The Microsoft Office Suite (Office 2007 and later) comes with pre-designed graphics and diagrams called SmartArt. This tool can be used in place of bulleted lists to add an interesting visual element to documents and presentations. The graphics are organized in categories such as List, Process, Cycle and Hierarchy. They are useful for displaying relationships between objects, presenting sequential steps in a process, showing organizational hierarchy, and displaying blocks of information. READ MORE »
Posts in category Technology
According to the accepted system of accounting for time, there are 24 hours in a day. That rule is the same for everyone in every culture and in every country. However, many entrepreneurs try to squeeze 25-30 hours into a day. While this is a physical impossibility, we try things like double tasking – you know, talking on the phone while typing up an invoice. Or listening to our voice mail while checking our e-mail. Even the questionable habit of checking e-mail while driving.
A good time management system can be the entrepreneur or small business person’s best friend. There are many “programs” and “services” designed to help us be better time managers. Some programs are designed to be production management tools while others are focused on accounting or other portions of your business. The best one is the one you will actually use. A program on your computer taking up storage space or a system that sits on the shelf gathering dust is only an unnecessary business expense.
Talk to your network and see which system has been most effective for them. What have they tried? Are there some systems they would avoid and others they would recommend? Think about your business processes and flow. Are there bottle-necks or traffic jams? Would an automated system help you track or possibly even deflect those areas? Time management does not necessarily require a high-tech answer. Your situation may be solved by the use of a good calendar system.
24 hours is the maximum effort for a day. Value your time and make the highest value use your first priority each day.
The use of social media and other marketing tools have encouraged most business owners to become somewhat familiar with statistics and usage data. Like all tools, there is a learning curve and decisions to be made about the best use of your time. A carpenter would not use a screwdriver to cut a piece of wood and you should be sure the tools you are using are meaningful, too. Gathering raw data that is not reviewed for a specific purpose is just wasting your time and energy.
You will need to take time to learn how to use and understand the analysis tools or hire someone who can interpret the data for you. Spending time looking at meaningless graphs is not the highest and best use of your valuable time. Consider what you want to learn from the analysis. Will that knowledge add value or change any of the processes you have in place?
If you blog because you enjoy it, you probably don’t care how many people open it or how long they spend reading it. On the other hand, if you are using your website or social media to announce a new product or special sale, knowing if anyone saw the information will help you make informed decisions about future marketing. Avoid analysis paralysis by selecting parts of your business to review if the data discovered will impact your future decisions.
Creativity and innovation are not always associated with business. There is rarely a section in the business plan that states how creativity and innovation will be incorporated into a new or growing business, yet creativity and innovation may be the key to business sustainability and growth. A certain amount of business success is due to a company’s current products and services but sustainability means being able to adapt to new challenges and business opportunities.
Studies by several universities have shown that businesses (especially some employees) are already exercising creativity or innovation in their daily responsibilities and tasks. Many companies have had employee suggestion boxes for years. Often the challenge comes when trying to implement the ideas. Companies are usually narrowly focused on production of existing products and creative or innovative processes may cause either temporary or permanent confusion. This confusion may result in a temporary loss of productivity and, therefore, is not welcomed by most companies – even entrepreneurs who usually have a more flexible organizational structure.
Two major corporations – 3M and Google – have recognized the value of creativity and encourage their employees to engage in innovation and creativity. They have fostered a work setting that not only encourages but actually rewards out-of-the-box thinking. Major new product lines (like the famous Post-It notes) have resulted from this environment.
Encourage your employees (including yourself) to be innovative and to think of new and unusual uses for existing products or extend your product line. Take time to brainstorm new and different ways to do business. Learn from your competitors and become a leader in your field.
Michael Mitilier is the founder of the Rule of Thumb for Business book series and Author of “A Guide to Small Business Basics” and “A Guide to Small Business Software Technology“. As an entrepreneurial executive he has over 25 years experience leading, developing and managing growth.
He spent 13 years building a training and development company before being diagnosed with lymphoma in 2004. He is a survivor on all levels! After that his life took him in a different direction. He decided to use his talents and lifelong results-oriented attitude to help nonprofits achieve their missions, and worked for Nonprofit Association of the Midlands as their Director of Member Services.
Always looking up and beyond, he founded and led the Small Business Association of the Midlands, where he became a certified Gallup Entrepreneur Acceleration System Guide. Currently he works with Metropolitan Community College as an Entrepreneur in resident and GrowthWheel Advisor.