Jun 012017
 

The mistake 93% of small businesses make

93% of small business focus on the wrong priority. It’s a pretty big mistake to make if you want to take your business up to the next level, but the vast majority of small businesses are making it today. So was I.

I’ve been making this mistake for the past 25 years. At first, I felt pretty bad about that, but then I wanted to see if other small businesses are making the same mistake. So I created a poll on OwnIt and asked other entrepreneurs to rate their business priorities. The pie chart on the right shows the answer over 200 small businesses. Surprisingly less than 10% got this right.

What’s the focus of your small business?

I’ve been thinking about the UX (User Experience) I create for my clients all year. And I really got challenged by Horst Schulze, when I was fortunate enough to film the former CEO of Ritz-Carlton at a keynote speech a few weeks ago.

(You can read a bit more about that talk on my last blog post: What I learned about service from a wise hotelier).

4 priorities of an excellent company

Mr. Schulze talked about the 4 priorities that every successful company needs to have in the right order to excel. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Be efficient.
  • Keep current clients.
  • Make money.
  • Find new customers.

When I looked at my company’s priorities, I was surprised to learn that I’ve focused on the wrong priority for over 20+ years. Don’t get me wrong all four are vital to a company, but one is more essential than the other three.

Find out if you’re wrong too – take the poll!

You can take the poll “What’s the number One priority of your business” here and see how you stack up against other small businesses. Then let me know – are you in the 94% that get it wrong or in the 7% that are doing it right?

I for one intend to shift my company to focus on the one most important priority and that change will take place over the course of the next few months.

94% of small business make this mistake.

Take the poll to see how your business compares!


[OwnIt is an online small business community run by Quicken. To take my survey, you will have to sign up for this free small business social platform. I have found great advice here, and many owners are beneficial to share their experiences.]


UPDATE: I edited the post three weeks after publishing the initial numbers, to reflect the new responses. The change is less than one percentage point with twice as many surveys answered as in the original post.

May 042017
 
ZEIº time tracking device

Time is money

As a freelancer, we trade time for money. Plain and simple: I have the talent to produce the visual content, my clients need for their business, and they have the money to pay me for my time and skill.  Figuring out what to charge for a project then largely depends on your cost of doing business and how much your time is worth. ZEIº can help.

Time is in short supply

Nothing to do with ZEIº, but this LIV watch was a Kickstarter project as well.Time is the great equalizer – everybody gets 24 hours in a day. Doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, male or female, young or old. You get 1,440 minutes in a day – that’s it. So how do you know how much your time is worth? I think you’d first have to figure out where your spending your time, but keeping track of your day seems like a waste of time, because – well it takes too long to log your hours. Freelancers resort to estimating how long they’ve been working on or you guess at whatever task of your small business you’re working on – so most of us don’t bother.

We’ll just go ahead and guess. I’ve dived into productivity and efficiency lately. You can define efficiency as the ability to successfully use resources without wasting them and the most critical and limited resource we have is time. 

Automate with ZEIº – the secret to productive time tracking

Wouldn’t it be great to get an accurate account of how you spend your time, without wasting time to record the time you spend? I mean that would be great not just for yourself to see where your time ends up going, but especially for entrepreneurs who bill by the hour.

Enter ZEIº – a little device that keeps your time in check. It’s an eight-sided cube that links to your phone or computer via Bluetooth. ZEIº by Timeular keeps track of your time effortlessly, once you’ve set it up. Then all you have to do is rotate the ZEIº to the activity, or client, or project you want to track – you get to define as many ZEI activities as you want in the software, and the time tracker can handle 8 activities, which are easily interchangeable.

ZEIº even integrates with Toggl and Jirra at this time, and there are more in the works. Imagine what you could do with a Zapier or IFTTT integration …

Customize your time

ZEIº is a blank slate (literally, it comes in white) and you can write on its surface or use the enclosed stickers to define which each tracked activity. ZEIº looks like two four-sided pyramids stacked on top of each other.

I  got my ZEIº today, but I’m currently tracking the following activities:

  • Leads  – anything that has to do with getting new clients: phone calls, emails, mailers, …
  • Opportunities – anything related to creating visual content for my clients …
  • Deliverables – everything about creating the final pieces and follow-up after jobs …
  • Write – blog post (like this one), social media, …
  • Learn – reading, listening, learning, …
  • Create – workshops, talks, webinars, …
  • Admin – everything related to business processes: billing, web hosting, app purchases, …
  • Personal – well it’s personal

My ZEIº tracking my time writing this very blog post. Screen shot of the Timeular app screen from my iPhone.In my case, the first three activities correlate with my workflow and will have the same color coded sides as the Post-It note system I’m already using. The other ones pertain to all the hats we wear to run out small businesses that make it possible for me create as a visual content creator and for you to sell your freelance skill.

ZEIº tracks all activities and reported in real-time and sync to all your devices. I’m hoping the guys at Timeular integrate tags so that one could keep track of all activities related to a specific job number, but you’ll always be able to extract that out of the reports to get a summary of all the time ZEIº tracks on client X or project Y.

You can play with the app or software, it’s a free download from Timeular.

To stop tracking time, just stand the ZEIº in its cradle. To record, flip it onto the relevant side. Add a note, so you know what this particular activity was about and voilá! You’ve just tracked time.

You’ve just tracked time.


How would you use an automatic time tracking device like ZEIº?

Do you see a need in your small business for Timulars time tracking tool.

Which 8 activities would you pick on your ZEIº?

Jan 222016
 

Master your productivity with 11 amazing tools

With every passing year, it seems clients are expecting more and more from their photographers, which means we may need a lesson in productivity. Kat Dalager (@3etheLTAgency) goes even further and foresees the change of the very word photographer in her “Predictions for 2016“:

“The word ‘photographer’ will change. Maybe it will be ‘image maker’ or ‘content maker’ or ‘capturer.’ Whatever it is, it will reflect the expanded capabilities of the role.”

I agree with her and believe that in order to embrace the ever-increasing roles we find ourselves pushed into, we must become exceedingly efficient in our productivity. 2016 will be the year, where I take that productivity to the next level, integrating the technology, cloud based services, apps and automation software I use in my business.

Here are 11 tools that help me, solve my productivity puzzle:

Salesforce & Evernote

The backbone for this virtual productivity is SalesForce – the CRM that’s been running my business for over 7 years now. Every account, contact and job lives in this cloud based service [learn more about SalesForce here: “I got my head in the cloud (along with all my data)“].

This year is the year where this automation will get flushed out. I’m already using the amazing integration between Evernote and SalesForce, which allows me to attach all job related records automatically. Now any creative brief, handwritten note, job estimate, permit, release, receipt, rental agreement, … is tagged with a job number in Evernote and appears in the digital job folder in SalesForce as if by Magic.

Asana, Zapier & IFTTT

Every job, event and task that get entered in SalesForce automatically creates a counterpart in Asana, via Zappier. Asana is my project management software, where I can split up a job in an actionable To Do list. Every contact that’s added on my phone is automatically entered in SalesForce via IFTTT (IfThisThenThat). Zapier and IFTTT are two amazing automation softwares that enable you to use apps and cloud based services to stay productive.