5 Business Essentials That are Becoming Obsolete

Are you running your small business as if it were the past, or are you focusing your efforts on the future? Don’t be like Yahoo’s Melissa Mayer, trying to revive a flagging company by implementing outdated work methods. Instead, learn which former business essentials are quickly becoming obsolete, and how your company can work differently.

old desktop PC
photo credit: Blake Patterson

1. Email

Why is email on track to obsolescence? Because it’s broken. Workers spend up to 20 percent of their time simply managing email instead of getting work done, and the majority of that email contains very little to do with their actual objectives and goals. Instead of developing or marketing products, your staff is weeding out spam or getting sidelined into lengthy email “discussions” that could be resolved with a quick chat.

If your staff is email overwhelmed, introduce them to new management tactics such as daily Scrum-style project check-ins, or “Email-free Fridays” where all discussions must happen face-to-face or over VOiP video chat. Talk to them about good email strategies, such as crafting three-sentence emails that specifically state the problem and the actions you are going to take to solve it. Explain that if an email requires more than three replies, it becomes a face-to-face discussion. Then sit back and watch as new methods of communication unfold.

2. Fax Machines

Many businesses, notably hospitals, still require sensitive information to arrive via fax. However, that doesn’t mean you need to own a fax machine. If your office has a scanner, you have a fax service; simply scan documents and use an online fax program such as MyFax, ranked the top online fax program by Lifehacker. You don’t even need a fax machine to receive faxes; all you need is a fax number.

3. International Dialing

As TollFreeForwarding notes: customers and clients just won’t dial complicated international codes to reach you. With your employees, vendors, and potential customers spread around the world, it’s up to you to work with an international phone number service to make sure you have local numbers set up in every country with which you do business. These local numbers reroute through a hub, so you can call Mumbai, Bangkok, or London without having to remember how many ones and twos to dial beforehand.

4. Desktop Computers

The days of the desktop are nearly over. Now that office workers do as much business away from the office as in it, they want all of their files and folders to remain constant, and are as likely to work on their personal or company-provided laptop all day as they are to touch the large desktop machine gathering dust in the corner.

5. Offices

Yes, even offices themselves are nearing obsolescence. While Yahoo’s Marissa Meyer famously told all of her teleworking employees to get back into their cubes, companies such as 37Signals let employees work wherever they like and don’t even require staff to live in the same city. Their new book, Remote: Office Not Required, releases on October 29.

Meanwhile, workplace expert Penelope Trunk tells employees that, for career happiness, they need a job where they are free to work from home — or from anywhere. Expect this to be the new trend in upcoming years, and prepare accordingly.

As the desktop computer goes the way of the paper memo, and as new business communication techniques come up to replace the old, it’s your job as a small business entrepreneur to ensure your staff reaps the benefit of these new technologies. Don’t force your teams to use obsolete tools; instead, let them embrace the new best practices of doing business.

About the Author: This article is written by Tara Miller.