Business Productivity Gains Can Come From Seemingly Small Tasks

Many businesses fall into a trap by focusing on core processes for productivity gains while ignoring potentially hundreds of small, tedious, administrative tasks that threaten to bog down the team. The flow of work, pace of decisions and even responsiveness to customers can be severely hampered by these tasks while the business strives to solve bigger challenges. At some point the cumulative effect of such non-core and yet required tasks becomes a drag on the ability to perform and grow.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the information technology division of the business. IT is where the priorities of the business go be converted into efficient and productive systems. Nowhere in the list of priorities did a host of administrative tasks appear as a priority and you would not expect to find them there considering the importance of core processes that drive the operation of the business. However, the productivity gains that may be achieved with just a small bit of attention to these tasks can have a dramatic ability to free up precious employee time to focus on getting the more important job done.

The IT organization supported by the heads of various business and operating divisions, have become masters at hunting buffaloes. No measly squirrels for them. They are so busy preparing the big guns, hunting parties and horses to go and hunt for the buffaloes that they are seemingly unaware that the squirrels are stealing their stash of nuts that was supposed to provide energy during the winter months. In much the same way, the focus on large projects allows the burden of many small administrative tasks to steal away valuable time and productivity.

In fact, they appear so determined to hunt buffaloes that when a squirrel is presented to them as an opportunity they will spend days and even months working to convert it into a buffalo worthy of their attention. Along the way, the employees and even department heads becomes increasingly frustrated at the need to perform so many tasks manually when a simple automated solution seems self-evident. Occasionally, individual departments will find a small budget and go outside to find a third party who may be able to help them.

Of course, since IT establishes the rules about what is acceptable technology, solutions and even providers, going outside the company often ends in a political tangle that only further complicates the issue. As businesses evaluate their priorities for investing in the development and automation of key business processes and managing the flow of information through the operation, they should include a review of the administrative tasks being performed, the frequency at which they are performed, the number of employees performing the same task, the time consumed and the potential for errors. Core operations or customer facing systems will always be assigned the highest priority, but ignoring these tasks can result in a huge productivity drag.

Determine what it will take to hunt the buffalo in the most efficient manner with the most proficient resources and leave some small unit behind to go after the squirrels to protect your stash of nuts. This small unit of technical IT staff must be empowered to identify specific administrative tasks and deal with them one at a time without being forced to convert each into a buffalo first. You may just find that the overall productivity and employee satisfaction in your business increase dramatically. You also find there are fewer buffalo to hunt than you assumed, as your team has been so adept at converting every squirrel into a buffalo that requires a lot more resources and time to resolve.

Invest in Real Estate by Knowing Your Borrowing Power

Knowing your borrowing power can help you invest in real estate because it will show you the amount you’re allowed to borrow with the bank. The bank figures out what you can afford per month and then calculates the amount of a mortgage based on that monthly amount.

If you use a mortgage calculator to figure out a monthly payment that you can afford then it’s one step closer to buying a second home. Makes sure you put in the current interest rate because it will make a big difference in your monthly mortgage payment.

So add up all your bills and weight them against your income to see how much you can borrow. Make sure you do the loan term over 30 years because it will be the lowest monthly payment. You wont be able to immediately use the rent as income because the bank needs to see the steady stream of income before they start weighing it against your debt.

Put a small down payment down and buy the second home. Then after you rent it out you can start looking for another home. After about 6 months you can use the rent as income with the bank on your next home. Any interest calculator will help you realize how much you can afford each month and help you figure out your borrowing power.

I recommend getting a fixed interest rate instead of an ARM rate because in this economy interest rates can only go up. You don’t want to get stuck in an adjustable rate because it will keep going up over the next few years, just like real estate will.

Plug in a few different interest rates into a mortgage calculator to see the difference in the monthly payment. You’ll be surprised how much the rate will effect your mortgage. The higher your monthly payment is the less you can borrow so you want to make sure you get the lowest rate to keep your borrowing power up.

Does This Fear Inhibit Your Business?

Do you ever wonder why so many mission-driven entrepreneurs find getting really clear on what they offer and how to talk about it to prospective clients so difficult?

FEAR plagues many women entrepreneurs who want to make a difference. Fear has many faces. I’ll talk about several of them here in the next few weeks.

Naming fears and clearing them out of your system is the BEST WAY for you to get clear on what services you offer in your business so that you develop ease enrolling your ideal clients.

Let’s talk about one fear that may be affecting you and your business without your knowing it so that you can address and change it.

The FEAR of doing it WRONG!

If you are like most women in business, you fear:

*messing up,

*not being perfect, and

*not knowing how to respond to a new situation or challenge.

Many men do not have this fear and in fact, are quite confident that they can do things they’ve never done before or been trained to do.

In contrast, many very capable women resist trying something new and instead seek another certification or more training so they are sure to be able to handle what might come up.

As you can imagine, fear of doing “it” wrong keeps many service-based entrepreneurs from getting clear on exactly what they offer, how it benefits their clients, and how valuable it is.

Many of us were raised to be “good girls” and want to please the people who are important to us. Caring about others is what we do as women, but in business we can carry it too far.

Let’s look at a way to address the Fear of Doing It Wrong:

Ask yourself where in your business and offerings you are trying to please someone besides yourself.

*Do you discount your prices?

*Do you stay unclear about your services and offers so that no one knows exactly what you do?

*Do you do too many trades or complimentary sessions?

(** See my note below)

Behind all of these actions is a fear of not pleasing someone who matters to you. Ask yourself:

*Who is that person?

*What would s/he say if you tried something new or bold?

*How would s/he respond if you did something wrong?

As you come up with your answers to these questions, imagine a different response than fear.

*Could you laugh at yourself for thinking that anyone would really want less than the best for you?

*Can you release some of the fear by breathing it out and give yourself some freedom to move forward another step?

*How about giving yourself a Free Pass from Perfection for the next 30 days? Intend to do it wrong. Let yourself learn. You can perfect it later and the world will not fall apart.

It is critical to you and your business that you name, face, and disable your fear of Doing It Wrong. If you’re not clearly sharing your work and gifts with the people you are meant to help, they cannot get the benefit of working with you. And that is a shame.

Life and business are messy. There’s no such thing as perfection. Doing is better than perfect. We’ll all survive if you don’t get it right this time. Next time you’ll know how to make it better.

I invite you to disengage from your Fear of Doing It Wrong this month. Please let me know how it goes for you. You may be surprised at how much you like the freedom to learn by doing.

** When you’re first starting your practice or service business, it’s good to do a few no cost or low-cost sessions to get experience and clarity about who you like to work with. It’s also sometimes appropriate to do a trade with someone whose work you really value and want. And it’s surely good to give pro-bono work to someone who can’t afford your fees at this time.

But if you are not charging, not charging enough, or doing a lot of trades, you are sabotaging your business, not giving your clients an opportunity to invest in themselves, and telling yourself subconsciously that what you do is not valuable.

This is a dangerous trend and does not serve you or your clients. Look at what you are afraid of and summon up the courage to face it. I promise it will be rewarding.