One Simple Approach to Getting the Most Out of Your Day

Daily Planning

A few years ago I was the type of person to buy a planner then try to plan their day out minute by minute or hour by hour. I’m sure many of you are the same way. We all know what this planner looks like and the structure of having activities planned out in time intervals throughout the day. For many people this works but I never seemed to find it beneficial for me as the time constraints I placed never seemed to work out as I planned. I was searching for a new way to not only schedule my day, but to remain effective and efficient at accomplishing specific tasks.

One Consultant’s Advice

While I was thinking about this problem I came across a short magazine article. I don’t remember specific details such as names, the company, or even the magazine name but I remember the principle it taught. The story was about an executive at large corporation who was looking for ways to increase his efficiency throughout the day so he brought in a consultant of some type. He explained to the consultant his goals and need for a system of planning and recording his tasks throughout the day that would increase his efficiency. The consultant then told him to simply think about what tasks needed to accomplish the next day then right them all down in a list. After the list was made, the consultant then told the executive to prioritize the list putting a “1” next to the most important down to the least important. This was the plan for the next day with the instruction to simply cross items off the list when they were finished and not start the next activity until all the previous were finished. If any were left unfinished at the end of day they became the first items for the next day’s list.
To the executive this idea seemed too simple to actually be effective but agreed to give it a try. The consultant was literally in the executive’s office for 5 minutes. As the consultant left the executive asked how much he owed for his time. The consultant simply responded, “I’ll come back in three days and you tell me what you thought this advice was worth.” Such the agreement was made.
The consultant returned three days later and the executive had cut him a check for $10,000 claiming that is how much money he had earned by his increased productivity over the course of the previous two days. Not bad for five minutes of work.

So Simple It Worked

I was astounded by this story after reading it for many reasons. First, $10,000 seemed like a lot of money for five minutes and the idea seemed too easy. Needless to say, I gave it a try. Each night I began making lists of 5-10 things I wanted done during the day then prioritizing them, leaving extra items to become the top of the list for the following day. It worked wonders for me and I no longer felt constrained by my schedule.
A few benefits I saw from this approach were:
• Increased flexibility and quality
• Less self-imposed stress from time
• Not rushing when there was no need to rush
• Prioritization of projects
• The ability to focus on one thing at a time
Over time I found that even though I wasn’t multi-tasking at much, my productivity increased and more projects were
getting done throughout the day. In today’s world we become so distracted by all the tasks that we can do, distracted by emails/texts, and distracted by all possible external outlets. These lists allowed me to manage these outlets and distractions more effectively while not following a rigid schedule.
Give this simple approach a try if you looking to increase your daily productivity. Each person is different but it worked for me, and may work for you.

How Technology Can Help Your Business Be More Efficient

Use Technology to Improve Business Processes

Business is a reoccurring cycle of process improvements. The more efficient your business’ processes are, the lower your costs will be, and the better chance you’ll have at greater profit margins. Optimizing processes requires the ability to uncover deficiencies and create solutions for those deficiencies. Technology is an excellent way to resolve many deficiencies and optimize your business processes whether it is in organization, payments, or marketing. Let’s take a look at some low cost technologies that can help you make your business more efficient.

Communicate More Effectively

Communication is key for any business and in today’s world more and more businesses are spread out nationally or globally. Schedules can be difficult to coordinate and finding time for meetings can be impossible. Now there are many solutions so co-workers can see one another’s schedules. Google offers Google Drive and Calendar in order to share schedules, documents, and other work materials between employees. Apple offers a similar service called Cloud.
In order to facilitate communication for conference calls and meetings companies can use Skype or Google Hangouts which allow companies to do video calls for free from anywhere on the planet. While using Hangouts users can also access documents and other materials online and share notes on their screen and other members of the call. Both are effective, low-cost tools for communicating from long distances.

Get Paid Quicker, from Anywhere

If you visit your customers remotely and need a way of receiving payments while out of the office there are several tools which can help you such Square and Intuit. Both of these apps allow you to receive non-cash payments through your smartphone or tablet device. Simply download the app and set up your account information. Card readers are available which plug into your device so all you have to do is slide the card and go.

Get to Know Your Customers

Any business needs to get to know their customers and their needs. If you have a website tools such as Google Analytics can help you understand who is visiting and making purchases from your site. This is a powerful tool that can give you information such as what is leading people to your site, what they are searching for, where they come from, and other simple demographic information. Such information will help you market your company and better serve your customers. All the information is in one place and saves you a lot of time collecting data yourself.

