Doing a big project always keeps you under pressure, and quite often the priority is given to thinking about the tasks at hand, which means planning can fly out of the window. What’s worse, projects that are not planned, monitored or documented always end up going wrong.
Using a well developed project planning template can help you remove some of the pressure by collecting and storing all of your necessary information in a single place, which increases your chances of finishing the project on time and, more importantly, within budget.
So, what are some of the main benefits that you get from using a project planning template and why do we like using them?
Every task and activity can be documented in a clear way so that structuring the project and your team’s time is simplified.
Having clear targets in a staged approach ensures avoiding unnecessary and time consuming activities.
They keep you focused on the core factors of your project.
With a project planning template, there is a clear picture in front of you and your team, providing a transparent working environment for better decision making and confidence in everyone’s work.
Clarity and Speed. Think about it, during a project, you are always on the go, with little time to spare. This is where a project planning template allows you to scope and deliver your project in an organized way.
Clear and effective communication. Being able to provide status updates and acknowledgements in the right way, at the right time, will push your team towards their goals and the project deadline.
Having a comprehensive set of project planning templates will guarantee your success while managing your projects effectively. With multiple template illustrations, you’ll learn more about the formal project management techniques that will help you a lot in upcoming projects.
Where can I get quality Project Management Templates?
We’ve found some great quality project management templates that are available via Project Templates official website. There’s a huge range of comprehensive documents available for instant download so you’ll be able to start getting your projects on track straight away!
With multiple template options to cater for a wide range of projects, you’ll find the right one for you and also find that you’ll learn more about the formal project management techniques, which will help you with your upcoming projects.
A Project Template is undoubtedly one of the best project management resources. Their step-by-step process shows you how to select the best template for your project and how to enter the data properly so you get the best possible results. For a project manager, having a versatile range of project management templates in your arsenal of tools is a requirement. You can visit their website for more information and don’t forget to grab your copy of their free eBook that provides heaps of practical Project Management tips and hints.
Perhaps the first rule in business is the following. Regardless of what you’re trying to sell, the entire focus should be on catering to client need and enhancing the value of your product or service. That should always be the bottom line. Lowering the price on just a whim when negotiating is the worst thing that you can do. It lowers the standards that you’ve set for yourself and ultimately it pinches where it hurts most — your business.
Value your Work
So why isn’t price negotiable? Well, for one — since you know the true value of your product and have priced it accordingly, any effort to lower it will cheapen it in the eyes of others. Once you lower the price, you may be lowering the bar forever. That’s not the way to keep customers or get new ones.
At times, crazy as it sounds, its worthwhile doing a job for free rather than negotiating price and reducing your rate. This helps you stick to your principles about pricing. At the same time, it encourages the view that you don’t mind working for free when the situation demands it. For instance, in a disaster-hit area, offering your services for free is for a humanitarian cause and you don’t lose face over pricing. Remember, the moment you reduce your rate, the bottom line changes. That’s something you don’t want to do.
The Value of your Product or Service
Value is important—if customers feel that they’ve gained value that’s equal to or greater than the price of a product, they are satisfied. So that’s what the focus should be on.
In order to keep current customers happy and satisfied, enhance the value of your product or services. Offer extras that are worth the while. You can offer free products for a limited period along with the regular products. It doesn’t matter if this ends up costing you a little more than usual. In the long run it’s worth it for the price of the product remains untouched.
This clearly reinforces the value of the product or service and drives home the fact that while negotiating can be for products. Price is one aspect that is non-negotiable. It isn’t as if you can palm off products for any price just to increase sales. That’s the worst thing that can happen to a business. People buy products and services for the value they get. Price is the cost they incur for the benefits they get.
If your company can deliver faster and more accurate services and consistently deliver quality work, the price will never be a negotiating point from a customer’s perspective.
Remember, conversations between clients should be about products and services and should never start off with the price. They should underscore value for as Drucker says “The customer never buys a product, he buys value.”
Every year during the third week of May, the President of the United States announces World Trade Week. During this week trade organizations, businesses, and other stakeholders work together both nationally and locally to promote international trade in the U.S. economy.
