Tag Archives: productivity

Creating Opportunity by Delegating

delegate to success

 

When I started my business, I did everything myself. My first foray into delegating happened when the paper started piling up on my desk because I had less time to scan and organize my receipts and other documents. I chose to delegate that task to Shoeboxed.

The next task I delegated was organizing the various tasks I had to complete for clients. I delegated this task to task (project) management software.

Following that, I took a bigger step at delegating. I hired a virtual assistant to help with my newsletter, social media, phone calls, and even travel arrangements.

Why did I delegate these tasks? Because there is a limit to how many productive hours I have in a day. When I delegate tasks, I am more organized and able to accomplish more in a day. I also have more time for client work and even for myself instead of spending time on administrative tasks. I mostly delegate tasks because of time limits, not my inability to perform them. However, there are skills such as graphic design, copy editing, and web design that I do not possess and choose to delegate to an expert. An expert who will accomplish the task at a fraction of the time that I could and with a much better result. Oh, and let’s not forget the reduction of stress at not constantly trying to cram too much into too few hours.

I’ve come to view delegating as something more than outsourcing tasks I cannot or choose not to do myself. Whether I am delegating tasks to software to automate them or paying an expert to perform those tasks, I am paying forward my success. My business reached the milestone of not being able to go it alone. By delegating tasks to an expert, not only am I able to use my own time more efficiently, I am providing the opportunity to an expert to grow their own business. What’s better than giving back?

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Stress and the value of time

As I write this, the holiday season is in full swing. Anyone with a product or service to sell is marketing like crazy. Just take a look at your postal mailbox and your email for proof. It takes extra effort just to sort through all that for what you need. Along with the day-to-day activity of running your business there are the year-end things to think about; estimated tax payments, retirement account contributions, health insurance, getting your books up to date, etc. Add to that holiday preparations; travel, decorating, shopping, baking, etc. Overwhelmed? The more overwhelmed we are, the less productive we are because we lose focus. The less productive we are, the more stressed we become.

Continue reading

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Tame your software subscriptions

Software subscriptions out of control?

Tame them with these simple steps

Online software subscriptions are all the rage. They’re pretty much how I run my business, and there are some great tools out there. But the phrase “buyer beware” applies as much here as it does elsewhere, and I have to say I’ve learned some hard lessons over the years. Here are a few things I do to save money and make sure I’m in control of my subscriptions, not the other way around.

Set calendar reminders 

We all get busy, and whether you have just one subscription or several that automatically renew, it can be hard to keep track of renewal dates. Creating calendar reminders that alert you a few days ahead of a renewal date gives you a chance to review the subscription before your credit card is charged to see if you need to:

Cancel because you no longer use it. Sometimes subscription use falls by the wayside, so periodic review is always a good idea. Only a few companies offer a partial refund when you cancel a subscription in the middle of a billing cycle, and there’s nothing worse than paying for something you don’t use or need.

Review your subscription level.  If you still need the software but aren’t using all the bells and whistles, you can often downgrade to a less expensive option.

Beware the annual subscription

Many software companies offer discounts when you pay for a year in advance, even throwing in a couple of months for free. Don’t be in a hurry to do this. Many companies are reluctant to issue mid-year refunds, so if you have to cancel mid-year, you can lose a lot of money. And sometimes, you have no choice but to cancel. Companies can make changes to their software during the course of a subscription, and what began as a useful tool for your business can suddenly become a handicap. This happened to me with my project management software recently, and I was forced to stop what I was doing midstream and find different software because it had such a negative impact on my productivity.

Watch the webinar

Before subscribing to online software services, take the time to sign up for a free trial and the free introductory webinars. Webinars are usually 30-60 minutes long and go a long way toward helping you decide if a product is right for you. In addition, if you decide to subscribe, you’ll already be a step ahead of the game since you’ll already know how to put the software to work for you.

Time taken to research and review your software subscription plans is time wisely spent.  Just like the old saying goes, “Short-term pain, long-term gain.”

Tame your software subscriptions with these simple steps.

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How I Use Automation in My Business

I’ve been asked to share how I automate some of my business processes. However, I will start by saying that what works for me, may not work for you. But I do hope you can apply my example to your own business situation. Remember, it’s all about choosing the right tools to best serve your ideal client.

The contact request form on my website adds a contact record to my CRM (contact relationship manager) software as well as QuoteRoller, the software I use to prepare proposals for prospective clients. The proposal is emailed to the client and another application, RightSignature, is used for electronic signature acceptance of the proposal.

The next step is to have QuoteRoller create an invoiceID-100157962 in Freshbooks, the time and billing software I use. The invoices and payments automatically go to Xero, my accounting software.

Did you notice no printing of paper was involved in this process? Even better than that, only a minimal amount of typing was involved.

By narrowly defining the services I provide, I was able to set up a catalog of services in QuoteRoller so that preparing a client proposal is done with a few mouse clicks and minimal editing.

