It’s pretty much impossible to visualize a world that doesn’t rely on electronic devices that are hooked up to the internet to help each of us communicate with one another. In the past 20 years, the concept of software development has changed significantly.
To keep up with the amount of information at our fingertips, automated solutions need to rely on extensive code that allows all of this digital information to be handled properly. The tools that software developers use to create their code have also changed drastically to handle the projects that large business enterprises work with every single day.
Solutions that automate analysis of data can’t just be written by a handful of developers through a single method of programming. Software development teams need more than just a single innovative concept to implement new ideas into their projects effectively.
Developers also need ways to code more efficiently. At the same time, it is imperative to ensure that the software is secure, reliable, and efficient at performing the various tasks that are required. These are only a few reasons why innovative tools need to be used by coding teams as efficiently as possible.
By following an innovative set of programming concepts, the best ideas for software development can truly become a reality. This guide will outline three of the most innovative tools that are transforming the way software developers are building their code and deploying their products.
CI/CD pipelines streamline tasks like the testing and deployment of code for software development teams. This allows them to spend more time building code and less time trying to fix bugs and review each other’s work. A high level of automation can always be found within traditional CI/CD pipelines.
The modern era allows for so many developers to work remotely. It is absolutely essential to have tools that allow for development teams to connect, communicate, and streamline their software development processes.
Secure Web Applications More Efficiently
Developers should try to recognize the security practices that they use to oversee code development for their web applications. Web applications have become a vulnerable source of cyber attacks in recent years thanks to their exposure to an international base of hackers.
The code that keeps these rich and dynamic web applications running needs to be protected against multiple threats when it goes live online. CI/CD pipelines help web applications stay protected online by securing their code’s development without needing to involve developers or an organization’s cybersecurity professionals directly.
These pipelines can instead automate processes like code analysis or data categorization to catch vulnerabilities in the software you’re working on before it ever gets exposed to threats in a live environment. CI/CD pipelines are therefore vital to developing an application for the web. These types of pipelines allow for developed code to be tightly supervised from its initial design phase all the way through final deployment.
The collaboration aspect that CI/CD pipelines enable can extend far beyond code development as well. A software development team that uses a CI/CD pipeline for the code that it’s developing can also give their CISOs and cybersecurity personnel more insight into the code that they’re building.
CISOs and their security teams can then gain additional opportunities to review the processes that developers are using to integrate security best practices into their code, and subsequently catch potential errors that would otherwise find their way into live programs.
Keep Your Code on the Cloud
Businesses need to rely on complex applications that process millions of lines of code. This means that these applications have to handle large sets of data to be analyzed in a short amount of time. The best way to keep so many digital assets organized and maintained in a single place is to use a cloud-storage solution like Dropbox or Google Drive.
CI/CD pipelines can exist on the cloud for simplified storage and organization of a software development team’s code so that there’s never the risk of losing your digital assets on a vulnerable network. Software development teams have the ability to host native cloud development for their software applications so that they can realize the greatest benefits of their CI/CD pipelines.
Cloud environments can also allow teams who use CI/CD pipelines to oversee the use of cloud-based microservices that eliminate the need for manual maintenance of components like configuration files and integration servers. This oversight can be automated to save hundreds of hours that would otherwise be spent on manual testing and other tedious and repetitive processes.
These cloud environments make it possible to automate testing for code by using your organization’s own cloud resources. That’s because cloud-native CI/CD pipelines don’t need to rely on physical network resources that slow down important tasks like the unit and system testing.
This is necessary to ensure that code is error-free and functioning as intended. Cloud environments can also allow development teams to set up various testing systems that let them review real-time scenarios of their code running in a production environment.
Make the Most of Your Feedback
CI/CD pipelines maximize the benefit of feedback that developers can obtain from their colleagues. It is easy to give and receive feedback on your code when you use code repositories that are available through CI/CD pipelines. These repositories designate specific members on your team to whom you give read and write access.
This concept increases the possibilities for collaboration while applying version control to a single repository that stores all of your code. By leveraging code repositories that are accessible through CI/CD pipelines, it becomes possible to adopt a separate approach that allows you and your team to work uninterrupted at all times.
This makes programming much more convenient while still allowing you to identify the conflicts that you have with your colleagues’ code as well as any errors isolated within your own work. This level of collaboration makes it much easier for you and your team to push out code into production that is error-free and efficient.
CI/CD pipelines can also promote intuitive review processes that allow other developers to quickly glance at your code and provide feedback when necessary. This goes both ways since it can make it easier for you to review code in real-time when it’s necessary as well. With this methodology, you can maximize your uptime and work specifically on your code as much as possible.
You wouldn’t want to walk into a meeting just to be asked to review a new feature of code that you have never seen before. CI/CD pipelines virtually eliminate the risk of getting left out of the loop due to their instantaneous feedback loops.
