You are running your business and conducting the usual day to day operations when your phone rings and it’s one of your vendors who you contacted earlier and left a voicemail asking for a return call. You ask her a few questions and she responds with more information than you can absorb so you ask her to hold on while you grab a piece of paper to write it down.
You look for a working pen because the first one you grabbed doesn’t write. You can’t find a blank piece of paper so you turn over a piece of mail that had been opened and use that. You start writing and soon find that you are running out of space because envelopes were not designed for taking notes so your print becomes slanted and gets smaller and smaller as you try to keep up with what you are being told. You thank her and tell her to have a nice day and your call ends. A few minutes later an email comes in about an urgent matter that you must attend to immediately so you spend the next hour addressing that issue. After that, a scheduled meeting starts and you finish your day out with the meeting.
The next morning, you remember your conversation with the vendor from yesterday but there is one problem, you have no idea where the used envelope that you scribbled on is located. In fact, you can find every scrap piece of paper, junk mail, magazines, contracts, bubble gum, envelopes with notes from other phone calls and everything else except — that envelope containing the vendors notes. Do you know why that happened? I will tell you. Your business happened and as long as you are in business and your doors are open, it will continue to happen unless you stop.
This cycle plays out in business all the time over and over again like a merry go round at the carnival. How would you like to get off of that merry go round. Image if you could still record the things that you know you won’t remember later and not have to worry about losing that information when you need it. I have good news for you. You can do it and it wont cost you a dime. What is it? It is going paperless and abandoning your paper ways for digital documentation. What is that you ask? It’s quite simple, you can continue to capture your notes but you use digital tools to do it instead. Here are a few options that you can start practicing with today at no cost:
- Evernote – Lets you write, edit, categorize and saves your notes. Free
- Google Docs – Lets you write, edit, categorize and saves your notes. Free
If you really want to get productive combine a tablet computer with your new habit and you can now carry your notes with you eliminating the need to search your office for paper. These will cost you but the return on this investment will be well worth it. Here are a few you can consider in different cost ranges:
- iPad – A portable device that you can write on just like paper $250 and up
- Penultimate app – Allows you to write, edit and save notes. It also connects to Evernote (Above)
- Stylus (Optional) – Feels like a pencil or pen and allows you to write on your tablet. $30.
Note: None of these are affiliate links.
Well, there you have it. You can use these tools to stop writing things down on paper that you lose and save yourself a ton of time and time is money. You owe it to yourself to give this a try. Running a business is hard enough without these little things that kill your time getting in the way. Let me know how this works out for you.
In my practice as a corporate employee I worked in an environment where downsizing was the rule and not the exception. This activity seemed to be consistently taking place throughout each quarter of the year.
During a conference call, someone asked this question to a member of the senior management team,”How do you recommend that we work toward our objectives given that we are losing resources but are tasked with producing the same level of results?” The answer given was one word, “Automation.”
That call ended shortly afterwards and there wasn’t much explanation given with any level of real detail. No actionable steps or roadmaps were recommended or suggested. We were all left feeling like we had not learned anymore than we knew before the call. Continue reading “Automation is the answer to all of your business problems”
Ever notice that you are performing the same task over and over in your business? Such as answering the same questions from different employees or customers? Have you ever found yourself working on something and then realized as you are working that you have completed this same task many times in recent memory?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could spend your time working on growing your business by developing brand new relationships with customers and focusing your time on strategy instead of menial task. Wouldn’t it be nice if your employees or customers could find the answers that they needed when they needed them in your own words just the way you would say it without asking you? How efficient would your business be if your employees could do things exactly the way that you would without having to come to you first and without being told by you to do those things. Suppose your customers could get the answers to their questions without calling or emailing you?
If your answer to any of the questions in the first paragraph is yes, then you should be automating repeatable task by documenting them with business processes. And although this will not the stop the task from occurring, it will remove you the business owner, from the cycle so that you can work on more important things like growing your business. If the answer to any of the questions in the second paragraph was yes, then you should continue reading and get started today. Continue reading “Stop repeating the same task by automating with documented processes”
If you own a technical product such as a SaaS app and you have customers, then you should not be a stranger to the term customer support. If you are building one then you should be thinking about customer support. A cornerstone of good technical support is good user documentation. Before I started the development of quikstarts.com‘s backend (authoring application) I conducted one of many surveys with about 75 entrepreneurs who were in various stages of product development. In hind sight, this was not the best group for me to survey because it was not the core audience for the product but it was still a valuable learning experience. Data analysis never hurt anyone.
Back to the survey. Some surveyed were building products, others worked at companies that had already released products and some were founders with launched products and customers. The survey results revealed some interesting things. One of the survey questions was, “Do you feel that your product requires user documentation” almost half of the responders (45%) felt that they’d channeled Steve Jobs and their software application did not require user documentation because it was just that intuitive and awesome. This was an actual multiple choice answer from the survey. Continue reading “Put your customer support on autopilot with good user documentation”
This post was inspired by a post by Tom Molyneux at successfulworkplace. As a consultant, I’ve found that starts ups and small businesses, tend to feel that processes are not needed and are something that only large companies use.
Further, they feel that processes are something that slows large companies down. Being small provides the advantage of being nimble and you cant do that if you have to follow process is the believe a lot of times.
I believe that process implementation done properly, actually is a huge benefit to a small business or startup. When your business is small is precisely the time to implement processes.
It keeps your business fluid and synchronized. When dealing with outsourcing and remote staff, the obstacles are minimized by consistent process.
Try to document one thing, you can create a Word document, that you have to do multiple times per day in your business. Then sign it, date it and share that document with your staff.