Taming Email Overload for Busy Entrepreneurs

Mary got to the office early one morning determined to tackle her end of the month reports early. It was quiet because she was the only one there. Pleased with herself, she logged onto her computer and thought she’d check her inbox “for just a second.” After all, she had a whole hour to get a head start. In her email there were a couple of items she could respond to quickly, so she did. Oh, here was one that was urgent.

Before she knew it, an hour had passed and her coworkers were filing in and she still hadn’t started her reports.

How much time do you spend a day on email? How many times a day do you check it? If you’re like many Americans, you check it throughout the day and respond accordingly.

Technology is supposed to make us more efficient but if you don’t manage it, you risk being managed by it. I can attest to this as email overload is one of those ugly monsters that can easily come back as an unexpected time suck in my own calendar.

Here are 3 ways that have helped me tame email overload in my busy schedule:

1–Eliminate bells, chimes and other sounds that alert you every time a new email comes in. This simple action will reduce your distraction levels.

2–Check email at designated times. If you check your email only 3 times a day–say at 9:30, 1:00 and 4:00, instead of every few minutes you’ll increase your productivity. Research shows that every distraction takes you an average of 24 minutes to get back to your task. So, if you’re writing a report and you check your email 5 times in an hour, well, you won’t get far on your report.

3–Delete your email once you’ve dealt with it. A clean inbox will allow your brain to focus better.

4 — Unsubscribe to all those newsletters you rarely read or are no longer interested in. Of course, I know that does not include my award winning Biz Growth Tips newsletter!  🙂

5 — Get a high quality spam filter. I use Spam Assassin where I can adjust the settings for filtering out spam. I can also go in and blacklist specific email addresses that might still get through as well as white list specific email addresses I want to be sure not to miss.

6 — Adjust frequency settings. If you’re in multiple Linkedin groups like I am you don’t want to get the discussion news every day. I adjust all of my group settings to send me the news on a weekly basis. This really cut down on a lot of mail right there.

7 — Re-route your mail. If there are emails you don’t read every day, but you don’t want to unsubscribe (like those Linkedin Group discussions) you can reroute specific emails to go straight to a separate mail folders that live on the left column of your inbox. (or depending on what mail server you use just another place other than your main inbox location)

8 — Get another email address. If you have large amounts of emails that you want to reference for later reading or your someday reading consider getting a completely different email address — like a gmail address. That way your brain can focus on skimming only those emails you deem as important daily emails to read. This is another strategy that has cut my main inbox dramatically!

QUESTION: What other strategies have helped you tame your email overload? Please share your ideas in the comment box below.

About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development.  Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com  To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947. 

 

© Copyright 2016

Is Live Chat Software Worth the Cost for Your Business?

Hop onto an ecommerce site these days, and chances are increasingly likely you’ll encounter some form of online chat for the purposes of support and sales. Some businesses even encourage the customer to contact these chat services by initiating pop-ups that urge the customer to talk to the business immediately. These online support options may initially seem appealing, but they also come at a cost. It is up to a business to determine whether a live chat function will truly be helpful to their clientele, or whether it will simply be a drain on their budget.

The Pros

Statistics gathered by a 2012 study by BoldChat paint an interesting picture of the topic. Between 2009 and 2012, the instances of live chatting have grown by around 15 percent. This means, either more users are taking live chat online options, or more companies are offering them. Additionally, 31 percent of the shoppers who completed a live chat say they are more likely to complete a purchase. Further, 21 percent of shoppers stated they prefer live chat over all other communication methods. Email still beats out all communication options at 54 percent. Most users prefer chatting over calling because they get their questions answered quickly. Ninety-four percent of online shoppers say they are ‘very satisfied’ or ‘somewhat satisfied’ with their proactive live chat experience.

Live chatting appears to help bridge the gap between the traditional brick-and-mortar store and online retailers by allowing them access to sales personnel. One of the issues online retailers often have is the inability to push for sales the way a traditional store with floor staff can and the inability to engage customers in conversation. OpenForum.com states Web sites that have chats available sell more, and they have generally happier customers.

Working Within a Budget

Since live chatting provides a clear benefit to many businesses, it becomes more an issue of budget than anything else. However, live chatting also provides certain flexibility to businesses that are working on a budget. Businesses can hold live chats only during operating hours, or it can minimize live chat personnel and allow customers to wait in queue. Businesses can mix live chat personnel with email response teams, so that there is no downtime between the two groups. Live chatting can also be outsourced extremely easily, and this means that the actual hourly wages paid can be lower than a business might first believe. KISSMetrics points out businesses that do a lot of telephone interaction may actually find it saves money with a live chat room, because chat rooms are often much more affordable than telephone communication.

Have you used live chat on a business Web site? How was the experience? Let us know in the comments, and check out more ecommerce tips in our blog here. (4)

About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development.  Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com  To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947. 