You can easily use CI/CD pipelines to engage with other developers quickly and efficiently. This means that you can increase the amount of productive feedback that you receive from them on the development of your code.
Take Advantage of Automation
The ability to take advantage of automation is certainly available with the resources that are integrated into CI/CD pipelines to build deployments. All updates go through the same process once they are inputted into the CI/CD pipeline.
The code will typically arrive at a predetermined code depository and go through several code checks and test servers. At the conclusion of this process, the code will likely pass the checks and be approved through the remainder of the deployment process. If there are errors or issues during the checks, then the code will not be deployed, and developers will have an opportunity to address the issue.
This deployment process takes full advantage of automation, making the development process very efficient and effective.
Automation is ideal for many developers because it speeds up the process of deploying code that has recently been developed. Instead of going through a manual deployment process, you can simply utilize the automation of a CI/CD pipeline to have the code deployed in a matter of minutes. This process can repeat multiple times per day on a regulated schedule, especially if you are developing an app that needs a lot of small build updates regularly.
While automation can make things a lot easier, it still has to be used in the proper way to provide developers with the benefits that they are looking for. There are good ways to use automation and bad ways to use automation.
Relying on automation to do everything is not a good idea because you still want to be monitoring the process at all times. There are vulnerabilities within CI/CD pipelines that can be exposed if the automated process is not maintained appropriately.
One of those vulnerabilities is the concept of security within CI/CD pipelines. The biggest problem with security is that CI/CD pipelines weren’t exactly developed with security in mind. This means that additional steps may need to be taken by development teams to ensure that their CI/CD pipeline remains secure at all times.
Enhancing Security in CI/CD Pipelines
Now that you know that cyber-security could be a major vulnerability within CI/CD pipelines, it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about how security can be enhanced to ensure that your projects achieve the maximum level of protection from hackers.
DevSecOps is a concept that can be useful in this type of work environment because it specifically focuses on enhancing software security during the development and deployment processes.
By promoting a familiar security concept like DevSecOps into the development environment, you can ensure that your Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery pipelines remain secure at all times. Developers should also realize that DevSecOps promotes the idea of implementing security into the code itself, rather than from external sources outside of the pipeline.
DevSecOps makes it possible to easily prevent security breaches by taking advantage of an ideology that previously didn’t exist within most CI/CD pipelines. Traditional security measures can still be used in some cases, but maximum security within your pipeline may not be achieved until you explore other concepts like DevSecOps.
The ability to expand security measures as you expand your projects is a difficult task that can be hard to achieve. DevSecOps will provide you with ways to scale your security measures alongside your CI/CD pipeline. However, you will still need additional security measures to fully ensure that your projects are protected.
Unit tests that are based around security can be significant to implement because they can provide an additional layer of security within your project. The problem is that many development teams completely ignore security-based unit tests because they place their focus elsewhere.
You should always try to implement code that doesn’t include any possible vulnerabilities. One way to check this is to implement static analysis security testing. You can implement a scanner for specific types of coding languages to check your code for these security vulnerabilities. An alternative option is to integrate dynamic analysis security testing scanners to ensure that your code cannot be attacked from external sources.
Git and GitHub
The Git software is synonymous with the modern understanding of ‘version control’ in the world of software development. Created by Linus Torvalds, Git was originally considered to be a software that could enhance version control of the core kernel for the Linux operating system.
It has since given rise to the largest online storage and code collaboration space in existence, commonly recognized as GitHub. This transformation has reinvented how software developers share and collaborate with each other on their coding projects.
Permanently Integrate Version Control
It’s impossible to run successful software development without version control. These days, it’s necessary to use a version control application that provides high-view snapshots for each of your developer’s changes.
These snapshots make it easy to understand the changes that a developer has just made. A development team that uses no version control solutions can quickly run into confusing issues with its developers struggling to upload their revisions against those of their colleagues.
Increase Social Connectivity with GitHub
GitHub allows for social connectivity to come alive in your software development process. GitHub is an amazing development tool that allows you to connect and share your projects with your colleagues and other external users outside your organization.
The possibilities for enhancing your code extend well beyond development since GitHub enables collaboration in plenty of additional ways. GitHub promotes the sharing of other software development projects as a way for you to collaborate with your colleagues, even if you’re not with them in person or working within the same organization.
You can review copies of other projects as a way to understand the methods that someone else implemented a feature. You can also figure out how you can go about changing it yourself with new additions to the code.
The biggest takeaway regarding GitHub’s social connectivity is that the collaboration it promotes doesn’t need to be limited to one aspect of development. GitHub streamlines everything about development so that code is more transparent and understandable to everybody working on it.
