Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

November 2011

Recent Posts

Time is money. It’s a suitable mantra for any business professionals but its even more critical for the small office – home office entrepreneur.

Recently, I turned to the colleagues in my professional network for small business advice on their best time-saving technology.  Here is what I learned:

  1. Kenneth Larson uses flash drives that allow you to work on a variety of client projects at a variety of locations and computers
  2. Lou Susi uses ‘Design Thinking’ — “sometimes just drawing out an idea and talking through it can save a ton of time and energy.”
  3. Wallace Jackson suggests a “Gateway HexaCore 64-bit Win7 AMD Workstation with 9GB DDR5 & 1.5TB HDD” for lighting fast speed.
  4. George Tyler & Lorraine Duncan recommend “Hootsuite for scheduling LinkedIn, Tweets and Facebook posts.”  Hootsuite allows you to schedule social media posts months in advance. This is a time-saving technology we happen to love also.
  5. Jimmy uses “Dropbox and Giant cloud application (these both are file sharing & transfer applications). Also Location Based Apps on my iPhone…help me to reach destination easy.”
  6. Gayle LaSalle shared some wise council when she said “knowing when to say no. It is a complete sentence, after all. Don’t agree to do things you don’t want to or don’t have the time for.” Can we get an Amen?
  7. Dhanasekar D uses his phone as a time-saver.  Rather than live behind his keyboard, email or social media, Dhana saves time by picking up his phone to get fast answers.
  8. Cheri Baker is a big fan of “dual monitors.” It’s amazing how much faster you can get desk work done if you can read off of one screen while typing or inputting into the other screen.”
  9. Dean Berry’s “favorite time-saving technology is reasoning: I do not have to type urls, search my favorites or try to remember all the websites I visit on a daily, monthly or yearly basis.”
  10. Kim Luu is a big fan of “cloud based on most everything. It allows me to spontaneously capture thoughts as I dictate as well as work with clients. I can access anything I need.”
  11. Bernie Siben became a fast friend with his time-saving response:  “A Smith & Wesson – so much faster than poison.”  We always appreciate a good sense of humor!
  12. Dave Maskin suggests “Google search”.
  13. Chris Barton likes using a “small notepad and pen”.
  14. Rebecca Gebhardt Brizi highly recommends “MindMaps – Mainly because it easy to review and re-arrange your notes, schedule, whatever it is you are capturing.” Check out Wisemapping, a free online mindmapping platform.
  15. Judy Hojel is a raving fan of her “pen and paper! I plan many training courses and presentations and I’ve learnt over the years that I can save myself much time and frustration by putting pen to paper first. Later I can transfer my information, but for me the initial story boarding is best done without technology!”
  16. Cristina Falcao uses “email, cloud storage and USB sticks”.
  17. Dawud Miracle uses the best non-technology available by taking regularly schedule breaks. “Every 50 minutes, I step away from my work, go outside for a few minutes, breathe in fresh air and drink some water. Doing this 5, 6, 7 times a day has increased my overall productivity by about 25% over just sitting and grinding all day or just taking a break here and there.”
  18. Aabhas Zaveri advocates “Automation Anywhere, a business process automation tool that automates practically anything that I do over my desktop, network or internet manually and repeatedly.”
  19. Laura Lara uses remote access with her clients. It not only saves her time but keeps her off the freeway.
  20. Zoey Smith is a big fan of all things Google. With a highly collaborative team, she finds Google calendar, email search, docs, and talk help her and her team stay connected.
  21. Scott Siders uses to automate his social media posts and save valuable time.
  22. Margaret Jacoby loves her new Neat Desk, desktop scanner, to save her time and keep her receipts and papers under control.
  23. Time Trade is one of our favorite new time-saving technologies.  Time Trade affords you the ease of scheduling important meetings and/or calls via email while avoiding the back-and-forth time-wasting email exchange.

What is YOUR favorite time-saving technology?

Like peanut butter and jelly, the future of small business growth lies in developing meaningful partnerships.  And, with the right type of planning, “teaming up” can prove to be a match made in heaven.

As with any good relationship, victory begins with the quest for self-discovery and awareness. It’s essential to ask yourself:

  • What is our intended purpose for developing an alliance?
  • What do we expect to gain from the association?
  • What assets do we bring to the partnership?
  • How does an alliance fit into our business plan?

Once you’ve determined that an alliance would fit into your overall strategy, the next step is to identify the companies that would be a potential match.  Conducting extensive research to find the perfect “mate” will be crucial to your success.  Inquiries to make include:

  • What companies reach the market that we currently serve?
  • What businesses make products or provide services that relate to our business?
  • What ventures have a vision and values that are similar to ours?
  • What companies have expressed an interest in collaborating with us?
  • What enterprises have similar standards, work ethic, and commitment to excellence that we have?

