Today’s businesses are driven by productivity and collaboration. But how do you achieve both in a way that benefits everyone on your team? How do you avoid the inevitable obstacles: Priority management, strategy alignment, and transparency?
Luckily, the small business community has noticed a recent uptick in productivity and collaboration. Why? Many newer online tools have made it easier for teams to communicate clearly, prioritise tasks, delegate responsibilities, and hold themselves (and each other) accountable. From there, it’s just a matter of finding out which tool is right for your business.
Check out these seven tools for increasing productivity and efficiency to see which ones meet your needs.
There’s an app for that – and your business! With Connecteam, you create your own branded employee app with which to communicate, clock in, and more. This tool is valuable for businesses with large numbers of remote workers who may not enjoy the same in-office privileges that other employees have.
Via your customised app, those remote employees can view and create project checklists, upload files, view work schedules, create informational libraries, and even train for new positions.
The app can be created in just over an hour. However, for employees who aren’t used to company apps, there may be a bit of a learning curve.
Related: Can productivity tools help me?
Want 626 hours of time back? On average, that’s how much time WorkflowMax saves its clients – along with $22,000 a year. This tool is perfect for businesses and freelancers who provide a service and bill based on time. Without much effort at all, employees can track time spent on various tasks and remain accountable for their work.
WorkflowMax allows users to create professional, instant quotes for potential clients, then invoice them later on with equally professional-looking forms. Users can even build timelines for special projects and view productivity analytics within the program. For a low monthly price, it’s never been easier for service-based businesses to stay organised.
No matter how good you are at avoiding procrastination, you’re bound to come across irresistible articles and videos somewhere on the Internet while you’re working. But wait — not clicking on it now doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to see it. Pocket lets you save distracting links and useful articles for later with a simple button, which is installed via extension onto your web browser.
Whether it’s the link to a client’s website, a PDF that needs to be edited, or an infographic you’d like to someday share on social media, you can put it in your Pocket.
Too many items saved already? You can tag your links and docs for organisational purposes, so nothing will get lost.
Cyfe lets you organise what would otherwise be indecipherable data. The program acts as your business’s data dashboard, where site visitors, adwords metrics, keyword rankings, and social media success can be accessed altogether. Pre-built widgets from MailChimp, Shopify, and many more let you customise your dashboard to view the information you want to see. With all your data in one place, it’s easy for the whole team to keep track of the big picture.
Some people use Trello for grocery lists, and some people use it for their high-growth businesses. Some people use it for both — it’s that intuitive. You set up boards, which can be assigned different tasks. Those tasks are easily moved around, tagged with other users’ names for delegation purposes, and checked off once completed. It’s an ultra-fluid to-do list, and it’s perfect for those who prefer to keep track of tasks the easy way.
Related: 10 Productivity-Boosting Tools
Stop using your mother’s maiden name or your childhood nickname as your password. It’s understandable — you’re worried you’ll forget your password, so you make it super simple — but you’re practically inviting scammers and hackers to your virtual doorstep. Instead, go ahead and generate an uber-complex password and save it with 1Password.
This little tool lends you peace of mind and extra time at once by storing your passwords securely and auto-entering them for you on selected sites and programs.
With 1Password Teams, administrators can grant and revoke access to shared vaults, as well as save time solving company phishing scams. No matter the size of your business, it can probably benefit from 1Password.
7. Office 365
Most of the above products are developed and managed by start-ups or small to mid-size businesses. Of course, Office 365 is the product of Microsoft: One of the biggest companies on the planet. This means it has an incredible array of powerful features surrounding email management, file sharing, and online meetings.
OneDrive provides an excellent cloud storage solution for businesses, while Skype for Business makes web communication a breeze. Start small with Office 365’s Business Essentials package, or shoot straight to Premium for added amenities, like the Microsoft Office suite and HD video conferencing.
In the end, it’s all about what exactly your organisation needs, but odds are it can benefit from a bit of added productivity and efficiency. These tools will help you get your teams on the same track, prioritise major projects, and delegate tasks until you’ve achieved just that.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How to Calculate the True Monetary Value of Your Time
As an entrepreneur, your time is precious. To protect it, you must know exactly what it’s worth.