 

© Copyright 2016

Stepping off the Ground: Your Next StartUp Biz Step

Every entrepreneur imagines their business concept growing into a successful international company. Global corporations like Apple and Microsoft may have started with big ideas, but they became successful because their founders followed up with solid action. Budding business leaders such as yourself can take some of these steps to transform ambitious ideas and dreams into reality.

You Have the Idea

Brainstorming a new business idea is clearly the first step. Now that you’ve passed this point, it’s time to lay the real groundwork. Make a business plan to outline what you’re going to do, how you intend to do it, and of course, how you’ll make money by doing it. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a great page with plenty of details about all of the things a business plan should contain. Among them are the company overview, market analysis, production and sourcing, financial projections, marketing plans and other essential aspects of business.

Business plans are often required by lenders and investors, but another big reason to write one is for your own benefit. You may be surprised at how many aspects need to be considered. It’s easy to allow some integral business components to fall through the cracks if you begin your startup without developing an organized and detailed plan.

You’ve Got a Business Plan

Now that you have a business plan, it’s time to figure out how to fund your new endeavor. Venture capital, bank loans, SBA loans and even grants can be considered. A small business credit card can offer short-term capital as well as business-friendly rewards.

One of the best ways to get funding is to seem like you don’t need it, according to Forbes. Instead, try asking for advice from potential investors, and make your pitch as you do so. This will make the investor more likely to tell you to go ahead—and provide some funds to allow you to do so.

You Have Funding and Are Ready to Hire Employees

Working for a startup often requires long hours. It is also risky for employees because many startups don’t get to the next stage. Therefore, you need to look for a special breed of person to work with you during this energetic and uncertain time. To find the perfect person, you will need to ditch some of the conventional wisdom.

Instead of seeking people who can answer your questions in the perfect way, have them perform a task for you without direction, suggests The Daily Muse. Look for the person who can actually do the task or who shows the most potential. After all, anyone can learn how to respond to common interviewer questions by reading advice on job sites. You need to find the person who can back it up.

Lose the notion that an advanced college degree always signifies a better candidate. In many cases, eager and energetic young people who have not yet completed their degree are better matches for startups.

This advice is merely the tip of the iceberg as you develop your business from an idea to a profitable company. You’ll find that many steps come naturally as you progress. Be persistent and use your common sense, and you will have a fighting chance of ending up with a successful business.

About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development.  Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com  To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947. 

 

© Copyright 2016

Eliminate the Overwhelm! – Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners

time managementTime is money. Nobody understands this better than a small business owner.  You wear many hats (or worse, all the hats), so there’s never quite enough time to get it all done. You might feel like you’re under an avalanche of never ending to-do’s that all scream NOW leaving you feeling overwhelmed, stressed and discouraged.

Time can be both an asset and a liability. If you keep your head down and utilize your time to the fullest, you can leap over your competition. If you delegate responsibilities poorly and don’t think your business activities through wisely, time can become your worst enemy

There is a middle ground – one that promises a good return on your efforts and leaves you with enough breathing space to attend to personal commitments. Time management – a phrase we hear so often but don’t always know what to make of.

How can you manage time and make the most of it, so you can get the right things done in your business to quickly grow the business? Here are 4 time management tips for small business owners:

1. Segment your tasks each day on a calendar.

Get an estimate of how much time you spend online, exclusively on your company website, at your storefront, on your mobile phone, in administrative tasks and employee-related responsibilities and map them out onto a calendar week.  It’s also easier to see how your tasks are segmented if you color code them right on your calendar.  (more…)

4 Small Business Planning Tips to Increase Profits

How’s your business going? If you were asked this question would you know at any moment whether profits are up or down? Would you know by what percentage or by what amount your profits have increased or decreased? Why should you care to know these answers?
Because not knowing is costing you time and money. Why spend all year chasing business that’s actually costing your more than it’s helping your bottom line?
If you don’t know, you’re not alone. The harsh truth however is you should know. Why most entrepreneurs don’t know is that they aren’t working on the business regularly to do the critical small business planning. The good news is these steps are not things you have to do every week or month. You can do these steps just once a year, but make sure you refer to the plan throughout the year. (more…)

Why Entrepreneurs Procrastinate & How to Overcome It!

Remember the time you decided to take a 15 minute coffee break from work and sat down reading a newspaper in the cafeteria? Later on you got up feeling very well informed about current affairs but realized an hour had passed and you had to rush back to your desk to complete the tasks on your to-do list. Or the time you decided to clean your drawers on a weekday to search for a piece of paper and ended up redecorating the entire room with your son?

While both these exercises may appear fruitful at first, in practical terms they are not. The mark of an intelligent and result oriented person is discipline, and not just getting things done – but getting the ‘right’ things done. You might actually be a victim of procrastination. (more…)