Maximize Your Team’s Productivity
It would be a shame to squander opportunities to increase productivity when so many software developers need to constantly iterate upon and refine their code. Tools like Git are so helpful because of their documentation. The documentation makes it much easier for developers to get up-to-speed.
The ability to use Git and immediately apply it to your software development projects is an imperative skill that you need to have if you want to maximize your coding productivity. Git focuses heavily on user convenience and serves as an intuitive interface that developers can use to quickly track their coding changes.
The interface is constantly being updated. This provides developers with the freedom to tailor their own bash commands, organize their local repository of code, and optimize personal workflow by adding files to previous commit statements. These features go a long way toward making individual contributors as productive as possible, without interfering with other developers’ code.
Agile Development Frameworks
The agile development framework is the king of the software development world. It makes projects much more manageable by breaking them up into digestible chunks.
If you haven’t heard much about Agile development, which basically just envelops multiple agile methodologies into a single term, it might be challenging to understand how to apply it to your software development projects. There are a few key tenets of agile development that you can immediately incorporate into your coding process to improve your software and streamline your workflow.
Make Coding More Manageable
Agile development emphasizes taking one thing at a time to ensure the greatest success possible for multiple, bite-sized amounts of work. You can improve the time you spend on your code by using an iterative process of development that promotes feedback as soon as the code has been reviewed.
Rather than make no progress and wait around for reviewers to look at your code, agile development frameworks force code to constantly be iterated upon and eliminate downtime.
This process of constantly tackling tiny pieces of code goes hand-in-hand with CI/CD pipelines, promoting constant reviews of code to keep pushing functioning features into production.
By making the coding process more manageable, you will save time, improve productivity, and increase efficiency. You may also notice that it is easier to produce higher-quality code when working in this type of environment.
Improve Your Code Iterations
Working within an Agile development framework means that you should take all of the necessary steps to iterate effectively upon your code. It also means that each iteration involves taking the correct steps to create the best possible code for your project. Make sure that you’re making the most of your Agile iterations by optimizing their steps.
Your software development iterations should consider what’s most important to the client. You should always be thinking about implementing the features you believe your client would most heavily favor during your iterative processes.
An easy way to remember that you’re giving the appropriate amount of focus to customer-driven features is by building a checklist of features to build. You should also consider deadlines for implementing each feature and design specifications for each feature you plan to develop.
Achieve Better Interdepartmental Collaboration
You can apply agile frameworks to your projects even when they include IT personnel who aren’t specifically working on code. Perhaps you involve your cybersecurity team. Maybe your DevOps teams need to help set project deliverables and timelines that affect them.
You can learn to apply Agile development frameworks to these inter-departmental projects for maximum efficiency and productive collaboration. Agile artifacts can extend to setting sprints that determine user stories and acceptability criteria, not just sprints to churn out an iterated line of code.
Agile development frameworks can help organize many moving parts between departments involved in a single project by setting specific milestones that you can have certain personnel oversee. It can be difficult to make sure that different departments contribute to milestones that affect your code and your project. By applying inter-departmental Agile frameworks, you can create a great way to keep everyone in check during the process.
What Does the Future of Code Look Like?
Code for software can only become so complicated before it’s virtually impossible for developers to create it. The future of software development has many possible routes. Many of them lead down a path with much less manual coding involved during the process.
With the continued rise of automation, connectivity, and an increasingly diverse collection of programming languages, there are more than a few plausible scenarios for the future of coding.
Low and No-Code as the Norm
The future of coding may not include all that much coding, after all. Visual interfaces like integrated development environments, or IDEs, traditionally required a whole team of developers to even maintain. These now have the potential to automate software development by promoting low or no-code environments.
Visualization is one of the biggest features that these environments will use to reduce manual coding requirements. This transformation will improve development efficiency and promote the creation of new products and features.
Writing code manually can be time-consuming and tedious. The future of software development will likely rely on automated processes that can take care of bug-fixing and iterating on snippets of code designated by you or your team.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence will undoubtedly become integral to automating code in the future. Developing skills within these fields will go a long way to contributing to future projects that require fewer programming skills.
Cloud Computing will Transform Tech Roles
Cloud computing has radically shifted the technology landscape and proliferated movements in DevOps that have transformed the roles in tech. The dominance of cloud computing can run entire applications and make the existing roles for actually developing and testing software applications obsolete.
It’s also increasingly important to know how to protect sensitive data on the cloud. This can help data centers and business enterprises avoid threats that occur on their physical networks. Cloud storage devices are beneficial for reducing the number of entry points available on your network to cybercriminals and malicious software.
You can use cloud-native solutions to store your code, and valuable digital assets as wireless connectivity enable greater technological capabilities in the future.
