save articles or even app content for later reading – like links to news pages, images, videos and pretty much anything online to come back to access it later via a neat panel.
12. TripIt is a tool that can consolidate all of your travel plans into an organized itinerary that can be accessed on any device. TripIt app collects all the travel information you’d email it. Later on, when it’s trip time, you could access organized information along with helpful location based travel tips about the weather, directions and so on.
13. Evernote’s users can make, save or upload personal notes, images, audio, video and more into the app with easy sharing capabilities. You can easily scan your documents, receipts, notes, pictures, whiteboards or other text, or save information found online – neatly saving as high quality jpegs or PDFs that can be shared and sent quickly to your work team members.
14. Proven is an app that consolidates your HR-related tasks. Proven helps you post your job listings to multiple job boards with one click on your phone. Once you start receiving responses to your listing, you can look through the application responses in the same platform – categorizing the candidate applicants into yes, no and maybe categories, noting when you need to follow up with a candidate.
15. Canva is a fast design solution that can save you time. Rather than designing from scratch, a virtual design platform allows you to choose from a huge selection of template layouts, design elements and a huge library of images.
16. The Hootsuite App allows businesses or individuals to schedule posts for various social media accounts, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. You can monitor your social account status and measure the impact of your campaigns by using Hootsuite’s reports.
Read this article BizJournals.com
Every day, businesses encourage their employees to be more productive. But in an office setting, what exactly does that mean?
“Workplace productivity isn’t about getting from point A to point B in the fastest amount of time, but, rather, getting the job done in the most efficient manner possible while still maintaining a level of happiness and well-being,” said Jamie Fertsch, director and co-founder of XDesk, a U.S.-based company that creates customized, ergonomic desks out of environmentally friendly materials.
In the process of designing the firm’s signature desks, Fertsch learned how much of an impact an individual’s space can have on their work. “Your personal workspace is one of the most overlooked factors that affect productivity,” she said. “Whether it’s rummaging through your drawers to locate an important document or having too many knick-knacks, a clean and efficient desk setup is key to your success.”
Wondering how to create a productive work environment? Fertsch shared her tips for creating a workspace that promotes productivity and keeps you focused on the task at hand.
Create Opportunities for Movement.
“The best way that I stay focused during a long day of work is to acknowledge when I’ve hit a productivity wall and to take lots of short, quick breaks to gain a new perspective on what I’m working on,” says Fertsch.
Research bears her out; multiple studies show that breaking up your work time with mental rest periods improves your productivity while moving around in small bursts throughout the day can lower stress levels and improve your health.
Fertsch’s company makes a stand-to-sit desk that encourages changing positions and moving throughout the work day. But you can build other opportunities for movement into your workspace. Putting the copy machine or phone on the opposite side of the room from the computer, for example, or having a central water cooler creates reasons to stand and move.
“Productivity is not directly correlated with time spent on a task,” Fertsch added. “So it’s important to make sure that you’re recalibrating and refueling every once and a while.”
Buy a Plant.
Sometimes unexpected changes have a big effect on productivity, said Fertsch, like keeping a small plant on your desk or in your office. “I like to make my space feel a little more alive,” she explained.
Fertsch stated that houseplants are not a traditional method of creating a productive workspace, but that doesn’t mean their impact is imaginary. In 2014, a research team in the United Kingdom found that having plants in the office boosted productivity by up to 15 percent, along with increasing workplace satisfaction and how engaged employees felt with their work.
Give Gadgets a Home.
Smartphones, tablets and other gadgets can help you stay organized and efficient. But they can also lead to a lot of wasted time. Studies have found that smartphones negatively affect daily productivity. A survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam found that, on average, office workers spend nearly five hours a week doing tasks on their mobile devices unrelated to work. That’s more than half a work day.
For Fertsch, the best way to avoid this wasted time is to find a home for gadgets and leave them there. “These days, we all have so many screens competing for our attention, so create a ‘home’ for your smartphone, smartwatch, and other potentially distracting gadgets,” Fertsch recommended. “Keep them in a dedicated place while you do your work so you won’t be sidelined by a constant stream of notifications.”
Clear out a drawer and use it to store your phone and other gadgets. If they’re out of sight, you won’t be as tempted to check them throughout the day.
Do a Daily Clean.
Common wisdom might say that a messy desk is a sign of a creative mind. But Fertsch finds that staying tidy is key to staying productive.
