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When you set goals for your business this year, there’s a good chance one of those goals was tied to growth. It’s a common goal. You have your eyes set on acquiring new customers. You’re ready to take their business to the next level. The challenge, however, is getting to that next level. If you do a web search on how to grow your business, you’ll find more results than you know what to do with. It can be frustrating and overwhelming.
This month, we’re here to take away some of that frustration and share a few ideas on how you can use technology solutions to put together a growth strategy that works for your business, its needs and your overall goals. There are four areas where technology really shines: automation, access, engagement and security.
There are automation tools that assist with everything from invoicing to customer service. One great example is the chatbot. Thanks to major strides in artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots are more useful than ever. All you have to do is plug one into your website, and it can handle a surprising amount of customer service issues. It can even direct customers and leads to real humans within your organization. When you can direct leads accordingly, it makes it easier to track and follow up with those leads, possibly increasing your sales and growth.
Thanks to the cloud, you have the potential to access virtually any part of your business from anywhere, including your employees. This makes the remote work model (as well as the hybrid model) much easier to implement. Plus, if you back up critical data to the secure cloud on a regular basis, you never have to worry about losing that critical data. But the truly great thing about the cloud is that it’s automatically scalable and fully customizable. The cloud grows with you, which means you save serious money when you’re no longer bound to traditional models of scaling.
It may be wedding season, but we’re not talking about a marriage – at least not in the “wedding bells” sense. Technology allows you to engage with customers and leads in a way you’ve never been able to before. Social media platforms especially give you tools to engage with customers. From Facebook to LinkedIn, these platforms have tools to connect with specific demographics. You can post videos, share content, and simply interact with customers and your community. These kinds of things put you and your brand out there in front of new customers.
We saved this one for last because it’s a big one that not everyone things about, but it’s absolutely crucial. As your business grows, your IT needs grow and change too. You need to make sure your network is ready for the challenge of growth. On top of that, you need to be sure that your employees have the tools and resources they need to keep your business secure. There are a lot of threats out there, from the internal threat of hardware failure to the external threat of malware and cybercriminals. With more business shifting to remote or a hybrid work model, your IT security needs should be top priority.
As you fold different technologies into your business, remember that you never have to do any of it on your own. If you need help or want to maximize the benefits of technologies you’re using or interested in using, work closely with your managed service provider or IT partner. They are there to answer your questions and to help you optimize your business for your growth goals.
Soft Skills, Solid Results
Parenting seems unrelated to business, but in my experience, it is very much related to people skills – and people skills are necessary for business. There are four key people skills, often called “soft skills,” that I want to talk to you about:
How do you feel when you get a thank-you note? People never forget when they get a handwritten thank-you note. A text or e-mail is nice, but they last a day. People love to feel gratitude. They love to share it and to receive it. Thank-you notes remove barriers, so make it a habit.
Listen longer and listen better. When you’re speaking with someone, encourage long pauses. Let the silence do the heavy lifting.
You don’t have to rush into an answer or response before thinking about what a person is saying. This is helpful in sales and with direct reports. Allow yourself to stay quiet so the other person can do the talking. Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions like “How did that go for you?”
Grace By Margin
This is all about things that save you time. Consider using the “while” system as a way to multitask. For example, place an under-the-desk bike to work out while you work at your desk. Another thing to consider: timed e-mails. Schedule an e-mail to be sent out at a specific time and add links in e-mails to schedule time on your calendar. One more time-saving tool is speech-to-text transcription. This ensures you have a record of every conversation that you can reference
Break down your vision into small parts. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by something large, choose one smaller goal for the month. Do this with everyone in your organization. Break down everyone’s goals into smaller parts. This makes it easier to track over the course of a quarter or year. Even go as far as creating a vision board. Add images of what you want to achieve. Make your vision visual. Lastly, write down your achievements as part of your vision. Where are you now and
where do you want to be over the next three years?
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the “Soft Skills, Solid Skills” Petra Coach webinar at PetraCoach.com/soft-skills-solid-results-with-bea-wray.
Bea Wray is an entrepreneur, innovator, mentor and author of What An MBA Taught Me… But My Kids Made Me Learn. She founded (and sold) SourceHarbor Inc. and has consulted with over 300 companies around the globe. She’s the former chair of ForbesBooks and has hosted The Front Porch podcast, Savannah’s: Engage SGTV, TEDx and the GeekEnd Innovation conference. With years of experience and an MBA With Distinction from Harvard Business School, she’s always on the lookout for the next opportunity.
We hear a lot of companies, especially in the technology space, talk about proactivity. Yes, it’s a buzzword, but there is value to be had in the core concept of proactivity.
These days, you don’t want to be reacting to everything that could impact your technology. A purely reactive approach leads to system failure, data breaches, and challenging technology upgrades.
But what does it mean to be proactive when it comes to IT? Are there specific things that every organization should be doing? And by extension are there certain proactive measures that are more suitable for special cases? How can you tell when a technology provider is being effectively proactive instead of just giving lip service?
Read the full article here:
Do you know what security features your mobile device has and have you enabled them?
Mobile Devices have become way more sophisticated since the original iPhone normalized the idea of smartphones in all our pockets almost 15 years ago. As their functionality has expanded to things like payment processing and apps with connections to your work data, we also have increased reliance on them in normal communications on social media, texting, and email in our personal lives. The fact is that these devices are tremendously important to us.
You should be willing to invest the time to educate yourself on the type of mobile device you are using, what operating system it runs, and the function and meaning of the various security features within the settings of the device.
You don’t have to get too elaborate, but enabling features like the ones I’ve listed below will help to protect what you really care about, which is the privacy and integrity of our data: