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5 Ways SMB Owners Can Use A Bullet Journal To Solve Their Biggest Problems

5 Ways SMB Owners Can Use A Bullet Journal To Solve Their Biggest Problems

A bullet journal is not just a habit that will make you better at using technology. It could make you a more proactive, more effective leader no matter what your firm is facing on a day-to-day basis.

The early days of starting and growing a business can be quite an adventure — almost worth chronicling in a diary to reflect on at a future date. For many small and medium-sized business owners, though, that kind of storytelling may feel like a luxury they can’t afford. A bullet journal, on the other hand, may help them ensure their story turns out to be a success.

Bullet journals are not a specific product sold by a particular company. It’s a concept of note-taking that has become wildly popular in recent years because it allows busy professionals to easily organize their thoughts and activities as their day progresses. A lot the fundamentals of bullet journaling can be found online, but here’s the basic idea:

  • choose a paper-based or even electronic journal (like a Word document)
  • establish a series of symbols you’ll use to annotate the notes you make, such as an X for “Task Complete,” a “>” symbol for “Task Migrated” and a “<“ for “Task Scheduled.”
  • use signifiers to give bulleted items additional context.

What’s a signifier, you ask? These are simply little symbols you use to associate a concept with the items in your bullet journal. An exclamation point right before an entry, for instance, might indicate it’s urgent. Some use a hand-drawn eye symbol to indicate an item that needs further reflection.

If that isn’t specific enough, here are some ideas of how you could develop a bullet journal that speaks directly to some of the day-to-day priorities that matter to the average SMB. Feel free to use these or customize your own:

$ — Dollar signs usually grab anyone’s attention, but in this case it’s related to sales data rather than the cost of an individual item or a business expense.

As you hear information from your team about a customer or prospect, use notes with this signifier as a reminder to see how well it’s being captured in tools such as Sales Cloud. The more customer data get entered into CRM, the more likely you’ll be able to see trends and patterns that lead directly to more closed deals and overall business growth.

Too often, however, SMBs may not stay on top of how well CRM is being used in the sales process until the end of the quarter, or the fiscal year. Your bullet journal can be a way of remembering to talk to your team about how well they’re managing this information.

@ — It’s been on keyboards since the days of typewriters, but ever since the advent of personal computers, this is been something we associate with sending and receiving email. That makes it a great signifier to take notes in your bullet journal about marketing.

As you examine current sales and forecasts, for instance, examine how well your firm is generating awareness, driving demand and nurturing more customer loyalty. How often do you notice something that suggests a disconnect in the way you’re trying to reach customers and prospects versus the channels they’re using to talk to your company? Marketing automation tools such as Marketing Cloud are a great way to follow up on these sorts of notes and get the full picture of how you’re using not only email but your website, online ads and even text messages to engage with customers.

% — Don’t think of this as a percentage symbol. Think of it as an image of two people on either end of the phone, or an email thread, or a social media conversation. This is a signifier for customer service-related issues. If you hear, for instance, about the team taking too long to resolve a particular issue, note the details and dive into Service Cloud to learn why.

In many cases, service issues can also be automated or more predictable based on the data you collect and manage through working with everyday questions and complaints from customers. Make a note in your bullet journal at least once a week to ensure you treat customer service as a high-level priority in building your reputation in the industry.

# — If you’ve ever used Twitter or LinkedIn, you’ve probably used the “pound” or hash sign. That hashtag might be used in more traditional bullet journals as a way to note down phone numbers, but in the case of an SMB it could be used to record ideas, thoughts and observations about how your firm is using social media.

What have you heard, for instance, about the comments and questions that are coming through such channels? How often is your firm engaging on social, and in what ways? How can you turn social media listening and activity into tangible business results?

{} — These are those squiggly brackets you see on a keyboard, but in this case they’ve been shoved together where they almost look like a two faces looking in opposite directions. That’s a great way to think about the all-seeing nature of artificial intelligence (AI). Salesforce Einstein, for instance, uses sophisticated algorithms to sift through the data in tools like Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud to tell SMB owners what kind of changes might take place in their business.

It may not always be easy to grasp exactly where AI could bring value in decision-making, so as big issues come up, use this signifier to note down where you could test the technology and learn what’s possible.

A bullet journal is not just a habit that will make you better at using technology. It could make you a more proactive, more effective leader no matter what your firm is facing on a day-to-day basis. Take note!

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