Big Data Continues to Proliferate
Business enterprises continue to leverage the benefits of ingesting and synthesizing massive sets of data. It only makes sense that skills in data management will be crucial for software developers to adopt so that they can meaningfully contribute to a variety of projects.
Understanding how to prioritize data sets and categorize and analyze them accordingly will be paramount for bridging the gap between IT departments and executive stakeholders.
The Internet of Things Takes the Stage
Software developers need to know how to create solutions that encrypt IoT devices’ data on wireless networks. These developers can give themselves a leg up in the near future in terms of skill sets by combining an understanding of new innovations in IoT with an indefatigable drive to learn more.
There’s no such thing as a plateau in terms of learning and mastering new skills in IT, and the same holds especially true for the burgeoning field of IoT. Learn what you can about communication protocols that IoT devices use to interact.
The Concept of Machine Learning
One major question about the future of coding revolves around the concept of machine learning and artificial intelligence. As these technologies continue to progress with time, new opportunities to make the programming process more efficient could start to appear.
Does this mean that coding will no longer be developed by human beings in the future? While it is unlikely that humans will stop coding entirely, there is a possibility that artificial intelligence can replace some fundamental jobs that humans currently do today.
In the distant future, there is a reasonably good chance that advanced technologies will be available that allow for computers and artificial intelligence to write their own code and develop software.
One early example of artificial intelligence is the concept of self-driving cars. They use sensors and cameras to relay information to an AI driving system to ‘self-drive’ the car. This might be a completely different topic, but the general concept remains similar in the grand scheme of things.
Machine learning is the concept of having an artificial intelligence system learn with experience over time. For example, if you simulated through weather patterns for five consecutive years with a machine learning system, there is a pretty good chance that with every passing day, the system will more accurately predict the weather.
This concept can work across any number of industries and it can get very complicated really quickly. The biggest problem that the world faces right now is trying to understand how many human-based jobs will be lost due to machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Imperative Skills of Team-Based Coding
Many development teams that develop and deploy code with CI/CD pipelines understand the important skills that come with developing code as a team. There are resources available that can help make this process easier — but it doesn’t guarantee success unless everyone is on the same page.
Communication is one of the primary skills that come into play because it is imperative to be on the same page as the other people on your development team.
If you are managing a large development team that utilizes many of the tools and resources that have previously been mentioned, then it is also important to not ignore the imperative skills that are required for team-based coding environments. These skills can range from technical skills, communication and accessibility.
One of the most important skills that will be required to effectively develop code is to be able to analyze a lot of data in a short period of time. Analytical skills come into play constantly throughout the development process. If you are debugging code, running tests, or simply developing the code, you will likely come across scenarios that require you to analyze output logs and data.
Familiarity with Multiple Programming Languages
There is the possibility that you will have to understand multiple different types of programming languages if you are a software engineer or developer. Many different coding languages can be used for software development, including Python, C#, Java, and many more.
If you are familiar with the fundamentals of multiple programming languages, then you are probably prepared to handle complex situations that might arise throughout the development. You will also likely be more comfortable working with different types of code editors, platforms, and resources.
Experience with cyber-security is always important. This is a skill that a lot of people, unfortunately, do not possess. It is always a good idea to have someone specifically designated for a security role to ensure that your developed code is properly protected from cyber-hackers and other similar security threats.
The final skill that you should work to hone is the concept of troubleshooting. Debugging errors and finding solutions to issues can be tedious, frustrating, and time-consuming. The process of troubleshooting can take a lot of time, but the right types of people may have this skill, and it can significantly improve overall efficiency when solving problems.
A solid development team will have a mix of skills spread across the team. Some individuals may have experience with networking, while others may understand security or troubleshooting. With that being said, everyone should be on the same page in terms of communication. If any of the people on the development team are unable to communicate, then that is a recipe for disaster in the future.
You likely started reading this post with the intent of learning about several innovative coding tools that can improve your coding methods and efficiency. Many other topics had to be addressed before you would completely understand everything about these innovative resources and tools.
The truth is that every developer has an opportunity to utilize specific skills, resources, and plugins to improve the coding experience. This is true for many different programming languages, platforms, and resources across the industry.
CI/CD pipelines were a common topic within this post because they play a significant role in automation and deployment for web apps and mobile apps.
Other concepts were also addressed, including possible pathways for the future of coding. This section discussed artificial intelligence and machine learning, which happen to be two essential topics that will impact the world’s future.
Towards the end of this post, you had the opportunity to learn about some of the most important skills required for team-based software development. These skills come into play for in-person development teams and remote development teams.
You should use all of the information that is available within this post to gain an understanding of the different ways to improve and transform the way that you develop code. Instead of viewing software development from a linear perspective, it might be a good idea to think outside of the box in the future.
