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Starting a new Blog?? January 29, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Green Business, Social Networking, Tools.
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Blogging is an awesome way for people to share knowledge.  Whether it be for personal or business reasons there are many good reasons to give it a try.

Personally, I think that businesses should have a blog.  It would be in their best interests to have an active blog.  They can discuss what’s going on with their business, products, markets, etc.  This allows the customers and potential customers to connect with the company in a more personal way than they will on a standard web site.  It also allows the business to be a knowledge provider and earn trustworthiness with the clients and potential clients.

If you decide to start a blog you need to start reading ProBlogger’s Blog (twitter @ProBlogger).  He has a wealth of information for blogging.  His blog should be on every blogger’s list of required reading.

Today, he compiled a list of 29 tips (archive articles) for you if you are starting a new blog.  Here is the article:

Starting Your First Blog? 29 Tips, Tutorials and Resources for New Bloggers

If you haven’t started a blog for your business yet, you might want to consider it.  If you do consider it, check out the ProBlogger blog post above for help.

Do you blog?  Does your business blog?  What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks?

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Great post: 5 Steps to Improve Productivity January 22, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Tools.
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Okay, this article is very loosely technology related but I thought that you might find it very helpful.  I think that author discusses some great efficiency/productivity tips.

5 Tips for More Productivity in 2009

In the article the author says the following:

And AVOID the “summary” section of a meeting in these emails. Truth is, very few people read it.

That was amazing to me.  I actually always read it and I like to have an Agenda in that area.  I guess it really depends on the person.

There was also a duh moment in here to me.  When I read it,  I really thought that it was a paradigm shift for many.  It was when he said:

In meetings, too many people focus more on taking notes than on capturing action steps.  We focus more on communication, storage, and organization of information than on the one thing that actually moves us forward: ACTION.

Great quote.  Very good post.

I hope that it helps you!

Big brother technology? January 19, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Solutions, Tools.
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Alright, I recently had someone tweet a link that really gave me wierd feeling when I read the article.  From a technological perspective I thought WOW that is cool.  But, from a personal standpoint I thought WOW that is scary.  I will share the link and let you decide what you think of the new technology that made me think that.

New RFID Technology Allows You to be Tracked WITHOUT Your Knowledge

Give me a comment on what your feelings are!

Simplicity in the 2009! January 19, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Focus, Efficiency Process.
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A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about the book “Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises“.  It is a fantastic software architecture book written by Roger Sessions.  His whole premise is how to better serve clients through use of simpler solutions for complex problems.

The idea of simplifying is something that I definitely think that all businesses should be considering going in this year.  By really thinking through what you are doing and focusing on what’s important in your business you can cut costs, make customers happier, and probably generate more business.  You might even make your life less complicated.

I have a friend, Lisa at Call That Girl! who recently decided to stop doing LinkedIn training seminars.  Why? Not because they aren’t popular.  She decided to do it because she needed to focus on her core business and simplify.  That is what she has found is required for her to excel in 2009.

I am trying to finalize the business plan for my company (Borea Systems, Inc.) and one of things that I am trying to keep in mind is the simple acronym KISS.  I want to focus my business on what it is that I do.  It needs to stay focused and simple in order to not have a bunch of competing priorities.

Is 2009 the year for simple?  Let me know if it is part of your plan to make things more simple this year.

You Don’t Know! January 16, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Focus, Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Tools.
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We track data for everything in today’s world.  We have thousands of fields worth of data on our clients, customers, employees, acquiantences… everyone.   How are you using that data?  No… I mean USING that data.  Is there a report that is generated once a day that no one looks at?  Do you have a screen that you can look at if you are interested?

Shouldn’t you be using that data to make more sales, improve expenses, or whatever?  If you aren’t using the data to make things better, why are you storing it?

Found a great blog post about this kind of thing that you will enjoy called The 1 Secret Small Businesses Must Know In Order To Survive And Prosper.  In that article the author makes the statement:

You don’t know what you don’t know.  Failing to realize this fact and make adjustments is a very good way to ensure you make mistakes.

