Archive for October, 2010

Time is Money: Helpful Hints for Better Time Management

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Today I happened upon an article over at eCommTips that talks about how to use time management to get the most results out of the least amount of time. Reading it reminded me of all of the things I already know about time management, but somehow seem to forget whenever it comes to actually managing my time. For those of use that work on the internet, adhering to time management guidelines is even more of a challenge. Luckily, the rules are simple and changing your time management habits tends to make things more quick and painless.

First I’d like to briefly touch on the main two concepts discussed in the eCommTips article. One is Pareto’s Law, or the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of results are caused by 20% of effects. In other words, 80% of the tasks you do won’t have much of an effect on your total revenue. This isn’t to say they aren’t important. If you stop doing them it will certainly have an adverse effect on your revenue, but when prioritizing tasks, these come last. The other 20%, however, are generating a huge amount of your revenue,  so it stands to reason the more time you spend on these tasks, the more your revenue will grow. The other main concept discussed is Parkinson’s Law, which basically states that a task will take as long as you give it. If you give yourself a week to do something, it will seem very important and end up taking the whole week. If you only give yourself a day, you’ll have it done by then. Obviously, you can’t set deadlines too short or work will get sloppy and you’ll get used to not meeting them. Still, be conscious of how long a task should take and don’t give yourself any extra time to finish it. By setting short, frequent deadlines you will get used to working quickly and efficiently, and really maximize the amount of work you get done.

This is all great and good, but if you don’t put these concepts into practice, they won’t do you much good. As the eCommTips article suggests, it’s a good idea to first write down all of the tasks you do on a daily or weekly basis. First, look at your list and make sure that everything you’re doing is actually useful. Next, select which tasks lead directly to revenue and which ones don’t. For example, if you get a lot of people visiting your site from links you post on Twitter, put that in the revenue column. Answering customers’ questions, while still very important, would go in the other column.

Now, look at the table you’ve created and think about how much time you spend every day/week on each task. Are you spending the appropriate amount of time on each task relative to how much revenue it generates? If not, adjust the amount of time you would like spend on each item and write it out. From there, create a schedule for your daily tasks. When making your schedule, take yourself into account. For example, I am a bit sluggish in the morning, so I start by catching up on relative news and blogs and answering easy customer questions. Then I delve into the more time intensive e-mails, which normally gets me ready to work. If you are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every morning and fade from there, you might want to save these tasks for the end of the day when you’re tired.

You also need to be sure and monitor your social media consumption. While Facebook and Twitter can do wonders for your business, they can kill your productivity for the day! Remember, when you are working you’re on Facebook to promote your business, not look at picture of Timmy’s new baby. For those of you who are easily distracted by social media, or who just don’t feel like sitting down and Tweeting everyday, I highly recommend you check out HootSuite. HootSuite allows you to manage your Twitter and Facebook page from the same site, but isn’t as easy to accidentally wander of task. You can also schedule your posts,  so you can type up all of your Tweets and Facebook posts for the day or week in one sitting and not have to worry about them again. Some added bonuses  include being able to allow more than one team member to manage an account and easy to use stats on how many people are clicking the links you post.

Remember, you’re the most of important part of your time management plan, so keep it tailored to your personality. If you are the kind of person who needs to take a break every hour, take it! If you respond to rewards, reward yourself upon completing a certain number of tasks. The point of a time management plan is to make yourself more productive, not miserable.

Questions or comments about time management? Leave a comment!


Is Your Online Store Ready for the Holidays?

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

With Halloween just a week away, the holiday season is quickly approaching. It doesn’t take an MBA to know this is a very big deal for online retailers! For small retailers especially, this time of year is crucial. Is your store fully optimized for the holiday season? Let’s run through some quick tips and reminders on how to move your store up the search engine results and boost your holiday sales!

1) First you should make sure that you’ve done all you can to publicize your store. MiiDuu has a whole FAQ page about 5 ways to promote your store, so make sure to check it out. To summarize though, make sure that your social media campaign is fresh and exciting, write plenty of articles, be active on any forums or comment threads you participate in, and update your blog! The holidays make people want to reconnect, so odds are they’ll be on Facebook even more than usual around this time. Make sure to get your online store directly in your business’s Facebook page with MiiDuu’s Shop Builder application on Facebook! You can get started putting your store directly in your Facebook page here.

2) Make sure your site is visually optimized as well. You’ll hopefully be getting a ton of new customers, so you want them to stick around long enough to buy something! Make sure your site is as easy to navigate as possible, and that your categories and sub categories are well optimized. Run frequent mock purchases to make sure things are going smoothly and you aren’t loosing any customers to technical issues. You might also think of putting up some special seasonal banners to keep customers in a cheery holiday mood. If you have any seasonal products, make sure to list them as featured items!

3) CIO offers some great tips as well, which are worth repeating. The first is to remarket to existing customers. With the amount of time people spend on the internet and the number of webpages they view a day, even if an old customer had a great experience shopping your store it could easily slip his or her mind when writing up a gift list. Send out a newsletter reminding all of your old customers that you’re here! Even if they don’t go to your store immediately after reading the newsletter, you will have placed your store back in their consciousness and they’ll be more likely to remember you when it’s time to buy gifts.

4) The newsletter reminds me of another good point made in the CIO article: DISCOUNT! Everyone loves a discount, and this is especially true around the holidays! The days following Thanksgiving and Christmas are notoriously busy shopping days for brick and mortar stores. Customers love hunting for a better bargain, so why not participate? This will further incentivize customers to shop at your store over anyone else’s. Make sure to mention any sales in your newsletter so that all of your returning customers are in more of a hurry to get back! Be careful not to discount too much and making your profit margins dismal, but at the same time, the better the discount, the more likely someone is to not only participate, but spread the word to friends! Announce your discount through your social media outlets as well! MiiDuu News has more on how to utilize both newsletters and coupons!

5) Remember, time is of the essence! It takes the search engine spiders a while to find your site, so make sure to get all of these changes implemented as soon as possible! You want to be as high in the search results as possible when your customers start shopping, and updating the week before Thanksgiving isn’t going to cut it! If you haven’t already put these tips to work on your site, go do so now!

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