Top Image Credit: cottonbro; pexels
The Important Benefits of Outsourcing Your E-Commerce Business
Nowadays, the impact of e-commerce is being felt in nearly everybody’s life. E-commerce is changing how we do business around the world. Additionally, despite its relatively recent ascension, e-commerce has changed significantly with the passage of time.
Approximately $3 trillion USD was spent online globally in 2018. That demonstrates that an astounding 15% of all retail sales are now online. Consequently, just about anyone can now launch an e-commerce business. The sector is expanding significantly in today’s technology-driven environment. As a result, one of the best ways for small e-commerce companies to reduce expenses and increase efficiency is through e-commerce outsourcing.
When should you outsource?
The key indicator here is your rate of business growth. Of course, the initial stages of an e-commerce startup company’s operations will be simpler to manage. However, if the company grows, the work will necessarily get more complex. Therefore, outsourcing often aids in managing your business to greater success.
When you outsource, you appoint a third-party e-commerce outsourcing company to handle a certain business function on your behalf. In other words, outsourcing is the process of creating items and providing services through a third-party firm, product, or service instead of performing the task internally.
More trust is necessary for the outsourcing process. Therefore, you must pick a dependable service provider to meet your company’s needs. Additionally, there are other advantages to outsourcing your e-commerce firm. Listed below are some of the most significant benefits.
1. You can focus on your core business.
The e-commerce fulfillment responsibilities are essential, but they also get more time-consuming as your firm expands. When you transition your e-commerce outsourcing to e-commerce outsourcing services, you will gain enough time for branding, product design, customer support, and other core business activities.
Spending more time on e-commerce fulfillment will diminish your focus on scaling your e-commerce business. The outsourcing firm you select should be able to handle other duties, including your inventory, packing, and shipping requirements. You can concentrate on your core business operations to grow your firm to the next level.
2. Reduce operational costs.
Reducing operational and infrastructural costs is one of the significant advantages of outsourcing your e-commerce business. You can reduce the cost of recruiting new staff and leasing extra space for new infrastructure with e-commerce management services.
Further, you can save much money on your current team as they can better concentrate on their assigned tasks. You might use these funds to expand your business opportunities instead.
3. Increase efficiency.
E-commerce support services are typically highly specialized and knowledgeable about the e-commerce sector. They are therefore well-versed in the existing operating procedures and rules, which will facilitate good client relations. Additionally, their knowledge will make your e-commerce firm more effective.
4. Reduce risks.
When your e-commerce activities are outsourced, it will help lessen liability and related risks. The savvy e-commerce service provider will typically have success managing significant projects and brands. This can help you to identify concerns like traffic spikes, credit card theft, and more. And you can avoid and eliminate business hazards by utilizing their best practices.
5. Increase your resource flexibility.
E-commerce outsourcing will support financial stability and flexibility based on demand fluctuations, such as during the off-season or extended holidays.Your service providers might offer you further assistance even if you have pressing needs for human resources.
6. Develop a competitive advantage.
Your brand will increase its competitive advantage in the market due to outsourcing your e-commerce operation. This is obviously another significant benefit.
You can concentrate on your primary business, enhance efficiency, and effectively manage internal resources with specialist e-commerce outsourced services. With this, you can expand your company more quickly than your rivals.
Highlighted above are the main advantages of outsourcing your e-commerce business, but of course there will be others. When you outsource your business, your provider ought to offer you several benefits to help you grow. Additionally, they’ll give you access to the newest technology and innovative opportunities to boost your productivity.
Featured Image: Alena Darmel; Pexels.com. Thank you!
12 Habits of Highly Effective Teams
It’s never easy leading a team, regardless of how many members you have. When different types of people are grouped together with different temperaments, miscommunication can occur, which inhibits workplace productivity. As a result, it can drive you to climb the walls. With a bit of tact, however, you can get your team to reach great professional heights.
According to legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
Even though leading a team can be challenging, working in a team can motivate, inspire, and drive employees. It is important to remember, though, that putting together a team at work does not guarantee its success right away. To be truly effective, a team must adopt a variety of positive habits and behaviors. And here are 12 such habits.
1. Quality 1:1s are scheduled every week or biweekly.
In terms of 1:1s, it’s difficult to put a value on them. Or, so we thought. But, we now have plenty of data to measure this essential soft skill.
Studies show regular 1:1s can boost productivity, reduce stress, solve bottled-up frustrations, and more.
As reported by Gallup: “On average, only 15% of employees who work for a manager who does not meet with them regularly are engaged; managers who regularly meet with their employees almost tripled that level of engagement.”
Similarly, a report from MHA in 2021 showed that talking to a manager about stressful things at work was strongly tied to the most healthy workplaces.
Moreover, due to regular 1:1s, GE managed to “drive a fivefold productivity increase in just one year.”
