5 Advantages of Hiring a Business Consultant

Deciding whether or not to hire a consultant for your business is a difficult task. You may feel as though you shouldn’t need a consultant, you should be able to do it all yourself, but business consultants can be beneficial to your business while also bringing different skills and resources to the table that you may not have. Business consultants can make your life easier and your business better. But what are some ways they can do that? Let’s explore five advantages of hiring a business consultant.

You will get an objective outside perspective on your business

For small businesses, it can be common for business owners to commit endless amounts of time and money to their company. The last thing they want to do is admit that anything might be wrong with their business, so often an outside perspective can shed some light on existing problems and challenges that management may have ignored or was simply too close to see the problems under their nose. By entering a business with an outside perspective, business consultants can see what the problems are, what is causing them, and they can strategize a plan to solve those problems. 

By solving these problems that you may not have known about before, your business will run smoother and function better all around. Hiring a consultant will allow you to have someone with a neutral and objective standpoint speak openly about your business and identify issues that may inhibit your business from being the best it can be. 

It can be cheaper to hire a consultant in the long run

While you may see hiring a consultant as an expense, it can actually save you thousands of dollars long-term! Hiring a consultant when they are needed, rather than hiring full time employees, can be much more cost effective for your business. On top of that, you also won’t be required to pay benefits to the consultant, saving you more money! While consultant pricing may be a bit higher than a typical employee salary, hiring a consultant isn’t a long term arrangement, you will stop paying them once the project you hired them for is complete. If all of that doesn’t sound great enough, a consultant’s experience will often shorten the training process for new employee positions, and can also help guide you through potential financial pitfalls within your business!

A consultant can bring new life to your business

It can be easy to get bogged down in the same work day after day. You can slip into a routine of doing the same things over and over, never changing anything or switching things up, and this can be detrimental to your business. If you aren’t training employees as well as you should be, completing short term projects on time, or if you find yourself using the same methods to stay afloat, you may be in need of a consultant who can bring new life to your business. With the help of a business consultant, you can bring your small business from surviving to thriving quickly. Business consultants can work with management and employees, working on training, finances, human resources and more to improve your productivity and overall business strength. With fresh ideas, fresh perspective, and new ways of working, you will likely find your employees happier, more productive, and less stressed! Consultants can often be a catalyst for change, and businesses often don’t even know how much change is needed.

Consultants keep your business up to date with all new skills

It is important for consultants to keep up with all of the latest skills, methodologies, business trends, and strategies. By working with a consultant, your company will be able to take advantage of his or her knowledge of the newest skills, and your consultant can even teach existing employees and train new employees to work in ways that align with new business trends and methodologies, putting your workforce at the forefront of your industry!

A consultant will make your life easier

So, a business consultant can save you money, but did you know they can also save you time? Some may argue that time is more valuable than money, and this statement especially rings true in the workplace, where it feels as though there are never enough hours in the day to get things done. The number of things consultants can do is endless, and you can hire a consultant for virtually any aspect of your business. Consultants can be hired to do the things that you just don’t have the time to do, cutting down on your to do list and allowing you time for the other things in your life. There’s really no limit to how much easier your life can be with a business consultant.

Saving you time, money, bringing new life and a fresh perspective to your business, why wouldn’t anyone hire a business consultant? This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways hiring a business consultant can change your business, and your life, for the better. 

How to avoid project management mistakes

Whether you’re a rookie when it comes to project management or you have quite a few projects under your belt, it can be easy to find yourself making mistakes that take a toll on your productivity and the quality of your finished product. It is important to identify, keep track of, and learn from mistakes in order to develop solutions and become a better, more efficient project manager. Costly mistakes or errors have the potential to derail an entire project, but they are very avoidable, if you know how. Here are some of the most common mistakes that project managers experience. 

Lack of skills or resources

Not having access to the correct resources can cause a project to fail before it even begins. Before taking on a project, make sure that you will have the resources to complete it. You could also be lacking employees with the technical skills necessary to complete the project. This isn’t your employees’ fault- you likely hired them for a different skill set than is needed for this project- you can’t anticipate the needs of every project before you start! If you start a project and realize it may be too much for you to take on due to lack of resources or skills, be up front with the client early on and let them know that you may be a bit over your head. 

Failure to communicate well

This may be the most common and most difficult project management mistake, but it is relatively simple to avoid! Oftentimes, project managers will feel as though they are nagging employees by asking them to get their portion of the project completed, and this results in poor communication as the project managers fail to reach out, check in, and update employees as often as they should. You have to let that go, don’t worry about whether or not the participants of the project feel you are nagging them with constant updates and status checks. Communication is key to completing any project successfully, and employees often appreciate constant communication and constructive feedback during the project rather than criticism after the deadline. Don’t be afraid to communicate often with the employees working on the project!

Skipping steps to save time

While skipping steps may feel like it saves you time, it probably doesn’t in the long run. Skipping steps can cause you to make mistakes that you will later have to go back and fix, which can cause a ripple effect of repercussions throughout the entirety of the project. This can lead to a domino of things throughout the project you will have to fix, taking more time than if you hadn’t skipped the step to “save time” in the first place. Remember that each step is crucial to the success of the project, you should carefully navigate and complete each step before moving on to the next in order to ensure a successful completion of the project.

Not addressing the slacker on your team

No one wants to call out the slacker. It sucks, but it has to be done. If you don’t address the slacker, they will weigh down your project, slow your productivity, and it is likely other employees will feel as though they can get away with giving less than 100% effort towards projects. Also, having a slacker in a large team attempting to complete a project can lead to resentment and negative attitudes within the team as it feels as though not everyone is pulling their own weight. Although it can be a bit intimidating to confront the slacker on your team, this problem must be addressed in order to foster a positive team environment. Try to build a “culture of accountability” within the team. By holding everyone accountable, you will be less likely to encounter as many slacker problems.