Once you completed your homework, you’re ready to begin building a partnership that creates a win-win for all parties involved (owners and employees, alike).  The path to successful alliances does not have to be littered with misunderstandings and disagreements.  Honest and open communications, up front, can clear away any potential barriers to performance.  Areas to discuss include:

  • Purpose and vision – why are we doing what we’re doing?
  • Performance targets – what objectives and goals reflect what both parties expect to gain from the alliance?  Are they realistic based on the amount of resources both parties are willing to put forth? What needs to be achieved by when?
  • Working agreements ­ what responsibilities is each business willing to take on?  What are the norms of acceptable behavior?  How can we best work together to achieve our goals?
  • Problem solving ­ how will we utilize the talent of both companies to solve problems?
  • Decision-making – what process will be used to make decisions?  In the event of an inability to arrive at a mutually beneficial decision, who will be the final influence?
  • Meeting effectiveness – How will we use meetings to enhance the power of the alliance?  How frequently will we meet?  What information will be shared?
  • Managing differences – What is our plan for resolving conflict?

There are no right or wrong answers.  You must create the path that fits your new entity best.  Whatever your alliance strategy, treat your new enterprise with care.  It takes a lot less effort to kill a new effort than it does to nourish it.  Nurture it all you can.

By Joy Montgomery

You’re up and running but projects are taking longer than you expected. You’re running into problems that are chipping away at your finances. Customers aren’t paying as quickly as you thought they would. Expenses don’t stop and wait for you to have money. Opportunities to buy materials at an attractive price don’t wait until you have money. These and other issues affect your ability to keep yourself in growth mode. Here are three tips on where you can start having a positive affect on your cash flow.

1. Cash Cow. Looking at your operation, there’s something that is an entry-level product or something that you created in-house to streamline your own processes. Consider putting some emphasis on the quick products that can create a steady flow of income. A high-tech company had a test unit that field engineers took out into remote areas to test the strength of the product. No thought had been given to the marketability of that simple unit and it had the potential to generate sales in remote areas around the world. It was the most inexpensive item that the company built and had never been considered as a product. Another company had a little program that helped their own test engineers with their work. It was another unidentified product that could generate steady income. The owner of a small recruiting firm created a program to simplify his job. With very little effort, it could be used to manage any small business. The last time I saw him, he said that he had sold a number of the programs and made millions with them. It may not even be the business you’re in but there could be a steady income generator hiding in your operation.

2. Changes. This is not about bringing in more money. It’s about plugging leaks. My father was a General Contractor when I was a baby. The first and only project he ever had was a beautiful home in Marin County in Northern California. Dad had a partner – George. George was a customer pleaser. While Dad was out buying materials, George would be ripping out the bathroom because the homeowner realized they didn’t like the color of the floor to ceiling tile as much as they thought they would. Of course, that meant that the coordinating floor tiles had to go, too. George always promised there would be no charge for changes. The project made the cover of Better Homes & Gardens but it drove Dad and George into bankruptcy. If you were building a bridge between two cities you would have agreement on the specifications, completion date, and costs. If, when you were 90% done, the Mayors came to you and said they made a mistake and should have had one more lane in each direction, you could probably say, “No problem. We planned for future expansion in the design.” When the Mayors wanted assurance that you would still complete the job by the same deadline and for the same costs, you would discuss the increased time and money. You may not be building anything as big as a bridge but don’t let change requests eat up your cash.

3. Connections. Keeping your nose to the grindstone does a couple things. It wears you out and it prevents you from discovering information outside of your company that might have a significant effect on your operation. One small company struggling with cash flow issues didn’t have anyone available for networking. They brought in an operations management consultant whose marketing efforts were all about networking. As problems came up in conversation, the consultant had connections who had answers. Some zoning issues that created a safety problem for the employees had a surprising solution when the consultant mentioned the issue to a networking contact who was a commercial building contractor. The consultant knew an attorney who specialized in another area the company needed help with. A casual conversation between the consultant and a networking contact revealed a previously unidentified market for the customer’s product. All three of those happened over a two-day period as a result of the consultant’s ongoing networking efforts. It’s worth your time to stay connected to people outside of your company.

Conclusion: These kinds of solutions can be an ongoing benefit for your business with  clear, concise communication of the problems that are restricting your cash flow. Keep your eye out for the kinds of opportunities you’ve seen here.

Joy Montgomery is a coach for startups, small businesses and job seekers. She helps you position yourself for growth, profitability, and acquisition.

Article Source: Cash Flow – Want Some Tips?

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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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