In the first of the Agile Business Series we look at the people who make up our work force – including our biggest asset – ourselves.
As you know, we wear many hats at NE, and more often than not, one of them has to be a ”thinking cap” because we are constantly looking at ways we can do things better / differently – but we understand that change for some people can be scary.
“But we’ve always done it that way” is a mantra which can be both a good and a bad thing. The old adage of if it ain’t broke don’t try and fix it may have worked in the past, but can it continue to do so when everything around you is in constant flux.
Take technology as a very good for instance. Tech people are ALWAYS looking at ways to “improve” systems, and yes I use the term improve loosely – what used to work really well with all your other systems has now just stuffed up most of the other programs we use – so as a work force we are constantly being forced to change. But does change mean being agile?
And the answer is both yes and no.
If you are the one looking for ways to do things better in a more cost efficient manner then you will question everything, but if change is being forced on you – then the answer is probably not.
Systems: Organisations with agile businesses are constantly searching for ways to make the jobs they do easier. Of course there will be a learning curve, but agile employers understand that and build learning time into their business models.
Task Automation: If we are doing things repeatedly we need to know if the task can be automated in any way, shape or form. If it can we then ask – will this make our jobs easier or harder. Usually it’s easier, but we like to play devil’s advocate to ensure we are not making more work for ourselves as a result.
Flexibility: As you know, flexibility is one part of being agile in a business sense – As most solopreneurs know and understand, when you open your own business you are no longer just a cake maker, dog groomer, window cleaner or whatever your own particular technical skill happens to be. You need to be able to manage finances and administrative tasks, be a whiz at marketing and social media – and the reason is simple. When most solopreneurs start out they can’t afford to take on additional paid members of staff who can undertake those other very necessary tasks – and while you can perhaps get family members to assist, those roles are not usually their areas of expertise either. So not only do you need to still be a great technician you need to understand that and adapt your working day to accommodate all those other tasks you need to do to survive in the business world. But you don’t have to do everything yourself, but there is a way.
Solopreneur to SME: The jump from Solo to SME can be a difficult one – but there can be an interim step and that involves outsourcing tasks to a company who can undertake those things for you. As you know NE Solutions offers business support to people who need assistance in certain areas. We have a number of clients who were missing out on work because they were busy working on other jobs and by the time they returned the calls – the potential business had gone elsewhere. The solution: we set it up so we could answer the phones, manage the calendar bookings, answer inquiries and provide estimates. Consequently our clients have full calendars and they are not missing out on potential income, even when they are on leave or taking down time.
To us it makes sense as an interim step on your journey to bigger and better things – and it’s up to you how much bigger and better you want things to be.
In the next of the Agile Business Series, we’ll look at whether your premises are working as well as they could and what you can do to ensure they are.