Author Archives: kcrossland

About kcrossland

Kimberly has a passion for small business, entrepreneurship, technology and writing.

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

Lesson Learned From Steve Jobs: People Before Products

People before product. This is an important lesson taught by Steve Jobs who passed away Wednesday, October 5.

Steve Jobs created a culture of innovation.

His attitude of putting the customer and people first, changed the way we communicate today not only on a personal level but also on a business level.

The needs of consumers are what drove product development. By listening to what it was people wanted, Apple was able to deliver products that would exceed expectations.

This strategy is one that led to enhanced business innovation. 

Through the advancement of computers, smartphones and tablets, society has become more agile.  Business is able to be done in real time and teams are now meeting virtually, or in the cloud. Collaboration is changed by the ability to reach out to colleagues and make decisions from locations other than places with a ceiling and four walls.

People are benefiting dramatically from this mobility. Moms can now work from home and still be home with their children. Businesses reduce costs by cutting unnecessary overhead. And society benefits from the fewer cars on the road by eliminating the commute to and from the office.

With the development of mobile devices, came the development of cloud technology, which further led businesses to be able to be mobile. 

In the first generation of this cloud technology, solutions were innovated to solve specific business needs, such as document sharing or web/video conferencing. From something as simple as putting email on a smartphone, or as advanced as being able to see a web/video conference on their tablet while in an airport, solutions popped up for these revolutionary devices. And again, the nature in which we do business changed.

The need for these solutions were great, but with such a variety of single solution offerings, businesses were encountered with a new problem of administrative headaches from multiple programs and bills to manage. And innovators listened. Following the strategy of Steve Jobs, people, again, came before products.

The development of the next generation of solutions that will make doing business easier is almost here, and businesses will soon be able to get back to what they do best.

[tubepress mode="tag" tagValue="steve jobs"]

Staying Innovative as a One Man Operation

Staying Innovative When You’re A One Man Operation

How to Stay Innovative When You’re A One Man Operation

With the economy down and unemployment numbers high, many have chosen to take the opportunity to start their own business as a one man operation.

This is an exciting step, but it comes with some challenges. How do you motivate yourself daily to work from home? And who do you turn to when you need to brainstorm your next business move?

Here are 5 tips to help the one man operation stay innovative and leading edge:

1.  Get out and network

It can be tempting to stay at home doing what you know how to do best, but it’s easy to fall into a rut. Break away from the comfort zone of your desk and computer, and get out in the world to meet new people. It will give you fresh inspiration and a new mindset when you go to work the next morning.

2. Take advantage of your existing network

People like to express their opinions. Don’t be shy about approaching your network of family and friends to bounce ideas around or ask their opinion about what you should do next. Many times, they will welcome the idea and be flattered you were interested in what they had to offer.

3. Use online forums

Online forums are a great way to see what people in your industry are saying and keep atop of the latest innovations. By being active in these forums, you also get an opportunity to promote your business and make new connections.

4. Talk to past co-workers

You used to work with your colleagues on a professional basis, so most of them will be ready to continue discussing with you professionally. It is a good time to develop on that trust they have in you as a professional and promote your new business. Just because you are no longer with that company does not mean you cannot extend an olive branch and work with past co-workers in other ways.

5. Break outside the box

Don’t limit yourself to only talking about business with people inside your industry. By learning about other industries you may find ideas you had never thought possible and bring some fresh insight into your industry with new approaches and communications.

Make it easy for people to share and even easier for you to store these ideas with online collaboration tools. By storing information in the cloud, your new connections, existing network or past colleagues can give you their two cents whenever it is convenient for them, making you more likely to receive feedback. Likewise, their ideas are automatically stored for you online so you can access them anytime and anywhere.

Networking Online, One Man Operation

Home Office Productivity Tips

Productivity Tips While Working From Home

Productivity Tips While Working From Your Home-Based Business: According to Census data, in 2008 almost six million people called their home their primary place of work. And this number has continued to grow. In fact, more companies are using telecommuting as an incentive. Many large firms, such as IBM and Boeing, have even reported seeing increased productivity by letting their employees telecommute.

But with a flexible work schedule and no one peering over your shoulder, it can sometimes be difficult to stay on track.

Here are a few productivity tips to help you while working from home:

Schedule your day

Make a plan for yourself to help you visualize how you want your day to go. This will help keep you on track if you start to slip, and it will let you review your goals for what you want to have accomplished by the end of the day.

Have a home office

Designate where you will be working. Your office does not have to look like a typical office space, but it does have to be an area where you feel comfortable and can be free from distraction.  When you are in that space, you know you will be working and that mindset alone will make you more productive.

