Remote working – “The new norm”

SmartAssistant Work remotelyWe all know what working is – waking up in the morning, getting ready, getting in your car, sitting in traffic, and getting to the office, where you sit for 8-9 hours until you sit in traffic again and head home.

However, this ritual of normality has changed drastically since March 2020 when the world fell victim to Covid-19, and most countries went into lockdowns and complete economic shutdowns.

Thinking these lockdowns would only be in effect for a couple of weeks, most people saw it as an extended vacation, but when lockdown seemed to be continuing with no end in sight, we couldn’t afford for businesses not to operate, in fear of an economic collapse, and thus, remote working was born and has since become the new norm.

Thankfully we had the internet, the devices, the tools, and the software we needed to make it a possibility. Using our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers, we were able to use things like cloud storage, online meeting tools, digital signatures, and remote communication to almost seamlessly adapt our offices to our homes.

Over a year later, the lockdowns have proven effective and life has almost returned to normal. One thing to notice though, is that most businesses are still making use of, and even encouraging working remotely, due to the savings on costs for both employees and employers, the increased productivity, and just how easy it is to do most (definitely not all) jobs remotely.

From being able to share documents, collaborate, and communicate through software like Google Workspace formally known as G-Suite, to being able to send, receive and sign legally binding documents through digital signatures and electronic forms, like those offered by Conclude, and even being able to have team meetings through Google Meet or Zoom it couldn’t be easier.

We’ve all heard the saying “home away from home”, now is the era of “office out of office”.

 

Contact us for more info!

 

 

Adapt Your Business to Social Distancing

We’ve all had to make some immense changes to our lives since the start of 2020. It may not have been Armageddon, but it was certainly the end of life as we knew it. From a complete economic shutdown to multiple levels of lockdown and different restrictions, the changes we had to make came both personally and within business.

The most common defence that we have, is social distancing – which is simple enough in low populated areas but can be a bit difficult when you are in a place of business, where you need to house employees and customers.

Thankfully there are some ways that you can adapt your business to social distancing, and we’re here to help you with that.

Firstly, you need to keep note of the space available at your place of business. Try to ensure there is enough space available to allow people to maintain 1-2 meter distance whenever possible. Then, you can also limit the amount of people on the premises, at any given time – do your best to keep the occupancy at around 50%.

Give employees ample space to work, be comfortable and keep distance. Move desks, chairs and working areas apart from one another, as much as possible. Creating markings on the floor to display distance markers for customers, allows them to easily adhere to social distancing protocols.

Lastly, and probably the safest measure you can take to adapt your business to social distancing, is implementing means and measures to allow employees to work remotely from home, and if possible, allow customers to deal with your business/employees remotely or online. This will ensure minimal contact between people and is by far the most efficient way to adhere to social distancing.

Through software like online meeting tools, instant messaging and ecommerce websites, it is easier than ever for business to function online, without the need for human contact – of course there are still certain things that require face-to-face meetings, but reducing these needs will keep you, your business, your employees and your customers a lot safer during difficult times. Ensuring that when the difficult times are over, you still have a lasting relationship with your customers.

What 

What is Digital Marketing?

We all know what marketing is, any business that wants to succeed needs to engage in marketing to create awareness, bring in new clients and ensure that existing clients return.
A lot of marketing used to take place by means of face-to-face engagements, billboards, and posters, magazines, and newspapers, handing out pamphlets and relying on word of mouth.
While these marketing techniques were trusted and reliable, they took a lot of time, energy, effort, and a lot of resources, only for them to return delayed or minimal results, but they were the only means to get the marketing done, so it was an investment worth making.

Bigger companies were able to utilise radio and TV for marketing campaigns and their reach was unparalleled, but they cost an exorbitant amount of money, so it would not be viable for smaller or newer companies to pursue these avenues, even if the message is widely received at a single moment.

This is where the revolution of Digital Marketing has somewhat leveled the playing field.

Digital Marketing is defined as the use of online-based digital tools to promote your product, brand, business, or service. Digital Marketing can include the use of email, social media, blogs, and websites as your platforms for marketing.

Having a website where people can find the information they need about your business or product is vital, and plays a big role in the trust factor for online users. Not only that but it is the most accessible point of your online presence and acts as a hub to all your other online platforms.

Using social media and blog posts allow you to advertise on the spot, creating informative and entertaining content for clients and potential clients to interact with you, and provide valuable feedback you can use to improve and continue building.

Blogs are used for more informative updates, while social media is more for the entertainment and interactive parts. Both are very useful based on the number of users actively using these platforms on a daily basis.

Email/SMS/MMS marketing is extremely useful and cost-effective for its purpose. They allow you to market to a mass audience, in one go, at little to no cost at all, using Email Service Providers, you are able to advertise and market a message or even do an entire automated campaign to hundreds, if not thousands of users very easily.

