Why the Next Ten Years of Technology Will Not Surpass Old School Technology

Computer technology is pervasive, a blessing and a curse. With the touch of a button you have access to an up to date picture of inventory, sales, and cash on hand. Assuming, of course, you have been disciplined about keeping this information current.   Technology is great when it works. Most importantly, it doesn’t always work. With a population of approximately 490,000 people, the city of Atlanta discovered what happens to technology when it is attacked by cyber ware. Five of thirteen departments were hit. Services were disrupted. Some departments resorted to paper records. When technology failed, old school methods rose to the occasion. We rely on technology. Maybe too much. Do you remember the last time you had to recall someone’s telephone number? Consult a paper map for directions is unheard of today. Just ask for directions from your phone or the navigation system in your car. How do you make good use of technology without turning in your common sense? There are still some quaint, old school methods that are important to learn and to use. Old School Methods for Today Know the cardinal directions of North, South, East and West. Since 2015 the US Naval Academy has required its seamen to learn how to use a sextant for celestial navigation. Take notes with a pencil and paper. Only do this is you want better retention of what you are learning. Write thank you notes by hand and mail them using a stamp. I prefer a colorful, interesting stamp. Email and texting may be faster. Nothing is as thrilling as receiving a thoughtful handwritten note by mail....

Maintenance Saves Time and Money

Let’s face it. Repairs and maintenance are not glamorous. They are, in fact, an inconvenience.  Many entrepreneurs put it off. They are simply too busy running their businesses to maintain equipment, update software, train employees, and revise procedures, for example.  If you do not have time to maintain the parts of your business you rely on to serve your customer, how do you have time to do it when they break? And, they will break. It can take as long or longer for the required fix than staying up to date. It can be more expensive as well. The interruption to your business when something goes haywire may be the most costly part of deferred maintenance. Have you noticed it usually happens at the worst possible time? Seven reasons entrepreneurs put their businesses at risk by avoiding maintenance: 1)      Production stops or slows down. 2)      Planning is required to schedule maintenance and upgrades. 3)      People must learn new ways of doing things. 4)      Nothing appears wrong with the current way of operating, at least not yet. 5)      Often it takes time to see the return on the maintenance. 6)      The drama of the frenetic activity is quieted so it seems nothing important is underway. 7)      Maintenance is not free. Let’s start here to find a solution. To keep your business operating at optimum efficiency acknowledge maintenance is required. But only if you want your business to be sustainable. Next, plan for it in your financial projections. Identify the parts of your business such as marketing, sales, client care, product development, physical space, technology, equipment and people. All the parts contribute to your success....

How Structure Is Part of the Vast Success Conspiracy

Most entrepreneurs are structure averse. Why cramp your style? It’s so easy to make it up as you go.  Plus, it’s a lot more exciting. Granted. Rules, systems and structures can feel restrictive. I’ve even known managers who enforce the rules to wield their power. It is counterproductive when your business is there to support the structure and not the other way around. Recently I learned of a small business growing rapidly from $1 million to over $4 million. Three employees could manage the company at $1 million and less. However, the founder recognized the need to introduce some structure in order to sustain and support the business. Her two employees, however, created a lot of resistance. “We don’t want to become a big company. We like it just the way it is.” This spells trouble. It’s expensive to run your business without the appropriate structure. Consider, for example, your company ships a product to customers. Without a standardized way of packing, shipping, and invoicing, the opportunity for mistakes is high. They are guaranteed to happen. Customers who get the wrong item are not happy. If the shipment goes to the wrong address, no one is happy. If you forget to invoice the customer or charge the wrong amount, no one is happy. Unhappy customers leave. Your company loses money.  Your company earns a bad reputation. A simple structure to standardize the way you handle packing, shipping and invoicing, produces consistent, predictable results. If you are not getting the results you want, look at the process first. No process? Develop one. The reason many entrepreneurs do not have structure in their companies...

Clarify Your Priorities to Increase Your Revenues

  There are many competing priorities in running a business. Everything looks important. The problem is you cannot do everything and do it all at once. Your business suffers because you cannot give the proper attention to what moves your business forward. You spend your resources on activities that reduce your efficiencies and reduce your profits. When you clarify your priorities, your team and you can make wise choices about how to spend your time, creativity and money. For example, scrambling to meet externally imposed deadlines such as paying taxes diverts your attention from other activities that could be increasing your revenues. For instance, if you made it a priority to devise a process for compiling the data required for filing tax documents, you could eliminate the last minute scramble to meet your tax deadline. You would be free to focus on revenue generating work. To keep your attention on what moves your business forward, prioritize your work. You may discover that small, consistent action in the right direction pays large dividends in the long term. Here is a method to solve the prioritizing problem: Identify a finite period of time in which to define your priorities. I prefer a 30 day time frame. When I am coaching someone who is particularly overwhelmed, we start with a 2 week time frame. Make a list of what you think are important to accomplish in your time frame. Often this list is a long one. Many people think the longer the list the better. Distill the list to no more than 5 items. This compels you to create a list of...

Hijacked by Technology

Technology transforms the way we live and conduct business. Change is fast and change is constant. Computers, internet and web are here to stay. There is a price for the latest technology. Has technology hijacked you? Instead of increasing productivity, technology can decrease your efficiency. Interrupting your focus to check your email inbox, for example decreases your productivity. Dan Kennedy, marketing guru, equates checking your email inbox ” every whip stitch” [my grandmother’s term] to going to the front door to look outside to see if you have a visitor. Spending hours working at your computer fosters sedentary work habits. Bad posture and expanding waistlines contribute to preventable health problems. In some places it is illegal to drive while texting or talking on the phone. Legal or not, it is a serious distraction. I noticed someone making a left turn, talking on her cell phone and holding a cigarette. No kidding. The ability to send and receive information instantly promotes a NOW mentality. Just because you can, does not mean an immediate response is the best action to take. Following a severe thunderstorm in June, I was without electricity and internet service for almost 48 hours. With temperatures hovering at 100 degrees, 48 hours probably seemed longer than it really was. Did I mention no telephone? Undaunted I took advantage of a long stretch of uninterrupted time to tackle the following: 1. Organize a project I had been procrastinating about for months. The systems and files save me time and frustration. 2. De-clutter some files. There is room for new projects and clients 3. Clean out three stacking files...

Happy Customers Are Your Best Marketeers

Remember the Girl Scout classic, “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” Applied to business, classic winning strategies are 1) to attract new business and 2) to keep happy customers. Offer what your prospect needs and what you can deliver profitably. Ask questions and listen carefully to your customers and prospects. Be where your best prospects can find you. Do you write articles in the publications that your prospects read? Do you attend professional and trade gatherings where your prospects go for information, education and fellowship? Speak your customers’ language. Show that you understand the problem and that you have the solution. Your customers and prospects do business with you because you have a solution that they need. Attracting customers in one thing. Keeping them is another. Your customers expect excellent services and products. They don’t care how you do it. Deliver excellence consistently and your customers willingly pay for it. Go beyond what your customers expect. I recall having some work on my car at the local dealership. As I was preparing to leave, I realized I had some correspondence that I wanted to mail. As I past the receptionist’s desk, I noticed a stack of outgoing mail and asked if I could add mine to it. To my amazement, she said, “No. We don’t accept other people’s mail.” Apparently, it also stunned the sales manager because he quickly took my mail and said how totally pleased he was to mail it for me. Bet the conversation between him and the receptionist was interesting. Be innovative and look for ways to...