4 Rules for Effectively Using Business Tools
There are an extraordinary number of tools out there today, designed specifically to help make us more efficient at our jobs, and to streamline the various procedures and routines we engage in during the working day.
For entrepreneurs, in particular, these tools are often something of a godsend – in no small part because they allow us to free up a lot of time that can then be better spent on our core competencies.
The thing is, there are potential downsides to just grabbing for every potentially useful business tool out there. Here are a few rules for effectively using business tools, without experiencing downsides.
Be pragmatic first and foremost – does the tool help you to do core tasks better, and does it improve customer experience?
Many business tools make bold promises, and seem alluring, especially to entrepreneurs who are looking for any possible advantage over the competition.
But it’s important to focus your efforts and energies as a small business owner, or else you are likely to disperse your resources too widely, and fail to make a dent where it really counts.
For that reason, It’s important to be pragmatic in your use of business tools. If you run a restaurant, a counter service tool may well help you to do your core tasks better, while simultaneously improving customer experience. But not every tool will do that.
Always ask yourself before using a tool; “does this help me to do my core tasks better, and does it improve customer experience?” If the answers are “no,” you might be best giving the tool a miss.
Practice a “minimalist” approach to your tools – use the simplest tools that allow you to get the best results
The well-known productivity writer Cal Newport published a book in early 2019 entitled “Digital Minimalism.” In that book, he argued, among other things, that the best way to approach digital technologies, is to use the simplest tools that allow you to get the best results.
Among other things, this basic principle helps you to avoid over-complicating your professional life, and introducing unnecessary and unhelpful distraction.
It also helps you to keep your focus on what’s important – that is, the core tasks that will contribute to making your business successful, and developing your brand identity.
It’s easy to become bedazzled by highly-complex tools that promise to do 1001 different things. Sometimes, depending on your industry, these tools will be useful. In many instances, however, they will simply create a degree of “digital clutter,” and inefficiency, by means of their very complexity.
Go for tools which are likely to be robust over the long term
One rule that you should certainly take to heart when choosing the best tools to use in your business, is that you should always favour tools which are likely to be robust over the long term, and which have a proven track record of success.
Many innovative tools and programs are developed every day by digital start-ups, and ambitious young entrepreneurs, and many of those tools and programs become defunct a short while later, and are no longer supported by the people who developed them.
Before you allow yourself to become dependent on any tool, service, or program, look at how other people have been using that tool, and try to get a sense of whether or not it’s likely to even still be around in the next 5 to 10 years.
Certain platforms are extremely well-established, and don’t seem likely to be going anywhere in a hurry. If you use the Microsoft Office suite, for example, you can generally rest assured that you’re not going to be faced by the unfortunate prospect of that service being terminated any time soon.
If, on the other hand, you had relied on a tool such as Wunderlist to manage all your professional projects, you might be in trouble. (Wunderlist has been acquired by Microsoft, and is in the process of being dismantled.)
Be aware of the allure of novelty, and avoid jumping around too much – be consistent
Everyone is susceptible to becoming starry-eyed and excited by novelty, to some degree. That’s a major part of why new iterations of popular products are often so popular.
Be aware that you will likely be drawn to cutting-edge new tools and services – and be sure that you’re making your decisions based on pragmatic, rather than emotional considerations.
This can save you a good deal of money, and can also save you from hopping around inefficiently between new tools every few months.