So, in essence, Digital Marketing is a new era, utilising the digital platform and tools available thanks to the advancements of technology, and easily marketing to potentially millions of people in a fast, cheap, and effective way.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation” is one of those terms that people bandy about so often you feel as though you should know what it means. At the same time, it’s used so broadly that it seems almost meaningless! 

So,  what is it really about?

In short, digital transformation is the process of transforming businesses utilising digital technology – replacing manual processes with digital processes or replacing older digital technology with newer digital technology.

Why is digital transformation important for your business

Whether you are a small one-person business or a large enterprise, digital transformation is a “must-do”. 

You could even argue that digital transformation is even more critical for small businesses because it will reduce the time, resources and costs associated with labour-intensive manual work!

Read more…

Digital transformation is a big topic. To make navigating your way through it a bit easier, we have curated a list of online resources where you can learn more: 

The Nine Elements of Digital Transformation

A Framework for Digital Business Transformation

Six Stages of Digital Transformation

A Step-By-Step Guide to Digital Transformation

For example:

  • Digitising your business processes enables the kind of tracking tools that will help you monitor and improve service delivery, overall customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
  • Implementing electronic signatures will simplify your documentation and approval processes in a secure and legally binding manner. 
  • Digital marketing allows you to reach a larger audience at a lower cost while collecting valuable data and analytics about your campaign and target market.
  • An online store or makes it easier for customers to buy from you and has the added benefit of allowing you to track customer purchasing patterns.

Getting started: Common practices

In a post-COVID world, all businesses must adapt to how business has changed or risk falling their competitors who have embraced the “new normal”.

Digital transformation will be different for each business and the different challenges, demands and processes they face. However, some common practices provide a basic framework for how to approach digital transformation.  

As a starting point, you will want to consider in which areas of your business digitisation can help you:

  • Improve customer experience, 
  • Enhance operational agility, 
  • Empower and enable your team, and 
  • Integrate systems and processes.  

To sum up, digital transformation uses technology to improve or replace processes, increase efficiency and enables organisations to keep up with trends in a fast-paced, ever-changing digital world.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you digitally transform your business, why don’t you get in touch?

 

 

Know your buzzwords: what is Web 3.0?

ioT - Thing 1 and Thing 2

Does it feel like you need to learn a whole new language just to do business nowadays…even small business? If it does, ne’er fear!!  SmartAssistant is here to assist you! (See what I did there?)

In this, our very first edition of “Know Your Buzzwords”, we’re looking at one of the “numbery” words that get tossed around on the Internet: Web 3.0.

Wait…? What…? There’s a Web 3.0?  What happened to Web 1.0 and Web 2.0? 

 

Web 1.0 – The Internet talked at you

Web 1.0 (only it wasn’t called that back in the day) was all about “read-only” content created by “The Powers That Be”. Back in the early days of the Internet, things were much more similar to traditional media in that the technical requirements created a high barrier to entry and so companies could create and publish content that they had exclusive control over.  Done. No interaction, no comments, no viral memes…just a black screen with neon writing that gave you a headache.  

In those days, communication was one-directional – the Internet talked at you. 

Web 2.0 – The Internet engages with you

Web 2.0 was the next iteration of the web and emerged with the development of social media, blogging, and a host of new tools that make content creation and publishing much easier and more accessible to anyone who had an Internet connection. Suddenly the web was “democratised” in a way that meant that anyone and everyone could create and share whatever they wanted. YouTube, Facebook, and WordPress are all Web 2.0 tools.

Nowadays, online communication is multi-directional – the Internet talks with you. 

Web 3.0 – The Internet knows about you

And now there’s Web 3.0…well kinda.  According to the pundits, we are not there yet, but this is where we are headed.

There are lots of opinions on what Web 3.0 is, but the short version is that it’s all about using technology to create meaning rather than just content.  

Fair enough, but what does this actually mean in practice?

Using AI (Artificial Intelligence), Web 3.0 tools and devices will learn about you and present you with information based not only on what you asked for but also factors like your location and predictions about what you are likely to need or want at any point in time. 

The web will be ubiquitous in the sense that “internet of Things” (IoT)  devices will be everywhere and we will be interacting online almost all the time.  Think Waze…only much, much smarter and embedded in your car as a standard feature that reminds you to a) fetch your daughter from her swimming lesson and b) pick up fresh milk on your way home because your teenage son has just drunk the last of it and your car and fridge can “talk to” each other.

Pretty cool, isn’t it?  What are your thoughts about Web 3.0?