Do you know the value of your time? Ken Segall, creator of Apple’s famous ‘Think Different’ ad campaign for agency Chiat/Day, said he got thrown out of a meeting once by the founder of his agency, Jay Chiat.
“Why are you here?” he asked Segall and the art director, who’d shown up with everybody else. “We’re just responding to the invitation,” said Segall. Chiat told them to get lost. “Go create something,” he said.
Jay Chiat knew the value of his creative people’s time. He knew it wasn’t worth it for them to go into that meeting when they could be putting together the next big ad campaign. They were more valuable to the company doing the creative work that made it run than attending a meeting.
That’s what knowing the value of your time can do for you; it tells you what’s most important. Time is the one resource all of us have, but it’s also painfully finite in nature. You can’t bank it — all you can do is invest it wisely.
As an entrepreneur, if you don’t know the true monetary value of your time, how are you going to prioritise your business and your life? What does it take to find the monetary value of your time?
Invest your time
Be aware that your time is likely to appreciate in value. If you’re a founder or running a successful business, your time’s value will increase as your business does. Sooner or later, the monetary value of your time is going to surpass the importance of money. It’ll be more important for you to invest your time in moving the business forward because your time is going to be worth more. So, invest your time on process early, lest you spend it later putting out fires.
Crunch the numbers
Entrepreneur James Clear decided to approach this problem systematically — he talked to everyone from poker players to executive coaches to figure out what the optimal method of measuring his time’s value was.
Then, he sat down and tracked every hour for three months. The upshot of that time investment was a very clear process that you can use to lay out what your time is worth.
First, figure out the amount of time you spend to earn money. That’s not just time spent working. Are you commuting? That’s time you’re using towards work that’s not going elsewhere. School? That counts. Drop the kids off at school? Add it on.
If it’s related to the time you spend earning money, add it on. Clear’s estimate guesses that most full-time employees and entrepreneurs spend around 2 500 hours a year on this (his exact estimate for himself came out to 2 742).
Then, figure out how much you earn in take-home pay per year. That calculation should be pretty simple, though if you’re a business owner, it’ll be a little more complex as you figure out taxes and withholding.
Divide your total earnings by the hours you spend to earn it. That’s your time’s value.
Surprised? It’s probably lower than you expected, especially if you calculated the extra hours devoted to things like dropping of kids at school or commuting accurately. We don’t often think of our work value in terms of total hours spent.
Create a system of checks and balances
You don’t want to just rely on that, though. Maybe you’re being underpaid (or underpaying yourself, if you’re an entrepreneur — don’t laugh, it’s more common than you think). Maybe another factor is throwing it off, or your math has an error.
Consider a few other factors:
- What do other people make to do your job?
- What would you pay someone else to do your job?
- What could you make on the open market if you were to go find another job?
Run those numbers against each other to determine an average. For entrepreneurs, this changes everything. Once you understand this number, it’ll change the way you approach everything in your business and your life.
Know what your own time is worth. Remind yourself of it constantly. If you do, you’ll find yourself more productive, more efficient, more satisfied, and more successful.
So, what are you waiting for? Invest wisely.
(Infographic) 9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making In The First 10 Minutes Of Your Day
From setting goals to drinking coffee, these bad morning habits might surprise you.
There are a number of things you’re probably doing every morning that are actually hindering your productivity.
If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you might be surprised to find out that drinking coffee between 8 and 10 a.m can make you more stressed throughout the day. That’s because caffeine early in the morning interferes with the time that the stress hormone, cortisol, is peaking in your body. It’s best to get your fix between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
When you get into the office and try to jump right into the top of your to-do list, you might find yourself confused and not very productive. When you don’t let your brain empty and refresh before starting a project or task, it loses a sense of control, becomes overwhelmed and ultimately, makes you less productive. Something else to avoid is checking email or social media right when you wake up. Typically, after checking your inbox, it takes a person at least 25 minutes to get back into a productive state. If you start your day off reading and responding to email after email, it will take you a long time to get back on track.
Another surprising mistake is setting self-imposed goals. Setting goals and deadlines for yourself might seem like an obvious productivity hack, but it turns out, that’s not the case. Instead, share your deadlines with others and you’ll feel more pressure and responsibility to get things done.
