Archive | June, 2011

Weed out your Business and Increase Productivity!

 Increase Business Productivity by Weeding!


While most economists agree that the worst of the recession is now over, many small businesses are still reeling from its effects. If you have been fortunate to survive the latest downturn, your business’ productivity may still not be where you would like it to be. Ready or not, change has come to the business world and to be ready for the pending upswing of business, it is time to start weeding out the unnecessary things.

Find the Weeds to Pull

You may already realize that your overhead is too high or that expenses are reaching well above your income level. To help bring these expenses down, a little pulling of the weeds may be needed. Just like with your garden, the biggest problem with weeding your business is determining what is a weed and what is a flower. To help you with this, start asking yourself “What if your business went without …..?”. You can fill in the blank with any number of things in your business like, supplies, vendors, supplies and employees.

The most difficult one of these issues to deal with is employees because no one likes to eliminate jobs but sometimes it is necessary. New technology has allowed employers to get more work done with less employees. For example, new applicant tracking software can cut down the workload by creating an efficient method for recruiting and hiring new employees. This helps businesses hire the right people without needing the large amount of staff hours.

Grass Can Grow, Once the Weeds are Gone

If you do not take care of your grass properly, the weeds can choke the grass and take over your lawn. This can be true for your business too, if you do not take care of it properly. Holding on to unnecessary things will only crowd out your business, tie up resources and prevent your business from growing. A business, whose weeds have been pulled, is able to grow and flourish as it should.

No one likes to weed, but once it is done it provides a beautiful lawn. This process of eliminating things, especially jobs is difficult but necessary if you want your business to succeed. Take your time to ensure that you pull out only weeds and leave the grass behind because once it is completed your business can be even more successful. In just a short time, the economy will be on its way back up and if you want your business to be ready, now is the time to start pulling the weeds.


Another aspect of increased productivity in your business is considering cloud storage. Up Next: “Is iCloud any Different than MobileME?”
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How to Stay Positive & Productive -Chase Smith (Guest Author)

Staying Positive & Productive at Work

Work is… well, work, and sometimes it’s not the most fun in the world. Sometimes you might feel bogged down by tedious activities or by a lack of recognition. Whatever the reason, here are a few tips you can use to keep yourself motivated, happy, and productive.

Be the Change:

It’s easy to go along with the crowd, and often the crowd at work is pretty negative. Studies show that people who frequently socialize with people who are unhappy or depressed often become unhappy or depressed themselves. Instead of getting caught up in the moaning and complaining, put a smile on and bring some positivity to the conversation. Are you enjoying a particular aspect of your work that day? Did you enjoy a success for which you can dole out credit and praise? Share it, and help the people around you be happier. This will cultivate a more positive environment, making it progressively easier for you to feel happy, too.

Take Your Breaks:

Although your boss might be impressed if you sit in your desk through lunch and never stop working, he might be less impressed when he sees the volume of work you’ve accomplished. Why not make him happy with the quality and amount of work you can pull off when you take your fifteen? Taking short, planned breaks boosts productivity and focus, and more than makes up for the five minutes you take to stretch your legs.

Engage in the Light-Hearted:

Sometimes the office doldrums are the worst part of a job. Everyone’s in their desks, silently plodding away in the corporate machine, and you can hear the water cooler running. Imagine how it would lighten the mood if you suddenly decided to lob a marshmallow over the cubicle wall. At worst, you’ll get a weird look and a chance to share your sunny disposition, which, truth be told, is infectious! When people see another person smile, it actually releases chemicals into their brain which make them feel happier. Plus, you get benefits, too-when you smile, your mind assumes that you must be happy, and so you feel happier, too. Backwards? It seems like it. But it works!

Organize Yourself:

There is nothing more stressful than scrambling for your presentation notes fifteen minutes before a meeting. Plus, you know that’s not the best way to climb the corporate ladder, either. Get a system: invest in or request a filing box, organize your virtual file folders, and keep your day planner up to date. Don’t ever be put in a position where you have to wonder if you have an appointment now or at three o’clock. Not only will being organized reduce your stress and improve your mood, it will increase your productivity by reducing the amount of time you spend searching for things or trying to remember important events.

Keep Trying:

Regardless of what you do, there will be days when you fail. But don’t let that knowledge keep you from learning from your mistakes and persevering to overcome obstacles. Most companies don’t expect that their employees will never make mistakes; rather, they expect that their employees will learn from their errors. It is important that you accept what has happened and create a plan of action to do better in the future. Not only will this impress your boss, but the satisfaction of achieving a goal will lend you a good mood and improved confidence, which will help you feel more satisfied in your work and be more productive.