 

5 Easy Ways to Take Your Business Online

5 Easy Ways to take your business online

The impact of the ‘Rona means that we’ve all had to learn to adapt to a “new normal”,  not only for the sake of our health and safety but also for our businesses and economy. Thankfully, with all the funky tech we have at our disposal, this adaptation is easier than ever before!

Businesses that have made the switch to remote work, online tools, and digital marketing have had much better success in staying relevant during these toughest times.

Although some businesses have had difficulty figuring out what to use, fear not!  SmartAssistant has identified the five easiest ways for you to take your business online.

Create an online presence

Where do your customers hang out?  Chances are they are online!  And, as all good marketers will tell you, you need to “fish where the fish are!” Your business has to be known in the online world. This is why it is so important to take your business online.

Start with a website.   When a customer looks for a product or service, their first stop is usually Google.  If you’re not “google-able”, you are missing out on all those money-babies that can only be born when people know about you!

A simple website is easy to create using tools like WordPress (it really is, I promise!), and will cost you nothing more than your time if you do it yourself.  (If this feels like it’s a bit too much for you, a SmartAssistant can help you get you started.

A community or business page on social media is your next stop.  If you post daily or weekly this will help you achieve more awareness and exposure to your business, but in doing so you need to ensure you have the time to maintain and uphold your presence on social media and keep your audience entertained and engaged. 

Finally, a blog is great for marketing purposes. Blogger and WordPress both have easy-to-set-up options where you can share insights, news, or start discussions about your business or industry and demonstrate that you know your stuff.t regularly and reliably it will allow you to engage with your audience. This will help you understand your customers better while helping them to keep your business top-of-mind.

Some links to get you started:

WordPress: https://wordpress.com
Facebook: https://facebook.com
Blogger: https://www.blogger.com

Use video-conferencing software

Thanks to social distancing and remote work, using video-conferencing tools like Google Meet and Zoom, have free options and is an easy way to meet with your team or clients online.

Zoom: https://zoom.us

Meet: https://meet.google.com

Use online business tools

Online business tools such as G Suite (for managing files, emails, and calendars), Hubspot (CRM), and Jira or Asana (issue tracking and project management) are free, or highly cost-effective, tools that will make taking your business online a gazillion times easier!  They will help you manage your staff, delegate tasks, keep track of projects, manage your clients and allow you to share important information and/or documents with your team.

G Suite: https://gsuite.google.com/
Hubspot: https://www.hubspot.com/
Hubspot: https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira
Asana: https://asana.com/

Use social media for marketing

The widespread use of social media has grown exponentially in recent years. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn have millions of daily users, who accumulate a lot of screen time scrolling through their timelines. Utilising these platforms to create target-driven ads and as a means of engaging with your audience is invaluable for any modern-day business.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/

Pulling it all together

Having all these tools available, and utilising them to their full potential is a great way to get started with taking your business online, but there is still one vital part you’ll need to make it a success and not a headache! You need to find ways to integrate your online tools with one another so that you are able to track and manage your tools seamlessly.

If you need help with this…you guessed it…you need a SmartAssistant, who will help you with everything you need to take your business online and to the next level!

What are your favorite online tools?  Are there any that you struggle with?  Let us know in the comments below!

5 Ways to get more done in a day

There are only so many hours in a day, and sometimes it can seem like there just aren’t enough hours to accomplish everything. As an entrepreneur or business owner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and burn out. Burnout isn’t only bad for you, it’s also bad for business!

Taking control of your day and using your time wisely is key to business success. So, here are five ways you can get more done in a day – effectively.

Scheduling & chunking your time

Taking control of the hours you have available for each day is probably the most crucial way to get more done. Use a calendar, and keep it with you all the time. It doesn’t matter whether you use a paper diary or and electronic device – your calendar is a your best tool for keeping track of everything when you are busy.

Chunking is a technique where you break up your day into time chunks and focus on a group of related tasks for the duration. Chunking tasks into logical groupings could mean grouping work you must do in a specific place or for a particular project or client. Chunking your work will help you reduce friction and increase efficiency.

Read more:

Prioritising

Once you know what your tasks for the day and the time chunks available are, you have to prioritise! Plan the critical, time-bound and significant activities first, then add the smaller and less critical tasks in between.

The ABC prioritisation method uses the idea of “consequences” to help you figure out what to tackle first. An “A” task is crucial, and failure to do it will have negative consequences. A “B” task is important and will result in positive outcomes if you do it. A “C” task is something that you should or would like to do but has no significant consequences either way.

Read more about ABC prioritisation here.

Focus

Multitasking seems like a great way to get more done, but it scatters your focus. There is no such thing as multitasking – you are merely switching your attention rapidly between tasks. Unfortunately, there is a mental “start-up” cost to this switching, and it means multitaskers make more mistakes (sometimes expensive ones), end up being less productive, and tire out faster. Additionally, getting distracted by social media, colleagues, or simply day-dreaming can end up costing you many hours.

