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Posts published in “collaboration”

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How to Innovate and Grow Your Business

Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with Michael Haynes who is a B2B Strategist that helps small businesses grow using customer-driven strategies.  He is also the author of Listen Innovate Grow to help small businesses drive growth through B2B.  For more info: SmallBizlady:  Why should Small business owners pursue business-to-business (B2B) markets? Michael Haynes:  B2B markets have fewer competitors which can make it easier to exploit their weaknesses and gaps in their offerings. Also, usually once business customers find a product or service provider that meets their needs they usually become very loyal. This is because the product or service often serves important purposes such as helping to meet strategic objectives or being a key production input. And finally, large companies are recognizing the benefits of working with small business owners such as getting products and services that are better tailored to their specific needs as well as their willingness “to go the extra mile” for their clients and customers. SmallBizlady:  WHAT IS THE STARTING POINT FOR A SMALL BUSINESS IN DETERMINING HOW TO INNOVATE? Michael Haynes:  The first thing small business owner must do is to obtain an in-depth understanding of the industries, markets and business customers that they are focusing on. In terms of the markets and industries, you want to gain an understanding of the market trends such as new technologies, customer trends, legal and regulatory changes both within your current industries and markets as well as adjacent ones. Small businesses owners also want to understand their business customers and prospects in terms of their objectives, priorities and strategic intent. However, you must understand the key characteristics and dynamics of B2B markets. By doing so, you will be able to identify opportunities to innovate which will help small businesses grow their business. SmallBizlady:  HOW SHOULD SMALL BUSINESSES VIEW THE CONCEPT OF INNOVATION? Michael Haynes:  Small businesses must regard innovation as being more than simply creating new products or…

4 Ways Technology Can Save Your Small Business Money

As you run your business, you probably take numerous steps to save as much money as possible. Reusing equipment and changing the lightbulbs you use will save you small amounts of money – and every little bit helps – but it may not offer you the savings you want and need. According to Observer, 29 percent of businesses failed because they ran out of capital. This is why it’s important to turn to other effective ways that will allow you to save bigger chunks of cash and better your business at the same time. While the price of new tech is sometimes high on the front end, it will save you a lot of money in the long run. Check out these four ways technology can save your small business money.    It allows your team to work remotely It’s expensive to maintain an office, and if your employees take a couple days off when they’re sick, stuck at home for some reason or traveling, a lot of money is at stake. Technology gives your employees the opportunity to work remotely and communicate with customers and coworkers effectively. The prevalence of mobile devices and the cloud and the readily available Internet make it easier than ever for staff to work from anywhere and still earn money. And when your team is working efficiently, you’ll save money too.   It saves time The phrase “time is money” is often said, but it may never had rung so true as it does when you’re a small business owner. As you run your business, you know that the more time you spend on a project means the more money you’re spending on a project. As you upgrade your technology, like your computers or software, you’ll be able to work more efficiently. Make sure to utilize the things you can find online too. For instance, you can use the Internet to identify the least expensive options for electric and gas prices with the help of sites such as Quote My Energy. Do what you can to save yourself time and money.   It allows…

How Greater Finance and IT Collaboration Can Help Grow Your Business

Small businesses employ small and mighty teams, but they’re often challenged with pulling the resources needed to analyze spend in real time. In fact, a survey conducted by Wakefield Research and SAP Concur found 84 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses have yet to achieve fully automated AP systems, with nearly half of those respondents (49 percent) still relying on handwritten records to track, manage and analyze spend. Cash flow is the lifeblood of small businesses, so it’s critical that small business finance leaders gain visibility into corporate spend. Luckily the rise of the cloud has unlocked this opportunity, offering enterprise technologies at a lower cost and easier deployment. However, this has also ushered in a proliferation of apps that finance leaders must sift through and choose wisely to ensure ROI is effectively delivered and needs are met. Ultimately, small business IT and financial professionals need to collaborate closely to choose the right technology that will answer a company’s specific financial management needs. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as it seems. A 2017 Forrester study sponsored by SAP Concur on travel, expense and invoice technology found: 61 percent of firms believe IT is focused on user experience, and less on spend reductions. Conversely, 64 percent of firms say finance is focused more on reducing spending, and less on usability and employee experiences. By collaborating, finance and IT leaders can choose user-friendly tools that also drive cost savings. Here are a few tips to improve finance and IT collaboration: Develop a unified strategy. This should satisfy the needs of both small business IT and finance managers. According to Forrester, 75 percent of companies with a unified finance and IT strategy report much higher levels of satisfaction with travel, expense and invoice management tools than those without a unified strategy. The two leaders should compare their respective goals and identify how they can integrate to benefit business objectives. Educate one another. Finance professionals aren’t always aware of the IT technology selection process, while IT employees often lack insight into finance teams’ specific technological needs. By setting aside time to educate one other…

Blockchain Is The New Hype Machine Small Businesses Should Ignore

Blockchain is the rage. It’s on the lips and lexicon of every tech pundit, journalist and tech executive. What is blockchain? You can read all about it yourself here but in short, it’s a database of databases, a record keeping system that is shared by all,  updated by all and secure. Here’s why it’s not relevant for your small business today. I was at an event recently, and the owner of a karate studio asked one of the expert panelists, how he could use blockchain in his business. The “expert” said, well if you had a community of karate enthusiasts, you could use blockchain for the community database. Something like this, the expert explained. WRONG. For a small businesses, such as this owner of a karate studio, he doesn’t need blockchain, all he needs is a simple database to keep track of members, hold discussions or etc. SQL or any number of other databases that have been around for years. Companies such as Salesforce, Netsuite, Zoho, Infusionsoft, Hubspot, SAP, Intuit and Microsoft make all the tools you need to run a great business. With all the other supporting services such as Asana, Monday, and others, you have a full suite of tools and services to help you manage a growing business. Indeed VERY big companies who want to enhance security, or sound cool, might consider blockchain – banks, Amazon, Walmart, GE and very BIG companies with massive datasets. But for the rest of us, we small business owners we don’t need to think twice about blockchain. Focus on making a great product. Focus on serving your customers. Focus on generating awareness for the problem you solve. Focus on better marketing and advertising. Focus on treating your employees/staff/team well. Focus on making a difference in other peoples lives. Blockchain is nice, it’s cute, it’s the new buzzword, but you don’t need to worry about it for your small business.