By choosing software tools that integrate AND understanding how that data is shared, I set up a reliable and accurate business system that supports my business process.  If client information changes, I update ONE system and the rest automatically get updated.

Where should you start building your business system? Start with documenting your business processes and then think about what tools you need in order to support and automate those processes. Please do not over think this. Keep it simple! Focus on the tools and processes you need in order to best serve your ideal client. I wrote about software integration here.

By the way, most of the links in this post are affiliate links which means I may earn a few coins if you sign up via my link. It is no way effects the price YOU pay for the subscription. I only support software that I firmly believe are solid products. This is also not an all inclusive list of the tools I use for my business. If you peruse my blog, you can read about some of the other tools I use.

If you’d like help with this process, get in touch. I’d be happy to assist.

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Resolve To Go Paperless Now!

Shoeboxed is one of my favorite tools because it helps me stay organized and paperless for a minimal fee. My business has been paperless from the start. In fact, I scanned all my own documents for a while. And then the paper started piling up. So did my stress level every time I saw those piles of paper.

Enter Shoeboxed. Now I stuff everything I need scanned into an envelope (provided by Shoeboxed) and drop it in the mail. Problem solved.

Several months ago, I became an Ambassador for Shoeboxed. That essentially means I promote them and they promote me. I had to apply to become one of their ambassadors and was fortunate to be selected. Being an ambassador also means I have my very own sign up page for the Shoeboxed service where you can get 20% off your first 6 months of the service. It also means I earn a small commission when someone signs up via my personal link. However, that does not in any way affect the price you pay for the Shoeboxed service.

This is that time of year when in between holiday preparations, we start resolving to improve various areas of our lives. So start right now. Stop feeling guilty every time you see THAT PILE of paper on your desk. No more wasted time looking for a receipt. Shoeboxed will scan all that paper for you and help you organize everything on their website.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice clean desk? No mountain of paper tumbling onto the floor. Imagine how happy your tax person will be when you invite them as a user to your Shoeboxed account instead of handing them a bag of paper receipts.

Invest just 5 minutes to sign up now. Shoeboxed will mail you envelopes to fill with your receipts and you will be able to see your desk again.

Go PaperlessKnow what else? Shoeboxed is running a contest among their ambassadors to see who can sign up the most people between now and January 15, 2014. Yes, I might win a prize, but I really just want you get out from under those piles of paper. If you do sign up for Shoeboxed and comment on this post, I’ll send you something cool. (Ok, so I’m suffering from a bit of holiday stress and haven’t picked a cool prize yet, but when I do, it will be cool.)

 

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The Hidden Value of Networking

networkingThere are thousands of articles written on how to make the most of networking events. Most of the articles offer advice on how to find clients at those events.

Here’s another reason to network: finding future consultants, partners, and employees to help grow your business. At some point you will need to hire a virtual assistant, accountant, project manager, etc. How will you find the right person/firm to hire? Let me tell you, it’s much harder than you think.

Before you begin your search for the right person to hire, you must narrowly define the mission, vision, and ideal client for your business. Why does this matter? Because the consultants and employees you hire can’t help carry out the mission of your business if they don’t understand it. Continue reading

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Why You Should Use QuoteRoller

I confess. I used to use Microsoft Word to prepare client proposals. I dreaded preparing them even though it meant bringing in new business. I copied the last proposal I did and carefully changed all client name references, dates, fees, etc. And then I read, re-read, and re-read the proposal to make sure I didn’t overlook anything. It took forever. When I finally overcame the fear there was something I forgot to change, I emailed the proposal to the prospective client. And then I had to wait for the client to open the file, read it, print it, sign it, scan it, and finally (hopefully) email it back to me.

From Inefficiency to Efficiency

And then I found QuoteRoller. I could add my client’s contact information to QuoteRoller. It was easy to create templates to reuse. I could track when the proposal was viewed by the client and, of course, when they accepted it. I could even use the RightSignature integration to get a real live signature instead of an electronic acceptance.  I could create and email a proposal to a client using one of the templates I setup in QuoteRoller while we were speaking on the phone and close the deal in short order. Generating proposals for prospective clients became something I no longer dreaded.

QuoteRoller Features

QuoteRoller has myriad features to benefit any business. A dashboard allows you to see how many proposals you’ve sent, which ones have been viewed, and what your acceptance rate it. In addition to the text content, you can add pictures and videos to your proposals. And clients can ask questions or make comments on your proposal.  In other words, you can wow your clients and win the job.

What’s Your Time Worth?

We business owners try to accomplish too much each and every day. Using QuoteRoller to prepare proposals will save you time and allow you to use your valuable time more efficiently. The basic subscription to QuoteRoller starts at $14.99 for a monthly plan, $8.99 per month for an annual plan. Even if you currently only prepare a couple proposals a month, as CEO of a business, your time is certainly worth $14.99. Isn’t it?

*This post contains an affiliate link.
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