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It’s tough out there; it is more “dog-eat-dog” than ever. The economy has created a ThunderDome experience where two companies enter, one company leaves. In today’s environment, you need every advantage you can get.

But there are ways to get the advantage without paying through the nose for them.

Follow these steps to gain a competitive advantage without the head-growing, base-stealer to first baseman, deposition facing Barry Bonds kind of competitive advantage.

1. Time Blocking

Spend 15 to 20 minutes at the end of each day to plan what the three to five most important tasks are for the following day as well as the necessary but maybe not important tasks to complete.

Be honest with yourself. You can only do so much; and you will need to plan some time to react to things that come up that need your attention. That doesn’t mean that you drop what you are doing, schedule time to put out fires, and dedicate yourself to that activity for a given amount of time.

Block your time in a way that drives to progress. If your blocks are too specific, then you may lead yourself to frustration as you may not have solved your problem fully in the 30 minutes allotted, but if you have made progress in finding a solution, then you have made progress.

If you did not complete the task, put it back into your schedule as an important item for the next day during your end-of-the-day planning. Plan time for yourself, your loved ones, your pets, whatever it may be. These times are times to recharge and help you stay more focused when you are working.

2. Specialization

One of the great pitfalls of small business or start-ups is to “go wide instead of deep.” Do you feel like your business does several things pretty well but isn’t really outstanding in any one area. Would you consider your business a “utility in-fielder”?

Take some time to determine what your company does best, then make it better. Find differentiation not by the multitude of mediocre services you provide, but by being the very best at what you do. When you have mastered you chosen service, then re-evaluate to see if you need to branch out, and if you do, pick one other service and master that. Rinse and Repeat.

3. Consistent Training

New hires and veteran employees both benefit from training. The training needs to set up the expectations that you as the busy owner have, and the consistent training will allow you to maintain the expectation.

As you proactively watch what is happening in your industry, these trainings will increase the communication between you and your employees. The feedback can flow both ways which gives you insight into what is going on “at the frontlines” of your business.

This insight creates the environment where you can pivot your business and your employees feel heard and take ownership of the new direction. The increase in buy in will manifest in better attendance, better service, and less turnover.

4. Hire the “Right People”

This is easier said than done. Everyday we talk to companies like yours that are struggling to find employees. Each business is different and each culture is different. One easy tip is to change the questions you ask in your interview. Interviews are difficult. Both parties want to present themselves in the best possible light, which is to be expected. The number one difficulty is the interviewee answering your questions with what they think you want to hear. Asking the right questions will help avoid this.

Before you interview, find actual situations, from your business, where there are multiple “right” answers. Listen to the how the prospective employee answers to see if the thought process would be a good fit in the culture and approach that you want to take in your business.

These types of questions are harder to come up with, but asking the right questions, will lead you to hiring the right people.

Also, consider hiring someone with no experience in your industry or experience different than you would typically consider. Often these hires will provide a unique outside perspective that will help you to further refine your processes.

5. Automation

As a small business or a start up, you already have some options to incorporate technology into your business. Google Calendar is a free calendar that can be set up in minutes and can keep you on task with its reminders.

While it may not be the best answer for scheduling out your employees, it is a start and can give you a glimpse into features that you feel you would need when you are ready to transition to a technology package that offers more functionality.

6. Be Goal Oriented

Goals are interesting. The approach you take with your goals shows whether they a goals or dreams. Goals have a few defining characteristics. Goals have a date attached; goals are measureable/have objectives; and goals are written down.

If you are missing any of those three traits, your “goals” are dreams. When your goals are written down, with measurable metrics, and a time frame is attached, you are ready to begin. Any activity can be measured against the framework of “does this activity drive me towards my goal or away from it?”

That one question empowers you to be in control of where your company is going. The key to “getting there” is to know where you’re going.

Competitive advantage is waiting for those who are disciplined enough to stick to these 6 principles. The advantage is not free, but they do not cost any money. Set your goals high and and commit to their achievement. These 6 principles will help you “get there” and save time without spending money.

When you are ready to take the next step to save time and increase your bottom line, consider Omadi Mobile Management. Omadi is a fully configurable web based software that allows you to mirror your current best business practices in the digital realm. Fill out the form below to learn more.

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