The Future of Work for Small Business Success

Every small business needs to continuously innovate, focus on customers, keep up with competition and respond to regulations. Millions of small businesses evaluate on a daily basis new tools and technologies to perform work more efficiently, at a lower cost and with higher quality. Entrepreneurs are laser focused on such innovation and often believe that it is sufficient for their long term success.

But are they paying enough attention to how the latest technologies are changing the way we work? Are they taking full advantage of the way today's workforce is changing? Can they tap into a deep talent pool available? Is there a new way to organize in order to achieve a breakthrough performance? Can an established small business adopt techniques that many hi-tech start-ups have been using?

Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

Douglas Adams, Salmon of Doubt

The Answer is a resounding "Yes"

Recently there has been a lot written about "the future of work." While there is no clear definition of what this term means, pioneers in this area are demonstrating how a few simple changes in the way they organize themselves can lead to significant results.

Every small business, no matter what industry it operates in, should evaluate how to apply these new ways to change the way they work. Successful companies of tomorrow will:

Access talent on demand – work and expertise are becoming more like a tradeable commodity rather than a job with freelancers and independent contractors providing needed expertise when needed. Online talent marketplaces are an indispensable resource for any small business needing to engage experts for a specific project or work. Entrepreneurs must be prepared to actively consider and engage with such marketplaces to supplement their staff, manage their workforce and control costs.

Pay for results rather than time - work arrangements that focus on specific deliverables rather than time spent in the office will benefit both business owners and freelancers. Workers seeking flexibility and freedom can choose to work as they like while business owners can be assured that they will pay only for what they need.

Extend boundaries of the enterprise - today’s collaboration tools offer many advanced features that are easy to use and can significantly boost productivity of teams. Any small business can use collaboration tools to expand the boundaries of the organization beyond employees and include freelancers, suppliers and partners.

Encourage flexible teams - blending social networking, on demand talent and collaboration tools small business owners can effectively create a workforce perfectly fit for their needs and budget. Rather than focusing on hierarchy and command structure, entrepreneurs can focus on their customers and adjust their organizations in real-time to meet changing demand.

While change is not easy to implement, long term benefits can be substantial and every small business needs to make addressing the future of work part of their strategy.

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