5 Cool Web Tools for Small Business

small businessRunning your own business can be very overwhelming at times. You’ve got so much you’d like to do, but never enough time it seems to get it all done.

The good news is we now have access to a growing list of web based tools that offer excellent solutions for the busy entrepreneur.

Here are 5 cool web tools I highly recommend for small business owners to increase your productivity, so you can work less and earn more.

Cool Web Tool #1. Work and train remotely. 

freescreensharing

It’s easier now more than ever to work remotely. Whether you’re on the road or your staff is working virtually, you can easily share your computer screen with others. I use Free Screen Sharing to train a group of people or even just one person. The tool allows me to share whatever is on my computer screen with those who I invite to my session. This tool offers unlimited meetings with up to 96 participants at a time. They also throw in free, dedicated conference bridge line you can use at anytime. Visit FreeScreenSharing.com

Cool Web Tool #2. One application and dashboard to organize your entire business.

FusionForgeFusionForge has tools to help your team collaborate, like message forums and mailing lists; tools to create and control access to Source Code Management repositories like CVS and Subversion. FusionForge automatically creates a repository and controls access to it depending on the role settings of the project. Learn more about them at www.fusionforge.org

Cool Web Tool #3. Free invoicing with easy online payments.

vogogo_300x100Vogogo is a B2B risk management and payment services business that has spent recent years developing and launching technologies to enable secure and compliant online transaction processing between businesses and their customers. This unique combination gives Vogogo the security, flexibility and scalability to meet the demands of a marketplace driven by technology and seeking reliable risk management as well as effective access to conventional banking and payment services. Visit www.vogogo.com

Cool Web Tool #4.  Easily track your billable hours for each client. 

harvest-time-tracker-1392-b-512x250Whether you’re a landscaping company needing to track design time for 30 different clients or you are a solo attorney needing an easy system to track your billable hours, Harvest is a great tool. They let you easily and accurately track time as well as analyze your time with powerful reports. This cool web tool also allows you to instantly create branded invoices for your clients. You can get this both as desktop and mobile applications. Visit www.GetHarvest.com

Cool Web Tool #5. Stop wasting time with staff scheduling.

shifthub-logo Shift Hub is a great new employee scheduling and communication platform to save you time and money for the small business owner. Now, as a small business owner you don’t have to waste valuable time putting schedules together and responding to constant scheduling change requests. Visit www.ShiftHub.com

There are hundreds of excellent web tools out there today. The place to start of course is to first identify which of your tasks are tedious, recurring and/or involve multiple steps to getting it done.

Once you’ve shortlisted the time consuming tasks in your work you can then begin searching for the right tool. Or, even better why not just ask our community right here and share what you’re searching for in the comment box below.

QUESTION: What is your favorite web tool that has saved you time, money or headaches? 

© Copyright 2016

5 Time Management Strategies for Entrepreneurs

Note From Yoon:

Time management crops up as a constant concern for many of my clients. Today, I share some of the same strategies that have helped my clients monetize their time. These strategies have been successfully employed by my clients from solopreneur new coaches to those who are CEO’s of 30 Million dollar companies.

 It is a fact that most modern day parents struggle  to balance caring for the needs of  children and family. Everyone wants more time for their kids.  With three kids of my own, I know that I have to make every minute count in my work day. I do not enjoy engaging in activities that waste my time or deplete my energy. I am sure that most people feel that way!

 As a result, it is particularly important to make sure that your work time is well managed. Here are some ideas and strategies to help you manage your time. Feel free to reach out and share on my blog with others. Share how these tips are working for you, your business and your family!

 Here’s to Your Success! 

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5 Time Management Strategies for Entrepreneurs

time managementI have found that time management is one of the most challenging disciplines in the life of an entrepreneur. As an employee, your schedule and tasks are structured for you. Employees will still earn the compensation they were offered regardless if they were more productive or less productive in a given day.

When it comes to time management skills, the cracks show faster when you’re an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs who have weaker time management skills will feel that direct impact on your revenues and profits.

What’s great about being an entrepreneur is being your own boss.
What’s challenging about being an entrepreneur being your own boss.  

Whether you are a solopreneur or your have employees the fact is you do not have a boss who measures your productivity and holds you accountable to higher standards of performance.

It’s just so easy to get distracted whether it’s by allowing others to constantly interrupt us or by falling into a pattern of interrupting ourselves. I know myself, I find the internet to be very distracting. I jump on Google to search for the answer to one question that should theoretically only take me 10 minutes tops, but I can easily wander to 14 other sites and not do what I intended.

Meanwhile, emails are popping up that draw me away from what I came to do, many of which include links for me to review that leads me onto yet another set of 12 more interesting websites I somehow feel in the moment I must explore.

I confess that yes, I too get bit by the distraction bug. Here are some strategies that have worked for me to overcome my self interruptions. Rather than practicing what I preach, these tips I preach are the ones I have practiced.

Time Management Strategy #1. Keep a daily time journal.

This is something I do everyday even now that helps me in the moment to see just how much time I gave to a task and assess the value of what I accomplished in that time. I jot down my tasks contemporaneously throughout the day as I switch tasks. Of course, sometimes it will happen that I jockey back and forth from 3 or 4 different tasks, in which case I write that as one line item. Here’s what my form looks like:

StartEndHow LongResults of What I Accomplished w/ Each Task
Week Total: hrs
Task Category

When I jot down the results of what I actually accomplished it sheds light to where the greatest ROI is (return on investment) on my time. It also brings awareness to those tasks I ought to outsource, delegate or delete because I’m either overqualified to be doing those tasks or those tasks just are not in my areas of core competency.

If I keep doing certain tasks I am weak at, all I’m doing is acquiring a lot of strong weaknesses. If I keep doing entry level tasks just because I know how to do them, all I’m doing is paying 3 times to 10 times more salary then if I just outsourced or delegated those tasks to a lower paid assistant.

One of my past clients, who is an eye doctor with a new private practice, used this form for two weeks. We found he spent on average 2 hours a day answering the phone which totaled 20 hours in the two week period.

I asked him, “Did you invest in medical school to earn $12 per hour?

Because that’s what a receptionist is for.”

Time Management Strategy #2. Plan your week in advance.

It’s important to take all those pesky to do items out of your head and onto a form. You should choose what type of form works best for you. There are some great free tools available I found at https://www.productiveflourishing.com/free-planners/

There’s also another great tool called TimeDoctor.com. It’s really for companies to keep track of what hours their employees are working and what they’re doing, but you can also use this tool for yourself.  It gives you reports on how you spend your days, but what’s really cool and a bit surprising is that you can get screenshots of all the websites you were on during the day and what you were doing on them.

Time Management Strategy #3. Color code your time on your calendar.

The best time management technique that works for me is to simply color code my time on my iCal (or if you’re on a PC your outlook calendar). Then of course, you should sync your calendars so you can access the same info from both your smartphone and laptop.

Here’s my personal color code system:

I set up the week ahead of time and put all of my

  • client session appointments on there in red,
  • my marketing to-do tasks in pink,
  • my follow up items in orange
  • admin to do is blue (which I try to have the least)
  • Emails are brown
  • Kids commitments are in green

I make myself note what outcome result I accomplished on the tasks (not client sessions though) and that is my own built in reporting system of where my time is going.

Time Management Strategy #4. Choose a system to hold yourself accountable.

To succeed as an entrepreneur half the battle lies in setting the right goals and developing a smart plan to helping you achieve those goals. The other half of the battle is following through and implementing that plan. Here are 4 solutions to consider to help you succeed in following through.

  • You can hire a business coach like me to hold you accountable.
  • You can ask a friend or family member to be your accountability partner — although some people may not be tough enough on you.
  • You can join a mastermind group — a peer group of like minded entrepreneurs who are there each month to hold you accountable. Take a took at one that I facilitate for the Women’s Business Forum at https://www.paramountbusinesscoach.com/mastermind-group
  • You can also consider some tools out there like www.Stickk.com where you have to pay money for every to-do item you do not follow through on.

Following through does take discipline. It takes discipline to say no to all those shiny baubles that show up in our week. It takes discipline to plan out your calendar week in and week out. It takes discipline to audit yourself on a daily basis to assess how well you stayed focus and stayed on track.

The good news is the more you repeat a pattern of behavior the easier it becomes to continue that pattern of behavior.

Time Management Strategy #5. Let go.

The reality is there are only 24 hours in a day and your body needs to sleep for 8 or 9 of those hours. There will always be more to do both at home and with your business. If you are constantly racing the clock and running out of time, why not just give yourself less to do? A huge break through in my own success occurred when I made the decision early on to let go and let others take care of a lot of my tasks.

I’d like to invite you to join to the conversation.

 QUESTION:  What is one discipline, decision or tool that has helped you get more of the right things done as an entrepreneur?  Please share your comments in the box below.

© Copyright 2016

GOAL SETTING LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY DAUGHTER

I bought my daughter a set of markers that are meant for writing on windows. I figured she’d have fun drawing flowers and cute stick people. To my surprise, when I walked in her room I saw there were no drawings on her windows. Instead, the first thing she used her new markers for was to write down her goals.

Wow. I didn’t expect that at all from a 9 year old.

In case you can’t see the photos I took she wrote that her goal was to:

  • Get an iPod
  • Allowed to get in 5th grade.
  • My Goal is $225
  • I have money!

Don’t spend anything. In 5 simple lines I realized that my daughter Carissa articulated the S.M.A.R.T. formula for goal setting. (ok, this was a proud parent moment 🙂

SPECIFIC –           She wants an iPod.
MEASURABLEShe knows how much more she needs to save to hit her goal of $225.
ACTIONABLEHer action is to commit to not spending anything.
REALISTIC –      She only has to save $18.75 each month which she expressed to me
                              “I can do that”.
TIMELY –          She was shooting to achieve this goal by 5th grade, which is another
                          12 months away.

Goal setting works wonders in helping us obtain those things that we are saving for. My daughter’s iPod goal taught me a lesson on just how powerful it is to not only write down our goals but to have them visible in places we will see everyday.

What about you? 

What is the big prize that you are saving for?  A new car, a family vacation, a dream house or perhaps an ivy league college education for your student?

Knowing what you’re saving for and articulating how you will get there through the S.M.A.R.T. formula will help you stay focused and intense in your business for short term periods.

Knowing what you’re working for will supply the passion, energy, joy and fulfillment to carry you in your business for the long term.

So, what are you working for? What is your business a vehicle for?

  • achieving greater freedom in your life?
  • providing security for your family?
  • changing people’s lives by sharing your expertise?
  • making a lasting difference in your community?

    Can you articulate what you are working for in a S.M.A.R.T. response?

    ________________________________________________________

    It’s tough to grow your business without setting specific goals.

    And, it’s easy to forget to implement those S.M.A.R.T. goal setting tips.

    If you are clear what your specific goals are in your business, but need some help and guidance and how to get there I invite you to call me for a complimentary discovery session. No better time than NOW to decide to play big and finish the year off strong!

    PS. I’ve heard you improve your chances at reaching your goals when you write it down and then improve those chances even more when you share your goal with others.  

     Please share your goals here.

     Here’s to Your Success!

    Signature

     

    About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development.  Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com  To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947. 

 

© Copyright 2016

How Small Businesses Can Gain Competitive Edge

One of the questions I hear most often from SMB’s is “how can I gain business among so much competition?” I say don’t focus on gaining the business. Focus on gaining competitive edge, and it will lead to gaining more business.  How does one do that?

Well, I believe we all have an edge. Some of ours are just more dull than others. So, gaining a competitive edge begins with staying sharp.

Let me share a story I heard years ago. Two men were splitting wood. One of the men was tall and muscular and in excellent physical shape. The other man was shorter and much less muscular and appeared to be no match for the larger man.

