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Taking Steps toward Saving Steps

We only thrive in our businesses when we invest in them, and sometimes the most sacrificial investment we can make is to allocate some of our precious productive hours toward learning how to do things differently.

Warning – counterintuitive concept alert!

What if there was something you could do to help to completely transform the daily operations of your business? That’s a broad and open-ended question, and who wouldn’t jump at providing the obvious answer, “Sure, sign me up”? But don’t forget, this is about adapting an approach that’s a bit counterintuitive, something that goes outside the comfy confines of our day-to-day business practices. And that’s where the rub comes in, because the plain truth is that, for the vast majority of businesses, it’s pretty tough to ever really move beyond “business as usual”.

So what would your response to the earlier question be if you knew that what was being asked carries with it the necessity of you learning how to utilize a new process? This is where the entire proposition might start to look a little less appealing. Something along the lines of “I don’t have time to learn something else new” might start rolling around in your brain. Most business owners who balk at the prospect of devoting time to mastering yet another piece of technology will justify that opinion from the perspective that doing so would take away from the valuable time they need to devote to actually carrying out their business. And therein lies a great, insidious trap.

We become so enmeshed in the complexities of carrying out our daily operations that we end up fixating entirely on what we need to do next. There are never enough hours in the day, always too few staff to help us, and rarely an adequate remaining balance in the operations budget to convince us of the prudence of doing anything other than working. We end up living in the delusion that any deviation from our standard routine will somehow set in motion the gradual, downward spiral of the trajectory of our business. And while it may be commendable to keep your shoulder to the wheel and your nose to the grindstone, doing so will render those clichés even more trite and insubstantial. We only thrive in our businesses when we invest in them, and sometimes the most sacrificial investment we can make is to allocate some of our precious productive hours toward learning how to do things differently.

Today, many companies rely heavily on some iteration of Microsoft Office, and many business owners and their employees are reasonably fluent in the standard processes of the desktop versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It’s also become quite common for the cloud-based Microsoft 365 suite to serve as the backbone of a company’s operating infrastructure. Yet, for many, Microsoft 365 is still looked at with skepticism or suspicion. For smaller businesses that are already well established, or for older entrepreneurs who have adopted new tech only when absolutely necessary, pursuing a cloud-based solution like Microsoft 365 may seem overwhelming, or perhaps even unnecessary. And, to be truthful, these platforms can occasionally glitch or experience other issues. But the vast benefits of utilizing a single cohesive infrastructure for all of the computer-based work done in your company make this type of solution a lot more compelling.

For business owners who do take the plunge and purchase a Microsoft 365 license, the door is suddenly opened for a whole different level of operations within the company. Collaboration with colleagues is instantly transformed through a variety of tools such as Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive, and the ability to work remotely or from multiple physical locations now becomes a practical reality. But, although the basic components of the old standbys of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint will still have a familiar functionality, there will also be an unavoidable learning curve when it comes to understanding how these tools function in the cloud-based realm. This, coupled with the required investment of time and focus to develop at least a basic understanding of what the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite can do, can be off-putting enough to convince some business owners that it’s all more hassle than it’s worth.

But the inverse is actually the case. Time spent now learning how to use a transformational technology is never time wasted. Whatever you weren’t able to accomplish today because you were struggling to learn the ins and outs of SharePoint will seem inconsequential two months from now when your daily productivity has dramatically increased because of the new infrastructure you’re operating within. The key here is to understand that there are rarely upfront dividends when undertaking all that’s required to commit to a new technological pursuit. But perseverance does pay off, and being willing to push past all of the uncertainty, complexity, and general newness of what you’re learning will ultimately make you a stronger, better, and more impactful business than you otherwise ever could have been.

And, as with any learning scenario, you can’t ever content yourself to learn “just enough” and then call it quits. Even once you have a solid understanding of Microsoft 365 and you’ve discovered how to integrate all of your existing business operations into it, your work still isn’t done. Part of the process is an ongoing vigilance – you need to never let your focus drift away from a practical, organic analysis of how well the technology you use is actually serving you. When we develop a certain level of expertise with any tech, the temptation is there to get lulled into a complacency that prevents us from ever being introspective. Our business’s aren’t static, they’re dynamic – they’re always changing and developing, and the secret to embracing that change in a healthy way is to always ask ourselves if we have the right tools to do the job and a full understanding of how to use them.

Even when you’ve reached a point where you’re leveraging Microsoft 365 to successfully run and grow your business, there can still be avenues worth exploring that will tremendously increase how efficiently you operate. Power Automate is an app available to those with a Microsoft 365 Business Standard license, and it’s definitely worth investigating how it can help you to streamline your processes. Functioning much like a macro, Power Automate allows you to create predetermined flows in which an event (referred to as the “trigger”) causes another action or set of actions to be performed. The great benefit here is that it can eliminate repetitive manual tasks that you might be performing each day without even realizing it.

Flows can be created in Power Automate to further augment existing processes in Microsoft 365, or to accomplish tasks that would otherwise require you or a member of your team to perform the necessary steps. For example, you could set up a flow to automatically send an email reminder on the last day of each month to the person who compiles a report when the month is closing out. You can also use flows to send emails, or even notifications to a mobile phone, when some event is occurring within the various aspects of Microsoft 365. Power Automate can even be integrated with social media platforms and websites to facilitate actions being automatically initiated based on certain other actions which serve to trigger them.

Well beyond the scope of Microsoft 365 lies yet another vast set of tools which fall under the umbrella of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. A CRM can serve as a comprehensive framework for tracking every single client or customer you interact with, and documenting in great detail each service that you end up providing. Another component of a CRM is that it can function as an email aggregator, permitting you to administrate complex campaigns that can help to expand your reach and get your service offerings in front of even more people. As with any other complex piece of software, CRM’s usually carry a hefty price tag, require a significant commitment to get them customized and installed, and will usually have to be gradually integrated into your existing processes until everyone is thoroughly trained.

So how would you answer the question about wanting to transform your business? It’ll never be quick, cheap, or easy, and that’s actually a good thing. Really purposing to make your entire organization something grander is going to be an investment, and that shouldn’t be something that scares you off. No matter what your mission and vision are, no matter how much money it would take for you to make in order for you to consider your business a success, the real secret to a thriving company is to operate as efficiently as you can and with the best possible platform for growth.

Take whatever steps you can right now, and don’t despise small beginnings. Doing at least something today will accomplish more than you can possibly imagine. If you diligently apply yourself, what might appear like time lost in the present will likely turn out to be time (and money) saved in the future, and there’s truly no greater way to go about transforming your business.


Would you like some assistance with taking the steps needed to work smarter, not harder? If so, visit or call us at 240-329-9387 today to find out how! ValorExcel also offers training and coaching to help organization's THRIVE. Don't forget to check our recent videos on YouTube by clicking HERE. Each episode is designed to inspire, empower, and transform you and/or your organization.

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