It's a novelty these days to find someone who doesn't have a smart phone or tablet somewhere about their person, and it's vital for anyone with a small business to make the most effective use of all the tools in their posession.  Below are a few apps and tools which might make your work life easier
  1. Evernote – this handy little gizmo lets you record notes, websites, images and more, then sync them to your phone, laptop and any other devices you use on a regular basis.  
  2. Bump – and if you decide you want update your LinkedIn profile before connecting with a potential new business  partner, you can simply exchange business cards with this handy little app.  It allows you to share contacts by simply bumping your phone with your contact!
  3. Toggl – timesheets can make for head-scratching moments, wondering what exactly you were doing for that hour between 11 and 12 last Tuesday a week ago.  Toggl is a very hand gadget that can sit on your desktop or on your smart phone/ tablet allowing you to track where you were and what you were doing.
  4. Locale – we’ve all had our phone ring at a crucial moment in a meeting when it should have been on silent and then forgotten to turn on the ringer when we got home, missing calls we wanted to take.  Locale allows your phone to reset itself based on your location, so you don’t have to worry about changing your ringer volume or turning on your wi-fi to pick up your email.
  5. TripIt – when you’re travelling it can be difficult to keep track of your flight details, itinerary, hotel booking and car rental details.  Having all your details in one place can be a lifesaver, and with a useful smartphone app, you can have it all there in your hand with TripIt.
Now that February is here and everyone is well settled into the new year, you are probably finalising your goals and plans for 2012.  As a quick review before sign off, it might be worth double checking the following checklist:

1)    Is your goal specific and concise?  The clearer your goal is, the easier it will be to know if you can achieve it.

2)    Is your goal measurable?  It’s great to have big, overarching plans, but if you don’t express your goal in quantifiable terms (eg contact 3 potential customers each week) it may be difficult to know if you have reached it.

3)    Have you anticipated any major problems and sketched a solution for each?  The solutions don’t have to be very indepth, but being aware of potential problems may help avert them.

4)    Do you have a work plan for achieving each major step?  Again, this does not have to be very detailed, but it will keep the project on track, especially if completion dates are agreed and tasks are clearly delegated.

5)    Do your line managers / supervisors know what their plan is?  Each employee’s plan must fit into the whole for the business and staff should have an understanding of how the plans fit together. 

Having a clear work plan for the year will help guide and hopefully grow your businessin 2012.

Well, at the end of the first week back from the Christmas break, Eighth Day would like to wish all our clients and readers a very happy New Year.  After the break, you've probably had a chance to take stock of the successes you’ve had during one of the toughest business periods of the last few decades – you’ve accomplished wonderful things in the last twelve months!

Stay tuned for posts on goal setting in 2012 and how best to manage the challenges that come your way as a small business owner.

Have a wonderful 2012!

_Here at Eighth Day, we’re already gearing up for a busy time during December as we work on various tasks and projects for clients, as well as the usual arrangements for the festive break. Our to-do list is a unique mix of Turkey, crackers, project management and spread sheets at the minute and we’re sure every other small business owner is feeling the same at this time of year!

December is traditionally a time when the pace of work slows a little, there are longer lunches and evenings out to reward the past twelve months’ work successes and everyone is in a lighter, happier mood. But what if you’re a small business owner? It can sometimes feel as if the whole country is at a corporate-funded champagne reception whilst you’re feeling slightly less glamorous as you have to replenish teabags yourself now and the Christmas bonus is but a distant memory.

The thing to remember about December is that there are some things that won’t get done. Most companies (large or smaller) will put off decisions until the New Year.  While this may not be the best thing for your plans, embrace the fact that some decisions will wait until January and park them completely until then. Just leave them for now – and ignore the temptation to work on them or even think about them. Use the unexpected time and energy you gain (rearranged calls, order dates pushed back etc.) to your best advantage whilst the rest of the country enjoys the wind down and festive cheer. We’re not saying become a Scrooge but using ‘downtime’ to plan and prepare for the new year will help you start one step ahead of your competition for 2012.

Some ideas to utilise your December time to your best advantage:

* Placed a call and your contact is out of the office? Spend the 20 minutes you would have talked to them brainstorming one new sales lead; research this and be ready to contact in early January.

* A deal has been pushed into January for budgetary purposes? Work on your pipeline – is there anything else that may come to fruition prior to Christmas? If not, make plans for the New Year, or work on ways to keep your pipeline at an even keel during quiet times (think summer and December) so you’ll be better prepared in future.

* Those days between Christmas and New Year?  Use these days (which really are complete downtime for most businesses – you’ll be hard pushed to get a single call) as a real blue-sky exercise; what are your biggest dreams for next year? What could you achieve if everything went well? What new areas could you expand into? How feasible is this? What would you need to do?

The main thing to remember is that while the usual flow of working life has been mixed up a little and it seems that nobody is in the mood to make decisions (which can be frustrating for you!) the reality is that you may get better results in January when everyone is focussed and purposeful again. So embrace the time you’ve been ‘given back’ as things change and use it to your advantage!