Small Business Productivity (And How to Maximize It)

Okay, so let’s learn how to maximize our business productivity. Productivity is a hot topic right now because most of us can’t figure out how to get it or achieve it or create it. We’re deluged by more communication and more distraction and interruption. We’ve got more to do than ever, and somehow, it feels like we’re slogging along and just can’t get anything done. And yet, we know if we can be more productive in business that that’s where all the rewards are because that’s how we create more financial security and more monetary success. To me, business productivity comes down to a few key issues, and here they are.

No. 1) Minimizing and eliminating distraction and interruption. No. 2) Focusing on the high value activities. And No. 3) Creating habits and routines so that we do the right things every day.

So let’s take these in order. No. 1) Distraction and interruption. Distraction and interruption are probably the biggest robbers in this day and age. In other words, they’re the things that steal the most money, time, energy, quality of relationship from us.

We don’t even notice it. We get distracted. We get interrupted. We also multi-task a lot, which is actually kind of self-imposed distraction and interruption. It turns out that when you focus on one thing for an extended period of time that you get a lot more done. I mean dramatically more done than if you are distracted and interrupted. I like to imagine – you know, I live here in Los Angeles, and let’s say I wanted to drive down to San Diego. It might be 100 miles or so from where I live in San Diego. Now, I can drive out and get on the freeway, and I can drive straight to San Diego, 100 miles. It’ll probably take me, with traffic, something like an hour and a half, maybe two hours driving at a leisurely pace.

Now there’s another way I can go. I can take surface streets from here to San Diego. I could go down a surface street and stop at the stoplight and go to another one and stop and go to another one and stop. And there’d be places where I probably had to take the freeway because there was just no surface street to get me from here to there, but how long would it take if I took surface streets as far as I could? It would probably take me like six or eight hours to get to San Diego. Plus, while I’m driving all these surface streets, I’m going to get distracted. I might say, “Oh, that looks like a cool place,” and I’m going to stop and look at it. Or, “You know what? I’m hungry. Look at that. I’m going to get some food.” And that’s going to increase it even more.

Well, this is what distractions and interruptions and multi tasks do for our lives. Instead of getting on the freeway and just cruising straight there in one shot, we get interrupted all the time, and we have all these things that come in. And we have to keep stopping and starting and stopping and starting. So if you want to really increase your productivity, if you want to increase your business productivity, eliminate distraction and interruption. Eliminate it physically, emotionally, and logically. Physically set up your environment so you’re not distracted and interrupted. Turn off your phone. Turn of your text messages. Turn off your instant messenger and your Skype.

Turn off your e-mail. Turn it all off so that no information can come in and interrupt you. Train your family. Train the people that you work with. Train those around you that you’re going to be focused, that you’re not to be interrupted for multi-hour periods so you can focus for multiple hours at a time. You might say that’s not realistic. It is realistic, and in fact, it’s the only way. That’s the only way out of this is to focus in uninterrupted blocks of time. So eliminate distraction and interruption. The second thing I mentioned was to focus on the important things. If you’re going to increase your productivity, you have to stop confusing activity with results, and you have to do those things that actually get the most results. In business, it’s so easy to just do a bunch of stuff that seems like it might get some results.

I mean we can look great while we’re creating reports and clicking around in Microsoft Excel and writing a bunch of e-mails and talking to people about what we’re doing, but actually going and doing the things that are important, the things that make money when it’s all said and done, that’s a much bigger challenge. In business, I’ve discovered that there are three things that make big money. Those are products, marketing, and relationships. Products, marketing, and relationships. Products is creating those things that people buy. It could be products. It could be services. It could be continuity programs. Whatever it is that you sell. But creating those things, creating more and more new products and services, that’s one of the things that creates lots of value for your business, makes money, and creates high lifetime value and creates assets for your business.

The next thing, marketing, and this is everything that you do to market, sell, merchandise your business and your products. So creating sales letters, creating videos, like the video that I’m creating right now. Talking to customers. Talking to potential partners about doing deals. Okay? This is marketing. That’s the – that’s kind of the essence of marketing is doing the things that actually brings in customers. And the final thing is relationships. And I’m not just talking about any relationship. I’m talking about those relationships that yield the highest return on investment, and in business, those relationships are relationships with partners who help you sell your stuff.

Your partners that will market and sell your stuff to their lists, to their customers, etc. Your relationships with your employees and your team and your contractors. Those are the people that do all of the things that make the money. Relationships with your best customers. Fostering relationships with long-term customers. So products, marketing, relationships. If you’re not investing 80 percent of your time on products, marketing, and relationships, then you’re wasting your time and you’re not going to create a lot of business productivity for yourself. And then the final thing is to focus your time. Focus it in uninterrupted blocks and create a habit of doing this.