Failure to correctly estimate time and budget

Problems can erupt when a project is nearing its deadline but isn’t anywhere close to completion. Or maybe you start to go over budget and your client begins to get angry with you. These are things no project manager wants or expects to happen, but these mistakes happen quite often, and can cause extreme stress to the project manager, the team, and the client. These problems are caused by the inability to correctly estimate the time and budget necessary to complete a project. This mistake goes hand in hand with our initial mistake from the beginning of this article, a mistake in terms of lack of resources or skills. 

The solution, again, is quite simple. Before you begin a project, take the time to break down just how much time and money it will take to complete the project. Be up front with the client about exactly how much time and money you envision the project requiring. Over estimating a bit can be helpful, as it gives you some wiggle room to take a bit more time or use a bit more of the budget without going over, and if you don’t end up needing the amount you overestimated for, your client will be pleased that the project was completed before time and under budget! 

With good planning and effective communication, many project management mistakes can be easily avoided. Next time you begin a project, keep these common mistakes and their solutions in mind to have a smoother, more successful project for your client!

Tips on how to navigate change management

Change in a business can be a confusing, difficult, uncomfortable, and tricky thing to do. It can feel as though you are struggling to make everything work, make everyone comfortable, and accomplish the change that will make your company better in the end. 

Change management often handles the people side of the change, tending to the needs of employees, making sure they are adjusting, comfortable, becoming acclimated to the new protocols, technology, or any other changes may be occurring within the business. This side of change is the most critical, as well as the most challenging component of change in any business. Knowing how to navigate it a bit better can make changes within an organization flow as smoothly as possible. This guide for change management can help leaders and employees better understand the importance of success when it comes to change management, and how to accomplish change successfully.

Explain to employees why the change is necessary

It is important to let your employees know not only that a change is going to be made within your company, but also why that change is necessary. Employees will respect you for informing them about changes rather than just telling them what’s going to happen, they will be grateful you kept them in the loop. By informing your employees, you will likely have a much more cooperative team, open to change and willing to adjust to new protocols, technologies, or whatever the change may be. Be clear, authentic, and transparent about what is about to happen within the business. Change will be infinitely easier to navigate if your employees are on board and on the same page as you! 

Change in an organization happens one person at a time

In order to successfully navigate change, you must look at the change from an individual perspective. It is not the entire organization making one large change, but rather every employee making smaller changes to how they do their day to day tasks, that results in real, lasting change.

Poorly managing change can be costly

There are so many costs that can take a toll on your business if you fail to manage change correctly, especially if you fail to focus on the needs of your employees during change.These consequences include the decline of productivity on a large scale for a long duration, customers are able to feel the negative impacts of change that should have been invisible to them, employee morale will plummet, leading to divisions and an “us versus them” mentality, there will be an increase in fatigue, stress, and confusion, and, in extreme cases, valued employees will begin to leave the organization. 

All of the above “costs” of poorly managing change on an individual level were not even monetary costs. They were qualitative costs, which will bear economic impact on a business much longer than the initial quantitative costs of a change, if not managed properly. Be aware of the needs of individuals to manage change!

Consider using tools to manage organizational change

There are a number of tools you can use to manage organizational change, including a communication plan, coaching plan, sponsor roadmap, training plan, and resistance management plan, to name a few. 

To make sure these tools can be properly used by your employees, make sure you also reinforce awareness of the need for change among staff, cultivate a motivation for employees to support and participate in the change, and provide them with the knowledge on how to change. In addition to this, make sure your employees have the ability to implement any newly required skills and behaviors for the impending change, and provide them with lots of support and reinforcement to sustain the change throughout the change process, but especially after successfully transitioning through the change.

Embrace different learning styles, be patient

This point goes along with the idea that change in an organization will happen one person at a time. People will adjust to change differently. They will learn to adjust their working styles and day to day work differently. It will take individuals different amounts of time to learn new protocols and technology or software, they will implement changes in different areas of their work, and change will affect different roles differently.

Reassure your employees that mistakes are bound to happen while navigating change, and that mistakes should be embraced as part of the learning process. Provide them with a safety net and give them the peace of mind that they will not be penalized for mistakes during the change transition. Being patient with different learning styles and different paces of learning to see the best results from your change management.

Listen to your employees

This point goes hand in hand with the principle of being aware of the needs of individuals within your organization while managing change. Ask your employees questions to make sure they understand everything that is going on. Allow them to ask you questions about the change as well. Offer guidance where you can, allow them to discuss their concerns, ideas, confusion, and offer you advice. Employees can often be your most important and most valuable resource when it comes to navigating change successfully. A tactic that works well in business settings is a roundtable where anything and everything related to the changes can be discussed. 

It’s no secret that managing change well increases success in a business and promotes further growth potential for the organization in the long run. However, if managed incorrectly, change can have devastating consequences for a company. By understanding the needs of individuals throughout an organizational change, you can set your business up for the most successful transition and provide a foundation upon which future changes can be made. Change management may not be easy, but with a bit of dedication, attention to individuals, and lots of patience, change management can be accomplished successfully. 

9 Secrets of How to Scale Your Small Business Guide

You’ve successfully got your small business up and running and are even starting to see a profit turn around. You’re ready to take your next step to grow your business, but aren’t quite sure what else to do. There’s a few strategies to scale up your business and they may even be something you did in the beginning, but need another look at. Here are our 9 best secrets on how to scale up your business.

