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What’s More Important: Your Story…Or How You Tell It?

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It’s the Public Relations version of the chicken and the egg debate. What factor carries more weight when it comes to effectively communicating a story or message? Is it the quality of content or is it how you present it and to whom?

I’ve given this quite a bit of thought. As a Public Relations consultant, I’ve had to. At the core of what I do is help people write and share their personal or professional “stories.” After nearly a decade, I think I have the answer. Before what I share what it is, I first want to make a few things clear.

Even the best story won’t get noticed if…

It’s not told. This may sound more obvious than helpful, but it’s where so many people get stuck – the beginning. It’s challenging to put something into words, especially when that “something” is important to you. Conversely, you may think you’ve told your story or shared your message, but it doesn’t accurately capture the emotion or value you want to convey. If a story is not told, or told correctly it will never get the attention it deserves.

It’s hard to understand. Even if you put into words everything you want to say, that doesn’t mean that it is content that will get noticed. If your story is poorly written it will be hard to grasp the core message. It also won’t be enjoyable to read, which will turn people off before they get too far in.

It’s irrelevant. One of the easiest ways to annoy people is to waste their time with a story or message that is irrelevant to their interests or purposes. Worse yet, this can negatively impact your reputation and cause people to tune you out even if you do have a valuable message to share with them later on.

Even the most clever presentation will be ignored if…

It’s lacking a real story. All the glitz and graphics in the world won’t overshadow a story that has no real story. I most often see this when clients want media attention for something that’s not really newsworthy. No matter how you spin it, you’re just not going to get national media coverage for hiring a new account executive at your mid-sized firm.

It’s hitting the wrong audience. Think of what you’re trying to sell and who is most likely to buy it. It’s important to meet your target audience where they are. How do they consume media? If you’re trying to share the story of your fashion business with a local sports reporter, the chances are just about 100% that they are not interested in publishing it – at least under their column. When pulling media lists or targeting a demographic, check and re-check that you’re hitting the right audience.

It doesn’t provide value to others. If the story you’re telling is solely self-promotional, you’re not going to connect with your readers. As humans, we need to know what’s in it for us. It’s perfectly fine to have some personal gain from the story, but this needs to accompanied by a component of service, helpfulness, insight or entertainment.

The Answer

As your gut might tell you, it takes both a strong story and powerful presentation to have the best possible outcome. Either of these on their own simply isn’t enough. Throughout my career I have seen examples that reinforce this conclusion again and again. A client will come to me wanting to gain media attention for something that simply isn’t newsworthy. There’s no angle or reason anyone else would care about that particular topic. It sounds harsh, but my job is to be honest and, at times, deliver the hard truth. After all, it can save a client both money and frustration.

Or the opposite might be true. They have a great story to tell, newsworthy through and through, but the way in which it was crafted doesn’t do it justice. A story told poorly might as well be a story that is never told, because you’re not really telling the true story. It’s hidden. In this instance, there is something I can do to help. When a client comes to me with a genuinely good story to tell, it’s like striking gold. It’s extremely fulfilling when I’m able to set the story free and get it in front of the right people to amplify its reach.

If you feel you have a story to tell, keep in mind that it takes both solid content and smart dissemination to effectively share your message. That’s not to say every story or message needs to be the wittiest, most captivating thing people will ever read, but at minimum it needs to hit the points I mentioned above.

And if you’re still not sure if you have an interesting story to tell, or that it’s not being shared as well as it could be, ask a professional communicator! We know what to look for…and we’ll give you the good, the bad and the ugly.

What untold story do you have to tell? Practice your “pitch” by leaving a teaser in the comments below!

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Posted by on February 11, 2019 in Business, Business & Success, Life

 

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7 Mistakes that Push Away New Business

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


7 Mistakes that Push Away New Business

When you’re fortunate to have new business come knocking at your door, it’s still far from a done deal. Winning over a client takes time, patience and strategy. In my industry, things always begin with an initial client phone call or an in-person meeting. This casual, first meeting is the opportunity for both parties to feel each other out. Do our visions and values align? Do we share realistic expectations for what can be accomplished with the given budget and time frame? Most importantly, is there chemistry? No, nothing romantic, just a good synergy that will help create a productive working relationship.

Even if all of these things appear to be on target, there are still quite a few ways in which I can push away this new business, if I’m not careful. While the ability to read a client and build a strong connection from the start isn’t something you can necessarily teach, there are a few obvious mistakes you should avoid when trying to win over a new client. Save yourself some future regret but taking note of the next seven items on this list!

  1. Being unresponsive

The first mistake you can make is to be anything but highly responsive to your prospective client. This is the first impression you make. If they call you to learn more about your services, respond to them same day. Even if you’re not able to connect by phone, the least you can do is email them to set up a time for a future phone call or meeting. Carry this level of responsiveness into every phase of working with this client. Chronically late responses are a red flag to the client that you may not be the easiest person work with.

  1. Acting like you have all the answers

In your first client meeting, don’t come in there like you have all the answers. You don’t. You’re meeting this client for the first time and you likely know little about the industry and nothing about their business (more than a website and social media can tell you). I know in my case, people call me in because there are serious internal problems taking place. This is something you can’t know simply by Googling them. Come ready to listen, take notes and ask questions.

  1. Lacking examples of your insight and experiences

While you don’t want to come in acting like you know everything about the client’s particular business, you do want to walk in ready to prove your knowledge and expertise. Offer plenty of examples of past client success stories that relate to the services you may provide to this new client. Real-world examples are not only powerful, they are memorable. Additionally, be prepared to offer some examples of new ideas you have, tailored to the client’s needs. Make them feel like you’re offering fresh solutions and not something canned that you provide to every client.

  1. Pushing a client toward a final decision in your first meeting

Let the first meeting be a no-pressure zone. If you do a good job selling yourself, there is no need to pressure a new client into making a final decision as to whether they want to work with you right then and there. In fact, it’s likely going to be in your favor to have them sleep on the ideas you presented and to get even more excited about them! Don’t be so desperate to close the deal that you end up closing the door on yourself.

  1. Leaving the first meeting with no action plan

Just because you’re not going to pressure the new client into a final decision doesn’t mean you can’t have a clear path for the next steps you will take toward that final decision. You need to leave the meeting with an action plan in place. If possible, leave with the ball in your court. That means it’s on you to get the client a proposal or follow-up with additional information to help them make a decision. This gives you the power to reach out to them on your terms, rather than waiting to hear back from the client.

  1. Not following-up

This loops back to mistake number one and the need to be responsive. Just as it’s important to be responsive, it’s equally important to initiate a response. Give the client some space after your first meeting and after you’ve provided them with a proposal and an outline of next steps. Then, about one week later (or if they specified how much time they need), follow-up! Keep it short and sincere. Ask them if they have any additional questions you can answer. Or if a new idea has come to you, share that with them – along with your enthusiasm for working with them soon. These techniques enable you to stay in touch without nagging them.

  1. Charging a new client for your business development time

Another mistake that pushes away new business is charging for things like your first consultation meeting, putting together a proposal or any other initial communications. If you’re properly vetting your leads, you should be closing just about every new client meeting you take. Your time spent in business development stands to yield far more profit in the long-run than the couple hundred dollars you may make charging your client for every interaction. Furthermore, the practice of nickel and diming a client is sure to make them question your business practices and possibly scare them off altogether. Do your homework, qualify your leads and then invest that initial time at no cost, knowing you have a great shot at making it back ten-fold!

Have you made any of these same mistakes and found that it pushed away new business? Or can you think of something else that is missing from this list? Share your ideas by leaving a comment below!

 
 

Why Virtual Businesses are the New Norm (Contribution from Ujëbardha Bekolli of Mother-Works)

The following post comes to us from Ujebardha Bekolli who is a writer for mother-works.com. MotherWorks is a job portal designed to bring together stay at home moms and recruiters. The platform also brings helpful articles in the blog section regarding mothers who want to return to the workforce.


why virtual businesses are the new norm

Why Virtual Businesses are the New Norm

People’s lifestyles have changed these past years. With the revolution of the internet, we have discovered that we don’t need to go to an office to do a job. Companies’ ongoing intentions of lowering costs and people’s needs for flexibility, together with the internet revolution have created the perfect climate for a new way of doing business. Virtually.

A virtual business consists of constant activities you have to do in order to create a product or service. So virtual businesses is basically an organization with no office where all of the employees work remotely. The roles are separate, there are managers and supervisors, they just don’t work under the same roof.

But nowadays, remote jobs are not considered only as an option, there are companies who operate completely virtually. Hundreds of companies proving that this is doable and can work. The number of companies operating remotely keeps growing every day. The largest business in the world, Amazon, is a virtual business. Amazon is the world’s largest retailer and employs over 150,000 people. Many businesses operating in the same industry have found it hard to compete with Amazon due to its low cost operating policy and innovative nature.

Amazon is only one example of virtual business, but it shows us that traditional business making is not the only way to go. The way virtual businesses work is by outsourcing many operations to third-party companies, but still keeping some core activities in-house.

How they do it?!

One of the greatest challenges of virtual businesses is recruiting. While most people like the idea of remote working, few are cut out for it. Isolation, time management, and burnout are some of the few challenges employees face when they work remotely.  To overcome these challenges, companies have carefully curated recruiting systems and communication canals that fight that.

There are some characteristics that define people who are fit to work remotely. Better said, there are some things to be established before employees recruit some for a remote job. The ability to take action and prioritize is a key factor when working remotely.

Of course, like with everything else, this way of making business has its advantages and disadvantages.

The Good

Counting down the good and the bad for virtual business is the way to understand why it has become so huge. People’s search for flexible jobs is at its core what makes virtual business the success it is. Not only do virtual businesses offer their employees flexibility, but they become a flexible themselves and adapt to change faster. Another reason is the cutting down of costs. By having a virtual business, you don’t have to pay rent, utilities, energy, water, etc. Even if you have headquarters, the costs are still lower.

In a study conducted by professor Nicholas Bloom, he found that people who are allowed to work from home have higher job satisfaction and work more efficiently in comparison to the ones who had to work in an office.

The Bad

But there are also a few downsides to running your business remotely. Communication becomes harder when all of your employees are operating from different places. This may cause miscommunications, leading to mistakes that could cost the company more. Another thing people are concerned about is the reduced productivity one the people who are not easily self-motivated.

Lastly, it comes down to this. The new way of business making has changed the way we think about efficiency and productivity. People’s needs and demands are changing and companies are finding ways to offer better products and services with lower costs and modernized operations. This is why virtual businesses are the new norm.

Have you had any experience working from a virtual office? Share what you have found to be the highs and lows of this booming trends in businesses by leaving a comment below!

 

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7 Things I Will Never Have as a Business Owner

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


7 Things I Will Never Have as a Business Owner

While there are many advantages to being your own boss, there are also certain things you may never experience again (for the most part). Depending upon how you look at it, this could be a win-win scenario. Either way, now six years into running my own business, I’ve realized that there are a few things I will likely never have as a business owner.

A Day Completely Free From Work

The upside to running my own business, I can work from anywhere. The downside, I can work from anywhere. For this reason, my work followers me anywhere I have internet access. And even without internet access, it’s still on my mind. I’m not likely to ever go completely “offline” for more than a day, but that’s because I prefer to stay on top of my work and grow my business. When you’re passionate about what you do, you’re not always craving that next vacation!

Limited Vacation Days

Speaking of vacation, I can time off whenever I feel like it and as often as I want to. It still holds true that my work will be something I carry with me, but I doubt anyone feels too sorry when I’m checking emails from the Bahamas. Being a business owner is about balance. I can take unlimited vacation days, but I’m still responsible for delivering what I promised to my clients. Time management is key.

A Tax Return

I gave up hope a long time ago that I would ever see a tax return. As a business owner, I pay not only at tax time, but I pay quarterly throughout the year leading up to it. It’s important to point out that my clients don’t withhold taxes in their payments, so it’s strictly on me to make sure I am paying the fair and appropriate amount of taxes based on my income. Similar to having unlimited vacation days, I don’t expect anyone to feel bad for my tax situation. After all, if I’m paying more it means I’m earning more. But I have to laugh at the commercials that suggest I use my tax return for this or that. It’s been nearly a decade since the IRS wrote me a check.

Normal Work Hours

For better – and worse – I don’t have set “normal” work hours. It works out for the most part that I’m in front of my computer between 9 and 4, but there will be times I’m taking a 8pm conference call or I’m online at 6am to clean up my inbox. On the upside, I can also go offline for a couple hours in the morning to get in a work out, or in the afternoon to catch a nap. I’m so far removed from the concept of a 9-5 job that I doubt I would last long in that work environment again.

A Fixed Income

As a business owner, my income is anything but fixed. I have a meager paycheck I receive each month from my business for tax purposes, but I also receive distributions throughout the year however I see fit. Every year and every month, my income is up to me. I have to constantly and consistently satisfy my current clients and keep my pipeline full of new clients. In a crazy scenario, every client could decide to discontinue their services and I would be left at square one. On the flip side (and the more common scenario), I take on additional clients each month and grow my income.

It’s not common that many people can increase their monthly “salary” by a couple thousand dollars in a month by providing the same services they’re already providing to others. For this reason and many others, I love owning a business, and owning my income.

Someone Else Controlling My Schedule

Because no single client owns 100% of my time, they do not have control of my schedule. I remember my life prior to entrepreneurship where I would have someone slap a meeting or conference call on my schedule and so long as it was during normal work hours I had no leverage to push back. I had to stop whatever I was doing to be there. Now, when a client requests a meeting, they provide me with several options and I have the ability to select what works best for me. If I can’t make a meeting, my clients don’t know if it’s because of a work conflict or a hair appointment (or more commonly it doesn’t work with my toddler’s nap schedule). I control my own schedule and strategically plan my days to be efficient and convenient.

A Boring Day

As a business owner, there is no such thing as a boring day. Often the excitement comes from exceeding a client’s expectation or receiving a great lead for new business. Other times, “excitement” is the rush of an emergency or crisis that you have to resolve. Even if I carve a free afternoon to go offline from work, I’m not strapped to my office. I can run errands, do something relaxing or spend time with my kids. Every day and every email is different. The hours fly by and I wouldn’t ever want to return to the days of watching the clock!

Are you a business owner? Can you relate to some of the things I’ve mentioned or do you have an idea of your own to add? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

 

Top 10 Blog Posts on Life and Entrepreneurship in 2018

Top 10 Blog Posts on Life and Entrepreneurship in 2018

Happy New Year’s Eve! Whether your plans to ring in the New Year are big and fancy or small and casual, at midnight tonight our clocks will all tick forward to 2019.

While today is a day that we tend to start looking toward the future and planning for the New Year, there’s one more thing we need to do to close this chapter on 2018. Join me as I take one last look back at 2018 and the topics that hundreds of thousands of you have enjoyed over these past 52 weeks.

#10 – Five New Year’s Resolutions for Better Time Management

If you’re like most people, better time management is a New Year’s resolution you set for yourself just about every January. Start 2019 off right with a new plan for your time management strategy. With fresh ideas and a renewed commitment, you will set yourself up for more success and less stress both personally and professionally.

Read the original blog here.

#9 – How to Win Back a Client

Client relationships aren’t unlike any other relationship we have in our lives. Breakups are hard and sometimes you really want to win someone back, especially if they’ve been good to you. Check out this blog post for tips and best practices to win back a client, and grow your business.

Read the original blog here.

#8 – When Should You Outsource a Task?

There are several key indicators of a task that could and should be outsourced. Read this popular blog post to learn what they are and how to apply them to your own to-do list this New Year.

Read the original blog here.

#7 – Married to an Entrepreneur: 8 Tips to Survive and Thrive

Whether you’ve been married to an entrepreneur or business owner your whole marriage or this is something completely new for you, there are some tried and true secrets to success I’ve discovered from my own experience. Learn what they are in this blog post!

Read the original blog here.

#6 – 11 Tips to Become a Better Public Speaker

Public speaking is a gift, and it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. However, there are some exercises you can do to enhance the necessary skills to become an effective speaker. Even if you don’t foresee the need to speak to groups of hundreds of people in your near future, being a good speaker will help you with everything from small client meetings to convincing your kids to do their chores.

Read the original blog here.

#5 – Love or Hate Infographics, They Work! Here’s Why.

Do you have a love-hate relationship with infographics? I get it. Sometimes this buzzword makes my skin crawl, especially when clients think it’s the solution for just about every communication problem out there. But there is a time and place where infographics can be highly effective. Learn what that is in this popular blog post.

Read the original blog here.

#4 – 7 Tips for Productive Conference Calls

If conference calls often feel like a huge road block in your work day, you’re in good company. I’ve struggled with making conference calls more efficient, and dare I say enjoyable, for years. Here’s what I learned about improving the effectiveness of conference calls.

Read the original blog here.

#3 – 6 Ways to Grow Your Media Relationships

Forging meaningful relationships with key media contacts is helpful for any business owner and entrepreneur. It’s especially helpful for those of us who are in charge of advertising, marketing or public relations for a business. In this blog you’ll learn six ways you can grow your own media relationships in 2019.

Read the original blog here.

#2 – 5 Things Consultants and Freelancers Need to Stop Doing

We often read about what we should be doing, but this blog take the opposite approach of pointing out some really harmful habits of consultants and freelancers that need to stop in 2019. Learn what they are in this blog.

Read the original blog here.

#1 – How Public Relations Makes Advertising More Effective

And finally, at #1 is the most popular blog from 2018. This is something that many business owners and entrepreneurs don’t really take time to think about, but it’s so important for any business – especially if they want their advertising dollars to work harder for them. Start 2019 off right by learning how public relations makes paid advertising more effective.

Read the original blog here.

Which of these top 10 blog posts on life and entrepreneurship inspired you the most? What topics would you like to see me touch upon in 2019? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2018 in Business, Business & Success, Life

 

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31 Lessons from a 30-Something Entrepreneur

What I Learned as an Entrepreneur in my 30s

Tomorrow, December 18, I will turn 31 years old. Last year, as I entered this new decade of my life, I wrote about how I anticipated this new chapter to shift my entrepreneurial outlook and possibly my business model.

Compared to 12 months ago, I would say things feel pretty similar. I was given some unique opportunities to expand my business through new partnerships and into new markets in 2018. However, my core services remain the same, my passion and gratitude for what I do is ever-present and I plan to spend 2019 enjoying the fulfillment – and sometimes luxuries – of my career.

But what I can tell you has changed is the wisdom I carry with me into each client meeting, each presentation and with each email I send. By no means do I have it all figured out, but I have learned some pretty important lessons in the last 7+ years of running my public relations business.

So for my birthday this year, I spent some time reflecting on the advice I received along the way that continues to guide my choices to this day. In honor of turning 31, I’m going to share with you 31 pearls of wisdom that I hope you find as useful and thought-provoking as I have.

1. You have to want it. People can give you the what and the how, but you must be the who and you need to figure out your why.

2. Just because you can outsource something, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re more efficient at completing the task on your own, or it’s a critical part of your business strategy, it’s important to remain hands-on.

3. You will come across clients who aren’t a good fit for your product or services, and vice versa. Don’t chase after them and don’t force it. Listen to your instincts.

4. Your reputation will be the single best branding tool you will ever have. Don’t risk it for anything!

5. No matter your industry or business model, you will have competitors. Get to know them; befriend them. If you do this successfully, you’ll gain a valuable lead generator. There’s more than enough business to go around!

6. You can never overemphasize your thanks and appreciation for your vendors and subcontractors. They make you look good. Make sure they know this.

7. Always know what problem your business is solving. If you can’t easily identify what this is, it’s time to immediately rethink your model.

8. Don’t mourn the loss of a business relationship too hard. Time and time again life will prove that this space will be filled ten-fold, and with better opportunities.

9. Give everyone a second chance. Those who doubted your skills and talents previously, just might become a valuable client or lead generator for you.

10. The reward for good work is more work. To grow your business do good work. Yes, it’s that simple.

11. Just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you should too. Don’t chase every new marketing trend or fad. You’ll waste a lot of time and money doing so. Carefully weigh the right strategies for your business.

12. Keep in mind that your target audience may not be your actual audience. If you’re aiming for one group, but attracting another, it’s time to rethink who you really want to reach.

13. Know how to say no. This world will stretch you way too thin if you’re not strategic about where you choose to invest your time and talent. Even if you know when you say no, knowing how can be a much larger challenge.

14. Find a reason to laugh daily. Even if this means you have to keep a file of memes, photos and funny memories. If life doesn’t get you a reason to laugh that day, create your own.

15. Ask for advice. Try as you might, you will never have all the answers, nor will the internet. Look to your peers for their collective knowledge on topics they know and you do not.

16. Anchor yourself with principles, values and beliefs that feed your soul. As a business owner or entrepreneur, it’s easy to get tossed in the waves of uncertainty without a strong core to keep you anchored.

17. Each of us has a point of diminishing returns when it comes to work and profit. Know when more money means, well…more problems. Don’t let greed or pressure push you beyond this point.

18. For most of us, technology is a necessary evil to do our jobs. However, we must, must be intentional about unplugging on a regular basis – for the sake of our relationships and health.

19. Have someone with whom you can share your failures and struggles. It’s hard to talk about these things and be vulnerable, but this is when we most need support. Have a few key people in your life who will always meet you where you are, and simply listen.

20. Consistency is half the battle with running a successful business. Don’t give up before you’ve barely left the shoreline. If I’m being honest, you need to buckle up and stick with this for at least 5 years before you can make any sort of educated decision about the viability of running your own business.

21. Reliability is the other half of the battle with running a successful business. So many people are simply unreliable. If you can show employers or clients that you are reliable, you already have a leg up on most.

22. Be present. It’s simply not possible for the human mind to truly multi-task. With work tasks, focus on one and see it through to completion, then move on. At home, be present with your family. Work will always be there, but those family moments are fleeting.

23. You might get some projects that are slightly outside the scope of your core services. So long as you’re being compensated for this time, do it anyway! You’re never above licking some envelopes or running to the printer to make copies for a client. And this good will goes a long way.

24. Don’t get paranoid about success. You worked hard. You deserve this. Don’t feel like it can’t last or it will be taken away from you. Enjoy it for what it is, and pay it forward.

25. Don’t get paranoid about failure. You worked hard. This is not a punishment. Don’t feel like it will last forever and can never be overcome. Appreciate it for what it’s teaching you and move forward.

26. Be a person who gives more than they consume – of time, money, material things and especially love and attention.

27. You don’t have to have it all figured out to still run a good business. I made the leap when I had very little experience both as an entrepreneur and in the field of PR. But I’m so glad I started when it did instead of waiting until I felt ready – or I would still be waiting.

28. Everyone will go through stressful or unfulfilling seasons of life. Give yourself grace, but do keep track of damaging patterns. If you’re stuck in a cycle, something has to change in order for you to move forward.

29. Never undervalue networking with your peers. Building the right amount of quality networking into your business development plan will open doors to connections and potential clients you would never meet otherwise. You have to put yourself out there!

30. There is no magic number of years in business or any particular age that determines a successful or established entrepreneur. It’s all relative to your industry, business model and how you define success.

31. The number one thing people want to feel is heard. Even more than liked or respected, if you can make someone feel heard, you will lay the foundation for effective communication.

And one to grow own…

Every entrepreneur’s journey is unique. You will never be able to compare two people’s situations apples-to-apples, so don’t let someone else’s story make you feel self-conscious or insecure. Most importantly, don’t let anyone else’s experience stop you from creating your own!

 

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Stop Making Project Management Complicated

Stop Making Project Management Complicated

As a business owner, project management is right at the top of the list of core services I provide to my clients. I ensure the deadlines we set any myriad of communication projects, are met and that at any given moment, I know the status of the project and who holds the ball to move things forward.

This might seem like a complicated process. When you consider I handle 30-50 different projects for clients any given month, you might assume I have a long list of sophisticated (and expensive) project management tools at my disposal that help me keep my head on straight.

But you would be quite wrong.

I’m not living under a rock. I’m well aware that technology has provided us with some great tools, especially those that aim to streamline and simplify project management. In fact, I’ve tried out many of these tools before. However, time and time again I’ve been disappointment to find that although they boast some pretty “cool” features, cool didn’t equate to simplicity. Rather, I found myself losing efficiency (and patience) as I tried to learn the ins and outs of these tools – all in an effort to complete tasks that were pretty simple to complete without this technology in the first place.

Maybe you’re found some tools that have become absolute lifesavers to your work organization and efficiency. That’s great – keep using it! But in this article, I want to examine how sometimes we can fall victim to using new technology just for the sake of using new technology.

In which case I say, let’s stop and be smart for a second.

If a boss or a client is asking you to use a special platform or task management system that is, well…whack, don’t be afraid to push back. Take a closer look at my own experience with project management tools and why I continue to use some of the simplest (as well as most cost-effective) tools out there – and how they work just fine when it comes to keeping a bustling business functioning with ease.

What I Don’t Use

Tools that take up more of my time. The first time I test out a new project management tool, it has to feel intuitive to me. I’m a quick judge of character (or in this case quality). If it feels clunky and complicated, or causes redundancy in my process, there’s no way I will continue to use it long-term.

Tools that charge more than a reasonable fee. With so many low-cost and no-cost tools available, a project management tool must really offer some cool features I can’t find elsewhere, if they expect me to pay for them. Only in rare instances has this occurred, and usually only when I know the efficiency I’ll gain will offset this expense exponentially.

Tools that clients don’t want to use. If I expect clients to use a project management tool, it better feel effortless. In the past, I have worked with a few contractors who tried to impose their project management tool on me and my clients. The result? We wouldn’t use the tool and would just email them. I know…I’m part of the problem. But really, the tools were clunky and sending an email was SO much easier…for everyone. The solution was obvious.

Tools that take more effort to explain than use. The last thing I need to add to my inbox is an influx of emails from clients who can’t figure out how to use a tool or technology I’m asking them to use for a project. I’d rather just have them email me their question or piece of the work – it would be a lot more seamless that way. If a tool adds extra steps or induces more questions, I can certainly do without it.

Tools that could potentially backfire or cause more harm than good. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t blindly trust technology. You can ask nearly any business owner and they will have a horror story of how some type of technology they were using either broke, malfunctioned or exposed sensitive data to the world. For this reason alone, I like my simple tools that really can’t mess things up, even for clients who you might swear are trying very, very hard to do so. I like resilient technology, and yes, sometimes this equates to the more simple technology.

What I Do Use

  • Google Docs – For collaboration and sharing.
  • Google VoiceGoogle Voice – For free phone lines in different area codes, and customized voicemails all from one cell phone.
  • Gmail – For email that is clean, simple and intuitive.
  • Boomerang – For scheduling emails to go out at a later date, so I don’t have to remember everything.
  • Doodle – For scheduling a meeting with multiple people – and busy schedules.
  • Microsoft Sticky Notes – For easy and accessible list making that doesn’t require yet one more login, or internet access.
  • QuickBooks – For the sanity of my tax attorney. But really QB makes sure nothing falls through the cracks.
  • DropBox – For file keeping and sharing. I’ve been using it since day 1 of starting my business.
  • Hootsuite – For the most reasonably priced social media scheduling and monitoring platform that allows me to post on behalf of all my clients, even when I’m on vacation.
  • FreeConferenceCall.com – For a free, dedicated conference call line that makes me look like a boss….even when I’m calling in from my couch.

Yes…that’s really it. And I pay about $250 per year for everything.

The bottom line is that you need to find out what works for you. There’s no harm in exploring new technology and other options that might offer you something additional that you need beyond these free or low-cost resources. However, when it comes to the type of tools you use for project management, don’t be a sheep. Just because someone else suggested it or another company is using it, doesn’t mean it will be of equal help to you. Always do your own research and come to your own conclusion.

What type of tools have you found most useful for organization and project management? Are they fancy and sophisticated or simple and low-cost?

Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2018 in Business, Entrepreneurship, Life

 

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