Undoubtedly, 1:1s play a fundamental role in high-performing teams, regardless of industry. Most leaders, however, do not prepare adequately for or do not have these opportunities.
2. The main goal of all parties is the same.
Each of us has some goal when we start a new job or project. But do those goals align with the rest of your team?
The entire team’s goal must be the same, even if some team members have different objectives. To be truly successful, a team must have the same principal goals and strive to achieve them all. In an environment where everyone is heading in the same direction, delays and project deviations are less likely to occur.
I would suggest setting new team goals every quarter. Ideally, this should be an active objective to keep everyone engaged. This could be a significant milestone within the next three months, like increasing overall productivity or completing a project.
When setting these intentions, make sure they’re SMART. In other words, every goal needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Remember, many goals can cause employees stress or anxiety if this standard isn’t met. You can alleviate this by setting them up for success from the get-go.
Also, I strongly recommend that everyone track new goals using their calendars.
3. Encourage time blocking.
“As the name implies, blocking your time is a way to plan your day into manageable chunks,” explains Calendar Co-Founder John Rampton. “More specifically, each block of time is devoted to one particular task or a group of similar activities.”
“In contrast to a to-do list, time blocking tells you when and what to do at any given time,” Rampton adds. At first, the concept might seem counterintuitive. However, dividing your calendar into blocks keeps you focused. Also, it keeps other people from stealing your time.
“Furthermore, time blocking lets you begin each day with specific tasks to complete rather than following an ever-expanding to-do list,” he adds.
As a leader, promote and encourage time blocking. How? Tell your team things like, “I’ve got 30 minutes to review your proposal on Tuesday, so I’ll let you know.”
It’s easy for them to follow your example if you show them how you do it.
4. Maintain a distraction-free working environment.
Get in the habit of “Play Hard to Get” from Not Today: 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity by Erica and Mike Schultz. It sounds obvious. But you can’t be productive when you’re distracted.
According to a survey by Mopria Alliance on workplace distractions, today’s workers experience 77 distractions a week, or one distraction every 31 minutes. Mopria Alliance’s survey found that most in-office and work-from-home employees were distracted by:
- Answering personal communications (such as online chats, texts, and phone calls)
- Checking their email
- Internet browsing
- Having unplanned conversations with colleagues
Not only does this interfere with their productivity, but it also can contribute to a decline in their mental health. With that said, you might ask your team to pause Slack notifications, close out of email, and keep their phones out of reach while they’re engaged in deep work.
5. Give your team members ownership.
In a team environment, everyone shares equal responsibility and accountability for their responsibilities and quality of work. Additionally, “team ownership” does not mean someone owns the team. It means that everyone has equal ownership.
As part of team ownership, employees ask each other for feedback, such as:
- “What is going well for you today?”
- “If you need assistance with this assignment, what can I do?”
- “Are you going to finish your assignment by the deadline?”
Overall, it emphasizes collaboration, communication, and collective leadership.
To implement ownership among your team, here are some ways to get started:
- First, make sure that they feel like they belong, like celebrating wins.
- Then, give your team a sense of ownership. For example, let them choose how and when to work.
- Align work, goals, and purpose. Developing a solid sense of purpose at work is strongly correlated with making intentional efforts to improve performance, according to a Northwestern University study.
- Avoid micromanaging. Rather than focusing on the small details, think about the big picture.
- Get input from your team. Encourage everyone to provide constructive, kind peer feedback to each other.
- Eliminate the culture of blame. Every team will inevitably miss a deadline, make an error, or underestimate a risk at some point. Use these mistakes as learning moments instead of pointing fingers or feeling angry.
- Reward your team for success, as well as being transparent.
6. Allow free dialogue to take place.
Communicating openly within the workplace should be a habit all leaders adopt. The key to having an accessible dialog is to avoid being rude. Instead, the idea is to allow your team to express ideas, proposals, and suggestions for improvement without worry.
Honesty is also part of open communication. As such, encourage your team to give feedback and share opinions. By doing this, you’ll always know how your team feels and what you can do to make improvements.
If you want the conversation to flow freely, try the following:
- During work hours, you can have informal meetings. The occasional half-hour coffee break will not significantly affect the total productivity score. But it will strengthen the personal relationship between your team.
- Make an online hub where everyone can communicate and collaborate. This could be an online blog or a Slack channel where team members can exchange ideas or offer advice.
- Get the team together after work for some team activities. For example, you can organize a weekend team-building event or a monthly dinner. Regardless, let everyone gather in an environment that isn’t an office. And, leave the work talk back at the office.
Keep in mind that open communication involves both parties, so make sure you’re involved as well.