So what are the international trade and exporting topics you should consider in your small business? For starters, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. Think about that for a moment. Even more surprising? Only one percent of U.S. based small businesses are selling to those customers. Exporting is a huge opportunity to extend the reach of made-in-America goods and services internationally. It allows you to expand your global market share.
The opportunity to expand your business through exporting is ready and waiting. But before you export, here are some resources right here at home that can help your business take the next step.
Before you Export consult an Export Assistance Center
Consulting a U.S. Export Assistance Center can be a great way to learn more about how you can expand your business internationally. Each assistance center employs professionals from organizations including the SBA, the Department of Commerce, the Export-Import Bank, and other public and private organizations. They work together to help small and mid-sized businesses compete in today’s global marketplace.
Use the National Export Initiative before you Export
In an effort to grow America’s economy, create more jobs at home and ensure long-term, sustainable growth, the President launched a government-wide strategy to promote exports. The National Export Initiative (NEI) is a key component of that strategy. A Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in your area can provide one-on-one counseling. They also offer a wide range of training programs for small and medium sized companies that are exporting (or thinking of exporting.) Check this link to find the SBDC closest to you. Its advisors can outline free business counseling and low-cost training services available in your area.
Other Tools and Resources you may Want to Consider before you Export
If your business is ready to explore the possibility of exporting, here are a few additional resources that can help:
Check out Export University (a collection of online courses designed to tackle all stages of exporting)
Once you’ve decided on your general roadmap for exporting (you’ve already explored foreign markets, developed a marketing plan, and evaluated financing,) the Export Business Planner will help you create a customized plan for the path ahead.
Adapted from “Before You Export, Get On-the-ground Help” by Sarah Field published on sba.gov
OK, I know what you’re thinking. “Come on! Apps that saved your life”. But they did. And they regularly do on an almost daily basis. If you want to find out how and why, then you must read on.
But before we start, I’d like to clarify one thing. Many of the apps / services mentioned in this articles may well be substituted for others that are just as good, if not better, depending on your own needs and preferences, of course. I am not trying to rank them in any way or suggest that they are better than those of the competitors. In fact, I will be mentioning some of the alternative apps / services for some of them as well. OK, here we go!
So why do they save my life? It’s simple – by saving me an insane amount of time, which in effect means that I get more out of my life: more time to do the things I want and more time for my family and friends. How? By automating or simplifying all the many processes that we all go through in our daily lives as business owners, employees, Internet users, social media geeks, or simply very busy people that we all are these days.
For each app or service, I will say what they can be used for, what’s the best thing about them, provide a short description of these apps / services, and then give you some tips, alternatives (if any) and a link to the website where you can access these apps / services.
So, here they are – 12 apps and services that literally saved my life:
Used for: Note taking, planning, organizing, scheduling
Best thing about this App: It’s FREE! Not only that – it’s a dream come true in a world overflowing with information day in day out. It helps you organise your thoughts, ideas, projects, etc. all in one place! And best of all: all your notes are searchable so you can look for specific information sorting all your notes by keyword or even by tag.
Tip 1: Set up reminders for each note so that you never forget to implement your ideas.
Tip 2: Browse through additional apps. Downloading Evernote Web Clipper is a must! It allows you to save anything you see online—including text, links and images—into your Evernote account with a single click
Description: Evernote apps and products make modern life manageable, by letting you easily collect and find everything that matters. Evernote makes it easy to remember things big and small from your everyday life using your computer, phone, tablet and the web.
With Evernote, all of your notes, web clips, files and images are made available on every device and computer you use. You can save everything cool and exciting you see online and in the real world. Snap a photo, record some audio and save it. You can also share your notes and collaborate on projects with friends, colleagues and classmates.
Alternatives: Don’t know any but I’m sure there are plenty
Usedfor: Graphics Design: e-books, images, infographics, etc.
Best thing about this Service: It saves a lot of time on learning and using expensive and complicated designing software. It includes many cool templates that you can easily customise plus hundreds of FREE graphics: images, icons, etc. Premium objects are only $1 a piece. How cool is that? There is no subscription and no commitment. You simply pay as you go.
Tip: Start by taking their awesome interactive Design Tutorials available at https://www.canva.com/#mini-challenges.
Description: Canva makes design simple for everyone. You can create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and more.
Alternatives: Don’t know any this good and so affordable at the same time
Used for: E-mail marketingBest thing about this Service: Once set up, it is pretty much automated and self-running. You can still be marketing while on holiday or even in your sleep. At GBP 12 per month it is also the most affordable option I have found that still offers all the main features! It’s also very scalable, has got great customer service and tutorials. They have a fantastic blog, too!
Tip: Sign up for FREE Trial. It will definitely be worth your time! You can also learn more about its cool features by watching the videos at http://www.getresponse.co.uk/email-marketing/gb-features.
Description: Some of the coolest features include: Responsive E-mail Design, A/B testing, Auto-responders, Email Creator, Landing Page Creator, Social Sharing, Email Intelligent, Form Builder, Online Surveys and Time Travel.
Alternatives: There are many alternatives (Mail Chimp, Marketo, Graphic Mail, InfusionSoft, etc.) but most are much more expensive than GetResponse!
Usedfor: Data storage and sharing
Best thing about this App: It automatically backs up all your data enabling you both online and offline access to your files on multiple devices. It’s affordable and has got a user friendly interface.
Tip: You can even bring back all your deleted files by clicking the ‘bin’ symbol. For more tricks, check this article “11 Dropbox Tricks You Didn’t Know About”: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/11-dropbox-tricks-you-didnt-know-about.html
Description: Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. You can upgrade to premium for more storage space, of course.
Alternatives: There are many and I am sure most of the other services are just as good as this one since the idea of saving time through automatically backing up your data is pretty much the same for all of them.
Usedfor: Content Management System
Best thing about this Service: Wix gives you everything you need to create & manage your entire online presence. It’s very intuitive and user-friendly with an easy-to-investigate interface and a whole bunch of useful features such as HTML, flash, Skype and PayPal buttons, galleries, social media integration and many more.
Tip: Try it for free first if you don’t need a customised domain right away
Description: With Wix, you can create a free website and customize it with the free website builder. No coding skills are needed. Simply choose a design, begin customizing and you can be online within one day! You can choose from a huge selection of stunning, fully-customizable templates, with all the latest design trends and features to make you look amazing online.
Their user-friendly drag and drop site builder lets you easily customize your site. You can change anything – images, text & layout – no coding skills are needed. You can also get free, reliable hosting that keeps your website safe and secure. Last but not least, Wix offers an automatically optimized version of your website for mobile in just one click, letting your site visitors view the same design and content on all devices.
Alternatives: There is a whole array of providers offering similar (though not always equally affordable) services.
Used for: hosting, My SQL, ftp, WordPress, blog, etc.
Best thing about this Service: It’s very affordable and versatile offering everything you will ever need to host a fully blown website or Internet service: PHP, MySQL, Web hosting, Traffic, Gallery, Web editor, Website, Blog, Google AdWords, FTP, Backup, Statistics, Chat-support, Email, Bix (Cloud Drive), 1-Click WordPress
Tip: Just go for it! It’s only GBP 20 a year!
Description: Web hosting with everything included. One.com has challenged the traditional webhosting industry by providing every service needed for their customers right from the start, such as mail hosting and website hosting with gallery, blog, PHP, MySQL and free customer support 24/7, 365 days a year. This gives you access to a product bundle where your server space needs are all you need to consider while choosing a subscription.
Alternatives: Again, there is a number of other providers offering similar (though not always equally affordable) services.
Used for: Managing Translation Projects
Best thing about this Service: It is very intuitive and simple to use. It is much more than just a translation project management tool – it also offers accounting, reporting and much more.
Tip: Request the FREE Trial to check it out first! You can also watch the tutorials available on YouTube.
Description: TranslationProjex is a translation management system that helps translation agencies manage their translation projects. It enables easy online management of translation projects, resources and accounting as well as reporting. Key features include:
Easy to use and web-based
Powerful dashboards give you real-time insight
Easy to customize templates
Client and translator portals
Fast and intuitive management of all projects from translation quotes to invoicing
Real time collaboration between translators
Complete management of client accounts management and billing
Simple and automated translator order and job management
Effective project scheduling and oversight
Freelance translator account management and billing
Terminology management and file analysis
Alternatives: There are lots of expensive generic project management tools out there but none is as simple and affordable as this one OR as specialised if you are running a translation agency.
Used for: Social Media Scheduling
Best thing about this App: Saves you time by automatically posting to your social media accounts.
Tip: Go for the FREE version – it gives you all you need to start with!
Description: Buffer makes it super easy to share any page you’re reading. Just keep your Buffer topped up and they will automatically share posts for you through the day. Buffer is the best way to share great content to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn from anywhere on the web, with just one click.
Usedfor: Increasing your productivity
Best thing about this App: After setting it up, you don’t need to do a single thing. All you do is wait for your weekly email telling you how well (or badly) you did working on your PC in the last week. You can also click for a more detailed breakdown by application or activity. Great stuff!
Tip: Again, go for the free version first to see if it’s your kind of thing.
Description: A personal analytics service that shows you how you spend your time and provides tools to help you be more productive. Spot inefficiencies in your day and become better at managing your time. Create a goal like spending less than 1 hour per day on email to help you stay focused or set an alarm to tell you when you spent more than 2 hours on Facebook. Detailed reports show which applications and websites you spent time on. Additional reports show how much time you spent in different categories, how productive you were, and whether you achieved your goals. Stay informed with a weekly email report summarizing your activities and productivity score. Use your report to better plan the new week. Activities are automatically grouped into pre-defined categories with built-in productivity scores covering thousands of websites and applications. Of course you can customize categories and productivity scores to meet your needs.
Alternatives: I haven’t tested any applications like that but I am sure there are quite a few out there. You can find a few examples here: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/20-best-productivity-app-macs.html
Used for: PC Optimisation Utilities
Best thing about this App: It’s absolutely amazing! It allows you to completely forget all your PC performance worries by automatically running all the necessary optimisations on your PC speeding up your computer and saving you even more time. Awesome!
Tip: Download the FREE Trial version and wait a few days for a special half price offer from them!Description: Winner of over 400 awards and industry-leading product test scores. TuneUp Utilities boosts PC speed, repairs registry, and extends battery life! It’s complete optimization software for Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP. TuneUp Utilities 2014 never confines itself solely to Windows® settings to maximize PC performance. It also detects:
Incorrect performance settings
Rarely used or needed programs
Unnecessary Windows® effects and animations
The user has complete control, and each recommendation can be immediately hidden or accepted.
Alternatives: I don’t know any other software this good and this affordable!
Used for: Protection against viruses, malware and phishing software.
Best thing about this App: It’s very effective and it’s absolutely FREE!
Tip: Don’t ever spend a penny on expensive Antivirus software again. Simply go and get it!
Description: It is world’s most-trusted antivirus software. Over 200 million devices rely on avast! – more than any other antivirus. It has a clean, pane-based interface that neatly exposes all available features. These include real-time and on-demand malware scanning plus a web-protection module. The settings interface lets you change how and when pop-up notifications appear, set up and schedule scans, enter and exit the silent “gaming mode”, and even configure email alerts, which will notify you from afar if anything untoward is discovered.
Alternatives: Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and others
Usedfor: Multiple Form Creation
Best thing about this App: It is very flexible and scalable! You can create unlimited web forms and accept unlimited submissions – all for only $49 per site with no monthly or hidden fees. How cool is that?
Tip: Try the Live Demo on their site. It lets you play with all the features first before buying.
Description: MachForm helps you create the most beautiful and elegant forms on the web. Packed with 20+ built-in themes, along with the Visual Theme Editor, allowing you to create countless designs. The Form Builder allows you to create forms easily using drag and drop interface. No coding knowledge is needed! Seriously. MachForm is integrated with PayPal and Stripe, two popular Internet payment providers. Within a few clicks, you will be able to create online order forms and accept payments.
Alternatives: I have tried a few but none was as good or affordable as MachForm.