1. Check out the competition.

Looking into your competitors is a great starting place to grow your business because there is so much to learn from them. How is your business similar or different and how can you leverage your specialties? What parts of the advertising landscape are they utilizing? What is their target market and where does your business fit in?

2. Do Your Research.

Run a few reports and assessments and analyze where your business is thriving and struggling. What brings in the most revenue? In what ways can you increase sales of products or services that are down? When you take the time to sit back and look at the bigger picture you can see if you should try a new strategy or if it would make more sense to cut certain aspects or products out of your business model all together.

3. Simplify where you can.

Which brings us to our second point. Simplifying your business can leave room to focus on what you do best. This includes not only your energy, but your money too. Are the desserts at your pizza shop really adding to the experience or are you constantly having to throw away wasted inventory? Take a look at what’s performing best and evaluate if it’s time to scale things down.

4.Treat your existing customers well.

While growing your customer or client base is never a bad goal to set for your business, a great way to do just that is by treating the customers you do have with extra care and consistently amazing customer service. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth recommendations among friends and colleagues. When you provide great service, the people you serve are much more likely to pass along your business to someone they know.

5. Build customer loyalty.

Aside from excellent service, build your customer loyalty by keeping them in the loop with social media, email newsletters, and exclusive promotions. People like to feel special and making them feel as if they’re a part of an exclusive program builds their loyalty to you. Remember that advertising to attract new customers is crucial, but targeting existing customers can be more just as effective in growing your business.

6. It’s 2020, you have to have to have a social media presence.

There are no ifs ands or buts about it. You have to have some kind of social media presence. Start small with posting once or twice a week on one platform and as time goes on and your following grows, branch out with more frequent creative content to draw in new customers or leads. Boosting your posts is also a fairly inexpensive way to advertise with little effort.

7. Network and involve yourself in your community.

Don’t underestimate the power of networking and surrounding yourself and your business with allies that can mutually benefit from a relationship with you. Embrace the local scene and let your colleagues serve as an example for you and your business.

8. Keep track of what ads work best to refine your marketing plan.

It’s important to set aside time to assess what aspects of your marketing plan are working best and to figure out why things are or aren’t working. Run analytics reports for your social media accounts, measure KPI, and collect data. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

9. Invest in the right software to make your management easier.

Although some software is pricey, it can make your life easier in the long run. Using various software can also save you from having to hire employees or other outside help. Overall various programs from scheduling, accounting or simple spreadsheets can save time and money when utilized properly.

Use these strategies as a first step to scale up your business and before you know it, it’ll be time to expand your locations, clients or employees.

The 10 Books Business Owners Must Read

Navigating the business world can be a stressful and confusing time for anyone in the business. From those who are just dipping their toes in the water to seasoned professionals, this list of books can help anyone because the business environment is constantly evolving with the latest technology and practices. 

1. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs 

Topic: Women in Business

Summary: This New York Times bestseller embraces the advice of over 100 women entrepreneurs, artists, and self-starters. From tattoo artists to women in media, a wide array of careers and women are covered to glean valuable advice for anyone. 

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

Promising Review: “These amazing stories will surely spark something deep within us all: the courage to dream and the fortitude to make those dreams happen.”

2. Will It Fly? How to Know if Your New Business Idea Has Wings…Before You Take the Leap 

Topic: Formulating a Business Idea

Summary: Will It Fly serves as a valuable assessment tool for your new business idea. This book helps you narrow down and fine tune your idea into something that could really see great success. The first step is brainstorming, the next step is reading this book!

Overall Rating: 3.7/5

Promising Review: “This book, written by an inspiring mentor, will provide the framework and guidelines to direct your ideas into a viable business venture. “Will it Fly” clearly and concisely makes you think seriously about your new business and motivates you to put your best foot forward in the marketplace.”

3. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup 

Topic: Starting Your Own Business

Summary: Founding your own startup is an exciting journey to embark on, but the reality that most startups fail after a couple of years shows that making the right decisions in the beginning has a major impact on your startup’s success down the road. Noah Wasserman guides you to make the right decisions when choosing who to work with on your startup. 

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

Promising Review: “…if you are (budding) entrepreneur, potential start-up hire, angel investor or venture capitalist you should really read this book. This is the first book that really gets to the human side of entrepreneurship, but is based on the evidence of a ten year study of some 2000 technology and life science start-ups for the period 2000-9.”

4. Get Over Your Damn Self: The No-BS Blueprint to Building A Life-Changing Business

Topic: Building a Business

Summary: This book is all about building your skills in network marketing and team building. Author Romi Neustadt offers a no-nonsense approach to building your confidence in networking yourself and your business to achieve great results.

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

Promising Review: “her advice is so sound, so perfect…so immaculate that it can be applied to ANY job or career in which you need to market yourself or a product. The writing is gripping. I literally finished this book faster than my favorite fiction novels. I am actually reading through it a second time as well. Romi is a kick-butt person and I am glad to have her advice at my back!

5. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t

Topic: How to Achieve Success with Your Business

Summary: After years of extensive and precise research, Jim Collins was able to formulate a set of guidelines that answers a simple question: How can companies of varying levels of greatness achieve enduring success? He and his team’s key findings include how leadership, passion, discipline, technology, and change all play a role in a company’s success.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Promising Review: “A wonderful anthology on the right and necessary steps a growing concern must continue to take if they are to remain viable in today’s society and ready for the future.. As a CEO, you must be above the fray of everyday operations and keep a keen eye on the future and potential innovations.”