Overall, try to keep a positive attitude about your work. See the silver lining, smile, and make the best of whatever you’re given. Keep learning, and focus on your successes. The combination of all these things will make you a happy and productive person.

About the Author:

Chase Smith is a freelance consultant for personal productivity and blogger. focuses on a variety of ways to increase your productivity. Methods such as Pomorodo Technique, Results Curve combined with today’s mobile & cloud based applications.

Now that you are staying positive and productive, Up Next “Weeding Out Your Business to Increase Productivity”

Keeping Your Intellectual Capital & Utilizing Your Older Staff

 Retaining Intellectual Capital and Seasoned Staff

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The aging work force of America has grown in recent years, and this has made a huge impact on businesses. As large numbers of baby boomers are retiring, the amount of intellectual capital that businesses have is shrinking. Although underestimated, intellectual capital has the knowledge and skills that younger workers may not have or have overlooked. These workers have the technical skills, the background knowledge of the industry or company, and the knowledge of the history and evolution of a product or service. These workers carry with them valuable information and maintain valuable contacts that are essential to a business.

In this budget conscious time, employers are laying off or giving early retirement to those who make the most: the intellectual capital. Without intending to, these companies are ridding themselves of their most valuable asset. Some experts have nicknamed this as “brain drain” or “knowledge collapse”. Although in the short-term the company will save capital by replacing high salaries with lower entry salaries, the long-term effects are costly and potentially devastating. Imagine the top sales rep leaving with all of his contacts and relationships, and a new sales rep stepping in to take over. With no knowledge of the personal relationships, this could be a disaster. Many retirees do not take the time to write down everything they know to pass along to the next guy. Additionally, the number of people entering the work force is significantly lower than those retiring, which can cause a long-term money drain on a company. With fewer candidates, higher salaries can be demanded with large sign-on bonuses. Very soon it becomes clear that it would have been less costly to keep the older employees rather than forcing early retirement.

Using What You Have

As an employer, it can be confusing in how to handle this shift in employees. Several options are available for employers to help ease this transitional period without causing damage to the company.

Most importantly, employers need to analyze what information needs to be passed to the new employees. Organizing this information in an easy to use database, preferably searchable, will ensure that all employees can access what they need quickly, without frustration. Although this seems simple, keep in mind that employees sometimes keep knowledge to themselves to remain valuable to the company. The mindset is if you are the only employee that knows how to do something, you are less likely to be downsized. It is vital to ask yourself if you reward your employees for sharing, or do you run a more private information shop. Leaning to the information sharing route will make this transition relatively easy.

It is also important to periodically review your existing situation and analyze if you are ready for anyone critical to the operation to leave. How long will replacing that person take? Does that person hold the information vital to your organization to themselves or is it readily available? Those are a few of the questions to ask before making a plan.

Not To Overlook

  • Baby boomers are changing the face of retirement. Many boomers plan on working through their retirement, whether it be full-time or part-time. As an employer, look at retaining some of these workers, or even recruiting them for part-time positions.
  • Analyze your workplace culture. Are the efforts of your older workers rewarded, do they get projects, are they treated fairly in comparison with the younger workers? Be sure to not engage in age discrimination, even unintentionally.
  • Flexibility is the key to retention. Many retirees want to continue to work, but do not want the long hours or rigid time constraints. Try new schedules or ideas with these boomers to keep them on your team.

Phased retirements are an attractive option for both employees and employers. Consider taking on some of the retirees as contractors, giving them the freedom to work with flexibility and less pressure. Restructuring, such as flex time employees or job sharing can offer retirees another option. This also can help keep young talent with your company as well. If a company shows that they are willing to work with their situations, the talent will be more likely to stay with that company. Another option is to offer your part-time retirees benefits. Many are willing to take lower salaries in exchange for better benefits.