After years of scraping along during the recession and in the sluggish growth years that followed it, small businesses will enjoy improved sales and profits this year and the best pace of growth since 2007, according to a new projection from Kiplinger, a Washington, D.C.-based publisher of business forecasts.
Gillian White, associate editor for the Kiplinger Letter, said sales and profits for small businesses will rise with the tide of the improving economy. “Americans are feeling more optimistic about their finances and will spend more this year since they’ll see an increase in personal income,” White told Business News Daily. “Small businesses will benefit from that trend.
Economy is back on track
The research revealed that businesses tied to construction, home maintenance, energy and health care will see the most improvement in 2014. White said these businesses will benefit from an overall improvement in their sectors.
“The housing market will continue to strengthen, helping construction and home maintenance firms,” White said. He also said that the Affordable Care Act will help give health care and related fields a boost now that more Americans will be covered, and the energy sector, particularly companies related to fracking, will continue to expand, helping related small businesses.”
In addition, restaurants, entertainment and other retail establishments should benefit from higher consumer incomes.
In the UK, the numbers look good, too. Businesses are beginning to feel more optimistic and the British Chambers of Commerce has predicted that this summer the size of the UK economy will overtake the peak it reached in 2008 before the financial crisis. Last year household spending grew by 2.4% while exports increased by just 0.8%.
What does it mean for business?
The forecast also predicts small businesses will hire more employees this year and investing new equipment, such as business vehicles, computer software, and hardware and machinery. In addition, small businesses are expected to stock up on inventory in anticipation of coming sales gains.
“Small businesses will have a better year this year than they have in a while. So many [businesses] that were holding off on expansion or equipment replacement will take advantage of improving circumstances to move forward with those plans,” White said. “Credit will also be a bit easier to come by this year, which will help small businesses finance equipment purchases or expansion.”
Borrowing made easier again!
Researchers anticipate small business owners will also find it easier to obtain loans in 2014. “Banks are relaxing their standards a bit as they strive to boost loan volume,” researchers write in the forecast. “Even large banks increasingly see small companies as desirable borrowers.”
Higher home values are also predicted to help business owners get the funding they need, as these rising values will allow owners to once again to tap the equity they have in their homes to finance business expansions.
It’s not all good yet…
The outlook isn’t unequivocally sunny, however. Several issues still concern small business owners, with most citing recovering from this winter’s depressed sales, the proposed minimum wage hike in the US and finding workers with the skills the businesses need.
If economies are going to export more, they need to make more. UK manufacturers claim the government is not investing enough in them. Moreover, business leaders are concerned about the skills shortage in the hi-tech sector. The CBI, the business lobby group, has called for reduced tuition fees for science subjects as one of the solutions to this problem.
So even though it does not all look rosy yet, the outlook for the next few years seems much more optimistic than at the beginning of this decade with businesses expanding, consumer spending growing and new opportunities arising for those who wish to grow their business.
With the ever-growing number of online programs and communications tools available today, it’s no surprise that businesses of all sizes are choosing to start expanding their business and sell to international consumers. One such company is national wireless accessories retailer Cellairis, which recently opened locations in Jamaica, Mexico, Chile, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.
“Cellairis has rapidly expanded domestically since 2000,” said Taki Skouras, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “But because we stand behind our brand, products and proven concept, we wanted to be able to bring that growth to locations globally. We have devoted countless hours into intensive market research to identify international markets where we think our system will flourish.”
But is it for me?
International expansion isn’t right for every business, but if it’s something you’re thinking about for yours, there are a few important factors to consider. Based on his experience with Cellairis, Skouras recommended taking the following steps before going global with your business.
Do your research. Before expanding your business internationally, spend time researching the markets, current and future opportunities, and threats. Just because a concept is popular in the United States does not mean it will be successful in another region of the world.
Have a dedicated team. An organization should have a strong team solely focused on international growth that is ready to face challenges and fully support the expansion. Cellairis has built a strong and diverse international team with experience and knowledge of global markets to help support its franchisees and customers worldwide.
Be ready to translate. Language barriers can present significant challenges for global businesses, so staffing your teams with bilingual employees is a must. If you don’t have the budget for full-time translators, outsource tasks like overseas customer service and translation of promotional materials to a translation agency.