Buried under paperwork? Can’t remember that password? Missing meetings or deadlines? Can’t find that file? We ask organisational expert Laurel Grey how to get a grip on stuff that may be strangling your business.
Laurel is an Organisational Analyst at Sydney’s Get Digital Flow, which helps businesses integrate and streamline many of the digital elements from marketing and branding to website and customer support.
An evangelist for the benefits of cloud technology integration, she said Australia was about five years behind the US in its adoption of everything cloud but was catching up.
“It’s surprising that only 30% of SMEs use cloud-based accounting software. But many are realising that it will cost them more money if they wait, so it’s a growing market,” she said.
That coupled with the fact that more than 60 percent of Australia’s websites aren’t optimised for mobile devices, it would suggest we have some way to go.
Laurel said rather than a business searching for the right tools and how to put them together, Get Digital Flow does an audit and makes recommendations.
“We see what’s free and how to connect everything without breaking the budget and avoid the burden of high monthly subscription fees. This is particularly important when you want to scale your business.”
Here are five things Laurel says you have to get right straight away:
1. Drop Microsoft Outlook
Laurel said the first point of call was ditching Microsoft Outlook which was “hugely inhibitive” and get your communication tools centralised. She recommends Google Apps for Work.
“Times have changed when everyone sat at their desktop computer. We now have half a dozen devices which move between — our desktops, laptops, tablet and mobile phone,” she said.
“You need a solution that syncs all of these. It has to be cloud based and is the pivot for all your business needs — emails, contacts, calendars and files.
Laurel said with one login, you not only get access all of your information, from any device, and can share, it’s scalable. It also integrates with other must-have Google tools such as Analytics, My Business, Google+, and Hangouts.
2. Burn your password spreadsheet
Say goodbye to post-it notes with your passwords and delete those hackable spreadsheets. Store your passwords in the cloud.
“In terms of security, it may sound counter-intuitive but keeping a spreadsheet on your device is not the way to go because it can be read easily,” she said.
“With a secured password tool, your passwords are encrypted, and protected on all of your devices. So you have access anywhere and, if you lose a device, no-one can access your data.”
Her recommendation: Last Pass.
3. Do a “brain dump”
Laurel said a lot of SMEs keep too much vital information about the business in their head, so if they are ill, on holiday or worst, then the business can grind to a halt.
“Every business needs to keep track of deadlines or you could go for weeks without your projects ever nearing completion,” she said.
She suggest a premium level project and task management system that can scale with you.
“You need to get every task, no matter how small, out of your head if you are going to focus on what’s important for your business.”
Her recommendation (and it’s free): Asana.
4. Get personal with customer support
Laurel recommends HelpScout which allows you to review incoming emails, change the subject, and assign the threads to staff.
“They have a number of personalised responses. When you are building out your support team and getting people to liaise with customers, you can vet the responses that are going out,” she said. “And you can build a knowledge base of FAQs that can go into an online portal. You can also automate the one-on-one responses you send.”
5. Go paperless (or close to)
Laurel is a big fan of decluttering. If you can do it digitally, do it which means dropping the paper. She equates a “clear physical space to a clear mental space”.
“You don’t have to go 100% paperless, but get rid of backlog and implement a system,” she said.
Her suggestion is Shoeboxed (which starts at $27 a month) which is a digitisation service where you send in (by email, upload or post) documents, business cards and receipts.
You can also download documents as PDFs and send receipts directly to your cloud accounting software such as Xero on the online platform.
Laurel is the host of “Teach Me Tech”, a technology demonstration show on www.BRiN.ai, the world’s first artificial intelligence business advisory app.