6. The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly

Topic: New Age Marketing

Summary: This book will guide you on how to navigate new technology and content marketing tools such as the latest social media apps and features, AI, podcasting, and live video. The 7th edition is currently out so readers can rest assured that it will be up to date with the latest trends and technology.

Overall Rating: 4.3/5 

Promising Review: “Full of exciting, innovative and sometimes funny examples from real life, this is one of the best business books I’ve ever read.”

7. The Conversion Code: Capture Internet Leads, Create Quality Appointments, Close More Sales

Topic: Capturing Leads Online

Summary: As recommended by renowned entrepreneur, Neil Patel, the Conversion Code lays out a great strategy for not only capturing leads, but more importantly converting said leads into sales. This book makes the most of your marketing budget by utilizing the strengths of various media channels to your advantage.

Overall Rating:4.6/5

Promising Review: “The Conversion Code is literally a MUST HAVE BOOK for anyone involved in utilizing the internet to market, promote and sell their brand/business online. There are tips and tricks in this manual WAY ABOVE what most people know about marketing on the web.”

8. SEO for Growth: The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers & Entrepreneurs

Topic: Search Engine Optimization

Summary: This book showcases different strategies for upping your SEO game. It gives a great overview of what all is involved in SEO, how to utilize social media for SEO, link building, and research tools and strategies for SEO. 

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

Promising Review: “This is a solid resource on how to use SEO to grow your business. While I have a basic understanding of SEO, this book was a great supplement to the knowledge I already had. I think it is the ideal resource and reference guide for any and everyone – from those just starting out in SEO and marketing, to seasoned experts who want to fine-tune their knowledge.”

9. Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans

Topic: Building Brand Loyalty

Summary: Marketing and PR expert Peter Shankman delves into what it takes to make a “Zombie Loyalist.” Shankman asserts that customers that are loyal to your brand can help up your sales just as much as an extensive ad plan! How do you get your customers to that highly coveted part of the marketing funnel? Read Zombie Loyalists to find out!  

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Promising Review: “Zombie Loyalists is a fun and engaging take on something everybody in business should want: fiercely loyal customers. After all, customers are everything. But in my experience, business owners are guilty of not knowing how to get customers and not knowing how to keep them. The advice in Zombie Loyalists will help you with both of these problems.”

10. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence

Topic: Building Your Brand on Social Media

Summary: New York Times bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk offers a deep dive on how to utilize various social media platforms to build your personal brand. From modern to timeless brand-building tactics and principles, this book is a must read. 

Overall Rating:  4.7/5

Promising Review: “Crushing It! is the elite guide to growing a personal brand, business, or following around your passion. It is not a get rich quick guide, or follow these simple steps book. Gary emphasizes that to be successful in any field requires work, but if you choose your work around your passion, life will be more fulfilling. In today’s current state of the internet this is possible, and Gary breaks down the principles and work required to achieve what you want.”

 

We are here to help you navigate so schedule a call to discuss your specific business goals

The Business Owner’s Guide to Delegation

As a small business owner, delegating some of your responsibilities and tasks probably doesn’t come very easily to you. Your business is like your child, it can be hard to let someone else be in charge of certain aspects. Delegating requires you to relinquish control of different areas of your business in order for you to devote more time to the business as a whole. 

Without delegation, business owners often spread themselves too thin while struggling to find balance and trying to do it all, which can be dangerous for the success of the business. Delegation is a critical skill for business owners to have, even though you may not find yourself willingly giving away control, because there’s no way someone else can do things for your business as well as you can, right?

With the right approach, mindset, and methods when it comes to delegation and division of labor, you can become a master of time management and allow all aspects of your business to flourish and prosper.

How To Accept The Fact That You Need To Delegate

Let go of the “I can do it all” Mindset

Just because you think you can do it all doesn’t mean you necessarily have to. Doing everything inevitably means you probably aren’t doing everything as well as you could be. By delegating, you are able to focus on fewer tasks, and devote more time and effort to those tasks, resulting in a higher level of productivity, quality, and less stress for you.

Typical Tasks Business Owners Delegate

We should start off by addressing the tasks most business owners usually choose to delegate. These tasks include:

Web Design and Maintenance

Unless you happen to be in the tech business or have extensive knowledge when it comes to web design, this is an area of expertise where it may be necessary to delegate tasks. Learning how to design and update a website regularly, on top of everything else you do to run a small business, can take up a lot of your time, time you could be spending elsewhere. 

Accounting and Bookkeeping 

This is one of the most common tasks business owners choose to delegate, as it requires specialized skill, attention to detail, and a good amount of time to upkeep. Outsourcing the accounting and bookkeeping of your business can be extremely helpful if you don’t feel comfortable managing the numbers of your business all on your own, or if you’re looking to avoid the headache of learning the ins and outs of business accounting.

Digital Marketing 

Similarly to web design, unless you are radically familiar with marketing online using email campaigns, social media, or similar methods, delegating the digital marketing aspect of your business can save you a great deal of time, and can definitely lead to an increase in profits in the long run. Think of delegating your digital marketing as an investment, rather than an expense! 

Customer Service

On top of everything else you have to do on a daily basis to keep business running smoothly, taking breaks in your busy work day to field customer questions and complaints can often feel like the last thing you have time for. Why don’t you let someone else handle it? Outsourcing your customer service can take a huge burden off of your shoulders and gives you one less thing to worry about during your workday.

Tech Support

Even if you’re quite tech savvy, you shouldn’t have to waste your time working to solve tech issues and troubleshoot tech problems when you likely have a million other business related things going on each day. As a business owner, you shouldn’t have to worry about fixing the wifi, refilling ink cartridges, or assisting with computer crash issues. Delegating to a tech service company or individual can save you time, as well as provide advice and guidance towards new technology that may be an asset to your business.

How to successfully delegate

Choose the right person and provide as much information up front as possible

When deciding to delegate, make sure you’re choosing the right person for the tasks you’d like to delegate. If you’re looking to delegate your digital marketing tasks, it likely wouldn’t make sense for you to hire a tech support company, unless they happened to also be skilled at digital marketing. To find quality companies, firms, and individuals to hire to take care of some of your small business needs, try to get references from other professionals or professional websites, such as the testimonials page of a potential company’s website.

After choosing the firm or individual that feels right for you and your needs, make sure you provide as much information up front as possible about the different tasks you need completed. Provide them with details, exactly what you’d like them to do on a day to day basis, what a completed project should look like, and deadline details. Giving explicit details will help the employee to be as efficient as possible, achieve a result you’re happy with, and will help your employee complete a job just as well as if you had done it yourself, which keeps you from feeling the need to micromanage.

Another smart delegation idea is to set up checkpoints to make sure that everything is on track and being completed the way you want it to. Checkpoints offer you and your employee a place to collaborate, regroup, make edits, and create the best final product possible, exceeding your goals and expectations.

There you have it. A quick business owner’s guide to delegation. Delegating can be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your business, as long as you remember to let go of your “I can do it all” mindset, delegate tasks you don’t feel comfortable doing yourself, choose the right person to delegate to, communicate often and avoid micromanaging! By delegating aspects of your business, you’re on the track to a more productive and profitable company.

 

We are here to help you navigate so schedule a call to discuss your specific business goals

Top 10 Time Management Tips for Managers

Running a small business is no walk in the park. Between taking care of clients, managing web presence, working with your employees, general administration tasks, and chasing leads, you tend to constantly have a lot on your plate. As a manager or small business owner, your day to day life and business responsibilities can get pretty hectic. Poor time management can make stressful situations more stressful, and lead to problems, mistakes, and no work-life balance. 

While there’s not a lot you can do in terms of reducing your workload and making yourself busy, managing your time well can make things run smoothly and help your responsibilities feel like less of a burden. By making sure your time is well managed, you will be able to be the most productive version of yourself and get much more done than before, leading to less of the “I need more hours in the day” internal dialogue throughout your work week.

Here are some of the best time management tips that will help to boost your productivity.

1- Avoid Multitasking

While multitasking– jumping from task to task- can seem like a good idea when you’re pressed for time, it can actually make completing tasks more difficult, reducing your overall productivity. Shifting between a number of different things all at once requires your brain to adjust quickly to new tasks, reducing focus levels and leading to careless mistakes you’ll just have to spend time correcting later on. 

Focusing on a single task for a shorter amount of time is a smarter method of time management than working on multiple tasks for long periods of time. Remember, trying to take care of a task while also checking and replying to emails every few minutes is still multitasking and is still taking away from your productivity! Save the emails until after you’ve finished your task.

2- Make a daily to do list and stick to it

You should begin each work day with a list of goals to be accomplished for the day and commit your day to accomplishing those goals only. Without a clear set of tasks at the beginning of the day, you can meander through your day, touching on multiple tasks, but never fully completing any. Making a bulleted list of things to get done or creating an hour by hour breakdown are great ways to keep your day structured and organized.

3- Use an online organizer to keep track of multiple clients, deadlines, and projects

Online project managers, which help you to keep track of multiple projects, deadlines, and clients, can help you to stay organized when you have a lot of moving parts. Getting bogged down and confused by all of the different things you need to accomplish for different clients can seriously inhibit your productivity. Online organizers like Asana and Monday can keep you organized so that you can better organize and manage your work week.

4- Experiment with different productivity methods

Humans are always searching for ways to become more productive, ways to get more done in a short 24 hour day. A popular productivity/ time management method is The Pomodoro Technique. Developed in the late 1980’s, The Pomodoro Technique consists of setting a timer for 25 minutes, working on a task with undivided attention for those 25 minutes, stopping and taking a 5 minute break when the timer rings. Then, you restart the process all over again. After you’ve had four consecutive 25 minute interval sessions, also known as pomodoros, you then take a longer 15 to 30 minute break. This technique allows you to maintain freshness of the mind and not become burnt out from staring at one project or task for hours on end.

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5- Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks

Anyone who’s skilled in time management delegates tasks. It’s one of the best ways to simply have more time. By handing off tasks and duties to someone else, you are able to make more time for yourself, your own tasks, or urgent tasks. While it can be hard to relinquish control, as long as you learn the right way to delegate, and avoid micromanaging, delegating tasks can be the ultimate time management tool.

6- Automate what you can

We live in such a technologically advanced world these days, there is almost nothing you can’t automate. From social media posts to email newsletters to web updates and more, you can automate just about every aspect of your business. Imagine how long it takes for you to go into social media, decide what to post to keep your account active, create a post, a caption, and a photo (depending on the platform). Now imagine how much time you’d save if you used a social media automation tool to post. This is just one example of an aspect of your business that can be automated for efficiency and better time management.

7-Identify and Eliminate Time Wasters

This goes hand in hand with automation and delegation. Identify what you take time out of your daily tasks to complete, identify things that are wasting your time. Perhaps it’s your social media management. Maybe it’s running tech support in the office because the wifi went out for the third time this week. Or maybe it takes you 30 minutes to refill the ink cartridges in the printer each week. Or how it takes you over a month to figure out the accounting and taxes for your business. Whatever it is that’s wasting your time, eliminate it! Outsource these jobs to other people, delegate tasks to your employees. You can improve your time management tremendously just by removing time wasting tasks from your to do list. 