7. Embrace healthy debate.
“An absence of any conflict or debate on a team may be a sign of a dysfunctional team,” writes business speaker, author, and workplace trainer Michael Kerr. “The absence of heated debate might indicate apathy, complacency with the status quo, a lack of passion, or an inability to share uncomfortable truths or differing opinions – which can lead to dangerous group thinks.”
“The best teams encourage healthy debates that focus on ideas, not personalities,” Kerr adds.
8. Avoid positional thinking.
“Your position or title shouldn’t define your leadership,” says John Maxwell. “That’s positional thinking, and it will cause you to disconnect as a leader.”
Influence is the essence of leadership. “Nothing more, nothing less,” he adds. “I make it my goal to see the people I lead as teammates, not employees. We work together toward a common goal.”
In other words, if a team “wins,” it isn’t because the one-star player did well. It’s because everyone played well. Get your employees to adopt this attitude, then build a team that helps each other shine. As Ralph Nader perfectly put it, “The role of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
9. Assume the best intent.
In my opinion, this is probably the easiest habit to break but the hardest to remember. People tend to assume someone purposefully fails you when tensions are high, and frustrations are peaking. But, at the same time, making a choice to be happy and assuming nobody meant to frustrate and irritate you is much more complicated.
Even on high-performing teams, there may be instances where your assumption is incorrect. But this tends to be the exception, not the norm. When we take a moment to pause and assume positive intent, we’re able to reframe circumstances to reflect a more positive outlook.
10. Work at an optimal pace.
“It’s not about speed but finding the right pace,” says executive leadership coach Lolly Daskal. “If your team moves too quickly, burnout will soon begin to set in; too slowly, and things become stagnant.”
To continue to grow and succeed, productive teams must find the right balance, Daskal adds. As a result, it is now more important than ever to create an environment in which teams can work effectively. “Every team member wants to know: Do I have to work around the clock to look productive, or can I pace myself to bring out my best work?”
11. Embrace failure using the Waterline Principle.
What’s the Waterline Principle? W.L. Gore popularized this idea:
“The waterline principle means that it’s ok to make a decision that might punch a hole in the boat as long as the hole is above the waterline so that it won’t potentially sink the ship.
But, if the decision might create a hole below the waterline which might cause the ship to sink, then associates are encouraged to consult with their team so that a collaborative decision can be made.”
Giving your team the freedom to fail is what the Waterline Principle is all about. Let your team be independent and take risks where mistakes won’t hurt them or the business too badly.
Taking this approach can contribute to an open team environment and take a balanced approach to failure. Additionally, it can accelerate everyone’s development by giving them more opportunities to learn from experience.
12. Have fun.
In the end, you want your team members to enjoy working together and enjoying their work. When a team works well together, they have fun, leading to more productive and efficient results.
In the opinion of author Dave Hemsath, fun is the single most important characteristic of a highly effective and successful organization. Why? Because companies with a fun-oriented culture offer lower absenteeism, higher job satisfaction, less downtime, and greater employee loyalty.
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Featured Image Credit: Photo by Alena Darmel; Pexels; Thank you!
7 Tips for Small Business Marketing
If you want to get your small business off the ground, you know how important it is to attract new customers. Without any new customers, your business would have no way of expanding and growing. And one of the quickest ways you can broaden your customer base is by harnessing the power of marketing.
But small business marketing isn’t something that just happens overnight. A successful strategy needs lots of planning, research, and effort — none of which can be done without the right information. To help you get started on your small business marketing plan, we’ve put together this handy starter guide of 7 tips for marketing a small business.
1. Email Marketing
Email is a great way to market your small business. It’s quick, easy, and inexpensive to set up a newsletter or email campaign. Plus, you can use it to showcase your products and services and bring people back to your website. Email marketing also allows you to target specific groups of customers based on your analytics data, which can help to improve your ROI.
Moreover, email marketing is a great way to get customers’ attention and keep them engaged with your brand. Here are some things to consider when using email marketing as part of your small business strategy:
- Use a newsletter to build relationships with customers.
- Send coupons and discounts using email marketing.
- Use email marketing to promote special events.
- Make people feel like a part of your brand by sending them exclusive content.
- Offer freebies or discounts in exchange for an email address.
- Give people more than one way to opt-out of receiving your emails.
- Always follow up with buyers.
No matter what, make sure your email marketing efforts align closely with your business goals. If you don’t have a way to measure how effective your campaign is, then there’s no point in sending out emails.
2. Increase Brand Awareness
Increasing brand awareness is one of the most essential steps in building a successful small business. You can do this by creating an effective social media strategy and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Building relationships with influencers will help to spread the word about your brand online and offline through word-of-mouth marketing campaigns.
Having a strong brand can also be appealing to potential customers. Customers are more likely to buy from a brand they trust, so developing a strong reputation is crucial for building your business.