Check out resume.io’s infographic below for more productivity mistakes you’re likely making in the first 10 minutes of your day.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Workflow And Business Efficiency – 5 Strategies You Ignore At Your Peril
Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. You’re not still depending on email, are you?
An inefficient business can cost you a lot more than just growth – it can affect your revenue, too. According to a report by IDC, your business runs the risk of losing 20 to 30 percent of your revenue due to inefficient systems.
Unfortunately, many companies still struggle to implement the right systems to improve their workflow. Others have it worse, because they have no systems. In those situations, projects take ages to be completed, more time is spent on menial tasks and teams never seem to get enough done during work hours.
If that describes your company, your company’s profits may start to plummet, too.
Every successful business, then, has clearly defined systems to help the business run like clockwork. Improved workflow, better management and business efficiency save time, increase the bottom line and ensure a higher profit margin.
In fact, in an article on ContractZen, Tim Cummins, president of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management, wrote that, “The average corporation could boost its bottom line by almost 10 percent if it invested in improving the quality of contracting.
For many companies – especially those in more complex, project-based industries – the prize could be much higher – perhaps as much as 15 percent.”
Related: Become A Life-Hacker
Unfortunately, some companies fail to provide systems that put users first, taking a negative toll on those companies’ workflow and efficiency. The good news is that they’re only five strategies away from turning this around:
1. Automate all you can
From email lists, bookkeeping, invoicing and contract management, to social media posts and payrolls, almost everything can be automated. For a business that aims to be more efficient, automation is a must.
Automation doesn’t just save you time, it can be the one strategy that can guarantee explosive growth and higher conversion rates. According to this Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness study, 63 percent of companies polled that were outgrowing their competitors said they had automated their marketing.
Automating monotonous tasks that have to be repeated several times during the day helps you be more productive in tasks that require your personal attention.
2. Invest in customer-relationship management software
It’s not uncommon to find businesses that are barely able to keep up with their leads. Some waste hours hunting the low-quality leads instead of focusing their energy on those ready to buy. Here, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution linked to these businesspeople’s network phone system is a great way to enhance customer communications.
Customers value businesses that provide excellent customer service. A CRM solution increases the ability to keep track of customer information, monitor leads and provide efficient delivery. Businesses can provide for their customers’ needs faster and make effective business decisions. With CRM, businesses can also keep their focus on quality leads that will drastically improve conversion rates.
3. Set up a task-management system
Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. Email makes it difficult to carry everyone along. However, setting up task-management software like Slack, Trello or Asana makes it much easier to have everyone’s tasks in one place and ensure that everyone is carried along in the project.
Task-management software helps members of a team track their progress and ensure that everyone is working on their tasks.
4. Sync your calendar with that of everyone else on your team
How many times have you had to reschedule appointments because you didn’t know you had other meetings lined up for the day?
Aside from leaving negative impression in clients’ mind, this error makes you less productive. Having to go back and forth until you have settled on an appropriate date can be cumbersome especially when different time zones are involved. So, do this instead: Sync your personal calendar with your work calendar, and make sure that everyone in your team is synced to the latter, too.
This will ensure sure that everybody is “on the same page” in terms of appointments and deadlines. Google Calendar can help you do just that. Once everyone is synced up, any change in the calendar will be seen by everyone so they can manage their own appointments.
5. Block out chunks of time
Constant interruptions hamper your workflow. Imagine having to deal with turning over a project on a deadline while you’re stuck in a series of meetings throughout the day. It can get very difficult to focus on completing your most urgent tasks.
Block out chunks of time on your calendar for uninterrupted work. It’s better to schedule a series of meetings in one day than to spread them throughout the week.
If you’re creating content, block out one day to create all the content you’ll use for the week. That way your business will run more efficiently.
Related: 3 Reasons You Should Embrace Change
Wrapping it up
With the right strategies, you can turn your business around to make it efficient and lucrative. Automating your processes, setting up the right software and remaining focused on the tasks at hand will go a long way to help you do this. But just as with every good strategy, you need to remain consistent and give it time to do its magic.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.