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8- Learn to live by the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule is one of the most helpful methods of time management. The method essentially states that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. What does this mean in terms of time management? Let’s put it in terms of a to-do list. The rule suggests that two out of ten items on that to do list will turn out to be worth more than the other eight items put together. But where does the problem come in? Often, people will procrastinate on the top 20% of tasks, known as the important “vital few”, while wasting their time on the other 80%, or the “trivial many”. 

To fully harness the time management capabilities of the 80/20 rule, you will need to apply it to your everyday work life. To do this, each day, take a look at your to do list. Now ask yourself, if you could only accomplish one of the goals on that list today, which one goal would be the most important, most productive, make the most impact? Then continue to ask yourself that question after each task is crossed off of your to-do list. Get ready to see massive productivity results after starting this method.

9- Organize your workspace

A cluttered workspace can lead to a cluttered mind, which slows productivity and leads to procrastination, confusion, laziness and mistakes. Make sure all areas of your workspace are clean and organized to maximize productivity and improve your overall work experience.

10- Don’t procrastinate!

Procrastination is the polar opposite of productivity and quality time management. Procrastination is the enemy. Oftentimes, we find ourselves procrastinating because the thought of starting a task, especially a large one, or the first one on a large to do list, is too daunting for us to even want to begin. A way to combat this is to just dive right in. Don’t think, just start working. Sounds easier than it actually is, right? A fun method to get yourself to just jump right into a project is to count backwards from 5. Once you finish the countdown, you have to get up, or put down the phone, or stop doing whatever you were doing to procrastinate. This countdown method really works, so next time you find yourself procrastinating, give it a try.

Now that you’re equipped with the 10 best time management tips for business owners, you’re on your way to becoming a more productive, more organized, less stressed version of yourself! Try these tips, tricks, and techniques, get ready to watch your productivity soar like never before.

Fooled by the hype: Is it the next big thing or merely a shiny new object?

EVERYONE’S continually looking for “the next big thing,” whether it’s technology,a management method, or the latest human-resources approach. And in a “now economy” that seems ever-accelerating, businesses feel pressured to meet rapidly changing customer demands, reinvent or evolve themselves more frequently, and beat competitors to the punch by being the first to provide faster, better, and shinier solutions.

While innovations are hugely beneficial to business and society, hype often goes along with the territory. In their quest to reap the benefits of the next big thing, individuals can find themselves led astray by the publicity or buzz surrounding a new product, service, or idea. They may focus too heavily on the hype surrounding an innovation, as opposed to whether the innovation can actually help solve their problem or meet a business need they are dealing with.

This is understandable—and perfectly human. But understanding behavioral factors, such as hype, is critical to avoid making the wrong strategic decisions about innovations. Doing so requires moving beyond the headlines to understand and evaluate an innovation’s potential longevity and extent of adoption, balancing this information with an organization’s tolerance for risk. Armed with this information, leaders can then decide not only whether to embrace an innovation, but how and when they can successfully introduce it into their organization. Having a more nuanced understanding of the factors involved can enable them to mitigate hype and manage expectations for what business problems it may (and may not) help to address.

Of course, it’s not easy to avoid being influenced by hype surrounding what could be the next big thing, or whatever is being forced on decision-makers internally and/or externally. Yet taking a methodical approach to assessing innovations is essential to differentiating between what’s real and what’s not.

Hype and inflated expectations

Hype is generally defined as “publicity; especially, promotional publicity of an extravagant or contrived kind.”While people often think of it as negative, attention and discussion about new concepts or ideas can be useful and generate value: It can help developers better improve their new concepts and refine innovations as they develop. However, publicity surrounding innovations can be overinflated in terms of the benefits derived, the speed with which they will replace existing products, and the ways they might change our lives. This process of overpromising and underdelivering is so well-known that Gartner created a framework more than 20 years ago to describe it, illustrating how early hype gives way to more modest expectations and actual delivery of new technologies (figure 1).

Gartner’s hype cycle

A number of factors drive the prevalence of hype, or overpromising what an innovation can do. First is the sheer enthusiasm and optimism on the part of developers and stakeholders for the unproven but possibly abstract potential of an innovation. Optimism and overconfidence are common personality traits among entrepreneurs and early adopters. Yet while it may be tempting to blame the creators or messengers of hype for often unrealistic expectations, society is also at fault. We tend to encourage, applaud, and even seek out the opinion of people who confidently predict the future, despite understanding (and often forgiving) inherent inaccuracies and embellishments in many prognostications.

Second, hype remains a time-tested method for getting more people on a bandwagon. It facilitates the likelihood and speed of adoption for a new product, service, or offering, which is why firms developing innovations seek to increase communicability, buzz, and observability.

Third, excessive publicity may be encouraged by those who have already made emotional or monetary investments in a concept. That’s because investing such energy helps people deal with the cognitive dissonance, or psychological discomfort, they may have about their decision to embrace an unproven shiny new object. It can also spur excitement about innovation in general, making people more receptive to new ideas, perhaps even encouraging others to try new things.

Explaining hype’s beguiling siren sound

There are several reasons why overpromising on a new product or idea can help gain public support, acceptance, and enthusiasm. For starters, hype can effectively play into our fascination with new for the sake of newness—the tendency for individuals to be distracted by or attracted to new ideas, people, or things simply because they haven’t seen them before. This fascination can be driven by many factors, including the promise of a better solution, disenchantment with what’s currently in place, the excitement of being the first to adopt a new technology, or a desire to put one’s own mark on a business.