Other Ways to Succeed:

  • Make a plan for those potential retirees. Find ways to offer them a plan that will retain the information and the employees themselves on terms that work for everyone.
  • Actually run the numbers and figure out which is more beneficial to the company: keeping an older employee or hiring a new one. Be sure to include all factors.
  • Recognize that a wide range of ages in your workforce means diversity.
  • Acknowledge all factors in aging. Everyone’s personal aging is different based on their circumstances, and thus some older workers are in better health than younger ones and take less days off for their health.
  • Allow older workers to engage in training sessions. Let them teach when appropriate, and if not appropriate, have them train with the younger staff. Refresher courses never hurt!
  • When creating teams, put younger and older workers together to allow sharing of knowledge.
  • Make the workplace friendly for the aging, keeping in mind that aging sometimes means hearing and vision changes. Also keep in mind that joint and back problems can be prevalent in aging, so provide ergonomic furniture and workspaces.
  • When recruiting older persons for volunteer positions, give them duties relative to their talents. Don’t just have them answering phones, give them leadership roles as well.
  • Find agencies that can help employ aging workers and can allow businesses to circumnavigate the tangled rules of Social Security and Retirement Acts.

With the retirement of so many baby boomers, businesses need to be aware of strategies to retain the intellectual capital needed. Long-term effects must be examined in order to view the whole picture of what impact these losses can create. Keep in mind that passing the office to the younger workers does not necessarily mean that the knowledge is passed as well. Using the above strategies can help retain the intellectual capital of businesses and be a major factor in the betterment of the economy.

Up Next is a guest article by Chase Smith of “How to Stay Positive& Productive”
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Cutting Your Overhead with Open Source IT Solutions

 How to Cut Your Overhead with Open Source!

Different businesses can vary greatly in size, type, and sector, but they all share a common goal: to maximize the bottom line. One step towards achieving this goal is to cut your information technology overhead by employing open source software.

The IT requirements of most businesses are steadily growing and meeting these requirements is a necessary part of being successful. This does not come cheap. With hardware, software, and licensing, IT is typically a significant source of overhead. Although you cannot cut IT entirely, there is something you can do that may drastically decrease the associated overhead.

Open source software has been quietly taking the business world by storm. Small businesses and big businesses alike are reaping the benefits from switching to open source software for some or all of their IT solutions. Even technology giants, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft use open source software to power parts of their IT infrastructure.

Open source software is created by a community of developers who believe passionately in creating quality software. Open source software can do virtually everything that non-open source software can do and in many case are better, more efficient, and more secure. And that is not even the best part; open source software is is totally free.

We will take a look at a few options where you can fit open source software into your infrastructure and start cutting your costs today.

Open Source Solutions for Workstations

First and foremost, you should consider changing the operating system on your workstations to an open source alternative. The de facto standard for operating systems is Linux.

Several organizations offer different distributions of Linux, but two of the most popular distributions are from Red Hat and Ubuntu. Both of these organizations offer free packages specifically tailored for business workstations and make installing everything you need to get started as easy as popping in a CD.

Taking the plunge into an open source operating system has several benefits. The most obvious is completely eliminating the licensing fees for proprietary operating systems. A less obvious benefit is an increase in the security of sensitive information.

Touted as the most secure operating system available by security professionals, running Linux can significantly decrease the probability of being hacked or infected by malware. This, in turn, reduces the chance of a potentially business-cripping situation.

WINE, which stands for Wine is not an Emulator, is a handy open source application. As the name implies, it does not emulate Windows, but it does allow you to run a huge number of Windows applications on Linux. This is quite useful if you have a legacy Windows application that your business relies on. If this is the case, do not let it hold you back from making the switch before you determine if WINE will run your application.

Whether you change operating systems or not, there are open source versions of most productivity tools. Open Office is a free word processor that is compatible with Microsoft Word. Does your business employ digital artists using Photoshop in their pipeline? Check out the Gimp, an open source alternative with a similar interface and feature set to Photoshop. Almost all popular office applications have open source alternatives and using them will reduce your IT overhead.

Open Source Solutions for Servers

If you host your own web server or web service, do not worry, there are open source alternatives here as well. Apache is the most popular open source web server available. In fact, not only does it do everything that proprietary web servers can do, but it holds the largest part of market share out of all web servers available today.

If you need to share files across your business network, Samba is an open source file server similar to Microsoft Windows Server. For hosting your own email services with something like Microsoft Exchange, look no further than Zimbra, a mail server and client, with all the features found in Outlook and Exchange.

Whether your company is in the business of technology or not, IT is most likely an integral part of your track to success. Stay ahead of the pack, and cut your overhead at the same time by taking advantage of open source alternatives to your current IT solutions.

Open Source is an excellent way to reduce overhead. But, change can cause a loss of seasoned staff. Up Next: “Keeping Your Intellectual Capital”

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