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7 questions no small business owner should have to ask

At least, not anymore

Adding the right tech can save you from asking the mundane questions you don't want to have to ask.

You hate asking them. Your team hates answering them. Let’s take these questions off the table once and for all.

When you’re carrying the weight of a business on your shoulders, there are some questions you find yourself asking again and again. Questions like these:

  • Where did I save that file?
  • Is this the latest version?
  • Are these all the receipts?

You need to know the answers, but just asking them creates tension and frustration. Because when you ask day-in and day-out, everyone feels precious time being wasted. And, of course, all questions from ‘above’ have a way of falling like an anvil, no matter how lightly they’re phrased.

The good news is most of these questions are easily avoided. Here are seven classics, and how never to have the need to ask them again.

Where did I save that file?

It’s ten minutes before the most important call of your day. Instead of preparing your thoughts, you spend nine and a half of those minutes trying to track down that proposal – the one you’re meant to be talking through.

Apply a little tech and a dash of discipline, and you can forget this question for good:

  • Make sure everyone’s capable of saving to your server, or even better, to your cloud storage
  • Create and document a file setup process – including standardized naming conventions – and share it with your team
Why couldn’t I get hold of you yesterday?

When your team’s small, getting someone’s voice mail message can be maddening. You’re trying to move your business forward, and you suddenly find it’s missing a vital, Steve-shaped person.

But if you’ve hired well, the chances are it’s not Steve’s fault. Instead of getting angry, get smart – get on a super-reliable network, and invest in mobile collaboration tools. They’ll let you keep in touch and work on-the-go, in real-time, no matter where you and your people are. From video and conference calling to advanced instant messaging, screen sharing and more, these familiar productivity tools will keep you connected when you need it most.

Are these all the receipts?

Whatever you employ field workers to do, it’s probably not their keen ability to keep track of paperwork. Between being written up and reaching HQ, receipts can easily become illegible, or worse, outright lost.

With mobile payments, you can banish uncertainty – as soon as the invoice is paid, the details are in the database. As well as saving your breath, it can save you a huge amount of time.

Where did Phil get to with that customer before he went on vacation?

If you’re asking questions like this, it’s a sure sign you’re starting to work in ‘silos’ – i.e. each person’s (or team’s) work is disconnected from everybody else’s.

Siloed working is the bane of many large enterprises. The last thing you want is to let it put down roots in your growing business. Investing in a central customer relationship management (CRM) system – that everybody can access and update – should help end the trend.

Is this the latest version of that spreadsheet?

Version control. Ugh. It can be a nightmare for any business – and spawn a witch hunt worthy of 19th century Salem, as you try to work out who’s responsible for losing your last two hours of careful edits.

But like mass hysteria in Massachusetts, it’s a thing of the past. Cloud tools like Google Docs can help effectively eliminate the problem, by allowing multiple users to simultaneously edit the same file.

Can someone stay here to answer the phone?

When you’re a small mobile team, manning the phones can be a painful chore.

A good cloud-based phone system can help, providing everyone with a business phone number that simultaneously rings their laptop, tablet, mobile – and desk phone, if you think they really need one.

This means they can meet that all important customer, and en route take a call from the prospect they’ve been waiting to hear from – without being chained to a desk.

Where are we going to find the money for that?

OK, so this is one you’re more likely to be asking yourself. But that doesn’t mean having to ask again and again is any less depressing.

When it comes to office tech, the answer could be simple. These days, it’s possible to get almost anything ‘as-a-Service’, from software, servers and storage, to mobile devices, security and support. And that means bite-sized costs that you pay-as-you-go, instead of the chunky, upfront costs that can choke a growing business.

Any questions? No? Fantastic!

Put these nagging questions to bed, and it’s a double win – when you watch morale and productivity soar.

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