The rise of technology brings benefits and challenges when you run a small organisation or business – be that just you or a small collective. It enables us to do so much more, communicate further and reach new audiences. But it also comes with an ‘expectation’ of being always on and available 24/7 to everyone.
Sometimes it’s more efficient to spend a little time here or there engaging with technology rather than do it all every day, other times you may feel better breaking it up to ‘stay on top’. It is mostly down to your individual style, but there are some top tips worth trying when considering the challenges that may face you, here’s five:
1. Challenge: Social media takes time
Benefit of social media: It affords you the opportunity to really consider the story behind your business/organisation and engage directly with your audience. Showing what happens behind the scenes and giving a good persona adds a lot more value than just sales posts – in a very cost effective way!
Possible solution: Use a scheduling app like TweetDeck or Buffer to post throughout the week; allowing you to block in once or twice a week to sit and create the content needed.
Caveat: Social media is also about responsiveness and engaging with other users’ content – so you should still find a way to do that regularly, but underpinning this with regular story based posts is great for consistent and regular posting.
2. Challenge: Emails are always pinging up
Benefit of emails: A real quick way to communicate and send files, especially on the move when you’re travelling.
Possible solution: Try using just webmail when in the office rather than a desktop programme that can send notifications. When working from your phone, try using a different mail app for work emails vs personal ones. Combined with your own settings (fetch emails manually rather than push) means you can control when you see your work emails, even when checking on your latest shopping order.
3. Challenge: People leave voicemails on a phone you’re not going to be near for a while, or on your personal phone whilst you’re away
Benefit of phones: It’s a great way to communicate, and if you’re interested in making local contacts there’s still credit given to those with a local number. Don’t just rely on emails or a website contact form, chatting by phone can bring quicker clarity over the needs of a potential customer, partner or audience member.
Possible solution: Use a phone system which means you don’t have to give out your personal number, and one that emails you the recording to listen to at a time that suits you. This feature is commonly known as VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), or ‘Virtual Phones’. There are many VOIP providers out there available on your favourite search engine, such as Dial 9 (We may get a small reward if you use this link and create an account”) or from our existing technical partners through Cloud Tele – who may give you and us a discount/reward when mentioning Voice.
On services like those offered by these companies above, you can have a ‘landline’ number which redirects to your mobile or phone installed on your desk, computer or mobile and set it to go to voicemail automatically at certain times or when you’re not available, having it emailed to you, and/or someone else if you’re away.
4. Challenge: People want answers on their own time
Benefit of technology: Having information on channels they might use will help even if you’re not working. A lot of people expect to access key information when they want it, such as hourly prices of studio hire, or the cost of a wedding photography package for example.
Possible solutions: Have an FAQ page on your website which you can point people to through auto responders on Facebook Messenger or your email.
Another is whether you can answer regular questions by phone and have them put on a simple menu? For example, if you’re closed but and someone rings up, can you offer a customer the ability to ‘press 1’ to hear your opening times or answers to common questions like a deadline for ordering something needed for an upcoming holiday (see the above VOIP phones).
5. Challenge: Your own team needs access to your personal knowledge to keep things running when you’re not around
Benefits of shared documents: Pretty simple. Easy access, collaboration and less time asking ‘what or where is x?’. Allowing you to get sleep, take time off, or simply make your small organisation or work with partners more efficient.
Possible solution: Put the key information in a shared Dropbox, Google Drive or Evernote. You could create categories of information, folders for each project or make them all easily searchable. Keep access controls good and information secure, whilst sharing information needed.
What challenges do you face in running a small business, organisation or as a freelancer? Comment or message us via email/social media and we’ll see what tips we can get you. Do also take a look at our guide on being a self-employed creative for more tips on operating a business, or this write-up of tips from PLASA 2018 which might help you be more productive with time hacks.