This is the most important one of all. Remember, I said earlier that with distraction and interruption, we’re getting distracted and interrupted. We can’t make that straight shot to San Diego. Well, the way to get on that freeway to San Diego to make it so you get a lot done and you stay focused is to make it a habit. As an example, when you first start work every day, instead of checking your e-mail and your voicemail and getting a bunch of distractions and interruptions, go to work for a few hours on the high priority things, which are, as we just discussed, products, marketing, and relationships. Put the highest value things first.

And then go get distracted and interrupted. If you’ll just focus on those three things: Eliminating distraction and interruption; focusing on products, marketing, and relationships; and then focusing your time in uninterrupted blocks on those high value things – again, without distraction and interruption – you will watch as your business productivity will skyrocket. So get to work on them now.

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12 Tips to Maximize IT Expenditures and Improve Business Productivity

Now more than ever, small businesses need ways to drive and improve business productivity and maximize investments on each small business IT solution in order to deliver excellent customer service and accelerate revenues. The good news is, there are numerous, actionable steps business owners can follow to move beyond survival mode into thrive territory.

When you think about IT, you may immediately see dollar signs, but there are ways to maximize your IT expenditures, which will ultimately help boost revenue. According to market research, small business IT solution spending is on the rise. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that small and medium sized business spending on IT will increase 5.5 percent over the 2010-2014 forecast period. Research also shows that IT decision makers for small and medium sized businesses will be focusing more of their time on IT expenditures, however with a limited budget.

Since small businesses continue to feel the pressures of the economy, they will remain cautious in their IT spending, but these simple tips will help maximize the benefits of your small business IT solution expenditures and help create dramatic increases in your productivity and overall business growth.

Below, I have outlined 10 tips that businesses owners should consider and execute to boost profitability and improve business productivity. If you’re an entrepreneur, consider one or all of the following tips to take your business to the next level.

Boost Profitability with a Cost-Effective, Comprehensive Small Business IT Solution

1. Boost Your Email. In the world of small business today, email is the central form of communication. It enables you to communicate efficiently with your fellow employees and customers. Equipping your business with a reliable and robust email platform is a critical piece to improving business productivity.

2. Build a Web Presence. If your small business does not have a web presence then you are missing a golden opportunity. There are tools available at your fingertips that will help you create a website that is interactive and engaging for your customers and prospects; try adding video or a blog.

3. Work the Web. Does your website still fit the needs of your business? If not, it may be time to upgrade to a small business IT solution, such as an e-commerce system, that enables you to sell your products or services online.

4. Upgrade Your Apps. Move your accounting off the spreadsheet and into a professional accounting software application. Whether free or subscription-based software on demand or a self-hosted solution, this is not a time to short-change your cash management.

5. Back It Up. Can the server in your IT closet withstand a flood, fire, tornado or your building’s sprinkler system? If you’ve answered no or are unsure, consider offsite data backup services as a part of your small business IT solution. Scrimping now may cost you later.

6. The Search Is On. Search engine optimization improves your rank on sites like Google and Yahoo!. A few keywords can improve your business productivity by catapulting your ranking in only a few months and earning you more business.

7. Be Smart and Social. Do some social media due diligence to find out if your industry cares about tweets, friends or followers before you invest valuable resources in social media.

8. More Productivity, Fewer Problems. Focus on services that improve business productivity, like providing your mobile sales force with anywhere access to your office’s network. Even though the economic tide is starting to improve, your customers still expect you to do more with less.

9. Inspect Your IT. Complete a technology audit of each small business IT solution that you pay for and determine its value. For example, what benefit does the company receive from employees having unlimited texting?

10. Consolidation Is King. Move voice, data, web hosting and other IT services to a single provider so you only have to pay one bill or contact one provider if you have a question. A consolidated small business IT solution will save you time by not having to chase down different providers for one problem.

11. Count on the Cloud. Prioritize your technology decisions by how much they will accelerate your company’s ability to grow and thereby improve your business productivity. For example, using cloud-based services gives your business access to productivity-enhancing technology at a fraction of the price.

12. Can the Spam. Spam costs US companies almost 22 billion dollars each year, and has a significant impact on employee productivity and business growth. Proactively protect yourself by self-filtering incoming emails. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know or don’t recognize, simply delete it.

Growth is good. Follow the tips above to improve business productivity, accelerate growth, and prepare for unmatched success with a comprehensive small business IT solution.

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