There's an AI tool for that

Four years ago, I wrote a blog post outlining my take on small business software solutions. Forbes published an interesting article about this a few months ago, including a helpful list of "A few tools to try." As Forbes notes, a recent report from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council indicates that 67% of small businesses they surveyed anticipate using AI in their business in the next three years. Further, as you've undoubtably noticed, software companies are rapidly adding AI to their offerings.    Revisiting my prior post about software solutions for small businesses, many of my suggestions are similar: It is easy to sign up for too much software, thinking that it will be the fix that you need. Remember that even if a software application meets a business need, you still have to figure out how to use it, fit it into your current processes, and continually invest time and money into it. This is your reminder not to go for the shininess factor. Assess your

Considering Consultants

We’ve all had guides in our lives - people who have steered us in the right direction or perhaps the wrong direction.  As you reflect on those guides, what comes to mind? When were those people most helpful, and when were they not?  Things like, “They taught me how to fish,” “They encouraged me to think critically,” or “They lead by example” might come to mind. Perhaps you can also think of a few people who gave you advice that was not helpful or even harmful.  What did you find worked for you? What didn’t?  Now consider people whom a company may have hired as consultants. What struck you as the most impactful moments with these professionals? For some, a well-crafted PowerPoint presentation might come to mind, but looking deeper, why did that PowerPoint presentation make such a difference? Perhaps it captured the essence of an issue that you have been trying to solve, in a way that others have not. Or perhaps it spoke to a clearer path forward that led you and your team to make headwa

More than Efficiency

          Ideas of efficiency and productivity were at the front of my mind when I started Operate Well Consulting in 2021. These are essential concepts in the manufacturing and Industrial Engineering fields from which I came. However, while I knew that these concepts are critical for an organization’s improvement, I still had questions vital for my work as a consultant if I was to help clients truly “operate well.”             What are we overlooking when we focus just on producing at maximum efficiency?          Worse, are we harming organizations, people, society, and the environment when we focus too much on productivity and efficiency?             I entered the  Fielding Graduate University Organizational Development and Leadership program  with these questions in mind. Without putting efficiency and effectiveness by the wayside, I wanted to know what other important factors and values leaders must hold in order to guide their organization in doing work that is sustainable, impac

Catching up with Operate Well

In the winter of 2020/2021, I launched Operate Well Consulting to help make small business owners’ lives easier. Throughout 2021, I learned a ton and was privileged to meet and work with many entrepreneurs, consultants, and small business owners. While my LLC remained active between 2022 and 2023, I took a hiatus from working with my clients while focusing on gaining experience at a firm, LTD Global. This opportunity was incredibly beneficial for my professional learning. As Program Manager, I gained more project management experience, worked with larger organizations, especially non-profit organizations, and learned more about integral aspects of operations, including accounting, billing, forecasting, and customer success management. I am grateful for all I learned at LTD Global and the opportunity to contribute to a team. In August of this year, I had the opportunity to return to school - this time for an online Master of Arts in Organizational Development and Leadership with Fieldin

What Needs Fixing?

When running a business, one often finds themself wondering what they should focus on at that moment. There is always a laundry list of tasks to be done to keep things going, in addition to actually doing the service or creating the thing that you sell.  I want to share a concept from the book  Fix This Next , by small business writer, Mike Michalowicz, which outlines the "Business Hierarchy of Needs." I've found this concept to be very helpful and I hope you do as well. The Business Hierarchy of Needs (BHN) functions like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs by stating the essential elements needed for a business to run successfully. It establishes that a business must first have sales (the core focus), then profit (keeping your costs down and feeling the impact of those sales) and order (the ability to run efficiently and effectively so that you are not spinning your wheels). From there, a business can survive and has what it needs to make an impact and a legacy. Business Hi

Does Efficiency Mean Grief or Relief?

If someone were to tell you that you need to, "be more efficient," what comes up? My reaction is that I need to work quicker and take less breaks. But will us working "harder" yield the results we seek? The language that we use is important. Words have power, and "efficiency" is one that triggers a variety of reactions for business owners. Sometimes it has a positive connotation and sometimes negative, depending on the relationship we have with it. As a consultant that promotes efficiency in small business, it's important for me to address the negative aspects of the concept and shed light on what efficiency is at its best and its worst. Too often, when we think of "getting stuff done," we think of the ominous list of things we haven't done and our ability to get through it. Depending on how we frame it, a task list can turn into a list of validation of what we are not doing, a bummer list, especially if we're pushing ourselves too ha

New Business Checklist - Processes and Technology

Starting a new business can be overwhelming, and there are many things to consider. Once you know more or less what you want to sell, whether it be a service or a product, you'll begin seeing if it's a viable concept. For some this stage takes time to tease out, and this is an important step.  Soon, there will come a point, though, when you have your concept, you've worked with a couple of customers and you are ready to start using technology to support your efforts.  In this article, I'll give you a taster for how to get started with outlining your business processes and the technology that supports them. I want to share my checklist as follows. 1. Obtain Hardware  Perhaps the most obvious step, you'll need to make sure you have a laptop, at minimum. Not everything can be done from a smart phone, unfortunately. 2. Set Up File Organization – Data Storage and Data Backup My favorite is Google Drive, but Dropbox, external hard drives, Microsoft 365 and other optio