“Take a few minutes every day to tidy up your workspace,” she recommended. “You can do this by throwing out unnecessary items and maintaining whatever organization system suits your style so those extra distractions and clutter don’t bog.”
Messy workspaces are more likely to create problems that new ideas. According to research done by Brother International Corporation, office employees spend the equivalent of 38 hours – nearly an entire workweek – looking for lost or misplaced items every year. The cost of that disorganization is close to $89 billion annually.
In addition cleaning and organizing her workspace every day, Fertsch organizes her to-do list so she doesn’t waste time at the beginning of her workday. At the end of the day, she sits down and writes out what she needs to get done tomorrow. “[This] helps me reflect on what I accomplished for the day and how I can move forward to produce great work tomorrow.”
Personalize Your Space in Moderation.
Personalizing your space can increase your emotional connection to your work, but keeping your workspace organized also means limiting clutter. To strike the right balance, Fertsch recommends limiting personal items to ones that are particularly meaningful or useful.
“While items that you don’t frequently use shouldn’t take up valuable desk real estate, I still like to tailor my space to appeal to my visual side,” Fertsch said. In addition to a productivity-boosting plant, she keeps a personal desktop calendar, which helps her stay on track throughout the workweek.
She also recommends choosing personal items that inspire you to be productive. “I like to keep a framed photo of my kids on my desk,” Fertsch said. “They’re the ones that really keep me motivated throughout the day.”
Whether you have dozens of employees or work from home by yourself, setting up an efficient, personal workspace is one of the best things you can do for your productivity and mental well-being. “There will always be objective goals set in a workplace,” added Fertsch. “But productivity can also be personal, which is why it’s important to foster an office culture where employees want to give it their 100 percent at all times.”
Read this article BusinessNewsDaily.com
Why You Need to Have Efficient Marketing
By Robert Tanguay
You may ask, “Why do I need to have efficient marketing?” or, “What is Efficient Marketing?”
This article will answer both questions and give you a couple examples of how it can increase marketing returns.
Why You Need to Have Efficient Marketing
Often, if you want to grow your business or spread your message, you will need some sort of paid marketing.
This can be a very expensive undertaking, with competitors and large corporations driving up the price per impression. They have greater war chests and credit lines at their disposal to spend on advertising their product or service, where you may not have those resources.
How can a smaller business or organization compete?
By being more efficient.
Creating ads that convert highly and placing them for the lowest possible price, return on investment also increases.
It’s not going to be easy. We are going to explain this concept using “ideal marketing efficiency” and less than 800 words.
Highly Targeted Marketing
Placing an advertisement that converts every time it is seen would be invaluable.
What if the conversion rate was higher than 100 percent?
What if the person seeing the advertisement not only did what you wanted them to do, but also got someone else to do it as well? You would have a 200% ROI for acquisition.
The above hypothetical is a marketer’s dream, but these things can happen.
Picture a “Do Not Enter” sign with an image of a person being ground up that not only stops a parent from entering a potentially dangerous situation, but also their toddler that cannot read the sign.
Though the audience is wide (every person that cares about safety), it has a perfect conversion rate. This is the ideal return for any small business.
To do this –
1. Find Your Target Audience
2. Craft Your Offering
3. Market Your Prospect
1. Finding Your Target Audience
Finding the target for your offering is the best. If you are selling cheeseburgers, you do not want to target vegans. That will be a waste of your effort.
Instead, you want to find out who loves cheeseburgers. Fine tuning this takes the most creativity and thought.
Are you selling a gourmet cheeseburger? Advertising to teens that mostly love cheeseburgers, but live off of the dollar menu might not be the best place to start. Spend your time and money going after the yes, to the likely, then the maybes.
2. Designing Your Message
Now that you know who you are trying reach, it’s time to craft a message that resonates with its intended audience.
Things have to make sense. If you are marketing your gourmet cheeseburgers to people that can afford it but know that their waistline might not, you might want to highlight the healthy features and quality of your ingredients. Let them know that you are the best option for their cheeseburger fix.
If you are targeting the dollar menu crowd, you can position your cheeseburgers as an aspirational purchase. Associate your gourmet cheeseburgers with celebrations, rewards, upscale casual dates, etc.
New England Marketing & Efficiency can help you with all of your Gourmet Burger Shop marketing needs, or create a custom content strategy designed specifically for your target audience.
