The pace of business has been increasingly picking up in the past decade or so and recent technological advances (but also society and economy -related ones) are to ‘blame’.
However, the very same technology which is pushing us to work faster and more can also provide solutions, time-savers and ways for us to be more efficient.
In fact, I think embracing technology and finding how we can use it to ease our load is the only way out of, or to put it better, survive the fast pace.
So here’s an indicative list of what I think any modern entrepreneur should do to be as efficient as possible using technology.
- Ditch anything you can that involves pen and paper in the way you do business. Presumably all writing is done in a word processor anyway already but go the extra mile and keep your documents on the cloud for easy access anywhere. Google Docs is free, fast and generally as reliable as you need.
- The same goes for note-keeping too. Keep them in short text files that allow for easy archiving and subsequent search. To avoid clutter (even if it’s digital) try to group everything by project and keep it in one place – going digital makes this easy to achieve.
- Even if you must use a pen to write down something as soon as you have a minute take a photo with it to make it digital and throw away the paper. Evernote is an app which will let you search those notes later (assuming reasonable handwriting). If you’re the voice memo type, your smartphone is the ideal means to record your thoughts and tasks and organise them – again you can use Evernote.
- Scan and email instead of faxing. Lots of country-specific services exist out there that allow you to send and receive faxes from your computer – use them. And be patient, faxing eventually will disappear.
- The same applies for files. Don’t bother yourself with backups too much. Just store the most crucial bits online as well as those you use regularly in a service such as Dropbox and just make DVD or external drive copies whenever you remember.
- Avoid meetings unless necessary. Why waste time commuting or distract yourself and others for much more time than necessary? Why do that when you can discuss progress and problems over quick calls on Skype for free with as many people as you need while also sharing your desktops?
- If you run a bricks and mortar shop get a couple of tools to help you manage it according to best practices. Avoid general solutions such as spreadsheets which seem flexible at first but no matter how skilled you become they will always create time overheads. l use Harvest to handle my invoicing – it’s free up to some use – and can handle time billing too. Others are available too that can handle a multiple of other uses such as megaventory to handle your shop’s sales and purchases and your inventory or signnow for something as specialised as signing online documents or expensify for processing your receipts and expenses.
- Do your own marketing. Facebook is a great way to find and engage your customers practically for free. The same holds for Twitter. Granted its not the same as hiring a professional for the job but no professional has what you have: live and breathe and know your business inside out. You can use this and educate yourself along the way and you can achieve a lot.
- Create and offer your content to other blogs – e.g. using myblogguest – in order to attract the attention of fresh audiences to your business. The list of things you can try to promote it is endless – and it sure is not limited to chasing expensive SEO and AdWords approaches.
These are but a few of the ways to modernise the way you work and make it more efficient. I’m looking forward to yours!
Photo Credit: Flickr/Klean Denmark