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5 Worst Ways Business Owners Waste Time

Most of us believe that cell phones, email and other tech devices help business productivity.  But tech devices and some common business practices can actually be big time wasters.  For example, are you and your employees constantly checking email or web sites? Do you have an open door policy, a schedule full of meetings, and a hefty mobile phone habit?  How are you doing on that “to do” list?

“Many workplace practices that were once considered good for business have become major time-wasters today,” says Phil Cooke, who has advised major companies on time-saving techniques for 30 years.  Here are five time wasting practices that Cooke claims are most dangerous to your productivity:

1. Starting your day on email

If the first thing you do every work morning is dig into your email, you can easily be bogged down for hours simply answering messages.  Avoid the email vortex.  Try this instead: When you first get to work – the store, shop, site, office or wherever that may be – do at least one of the most important things you need to do that day (email doesn’t count!).  Then, and only then, check email.  This change alone will boost your productivity.

2. Forgetting the power of priorities

Business owners too often spend enormous amounts of time dealing with trivial tasks.  And the worst part is when we still feel like we’re accomplishing something important.  Remember this: Never do minor tasks at the expense of major projects.  Don’t fall victim to what others think is urgent.  Set your own priorities.

3. Being permanently tethered to your mobile device

Put down the mobile device occasionally. Chances are, you don’t really need to check it for text messages, voicemail or email every five minutes.  Entrepreneurs always feel the really big call or message could arrive at any moment.  Get over it; and get on with it. Otherwise your mobile device relationship can be counterproductive.

4. Not Shutting the office door

Whoever invented the “open door policy” must never have run a business and probably didn’t accomplish much, says Cooke.  Sure, you need to be accessible; just not every minute of every day.   Unexpected calls and visitors are huge time wasters, What’s more, research suggest that it takes nearly an hour to get back on track after an interruption.  Schedule set hours for meetings and visitors.

5. Taking all calls

You don’t have to answer every call.  “I’ve seen people interrupt important meetings, sensitive negotiations and more to deal with minor phone calls,” says Cooke.  Don’t be afraid to let callers leave a message.  If you’re in the middle of something and can see the caller isn’t a critical contact, leave it for later.  You’ll waste less time, accomplish more, and the caller would rather have your full attention anyway.

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10 Small Business Predictions for 2012

Technology shapes how small businesses survive and thrive, and 2012 will see record numbers of small businesses harness the power of technology and especially new online productivity tools to grow their businesses. Jerry Nettuno, founder and CEO of Schedulicity, which is one of those online tools, shares his small business predictions for 2012: 

1.      Daily deals dive: The daily deal space exploded last year, but 2012 will see deal shrinkage of 30% or more. Rapid contraction will leave just a couple of “big guys,” some vertically positioned players and a long tail of locals finding ways to thrive by serving a few small regions or cities.

2.  Surviving deals get a makeover:  Burned by go-for-broke deals, many local businesses will fine tune and target their offers to strengthen loyalty. The more geographically concentrated your customer-base is, the better your chances of turning deal-seekers into repeat buyers. Look for an increase in frequent buyer and perk programs to support this movement in 2012.

3.   Small businesses move to the cloud. The ability to self-publish quickly via the cloud is moving businesses out of traditional media.  Productivity services such as Google Docs, Zoho Creator, Office 365 (from Microsoft) and many others are making it easier than ever to operate entirely online.  Low cost tablet computers will let more service professionals and small business owners run their businesses from a mobile device. 

4.      Breakthrough tools arrive. Emerging technology will spawn more break-through productivity tools.  Business owners will see new, off-the-shelf ways to connect with consumers.  With the launch of Siri, Apple’s new voice-activated personal assistant application, developers will be hard at work on amazing voice-activated apps that will offer a unique way for local businesses to stand out.

5.      The “Digital Coupon Book” takes off:  The move to more online shopping turns passive discount recipients into active coupon seekers.  Digital “coupon books” will dominate within the next two years, offering small businesses another way to leverage existing customer relationships with hyper-local offers.  We’ll see a growth in local offer networks, personalized consumer dashboards and highly targeted deals.

6.      The appointment book disappears.  The success of sites such as Schedulicity, OpenTable and ZocDoc reinforce the idea that the traditional pen and paper appointment book may soon disappear.  The number of appointments booked online is soaring.  Schedulicity alone has seen nearly 7 million appointments booked online since mid-2009. 

7.      Mobile commerce soars.  Mobile payment, location-based promotions, and mobile scheduling will all change the way small business owners conduct business in 2012.  Whether iPad or iPhone, Kindle Fire or Droid, the move to mobile will continue apace.  Making your business website mobile-friendly is only a start.  As more and more consumers are making mobile a mainstay, it will be essential for small businesses to have a mobile commerce strategy to tap into this opportunity.

8.      Thinking “local” gains steam.  With a still-shaky economy and unbending unemployment rates, 2012 is poised to be trying for small business.  Small business owners need to think local – the headlines in the local newspaper and the vibe on Main Street are more important than what’s being talked about on CNBC.

9.      Social media gets marketing money.  Social media marketing isn’t just for early adopters anymore.  Big brands and Fortune 500 companies have spent the past three years discovering (and utilizing) the marketing capabilities of Facebook, Twitter, and other online tools.  In 2012, more small businesses will expand online and embrace Facebook as the dominant social media marketing tool for local business.

10.  The client continues to be king.  Small business and independent service professionals are no longer “too busy for new clients.”  Taking advantage of networking opportunities and exploring new online listing options will help small businesses make themselves known and available to new clients. 

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.