Not all small businesses are the same, of course, but there are a few money mistakes that are common to many types of small businesses. Check them out, and make sure these are not happening in your small business.
Mistake 1: Not Documenting Your Financial Foundation
This means doing your due diligence. Running a small business requires more than a great idea and some agile folks. It requires thought, planning, and documentation.
Fall is finally here and this means, among other things, that it's time for our traditional fall releases. The first fall release is scheduled for October 7-14, and if you join us for online presentation on October 14 at 11 AM EST, you'll be able to [SPOILER ALERT] see the new modern look Bitrix24 acquired after major re-design and learn about new features we've added.
Our invited guest for this presentation is @StoweBoyd, probably the most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to how small organizations collaborate and use social tools at work. As usual, there will be a Q&A session in the end and a special offer for those who managed to sit the entire presentation out.
There aren't that many people who wrote five (yes, five) books on the subject of innovation and creativity, and Jeff DeGraff is just that person. He has worked with some of the most innovative companies in the world, including Apple, Coca Cola and GE. Naturally, we couldn't pass on a chance to ask him a few question about what makes or breaks creative spirit in a corporate world and what companies can do to encourage innovations inside.
There are a lot of different techniques for personal creativity. But how do you create a creative organization?
We know that Bitrix24 can seem a bit overwhelming to new users, so we decided to hold regular weekly webinars that cover all Bitrix24 basics from project management to CRM. These webinars last around an hour and not only give you a very good understanding of our product capabilities, but also give you a chance to ask specific questions during Q&A session. In addition to regular webinars, we also plan to hold topic specific webinars once or twice a month (i.e. document management in Bitrix24, business processes in Bitrix24 and so on). Make sure you subscribe to our Twitter and Facebook accounts in order to get notified about these.
We're happier when we're accomplishing stuff, and we enjoy the rewards - whether it's a pat on the back, an acknowledgement in front of the team, or a pay raise - that come when we can be productive in our work.
And we get frustrated when we face obstacles that stand between us and our productivity.
Studies show us that leadership is one of the most potent factors in the workplace; that means that you, as team leader, can control a surprisingly large amount of what influences the productivity of your team members.
Here are three surprisingly simple but effective ways you can help your team reach the higher levels of productivity that you would all like to see.
1. Set limits. We all deal with a constant barrage of data. We quickly become overwhelmed by the ability to connect instantly and globally. And we are handling all this data and connectivity under individual work loads and expectations that are increasing, rather than decreasing.
Sometimes the biggest barrier to productivity is simply this too much. Too much of everything.
Again there are a bunch of new features in Bitrix24 to tell you about – and not only in Bitrix24, but also in the Bitrix24.Network.
Many users work with different Bitrix24 intranets – in some as an administrator, in others as an extranet user, and in others as an employee, using different logins for each.
But remembering emails and passwords for each Bitrix24 intranet is not easy, even if you have a good memory or you save your login information in a special program. In any case, this is an unwanted complication, requiring extra time and effort when shifting from one intranet to another.
But now it is possible to unify all your login credentials into one, so you need to remember only a single email login and password combination. After this, you will be able to enter any Bitrix24 intranet where you have set up this single sign-on.
There are a lot of different techniques for personal creativity. But how do you create a creative organization?
AG: The foundation for organizational creativity is personal creativity, so developing creative thinking skills for individuals in the organization will always be an important starting point. But then you also need to build in systems and structures that support creative thinking and innovation at the organizational level. If creative thinking is not supported all the way through the organization, creative ideas will not have the opportunity to flourish and grow and will ultimately die.
In our sessions and book, we have a unique model we call the Strategies for Innovative Development (SID) ModelTM, which identifies both individual psychological blocks and enablers and organizational environmental and cultural blocks and enablers for creativity, so we demonstrate how both areas can and should be addressed simultaneously. We then link practical development strategies to each phase. Eg in the initial ‘Enquire’ phase at the individual level people learn how to question established ways of thinking and identify the real needs, while at the organizational level you will be identifying systems and structures that are not open enough to allow for creative thinking and thinking about how to change them. In the next ‘Explore’ phase, individuals learn brainstorming skills and techniques, while at the organizational level you will be looking into how you can set up networks and communication channels that allow collaborative ideation. In the ‘Solve’ phase, individuals will learn how to make unusual connections to find the best solutions, while examining how to increase engagement at the organizational level to support the sort of perseverance and commitment needed at this stage. In the final ‘Apply’ stage individuals learn practical implementation skills, while the need for an optimistic culture that supports new innovations at the organizational level is also addressed. As well as teaching specific cognitive skills and looking at corresponding systems and structures, you will also be addressing mindset and affective skills (at the individual level) along with organizational climate (at the organizational level). After all, the climate is a composite of the affective state of the individuals in the organization!
By following this holistic and systematic approach you can ensure there is creativity at all levels of the organization.
We’ve released a SIP connector for Bitrix24 telephony. What it means is that you can now connect your existing PBX, both cloud and your physical office PBX, to Bitrix24 and get all the benefits of our free CRM.
There are several advantages of using SIP connector:
1. First, you can work with your existing phone number
2. Second, you’ll pay for the phone calls to your current IT telephony provider at the rates that you chose.
3. Third, you’ll get access to features that you probably did not have, like ability to record phone calls, create a new lead automatically when someone new calls you, or automatic forwarding of phone calls to a responsible manager when an existing client calls from a phone number that’s listed in your CRM.