3. Marketing to Your Prospect
Reach them at the right time. Do it in the right context. Not while they are distracted, but when they are looking for more. Put your message at the bottom of a Dorito bag. Put it on the inside of a cheeseburger wrapper.
A more practical way of efficiently marketing your prospects is to reach them when they are most open to or likely to act on your message.
You want to get the “low hanging fruit” before your competitors do. Timing and context are extremely important when marketing. If you can catch people when they are “in the mood” for your offering, they’ll be more likely to make a purchase.
Inefficient Marketing Wastes Money
I have been collecting inefficient mail advertisements for quite some time now. This consists of offers to be a new customer while I was currently a customer, services I couldn’t use, to things I wouldn’t want to.
While customer communication helps retention rates, it has to be well executed. Nagging, misleading and incorrect messaging causes distrust. More importantly, it wastes a lot of time and money.
The more money wasted attempting to make more money greatly reduces the return on marketing dollars spent.
Read this article at the www.NEMarketingEfficiency.com
A Simple Hack to Improve Your Company’s Efficiency
By David Finkel, Co-author, ‘Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back’
Here’s a 3-step hack to improve internal and customer facing processes and boost your company’s efficiency fast!
What would it look like if you followed a customer through their purchase and use of your product or service? What would you learn? Where would you have made their life harder, more complicated, less efficient?
How about your internal processes? What would you see if you followed a team member around as she completed the key steps for a core process in your business?
Almost a decade ago a friend of mine who built a $5 billion business tasked me with this very exercise and the results of this simple hack were eye-popping.
I found out that I made my customers work way too hard to order from my company, not to mention how complicated we made onboarding for a new client. We had one step in our onboarding process for a new client that required them to spend an hour filling out a detailed assessment tool before they could even schedule their first consulting session with my team. YIKES!
And how about internally? Take the simple task of updating our client website. One of our internally processes had bloated to 27 steps to do this simple function. Was it any wonder that my staff was frustrated and overwhelmed and our growth was constrained.
This was a real wake-up call and I want you to apply the same lesson to your company.
Step One: Map it out
Flow chart out the sequence of steps a prospect takes from his first serious step in your sales process through actually being a customer and getting your product or service. What happens after they buy? Map that out on paper too into a simple flowchart–box to box to box–of all the steps they went through and experienced in the course of their interaction with your company.
Once you’ve laid that process out visually, do the same thing from the perspective of your internal team. Follow them through the flow of what they do and where they go, step by step, as they produce or fulfill on your core product or service. With this raw information in hand, it’s time to move on to step two.
Step Two: Audit the Process
Gather together a small team of your key people in a conference room for ninety minutes to take a fresh look at the way you produce your core medical services. Put your two flowcharts up on the wall. Start with the customer-view flowchart, and ask the following questions:
Now take a second pass at these questions, and this time, focus specifically on the “internal” flow diagram of how your team has to work to currently produce your product or service. After thirty to forty-five minutes of brainstorming ideas with your key team members, move on to step three.
Step Three: Pick Your “Sweet Spot(s)” to Implement improvements
Based on my experience coaching companies through this process, at this point you’ve got an overwhelming mass of ideas that you know you “should” do to improve your core flow. But let’s get real; there is simply no way you and your team can implement all these ideas at one time. In fact, doing so would be so disruptive to your current activities that your business would actually suffer.
Instead, go back over your list of possible process enhancements and flow fixes, and apply the “Low-Hanging Fruit” and “Home Run” filters. Go through the full list and ask yourself, “Is this a Low-Hanging Fruit?” In other words, is this idea easy to put into practice, and are you fairly certain it will work? If it is, mark that idea with an “LH” for Low-Hanging Fruit.
Then, do a second, separate pass and ask of each item on your list, “Is this a Home Run?” In other words, if it works, will it have a BIG impact on the efficiency, consistency, or quality of the way you produce your medical services? If the answer is yes, mark that item with an “HR.”
Now go back to your list and pull out all the items you’ve listed that are both Low-Hanging Fruit and Home Runs. These are your company’s core Sweet Spots. If you have a manageable number, which is rare, then you can jump to creating your execution mini plan.
To help you grow your business and get your life back, we provide a powerful free toolkit with 36 business owner tools including the Sweet Spot Analysis tool and 24 in-depth training videos on how to intelligently scale your company. To access this free toolkit click here. Enjoy.
Read this article at the Inc.com
The views and opinions presented in this newsletter do not necessarily represent those of SpiritBank.