Customer service is another important aspect of building a great brand. You need to provide customers with the best customer experience possible to win them over. This can mean offering quick responses on social media, answering questions and inquiries quickly via email support, or even providing phone support for customers who prefer it.
3. Develop a Detailed Marketing Plan
If you want to be successful at marketing your business, you should have a detailed plan in place to help you track and reach your goals. This plan should include the steps you need to take to achieve your business goals as well as a timeline for when each step will be completed.
A good marketing strategy would include things like:
- Identifying your target audience.
- Creating a persona for each persona in your target audience.
- Determining what types of content will resonate with your audience.
- Creating an online presence on social media platforms and other websites.
- Creating a marketing calendar to keep track of when you will post content, send out emails, and run paid advertisements using tools like Facebook ads.
These are all important components of a marketing strategy, and you must take the time to create one if you want your business to succeed.
4. Focus on Content Marketing
Content marketing does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. You can write articles for your website or blog, create videos and share them on social media, or shoot photos of your products that you can post on Instagram or Pinterest. The more content you create, the better your chances of attracting new customers through search engines like Google and Bing.
As part of any good inbound marketing campaign, you should focus on creating high-quality content that is relevant to your audience. It’s one of the most effective ways to build trust with potential customers and establish yourself as an expert in your industry.
Always be on the lookout for new and innovative ways to incorporate content marketing into your business marketing strategy. For example, you could try:
- SMS marketing to reach people on their mobile phones.
- Podcasts and webinars to reach a wider audience and boost your brand awareness.
- Twitter chats, Facebook Live, Instagram Stories or Snapchat to connect with customers in real-time.
The sky is the limit when it comes to content marketing. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is an incredibly important part of any marketing strategy, but it can be overwhelming for a small business owner who doesn’t have much experience in this area. Consider working with an SEO expert who can help you create an effective plan for improving your search engine ranking over time.
You can use SEO to:
- Increase your website traffic.
- Improve your organic search rankings.
- Drive more leads to your business.
In addition, local SEO can help attract more foot traffic into your store or office by targeting people who are close by. You can also leverage your existing customers to generate more business by providing them with the tools they need to share your content with their friends. Use tools like Google My Business to quickly and easily create an online presence in your local area.
6. Video Marketing
Video marketing can be done in many ways, from a simple explainer video that describes what your company does to a full-blown production with actors and special effects. It depends on how much you want to spend and where you’re hoping to get traffic from.
When you’re creating videos for your business, they should be high quality so that they look professional and attract viewers. You should also have a consistent tone throughout each video so that viewers know what to expect from each one. You can upload videos on multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, making it easy for people around the world to view them.
A few of the best practices for video marketing that you should follow include:
- Create a script for your video and make sure it’s short, sweet, and to the point.
- Keep a consistent tone throughout each video so that viewers know what to expect from each one.
- Don’t cram too much information into one video as it will be difficult for viewers to follow along.
- Make sure that each video has a call-to-action so that viewers know what you want them to do after watching it.
Video marketing is an effective way to reach a large audience and build your brand. It’s also an important part of any digital marketing strategy, especially if you want to reach people who live outside of your area. As long as you follow the best practices for video marketing, it should be easy to create videos that people love watching.
7. Website Design
Website design is important because it determines how your business is represented online. Your website should be easy to navigate, and the information on it should be easy to find. You should also make sure that your site is mobile-friendly so that people can see it on a phone or tablet without having to zoom in or scroll around.
You can improve your website by ensuring all the links work and adding content like blog posts and videos. You should also add a contact form so that people can get in touch with you if they want more information about your services or products.
It will also be necessary to incorporate SEO into your website so that it appears higher in search engine results. You can do this by including keywords in your content and using them in the titles of your blog posts. It would also be helpful to add social media buttons to your site so that people who like what they see can share it with their friends and followers online.
A strong website is essential for any business, but it’s especially important for sellers of services and products. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on your website, there are plenty of ways to ensure it looks professional and attractive.
Tracking Website Visitors
Using analytics tools like Google Analytics can help you understand who is visiting your site and what they want to see. It can also help you identify areas where you can improve, such as making your site more mobile-friendly or improving the quality of your content.
You can also incorporate tracking into your advertising campaigns. For example, if you use Google Ads or Google Adwords to promote your website, you can use Google Analytics to track how many people click on your ad. That can help you determine if the campaign is working and how much money it’s costing you.
Marketing a small business is a full-time job, and it’s up to you to define your strategy. You won’t get it right on the first try; it takes time to get to know your customers and figure out where they spend their time.
But by following these guidelines and incorporating them into your company’s mission statement, you can begin defining your own small business marketing strategy from the start and get ahead of your competition. And if you’re having a hard time, consider reaching out to a small business marketing agency like Scorpion for some help.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS; Pexels; Thank you!