Hype also has the capacity to trigger several decision-making biases, many of which are summarized in figure 2. These biases can lead to individuals embracing an innovation too quickly or to a greater extent than they might otherwise have done. For example, by emphasizing limited availability, organizations can create a perception of scarcity. This encourages greater perceived value for products and a greater sense of purchasing urgency among consumers. This desire to be among the first to possess the new product can motivate customers to preorder large volumes of products or line up outside stores overnight. Ever noticed how these queues—say, for the latest smartphone or gaming system—are heavily publicized? It capitalizes on the behavioral economics concept of social proof: a tendency for people to look to the actions of others—ideally similar or “desirable” groups—to guide their own behavior.

How hype strategies play to our cognitive biases

Beyond using scarcity to create a sense of urgency, hype can also unduly influence others to embrace an innovation before it has reached maturity. This is due to leveraging the concept of loss aversion: the notion that, when making decisions, people are typically more concerned with reducing downsides than deriving potential upsides. Being moved to action to avoid losing out is by no means limited to marketing ploys or consumer decision-making. Indeed, business clients can feel pressure and a sense of urgency to embrace a new technology or business process, driven not so much by the desire to capitalize on the innovation’s upside potential, but more out of fear of missing an opportunity or being perceived as a laggard. While embracing this new technology may turn out to be the right choice in the long run, the initial decision may be driven by a fear of missing out rather than a well-thought-out evaluation of the benefits and relevant criteria surrounding the technology.

Avoiding hype’s perils

While hype often focuses on what one may lose by waiting too long to embrace the innovation, decision-makers would be wise to keep in mind the adverse consequences that may arise by putting too much stock in hype messaging. Some of the downsides include the risk of consumer dissatisfaction due to unmet expectations. If a hyped innovation does not perform as anticipated, it can leave early adopters in what Gartner’s hype cycle refers to as the “trough of disillusionment.” This is consistent with the expectancy disconfirmation theory, which suggests that satisfaction with an object is subjective—driven by expectations—rather than objective. Even if a new technology has some benefit or marginal advantage relative to existing solutions, if expectations are too high, there may be less satisfaction with the product. Additionally, timeframes of expectation may play into satisfaction. Even if the benefits of a new technology do eventually live up to the promised hype, a truly innovative offering may be deemed a failure simply because it took longer than expected to bear fruit.

Hype can also lead individuals to become disenchanted with an innovation due to over-inflated and often unrealistic expectations regarding its scope of applicability. For instance, additive manufacturing technology has, over time, shown to be disruptive to many business applications, having a positive effect on product development, design, and supply chains. Yet the predictions of many experts of a “3D printer in every household” have been premature.

Another adverse consequence of being unduly influenced by hype extends beyond the product itself. Leaders who continually embrace overly hyped innovations can leave employees experiencing shiny new object “fatigue” in the form of decreased morale, and increased confusion and cynicism—particularly when they’ve had to either abandon tried-and-true methods or jettison recently adopted processes that haven’t been given a chance to realize their potential.

Moving beyond the hype

Several criteria influence the likelihood a new offering will transcend hype to diffuse through a desired target market, the speed at which this acceptance or adoption will occur, and whether the innovation will prove lasting or merely a passing trend. Combined, these criteria can help leaders make more informed decisions about what’s here to stay, and what may not live up to its promise.

Factors determining the speed and extent of adoption

Drawing heavily on research into the diffusion process, recent findings, and market observations, here are some considerations to keep in mind with regard to whether an innovation will be adopted—and how quickly.

Compatibility and complexity. How compatible is an innovation with potential users’ existing routines, norms and habits, and other trends simultaneously occurring in the environment? How will it work with existing assets or infrastructures? And just how complex is it? An innovation doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Those likely to be adopted quickly are both easy to understand and simple to use. They enhance an existing practice rather than reinvent it; consumers don’t have to think too hard about using it, and it doesn’t require dramatic changes in behavior. If these criteria aren’t met, an innovation is less likely to be adopted. For example, non-refrigerated milk products have not thrived—even though they provide a tangible benefit to customers. Adopting them requires not only accepting the idea of milk being less perishable, but also storing it in a pantry rather than the refrigerator. This can help explain why companies regularly introduce “new” products under existing brand names. For example, P&G includes name extensions to follow-on products in its Swiffer line so consumers know exactly how to categorize the product and, with that, which specific cleaning products these household innovations should be replacing.

Relative advantage. History shows individuals are willing to make behavior changes, but it may take more time when that change is significant. Critical factors that affect whether we’re willing to change include the amount or degree of benefit, the fear of negative change impact, and the perceived overall risks of change—all considered to help ensure the relative advantage of changing behavior is worth the extra effort. This can be as straightforward as taking an existing product and making it less expensive, simpler, faster, or more convenient. But what if the degree of relative advantage is limited? While the Internet of Things (IoT) has been accepted in many contexts, in one area its success has been relatively limited: kitchen appliances. While smart refrigerators can provide some benefit, both consumer feedback and limited sales of IoT refrigerators suggest their marginal additional value is not enough to drive households to adopt this new, slightly improved, more expensive item. On the other hand, the Amazon Dash Button allowing consumers to reorder goods simply by touching a physical button has been effective. Each button costs less than five dollars, representing a relatively low investment.

Observability and communicability. Innovations that are easily observed are likely to spread faster, since this exposure provides more opportunities to learn about it. For new products that are less observable by nature, the challenge for developers and marketers is to make them either more visible or part of conversations. This can be particularly challenging for components of products (such as ingredient brands) or intermediary services, where greater awareness can come through efforts such as educational advertising or co-branding. German chemical company BASF has been effective in making people aware of its ingredient brand through it’s “we don’t make a lot of the products you buy, we make a lot of the products you buy better” campaign. Similarly, Intel has also raised brand awareness for its processors through the “Intel Inside” campaign.

