Every month, every day, I hear about or am invited to use a "new tool" my business can't do without. Personally, I've had ENOUGH with this gluttony of software. We have enough software to run the planet right from our iPhones and Blackberries! All these programs are doing is distracting us from what should be our primary task - running an efficient business.
What happened? How did we get into this mess? Firstly developers love to, well, develop. It's fun, exciting and enthralling to develop new gadgets. However, too many of these gadgets are just technological junk food - they fill up your system, but they don't really do anything for you. Just like real junk food, these programs don't give your business real - nutrition" and if you indulge in too much junk food you get bloated and sick.
So, the first thing we're doing for Business fitness month? Cutting out the junk and untangling your technology!
Just like we have the four food groups, there are Four Pillars of good tech use that lead to Connected Success. I'll introduce you to the Four Pillars of Connected Success next week. (Just like going to the gym, business boot camp won't get you fit in one week. You'll have to keep coming back!) For now however, let's look at the typical diet of technology that most entrepreneurial businesses are eating in one form or another to manage their business: tracking and speaking to contacts, working as a team, that sort of thing. Abusing these programs is basically like eating too many candy bars â€“ initially satisfying, but not a good way to stay productive or healthy.
1. CRM (Salesforce, Sugar, MS CRM Dynamics, etc) These programs are all full of features, but are you actually using them? Do they really add value to what you need to do to, or are they just empty calories?
2. Email Marketing (Constant Contact, Mailchimp, etc) Ah yes, generic emails and mailing lists. Not only are we doing badly as managing our own flows of email and information, but we're pushing too much onto our clients and contacts. Email marketing is great - when it's personalized and relevant, but spam isn't good for your technology or your diet!
3. File Storage (Dropbox, etc) We have a huge need to share files and information online, but if you can't connect files to the people who need to have them and you need to use one program to share the files and another to collaborate, you're not working very efficiently.
4. Notes (Evernote, OneNote, etc) Once again, notes are great, but connecting your notes to contacts, files or discussion groups is time consuming. Notes aren't collaborative either, which means you're back to using several tools to do one job.
5. Project Management (Basecamp, etc) Project management is a huge part of business today - especially since you need a project management tool to keep track of the notes and files you have to share among your team.
So what we have here are 5 sets of tools. The problem is that these tools all do a small part of the one job you actually need them to do - manage contacts, collaborate and share files and notes. Each type of program has a clear single function, but none of them work together. Instead of eating one sandwich to satisfy your business needs, you're eating 5 different candy bars. They fill you up when you're hungry for a function, but there's no long term nutritional value for your business.
A well place set of integrated tools is like a well balanced diet. It keeps you lean, mean and energetic. Putting the right nutrients into your body is a huge part of being a high performance athlete, and using the right programs is what it takes to be a top performing business - lean, efficient and successful. To be successful today management, marketing and messaging are all equally important. It's a well rounded, holistic approach that recognizes it takes more than sales to drive an efficient company. We call this the M3 of CRM.
So, when we designed 1to1Real™ and the Connected Market Coach™ solutions for the "cloud" we decided we'd be like a well established gym. A "circuit" of business and training tools that you need to stay in top shape and get into the zone; focusing not just on one small aspect of what a business needs to do, but the whole picture.
So what's Step 1 for 2011? Trim down the disconnected tools, and get your business technology "mind" in line with your core business body - look at what you do, and how that's different from what you need to do.
Next week we'll cover Step Two: Organizing your Business Brain.