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7 Tools To Help You Build And Automate Your Online Business

7 Tools To Help You Build And Automate Your Online Business

Online businesses can be ideal for passive income, once you get them up and running. One of the keys to making your online business successful is to make sure that as many details as possible run on their own; you don’t need to touch them every day. You can do this through delegation, if you’re a large enough organization, but many online businesses are made as lean as possible.

These seven tools will help you manage your online business while keeping your time focused on the important parts of managing your company.

Make marketing campaigns happen on time

When you’re setting up a marketing campaigns, we often suggest that you create an editorial calendar to make sure you’re not repeating yourself, and you’re covering topics in a timely fashion. Hootsuite both lets you schedule your posts for the key moment in the future to make a maximum impact, and lets you track the effect of your posts across your networks.

You can add many of the most popular networks to your dashboard, allowing you to spread your posts quickly and easily without logging in and out of everything. You may also be able to avoid getting distracted by last night’s live tweeting of your favorite show.

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Send high-quality email newsletters with minimum workload

One key in the modern era of blogs and social media is to make sure that you have access to as much of your contact list as possible. Facebook has repeatedly shown its willingness to change algorithms to make it more difficult for businesses to reach their followers. Enter Mailchimp, a great newsletter tool that allows you to access your mailing list at any time.

You can design graphic newsletters, more simple text based ones, or something in between, and when the next big social network arrives, you can easily invite your followers to join you there as well!

Events planning and registration

If your company organizes events for customers or signs people up for online seminars or classes, keeping events running smoothly can be a trial. Events Planner helps. Integrating seamlessly into your WordPress design, the plug-in lets you manage an unlimited number of events.

You can offer both individual and group registrations, see a list of attendees, send email reminders and offer discounts. You can set up your registration forms in any way you need to. You can accept a wide variety of payment types and create discounts as necessary. Plan your training and then let Events Planner collect fees and remind everyone to attend on time.

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Distribute document templates easily and seamlessly

For many businesses, branding of documents is an important element of presenting a consistent message to the world outside your company. Businesses often struggle when a template is updated, finding that people have old copies saved on their computers, or that someone can’t access the right network folder.

With Templafy, you upload a document template once, and everyone in your organization seamlessly accesses it. Problems solved. Anywhere your employees can access the Internet, they have the templates they need to do their work.

Eliminate in-office email with a team messaging app

How much time do you lose in a day to inter-office mail? If you need to quickly communicate with coworkers, a team messaging app can be much more efficient. Slack lets businesses organize their conversations around channels, making them easy to follow. Sorting through information at a later date is easier. Private channels can be created for more sensitive topics, and you can even private message someone for a quick one-on-one conversation. You can also easily share files through this platform.

Private channels can be created for more sensitive topics and you can even private message someone for a quick one-on-one conversation. You can also easily share files through this platform.

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Checking your email can easily become a frustrating time-suck, while using team-messaging keeps users more on task and focused on the moment.

Innovative printed products to offer as freebies

Many companies focus on giving away items at trade shows, prizes online, or with orders of a certain size. It can be difficult to know what types of freebies will give you the biggest boost for your buck, but if you can dream it, odds are The Printful can make it. From posters to leggings, their options are incredible. And if you want to make your company logo into a sideline business instead of a freebie, the site can even help you set up an online shop where you can sell your designs. You can also create mockups on the site which you can then use for your own marketing.

And if you want to make your company logo into a sideline business instead of a freebie, the site can even help you set up an online shop where you can sell your designs. You can also create mockups on the site which you can then use for your own marketing.

Generate leads and improve sales options

For many businesses, Salesforce is considered one of the most involved ways of automatic different aspects of following up on sales leads, tracking the sales funnel and determining what’s working and what isn’t. As one of the most expansive customer relationship management (CRM) programs available, Salesforce is accessed entirely through the Internet.

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This lets employees do their work anywhere, they have an Internet connection, inside or outside of the office. It is most well-known for its sales modules, allowing users to track opportunities and manage contacts from all over, but there are also available modules for marketing, analytics and service.

The software is also so well-known now that some companies can custom design modules to work with the Salesforce CRM, allowing for ultimate customization. Businesses pay based on the number of users accessing the app and the program is generally agreed to scale well with business size.

Business owners have a lot on their plate. They need to manage the overall business, create marketing strategies, delegate tasks and make sure everything runs smoothly.

Especially if a business is just getting off the ground, CEOs tend to wear many different hats. By automating whatever they can, they free up their time to focus on the really crucial business tasks, instead of posting social media updates and making sure that all the computers in the office have up to date forms, and of course, these are just a few of the available tools to help your business move to the next level.

What tools have you used for your business to improve the company environment and push things into a higher gear?

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Margarita Hakobyan

MBA from the University of Utah

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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