Set regular hours

Don’t wait for inspiration to hit to start working. Define the times you will be working, and you will force yourself to start your day at a time when you can be productive. Some of us are night owls, and some of us are early birds. Whenever you are most creative is when you should plan to schedule your work day.

Unplug any distractions

Cell phones, TVs, social networks — these are all distractions and can quickly sink our productivity if we don’t shut them off once in a while. When you have a big project, don’t be afraid to seclude yourself and eliminate your distractions. You will get your work done faster and at a higher quality. Force yourself to focus for at least 15 minutes, and you will be surprised how much more you can accomplish.

Give yourself a break

Even though you’re working from home, let yourself take breaks. Go outside and get some air for about 10 minutes and refresh your mindset. Mental breaks are necessary for maintaining productivity.

Make your work schedule public

One benefit of working from home is the close proximity to your family. However, it is important to let your family know when you are “at work.”  It is easy for children to not realize the importance of needing to focus when you are deep in thought on a project. Letting them know you are working and not to interrupt you will let you focus on the important tasks at hand.

Dress for success

Let’s face it. Our mindset is different when we are conducting meetings or trying to do business in our pajamas. The way we dress reflects the way we feel, so it is important we are dressing the part. Have a routine each morning that gets you up, out of bed, awake and ready for the day, just as you would if you were driving to an office building. This will help you become more mentally alert and ready to work.

Stay social

Take advantage of the perk of telecommuting and use the extra time saved on the drive to socialize. Because you won’t have your team in front of you to chat with over the water cooler, it is important to still get out and touch base with the outside world. Schedule breakfast or lunch meetings with an influential person and get yourself out of the house. Even though it may seem these are taking away from your work, you never know which doors these meetings will open for your business, and this can be more productive in the long run.

Set goals

When you define what you want to accomplish in a day, week or month, you have a clear end in sight. With goals, you automatically help focus your mindset each day on what needs to be accomplished to reach your goals. Short- and long-term goal setting is crucial to any business person, and it is even more important when working individually. Write them down, review them each morning and get to work accomplishing what you want.

Take advantage of your telecommuting

Use extra time that you earn by telecommuting for your community, your family or yourself. Take part in a charity event, take your kids to the park, or hit the gym more often. No matter what you use your extra time for, taking advantage of this perk will let you appreciate the ability to work from home and you in turn will work harder to continue having the advantage of being able to keep your home office.

Competitive Advantage, Business

How To Have A Competitive Advantage In Business

We are currently experiencing one of the most disruptive technological revolutions in 30 years.  This change is advancing the way we do business, and with it is requiring businesses to change the way they compete in order to have a competitive advantage.

The ability to be flexible is what will make you soar above your competition and succeed.

New Technology

The cloud is changing everything, yet many have not heard about it, or if they have, do not really know what it means to them.

To put it simply, the cloud lets us compute on demand.  It has taken away physical restrictions and advanced the capabilities of what we can do with our smartphones, tablets and PCs.  Now, we are becoming more connected than ever before.  The idea that the PC is the sole place to store our digital lives is no longer accurate, and now we can connect and store everything “in the cloud.”

With the cloud, we are able to enhance our communications and work together easier and faster at a lower cost.  And when put that way, it’s easy to see why this is taking the world by storm.

New Competitive Advantage

With this extreme shift in how we do business, companies have to adapt.

Flexibility is now a consumer expectation.  To stay competitive, businesses must have the right tools in place to meet the new demands from their customers.

Competitive advantages set companies apart and are the determining factors in why customers choose them over other services available.  A competitive advantage, in the old sense of the term, used to be a specific product feature or offer that only a specific company could deliver. Now, with the shift in technology, the competitive advantage of many companies is their ability to be flexible and adapt to their consumers’ needs quickly and easily.

New Service

Software companies are not ignoring this revolution.  Instead, they are taking advantage of it and offering more to businesses so that they can in turn increase their ability to serve client needs.

New communication tools allow companies to increase their competitive advantage and become more flexible than ever before.  Now, businesses will have a place in the cloud where they can connect with their clients and maintain deeper relationships.  They can create loyalty and enhance their service with easy-to-implement tools.

When looking for a software tool to aid adaptability, it is important to find a solution that does not require extensive setup or transition time.  Solutions that include multiple collaboration features in one place are ideal for small businesses as they are easier to use and generally less expensive.

Companies who fail to begin using these new cloud solutions will have difficulty surviving in the current economic climate.   However, those firms who adapt to this shift in how we do business will be successful and have the tools to thrive!