The cost of using SIP connector is only $49/mo. Bitrix24 cloud users can find instructions how to connect their PBX here. If you use self-hosted edition of Bitrix24, the instructions are a little different.
Please note that Bitrix24 helpdesk DOES NOT offer SIP connector setup help, as PBX settings are configured individually on the client side and may vary significantly from vendor to vendor. You can, however, hire Bitrix24 partner near you to connect your PBX to Bitrix24 if you are unable to do so on your own, and can provide remote access to a partner technician.
Tags: CRM, telephony
Email marketing has proven to be one of the most effective means of marketing. Even with all the social media options and multimedia capabilities we have, a simple mailing list and a well-written, targeted email campaign can be one of the most powerful ways you have to build customer loyalty, increase sales, and keep your business growing.
Think of your customers as readers when it comes to your email copy and content.
This is a subtle shift in attitude but it matters. When you think of your customers as readers instead of customers, your focus shifts. You move from "getting a sale" to giving them the information they want and need in a way that will be interesting and even entertaining. Readers will pick up on this. We're psychologically savvy enough, these days, to know when we're being "sold to." And the truth is that we don't really like it. In fact, we resist, most of the time.
We don't resist entertainment, helpful information, genuine offers of help, or useful knowledge. Focus n providing those for your readers (forgetting for a while that those readers are or could become customers) and you'll write a better email.
One that your customers - er, readers - will want to read.
Refresh your sales strategies with these time-tested and proved approaches, and make sure your team knows what they are and how to use them.
Make your customers comfortable.
Discomfort is the enemy of sales. Initial discomfort - either with you, your approach, or a latent unfamiliarity with what you're offering - can cause your potential customers to cut you off before they can learn about the value you offer. Don't let discomfort be the thing that ends the encounter before your customers have a reason to spend. Be ready to adjust to what makes the customer comfortable. Pay close attention to their responses and do more of what makes them light up and lean forward in interest. Leave the rest behind. When it comes to your product or service - the focus of the pitch - use what is familiar to explain the unfamiliar. Engage analogies and similes to build connections from your (new, unfamiliar) product to a product or option that is known, familiar, and accepted. Show them how what you offer is the same but better. Building a connection between two similar offers will increase the comfort they have with your product. Then showing how your product is better will build the trust and reason they have to invest in it.
You're ready to start moving to a paperless office environment, but you're not quite sure how to do it. Do you throw away your files? Force everyone to use iPads? Burn your reams of copy paper?
Here are the right first steps you need to take.
Create a Plan
Going paperless is not something you want to do in a haphazard way. Get the key people in your business together. Create a map of the workflow and dependencies that happen in your business.
You need to know the dependencies, because shifting one area of the workflow will affect all the areas that depend on it. Get input from your senior team members so that you don't miss important parts of the process. The goal is to have a thorough picture of how the work happens in your business, which will allow you to make smart decisions about how to change it.
Cloud services are a major improvement in standard business practices. Not only do they offer increased security, specialization, and peace of mind (thank you, automated back-ups), they can also offer significant cost savings for small businesses.
A single office worker uses as many as 10,000 sheets of copy paper in a year. Ouch. Even buying paper at bulk business rates, you are looking at a hefty amount spent on paper. Imagine what would happen if you migrated all of your paper-heavy business functions to the cloud. All invoicing, forms, documentation, training materials, quotes and estimates, drafting, and financial records would no longer be dependent on reams of paper and toner refills. Moving paper-based functions to the cloud eliminates the paper cost, of course. It also eliminates maintenance cost for in-house printers, toner refills, and outsourced printing work.
Martin White is one of the most respected intranet experts who founded IntranetFocus.com in 1999. An information scientist by profession he has been a Visiting Professor at the Information School, the University of Sheffield since 2002 and authored 12 different books, including The Intranet Management Handbook. We talked to Martin about why so many people choose Microsoft products for their intranets, what happens when you treat your intranet as information dumping ground and why intranet is morphing into a digital workspace portal that includes clients and suppliers.
When it comes to intranet, 'social' is the buzzword that's mentioned most often with it. Is 'social intranet' a rebirth of intranet in the workplace or is classic idea of intranet dead for good and enterprise social networking going to replace traditional intranet as we knew it?
Your team works well together, solves problems, and comes up with innovative, unique ideas. Except when they don't. If your team is in a creative slump, here are five ways you can end it.
1. Identify the Blocks
Denial is your enemy. Awareness is your friend. If everybody is sitting around, pretending like everything is going just fine, you need to step in. Open the discussion so that they can be open about their difficulties. Ask questions and listen to their answers. Chances are, they already know a few issues - or, perhaps, many - that are causing blocks. Set up a team meeting and talk about what is blocking the normal creative flow you have come to expect from them. The goal of the meeting should not be to destroy all creative blocks, but to figure out what they are. Sometimes, talking through the issue will prove to the solution. If communication problems, personality conflicts, or internal stress is the source of reduced creativity, an open and supportive discussion can do a lot to resolve it. If, however, the issues are different, you will know how to start addressing them once you know what they are.