The Pomodoro Technique is one of the cleverest approaches to beating procrastination and building focus time into your day. It’s straightforward: all you need to do is set a timer for, say, 15 minutes and until the timer goes, you focus only on the task at hand.

This trick works for procrastination when a task’s size feels overwhelming or it’s something you find boring. You don’t have to finish it; you just have to do it for 15 minutes.

Although the “official” time limit for The Pomodoro Technique is 25 minutes, I prefer 15 minutes because anyone can do almost anything for just 15 minutes! And, you will very often find that after 15 minutes, you will have achieved some momentum on a task you’ve been procrastinating about and may well choose to reset your timer and continue until you’re done. It also helps when you find yourself easily distracted – it’s easy to ignore your phone for 15 minutes!

Read more about The Pomodoro Technique here.

Take a break

Another critical component of the Pomodoro Technique is taking regular breaks. It is essential to give yourself a break from time to time to allow your mind and body time to recuperate so that you can function at 100%. All work and no play will result in you burning yourself out!

This article offers some insight into why breaks increase rather than decrease productivity.

Get a SmartAssistant

Yes, you can do all your admin yourself – but should you? Is this really the most productive and cost-effective way to run your business? You can hire a SmartAssistant for a lot less than your time is costing you!

Signing up with SmartAssistant.co.za will give you access to a qualified person to take care of all your office work so that you can focus on building your business and taking care of your customers. From handling your calendar and answering your calls to digital filing and completing your admin, a SmartAssistant can help you get more done. Subscribing to SmartAssistant will give you time to do the things only you can do while lightening your load and giving you a break so that your business can thrive!

If you don’t believe me – contact us, and we’ll do the numbers that prove the positive impact a SmartAssistant will make on your bottom line!

What are your best productivity tips? Share them in the comments below.

SmartHints: Impress your customers in 2021

Impress your customers in 2021

Love your customers

Your customers know when you love them.  They really do.  Have you ever dealt with a business where the staff seemed “off” or bored or not really interested in you?  If you had the choice, would you go back there?

Everyone likes to feel valued and appreciated!  Smile, be welcoming!  A little effort goes a long way in customer service.

Be responsive

One of the best ways to show your customers that you love them is to be responsive!  At the very least, you need to acknowledge any contact that a customer or potential customer makes with your business. Pick up the phone, answer the email, respond to the Facebook comment or like.  People need to be acknowledged. This is certainly one of the best ways to impress your customers.

Make business easy

It’s really frustrating for your customers when they are trying to get a quote, find an answer, or source some information, and they have to dig around to find it.  Make it easy for your customers to navigate your website, find your phone number, or learn more about your products and pricing.  The easier it is to do business with you, the more likely it is that you will win the deal!

Get comfortable selling online

Whether you sell physical products to consumers or focus more on sophisticated B2B solutions, doing business online is becoming more and more important.  If you are uncomfortable with it your customers will be uncomfortable doing business with you.  And guess what?  They will move to a supplier who runs a slick online operation.  The Internet and e-commerce aren’t going away any time soon.  Neither are Zoom sales presentations – after all, they are easier, more convenient, and way cheaper. 

Getting good at online business is no longer optional.  It’s a necessity.

Embrace digital signatures

Most business involves some form of documentation that requires a signature.  In the post-COVID world where we are all doing business online, digital signatures are a must.  They are easy to implement, inexpensive, more secure than wet/paper signatures, and legally binding. Talk to us about your options for an easy way to make your business more digitally secure.

Embrace the Cloud

No, we don’t mean the cloud of smoke above the dumpster fire that was 2020! (Haha)

Cloud computing simply means storing your data and managing your business using online tools and technologies.  Cloud technology is already pervasive – if you are using GSuite, Dropbox, Microsoft 365, or even Gmail, you are already using Cloud technologies.  They are not just for big corporates anymore – there is a wide selection of secure, simple, free, and inexpensive online tools accessible from your laptop, tablet, and phone that anyone can use.

Need help with this? Talk to us.  We’ll help you get set up.

Love what you do

You spend more time working or running your business than you spend doing anything else.  For the sake of your well-being and sanity, and that of your customers, make working FUN! 

Business doesn’t have to be as dry as sawdust. Laugh, share a funny meme, treat your staff to something small that will keep their spirits up, and, most importantly, CELEBRATE your successes. Share them loudly and publicly. There are more people rooting for you and wishing for your success than you can ever imagine.  

People are attracted to positive energy – so make a point of enjoying every moment, and you’ll be amazed at the positive impact it has on your sales pipeline!

What are you doing to impress your customers in 2021?  Share in the comments!