That is absolutely true.  You have all of the data you need available to you but are you using it?  You definitely should be.  Imagine the impact of being able to analyze the information that you have available to you.  Examples:

  1. Which vendor is providing us the best cost/benefit?
  2. Which salesperson is most successful?  Why?
  3. Which customer would be most apt to take on that new add-on for added revenue?
  4. Which customer has provided us with the best referrals?

Those are just a few of the potential questions.  What other questions can you come up with?  Do you have the data to find out?  Why aren’t you?

Game Changers January 15, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies, Green Business, Tools, Virtual Office.
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There are going to be changes to the way we do business over the coming years and I believe that mobile technology in phones is going to be a huge game changer in that realm.  It all started with email and SMS and now we are entering a new dimension.

Mobile/Phone Computing

This is probably the biggest market for growth in the business sector over the next year, at least from an efficiency standpoint.  There are many new “toys” that are available or will be available in pretty sort order.

The first one I have to mention is the business favorite Blackberry.  With the release of the Bold and the Storm, Blackberry is staking it’s claim on trying to be the leader in the SmartPhone for business market.  Many applications are going to be written for the platform and it has the potential to change the way you do business if it hasn’t already.

Obviously, the iPhone is going to be a huge player.  Right now, it trails the Blackberry for business use but if I had to bet it will make a serious run at the BlackBerry.  iPhone really changed the rules when it comes to user-friendliness and “cool”.  It is definitely a cool customer and has huge potential to revolutionize.

Palm has apparently restaked it’s claim on the PDA market with the Pre.  I haven’t actually seen or played with this system but from the reviews I have read, it may just put Palm back on the playing field.  Many had written Palm off, but remember how successful the Treo was in the day?  Pre may get them back there.

I haven’t been able to try out Android from Google yet but I have some great things about it.  Some of the applications that are being written for it are awesome.  Utilizing GPS positioning and data mashing to provide best prices in the area,  nearest restaurant, etc., etc., etc.

Of course we can’t leave out Microsoft’s Windows Mobile offering.  We all know that they won’t be far behind.  They have a huge installed base, a bunch of big name partners, and pile of cash.

The Game Will Change

No matter which system reigns supreme or which vendor falls the fact remains that the game is changing.  Mobile phones are going to change the way we do business.  It won’t be long and we won’t remember a day that we couldn’t get information at our fingertips no matter where we were.

How can you optimize your business and services to take advantage of these new wonders?

Make Confetti! 4 Tips to limit paper usage January 13, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies, Green Business, Tools, Virtual Office.
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One of the things that I see in most businesses when I work with them is that the use of paper as a medium has not decreased.  In fact, I wonder if to some extent the ease of printing hasn’t actually caused it to increase.  Growing up in a household that was funded by the production of paper (Dad worked at a paper manufacturer) I would say thank you!  Ha Ha.  Seriously, I think that there will always be some demand for paper but through intelligent use I think that you can decrease your use, thus lowering your cost of doing business.

Idea #1: Use your document management system

Store all of your electronic documents in a management repository.  Whether that is a Windows file folder, Sharepoint server, or what ever utilize it.  Make sure that people use it and have access to what they need.   I have seen so many instances where the system existed and things were still printed because the people who needed it didn’t have access.

The type of system that you use will probably really depend on your needs and your budget.  Simple folder based systems will store documents but aren’t designed for easy searching of the documents.  More complicated solutions allow for searching and indexing.  Some systems will also add intelligent routing and document handling so the document will end up on the right screen at the right time.

Idea #2: Invest in a projector

If I had to guess I would say that 50% of all printed documentation is printed to hand out at a meeting.  That is a total guess on my part but I bet that the percentage is pretty high.  How many times have you printed 10 copies of some documentation so people can review them during the meeting?  And… how many times do they get pitched after the meeting?

The better solution: invest in a projector and display the necessary documentation when you need it during the meeting.  This will drastically cut back on your cost of printing and supplies and also the amount of paper in your office and garbage.

Idea #3: Invest in a scanner

Probably the single largest source of paper in many offices is the U.S. Postal Service.  Mail is a huge generator of paper in your office.  I would say invest in a scanner.  If you scan mail as it comes in and then put it in the document management service that you have available you get many benefits.