Trialability and perceived risk.As anyone who’s taken a car for a test drive or enjoyed a free weekend in a timeshare property can attest, products that provide an opportunity for trial are more likely to be accepted or purchased. The same applies for innovations. When evaluating a potential “next big thing,” consider whether opportunity exists for sampling the technology, without making a full commitment. This can help encourage adoption. Many innovators understand this desire to try before you buy, and often provide trial or beta versions to existing or desirable target customers before fully investing or incorporating the innovation. Indeed, much of the success of eyewear manufacturer Warby Parker could be due to its home try-on program, which allows consumers to select five pairs to receive via mail and return free of charge, thereby inducing both trialability and reducing perceived risks.

Perceived risks. The ability to trial an innovation reduces the unknown or potential risks that might arise from full adoption. As previously mentioned, loss aversion tells us that while individuals care about the potential upside of their actions, the potential downside of making the wrong decision weights much more heavily. That’s why the likelihood and speed of adoption of innovations can be hampered by concerns over possible downsides. Theoretically, self-driving (autonomous) vehicles could be safer, more efficient, and ultimately less expensive than traditional vehicles. Yet recent accidents or other risks can cloud that perception. Even if the percentage of accidents involving autonomous vehicles is a fraction of regular cars, their perceived risk seems likely to be a major factor in whether consumers will adopt the technology. Worth noting is the fact that physical risks are not the only risks decision-makers are concerned about. Rather, perceived risks come in many forms, such as financial, social, psychological, obsolescence, and performance, to name a few. Thus, it is critical to consider multiple facets of “risk”—in whatever form that risk may take—when positioning an innovation for adoption and to avoid the hype moniker.

Factors determining an innovation’s longevity

Even if an innovation is adopted, a critical question is its likely longevity. Will it be a passing fad? Or something more significant? In addition to the criteria mentioned in the section above, below are other considerations that have been identified as criteria or indicators to help gauge the potential longevity of an innovation.

Personalization or customization.One size rarely fits all. It can, therefore, be helpful to incorporate the flexibility of customization or cocreation where possible to help users turn “hype” into something truly valuable for them; for example, providers of mobile-phone hardware and software allow users to do everything from choosing the color of devices to adding accessories and customizing screen wallpaper, layout, ringtones, and hundreds of other options. In the case of additive manufacturing, medical devices can be customized to an individual’s unique measurements and needs; 3D printed hearing aids, artificial joints, and orthodontics are just three examples.

Subcultures currently embracing innovation.Another factor for evaluating whether an innovation is a flash-in-the-pan are the subcultures embracing the innovation. Factors to consider are the sheer size of the subculture; its importance or marketplace, sector, or industry dominance; its growth trend; and its connection with mainstream society (that is, fringe vs. core players). For instance, recent Deloitte research has noted firms in non-G7 countries appear to be quicker to embrace emerging technologies in the finance sector relative to their counterparts in G7 countries. It may be worth digging deeper to explore the size, growth trends, and interconnectivity of these early adopters to help predict the potential staying power of these various emerging technologies. For example, the embrace of IoT in the industrial sector demonstrates the significant value of the technology in improving business processes. Similarly, it is important to note that in some cases, what seems like hype can actually simply be the wrong audience. For example, augmented reality glasses were met with resistance in consumer settings, but have found success in industrial settings where they are increasingly being used for maintenance, training, and other areas, driving real value.

Guidelines for making better decisions

Hype tells us something, but it doesn’t tell us everything. It should be merely one factor in a more comprehensive decision-making process for whether, when, and how (for example, to what degree) to embrace an innovation. Below is not only a summary of the other factors to consider, but also other considerations leaders should keep in mind when being enticed by a shiny new object.

1. Use an innovation scorecard

Figure 3 provides some guidelines to keep in mind as you consider what may—or may not be—the next big thing. Leaders can use their own judgment when considering how potential next big things compare against current solutions and past innovations that were, or were not, embraced.

The innovation scorecard

2. Know thyself—and your tolerance for risk

Besides weighing the characteristics of potential next big things, decision-makers can turn their gaze inward to objectively determine just how well an innovation fits with their organization’s mission, vision, culture, and structure. In terms of culture, one way that companies vary is with regard to tolerance for risk. When weighing potential benefits against possible risks, decision-makers should look beyond their own risk tolerance and take into consideration that of their firm as well as other stakeholders.

3. Define success and manage expectations

At the same time, leaders must understand how their stakeholders define success, and what their expectations are for innovations. Where clear expectations and measures of success do not exist, decision-makers can instead articulate and manage constituents’ expectations.

4. Take your time

Rarely is it the case that he who hesitates is lost. Rather, many companies in established sectors, such as financial services, are becoming more and more wary of hype surrounding emerging technologies, and more concerned with how these technologies will impact existing operating models and back-office operations. Before blindly jumping on an innovation bandwagon, for example, many leaders can create opportunities for trial and experimentation within particular groups or pockets of the organization.

It’s easy to be seduced by hype, buzz, and shiny new objects. Yet rather than focusing on each innovation, decision-makers should better and more frequently focus on the problem at hand. When things don’t work out, don’t blame what’s new—consider revisiting your processes in terms of strategy, decision-making, business and technology implementation and integration, change management, and how you are measuring and refining your indicators of success. Because when all is said and done, innovations don’t create hype: It is people who tend to inflate expectations, overpromise results, and confuse hype with the real potential progress has to offer.

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