Boosting Collaboration Within Your Company

Collaboration is not just a “pie in the sky” for CEOs to discuss at all-hands meetings. There are demonstrable benefits for companies who make collaboration a tenet of their company… Read more » The post Boosting Collaboration Within Your Company appeared first on

How AI is Transforming Small Businesses and a Look at Zoho AI

  For businesses with limited budgets, resources, or employees, cloud-based software can often fill in the gaps and allow smaller operations to perform with enterprise efficiency. That’s why the majority of small businesses have transitioned from storing their customer data in Excel spreadsheets to managing their entire sales cycle with an online CRM system. Working with a user-friendly, multichannel CRM tool, businesses of any size and industry can perform their daily sales, marketing, and support tasks with a speed and efficiency that no spreadsheet or post-it-note strategy can rival. But small businesses can grow, quickly. At least, that’s the goal, right? Maybe you want to add a new product or service to your offerings or expand your sales or marketing team. How do you manage a more complex sales cycle, keep track of new accounts, and, most importantly, ensure that your CRM is working just the way you need it to? When operations kick into high gear, some smaller businesses turn to outside consultants, analysts, or marketing agencies to help them better understand their growing customer base and improve their processes—if they can afford it. Others work overtime to internally fine-tune their workflows, better interpret customer sentiment, and predict the likelihood of hitting sales targets in order to fix their weakest links. But contrary to either of these options, the right technology can—yet again—fill in the gaps. Similar to the advancement that comes when a business transitions their sales management from spreadsheets to online CRM, a new level of productivity occurs for those who incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into their daily workflow. This technology that was once hard to imagine is now more accessible and easier to use than you might think. Although a new frontier, there are already well-established software companies offering AI as a game-changing sales tool for small and medium-sized businesses—allowing them to sell faster, smarter, and better. As a leader in the multichannel CRM space, Zoho understands the nuances of sales force automation and how our users operate at their peak when using a sales tool updated with AI and machine learning. With the introduction of…

10 Practical HR Hacks for Small Businesses

Small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs can use all the hacks they can find when it comes to starting and growing their business. When it comes to human resources (HR), several ways exist for small businesses to improve their company culture and develop the environment they envisioned when starting their business, including: Technology Using technology to its fullest […] The post 10 Practical HR Hacks for Small Businesses appeared first on SmallBizClub.

5 Ways to Encourage Collaboration in the Workplace

It’s no secret that technology has revolutionized the way we work. Thanks to mobile technology, it’s easier than ever before for people to get up from their desks and collaborate anywhere in the workplace. Not only is collaboration good for employee morale and engagement, it’s extremely beneficial for the company as a whole. The more […] The post 5 Ways to Encourage Collaboration in the Workplace appeared first on SmallBizClub. Powered by WPeMatico

Small Business Tips: How to Expand Your Business

Congratulations on successfully starting your business! If you’re ready to take the next step, but don’t know exactly how to go about that, here are some ideas for thinking about growing your business. Turn your business into a franchise – If your business model is easily replicated, and you want to see your business grow […] The post Small Business Tips: How to Expand Your Business appeared first on SmallBizClub. Powered by WPeMatico

Here’s What Happened When My Team Worked Remotely for a Week

Think about the last time you were on a conference call with someone in a different location. Did you run into any communication challenges— technical, or otherwise? Did you find yourself trying to speak up but failing to get a word in? If there were multiple people on that call, did you find that everyone was able to participate? Remote meetings are becoming increasingly commonplace. Not everyone you work with is able to sit down in the same room with you. For many of us, most of our meetings now include remote employees or team members from across the globe. That’s the trend we started to see at HubSpot. As we expand globally, more and more of our meetings and teams are spread out across our different offices. That doesn’t just mean waking up early or staying up late to have a call with colleagues in Sydney. It means learning to work with our colleagues in a completely different (and potentially challenging) way. After talking to other companies with growing numbers of remote employees (including Zapier CEO Wade Foster), our marketing team decided to do “Remote Week.” We had three goals for Remote Week: To work more effectively as a highly distributed team, and help pave the way for more effective collaboration across geographies for HubSpot as a whole. To cultivate empathy for full-time remote workers. To improve our communication with remote workers, and be at our best when working remotely. And we had a couple of rules: Everyone on the team must be remote for the week. They could work from anywhere they wanted, but they could not be in a HubSpot office. Everyone must have an internet connection and be able to join meetings with video. No one should postpone or reschedule any meetings. They should try all different types of meetings while remote: 1:1s, team meetings, cross-functional meetings, etc. After a week, we gathered feedback from everyone who participated, and discovered some common trends that will help us more effectively manage our remote employees moving forward. Lessons From Remote Week 1. For larger meetings, you need a facilitator.…

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