  • No more mail that gets lost.
  • You have a record of correspondence.
  • Your employees can get mail even if they are out of the office
  • Virtual office employees have access
  • With intelligent routing systems even someone being on vacation doesn’t stop the mail being dealt with

Idea #4: Store your faxes

Instead of printing faxes send them to your document management system.  This will allow you to not have to print documents that don’t need to be printed.  It also gives you all of the benefits listed above for mail.   If you are really looking to take the leap there are services available that could allow you to get rid of the fax machine all together.

Now we can make confetti!

The more that you can keep the paper in electronic format the easier it is to track and find.  Also, it makes your office more easily accessible from the virtual world.  You will decrease the cost of doing business when it comes to office and printer supplies.  Also, you will decrease the amount of products that you sending to the recycler or landfill.

If you have other ideas of how to limit paper usage and expense in your office post a comment.  If you need help with the document management and intelligent routing please let me know!

Thinking Differently Required January 9, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies, Green Business, Payment.
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Sometimes we wonder why things are done like they are.  Sometimes we just accept things as “that’s just how it’s done”.  Other times it just drives us crazy.  The blog post on the Trust Matters blog yesterday fits one of the those drives us crazy times.  I happen to agree with the author that the same thing is also a pet peeve of mine.

Trust Matters Blog: Keep Your Damn Receipt!

Rant

The fact that I always get a receipt drives me nuts as well.  As Mr. Green points out there are times when it makes sense.  Such as I want to return it or it’s a business lunch etc.  Do I really need a receipt when I buy a fountain drink or a candy bar?  Do I really need a receipt at McDonald’s?  No.

I will throw out one other pet peeve with receipts.  Do I really need 45 pieces of paper every time that I eat out?  It amazes me in a computerized world that I seriously get 7 feet of receipt paper to pay the bill at Applebee’s or Chili’s.  I really don’t need all of that.  I can understand that the credit card companies still want a signature but other than that why all the paper.

Options

I appreciate it when someone/gas pump/ATM asks if I want it.  I usually say no but it’s nice to have the option.  I think that it makes no sense for me to get a receipt.  Do I actually balance them up against my card statement?  Or worse, what if I paid cash?  I typically end up just throwing away/shredding all of those little pieces of paper.

I would really like to see another set of options added.  They are all electronic options.  My post a few months ago about the Apple Store outlined what my vision would be like.  Here would be some of the potential options:

1. Sign the receipt electronically

2. RF Based CC payment at location (table, gas pump, grocery store)

3. Pay with cell phone

4. Question asked: How would you like your receipt?  (E-Mail, SMS, etc., or via tree)

I think that the time has come to expect the ability to have these options.  The systems already exist.  This is not sci-fi type technology.  Applebee’s already has the PDA that I can sign on for Car Side To Go.  Why not at the table?  Not only are these more green options, NO ONE wants the paper receipts.  AND… if they do give them the option.

Thinking Differently is Required.  No more because that’s how we’ve always done it!

Thinking outside the box January 6, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies, Green Business.
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Here’s a great example of rethinking the standards and finding ways to be more efficient.  A company has created a device that allows restaurants to turn their old frying oil into biofuel and then use it to generate energy on site in a co-generation methodology.  This is a great idea.

Out of the Fryer and into the Vegawatt: Used Vegetable Oil Helps Power Restaurant

Co-generation is an excellent concept for businesses who are looking to save on the cost of energy.  I think that people are finally starting to understand that the “green” concepts we hear so much about are going to have to make financial sense as well.  When scenarios arise that you can save money and be “green” you will find that many more businesses will make the leap.  Co-generation is definitely one of those places.

Great Business Systems Book January 6, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Focus, Tools.
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As I am sure that you can tell by reading my previous posts I am huge believer in business systems.   Systems will allow your business to be more efficient and profitable.  They also allow your business to not have to depend on you.  I am re-reading a book right now that is focused on following this mindset for your business.  It actually takes it a step further than just having systems within your business, it talks about making your business a system.  The book is called The E-Myth Revisited.

I think that this book is a fantastic book for anyone who is building a business and trying to understand the concepts of systems and why and how to build them.

I hope that you find this book as interesting as I have.  I will try to post more about it once I have finished it.