Expand Your Market

The internet has become a powerful tool for increasing business visibility. Most people today search online for any product or service before they buy anything. Creating a website is not a complicated process and there are lots of websites and services that will help you do so at a reasonably low cost. After you have a website, social media is becoming a remarkable (and inexpensive) marketing tool. Businesses can instantly connect with its customers and create a dialogue with them. Look at Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, or any other industry specific network or blog that can help you engage with customers. All are free and offer instant access to a global customer base. These tools used effectively can expand your market quickly and efficiently if used correctly.
In this post we have only mentioned a few of the cheap, efficient tools that are helping businesses all over the world. By adding these to your business can definitely help you improve your business processes. Ultimately, nobody understands your business and its processes like you do. Take time to analyze how these tools may benefit your business and implement them in a manner that will best serve you.

When Planning Business Growth, Find Those Who Benefit From Your Success

Plan for Growth

Growth is a concern from any start-up’s inception and it is never too early to consider growth potential for your start-up. In fact, most if not all investors and lenders want to know growth potential before they will finance a business. A start-up must provide a significant Return on Investment for companies to even consider it as a viable option. The ROI is determined by growth forecasting led by potential sales.
As we all know, growth is necessary for any sustainable and profitable business. So as you begin to plan your company’s growth what are some growth strategies? One strategy is to determine who benefits from your success.

Learn Who Is Connected to You

Every business in any industry has an interconnected network of suppliers, buyers, and other complementary good sellers. By complementary good sellers we are talking about companies whose product sells when your product sells. A good place to start when looking for growth is looking for ways to work with your personal network of suppliers, buyers, and complementary good owners.
The individuals in your network want to see your succeed and you benefit from them succeeding. Due to this type of relationship there are always opportunities for growth by not only working together, but also through analysis of those companies’ future projections. Look to see where they are going and try to plan with them. By this you can penetrate the markets they are selling in and offer your product to their customers who are looking for complements.
This to some extent is a type of target market analysis. It is done by finding people who find value in your product because they also like another product. By targeting these complementary good markets you benefit, and often the other firms benefit, which makes it easier for you to grow and gain market share.
Focusing on who benefits with your success is only one strategy of many for company growth. This strategy, performed with proper analysis and projections, can lead to growth in sales and possibly future partnerships. It may also reveal opportunities for vertical integration of processes and goods within your own company. When planning your company’s growth, take time to look for those who benefit from your success and you will find more opportunities of your own.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Business Plan

Make Your Plan an Effective Tool

Opinions vary about how to approach your business plan and how it should be structured. While each has its merit, there isn’t a fits-all business plan template. The best way to constructing a business plan is to understand what potential lenders/investors are looking for and what you need out of your business plan.
Ultimately, the business plan is a tool. All tools make our lives a little bit easier but can become worthless if we do not understand how to use them properly. A business plan constructed and used properly can be an invaluable tool to all entrepreneurs.

Focusing on the Process Gets You More Out of Your Business Plan

The key to making your business plan an effective tool is to focus on the process. This means understanding why you are writing each section of the plan and what they mean to your business. The business plan is not just for the readers, it is for you. Focusing on the process of writing will not only lead to business plan improvements but actual business operations improvements. Now your business is becoming an effective learning tool and investment tool.

A Learning Tool

Business plans should clear and concise, but also thorough. By building a thorough business plan you can learn an awful lot about your business, target market, pricing strategies, and the competition. As you construct your parts of your plan like Market Analysis, Financial Statements, etc. you will begin to understand why each is critical to your business and you may find ways to improve. Business is a game of constant improvements and this is no different in the initial start-up phases.

An Investment Tool

Here is where most people see the true value of their business plan. Will it help you get the financial support you need? But this document isn’t the only thing that determines whether that funding is gained or not. Investors and lenders are not just buying your business, they are buying you. By focusing of the process of writing your business and not just the dollar signs at the end of the tunnel you will get to know the ins and outs of your business. Knowledge becomes confidence and confidence goes a long ways towards gaining financial support. You, your plan, and your forecasts will be scrutinized. Learn your business backwards and forwards to show investors you know what you are talking about and you are confident in it.
The business plan can be so much more than a document used once at the start-up phase of business operations. It is a tool used for improvement. When used as such you will find it fulfills its purpose in more than one way.