Expert Advice for Small Business: Laurie, Michael, Barry

Exclusive insights, analysis and advice from the brightest minds in small business.

Laurie brings 25+ years of IT industry experience to her current role at SMB Group. She has earned widespread recognition for her insights into small and medium business (SMB) technology adoption, requirements and challenges. Laurie was also named Top 200 Thought Leaders in Big Data & Analytics by Analytics Week.

Straight from Laurie—
Mega-trends in SMB collaboration, communication and mobility:
Almost every employee in every company collaborates and communicates every day. In the past, most SMBs relied primarily on email, phone systems and sticky notes but today’s technology provides us digital solutions that enable us to work anytime, anywhere. Companies that use these solutions to collaboration can not only improve productivity, but also give employees more flexibility in terms of how, when, and where they work.

Here are the top 5 business trends shaping SMB collaboration, communication and mobility.
What's your strategy?

The SMBs who realized that using technology is a great way to help their employees do their jobs better are the businesses best positioned for growth and opportunity
Laurie McCabe
Small Business Influencer
Top 200 Thought Leaders in Big Data & Analytics by Analytics Week

Trend #1:
Technology is intertwined with business results

Only 15 years ago, small/medium businesses were technology laggers. They just didn’t feel they needed a lot of technology to make their businesses run well. Fast-forward to now and everything’s changed. The old mom-and-pop-shop technology lagger stereotype has all but vanished—replaced by a new breed of leaders who un-derstand swift tech adoption can determine real financial success.

Did you know...

  • 29% of all SMBs are “Progressive” SMBs
  • On average, Progressive SMBs spend 29% more on technology than their peers
  • And they are 18% more likely to forecast revenue increase
Which statement most closely reflects your company’s view of how technology relates to your business?
Collaboration really is the application category that’s leading the cloud adoption curve because collaboration is the one thing that every one in the company has to do every day.
Laurie McCabe
Small Business Influencer
Top 200 Thought Leaders in Big Data & Analytics by Analytics Week

Trend #2:
Cloud Is The New Normal

The emergence of the cloud is fueling the SMB shift from tech-averse to early adopter. And for good reasons:

  • SMBs are increasingly likely to take a cloud-first approach to drive product, service and business innovation
  • Cloud solutions make it faster and easier to access, deploy, use and manage solutions that streamline collaboration and other business functions
  • The cloud levels the playing field for resource constrained SMBs

Did you know...

  • SMBs buy newer solutions—such as web/video conferencing, video chat, instant messaging, and stream-based messaging are almost exclusively in the cloud model.
  • 50% plan to use cloud/SaaS deployments for collaboration in the next 12 months

Trend #3:
Mobile is revolutionizing the way we do business

A whooping 67% of SMBs say that mobile solutions are changing how they communicate and collaborate. While the PC isn’t dead, people are doing more work on mobile devices, especially when it comes to collaboration and social media.

Check out these SMB stats:

  • For collaboration apps, 37% say that they’ve decreased their use of traditional PCs and laptops.
  • 6% say they no longer use PCs at all for collaboration!
  • About 2/3 of SMBs are viewing mobile as a critical component to how they do business. 
Trend #4:
Business collaboration gets social

Trend #5:
Baby boomers retire, millennials enter prime working years

Michael Parrish DuDell is an entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and bestselling author. He has been ranked as one of the top three most popular business authors by and named “one of nation’s leading Millennial voices” by IBM.

Straight from Michael—
3 seamless ways to create a culture of collaboration, increase workplace engagement, and boost employee morale

As technology flourishes and the workplace grows increasingly remote, collaboration and cultural challenges will only continue to mount. But where there’s challenge, there’s also opportunity.

In a 2014 survey, 86% of American employees and executives cited a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as the primary culprit for workplace failures.

Here are3 simple ways your SMB can jumpstart the process of increasing engagement at every level.

  1. Prioritize the“why” over the “What”
    “Unlike prior generations, these folks are operating on another order of intrinsic motivation. THEY NEED TO KNOW THE WHY. And they have a sense of purpose in the work they do.”
    Mike McDermen
  2. Practice Radical Transparency
    Gone are the days where leaders were expected to put on heirs or maintain a poised and polished appearance. In fact, it’s candor, not perfection that wins the hearts and minds of your best employees.

    This principle is a large part of how Zappos—the online shop and clothing shop started by Tony Hsieh—has cultivated such world-class culture.

    When Zappos switched to a new self-organization management model in 2015, the retailer offered a voluntary buyout to employees who didn’t feel as though it would be a good fit. Fourteen percent of their workforce accepted the offer.
  3. Use tech to improve the feedback process
    Use tech to improve the feedback process In 2016, IBM introduced Checkpoint—a platform that allows people within the company to give feedback to other employees across the organization.

Barry Moltz gets business owners growing again by unlocking their long forgotten potential. With decades of entrepreneurial experience in his own business ventures as well as consulting countless other entrepreneurs, Barry has discovered the formula to get stuck business owners unstuck and marching forward. Barry applies simple, strategic steps to facilitate change.

Straight from Barry—
80% of interruptions at work are considered trivial

Most people confuse being busy with productivity. Being busy is doing stuff, but being productive is getting the right stuff done. The one thing that small business owners have in common is that their to-do list keeps getting longer as the day gets shorter. This is because most people confuse being busy with being productive.

When it comes to increasing our own productivity, we are our worst enemies. We continue to do things wrong or inefficiently even though we know better.

Do any of these “so busy” symptoms seem familiar?

  • You get less done despite “furious” multitasking.
    You are working harder and longer than ever while balancing multiple things at one time in your head, desk, smartphone and other computer devices.
  • Your day is filled with constant distractions.
    Unfortunately, the World Wide Web can be a “World Wide Waste of Time”. You constantly stop what you are doing to check out new Facebook, Twitter and email alerts. In fact, you go “looking” for interruptions as a form of procrastination.
  • You start the day with no committed daily action plan.
    What is worse, your action plan gets blown up in the first 15 minutes of the workday.

Here are actions small business owners can take to be 100% more productive:

Choose two tasks.
Use five minutes at the end of the day to make a prioritized list of two things that must get accomplished the next day. Do these first before opening up email, checking social media or doing anything else on your long to-do list.

Choose these two items by answering the question “What two tasks, if I completed them today, would make my day productive?” Use Any Do not only to sync any list with all your devices, but allows sharing with other team members to make sure they get their tasks done.

Turn off notifications.
Stop being reactive. Make sure you control the attention your electronic devices want and that they do not control you with nonstop notifications. Turn all these off including your phone for set periods during the day. If you work in an office, put up a sign to prevent interruptions at certain times.

Stop multitasking.
It is a myth that helps you to get more done. It actually allows you to partially complete more tasks poorly. The brain can really only focus on a single task well. Instead of completing two things with average proficiency, do one thing “fantastically” well. In this way, having a split focus makes you less productive. I have a sign on my computer that simple says “FOCUS” which has helped me a lot.

Schedule times.
Schedule certain routine tasks during the day when your energy is lower. Build your day around your best times for getting things done. If you are on top of your game in the mornings, set aside this time for focused work.

Do you get a drained 2:30 feeling? Plan an hour here for administrative and less mentally draining tasks. These are a good time to proactively check voice mail, email and social media feeds.

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