The two men began chopping wood at the same time. When the first coffee break rolled around, the smaller man took a break while the larger man continued to split the wood. The larger man did not join the smaller man during their lunch break or afternoon break either. Instead, he continued to split wood all day long.
In the evening the smaller man went home, but the larger man continued working late into the night.
Their routine continued for nearly two weeks.

The larger man did not understand how the smaller man’s pile of chopped wood was roughly the same size as his when he was clearly stronger and had worked longer hours than the smaller man.

After about three weeks the smaller man’s wood pile was even with the larger man’s wood pile. After four weeks, the smaller man’s wood pile had surpassed the size of the larger man’s wood pile. The larger man was astonished and confused.

One day, as the smaller man was about to take another break, the larger man said to him “I cannot understand why you have more wood split than I do. You are smaller than I am, and you don’t have the strength that I have”. The smaller man replied “Ah yes, my friend, but you never stop to sharpen your axe”.

When it comes to getting the job done, your greatest tool is your own mind. Here are 4 tips to help you keep your mind sharp as a small business owner:

1) Make the most of your peak performance time Figure out the time of day when you are most energized and focused. Are you at the top of your game first thing in the morning, or are you ready to go after your second cup of coffee? Whatever your peak performance time may be, make sure that you schedule your most complicated tasks during this time of the day. The extra brain power will bring clarity and concentration.

2) Make a to-do list A to-do list lets you focus on the task at hand instead of trying to remember your mental list of the tasks to be done. Writing down your objectives for the day helps you stay focused on your key result areas. It also keeps you from feeling unproductive. One of my clients recently took a trip to NYC with his team to explore opportunities to expand his fast growing food and hospitality business. He later told me how disappointed he was that didn’t feel they accomplished much after a 12 hour day together. I asked him, “What were the key objectives you planned for the day?”  He replied, “I didn’t have any clear, set objectives.” His to-do list stopped with a decision to go to NYC which wasn’t clear enough. Make sure to-do list items like this also include what your most important goals are to accomplish.

3) Always be learning. If you want to gain the competitive edge you need to be willing to continue to up-level your skills and knowledge. I’m not talking about trying to be the “Jack-of-all-trades” type of person. I’m also not referring to setting yourself up for complete information overwhelm where you end up not being able to focus on your core competencies.  What I am saying is to choose one new important trend to learn more about or skill to hone that is effecting your industry. Those aha moments often occur when you’re in the midst of delving into new subjects, skills and technology.

4) Leave Work at Work I find that business owners tend to be type “A” personalities. You’re character trait to keep on pushing yourself is a large reason why you’ve succeeded thus far. But, be careful because your “strength” can also prove to be a double edged sword which is when we end up hitting the point of diminishing returns. You send in your car for regular maintenance checks. You power down your computers because even a piece of machine needs to rest to reboot. When you go home at the end of the day, it’s time to give yourself permission to leae the work on your desk. Spend time with family or friends and allow your mind to be present, not drifting back to thoughts about work.

I have always found that it’s much more exhausting thinking about work, than the energy it takes to actually get that work done. Your mind needs time to rest, re-energize and refuel — part of the process of sharpening your axe. So, commit to start each day refreshed, ready and re-sharpened to get the job done!

QUESTION: What do you do to keep your skills and your mind sharp as a small business owner?  Please share your ideas in the comment box below.

About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development.  Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com  To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947. 

© Copyright 2016

4 Secrets to Staying Focused

When you are dedicating yourself to achieving a specific goal, you must promise yourself to use the time you’ve blocked off for in ONLY working toward that goal.

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve blocked off time to work on that big project but you find yourself unmotivated, confused and generally unfocused?  You’re trying to remember if your son or daughter has a ride home from school, dreading an afternoon meeting or what you’ll eat for dinner tonight. 

Some call it ricochet rabbit–your mind is “Bing,”Bing”,”Bing” all over the place and pretty much everywhere but on your project.  Instead, the cursor blinks on your blank computer screen and feels like a mocking purgatory.

1–First, take a deep breath.  Know this is perfectly normal, everyone feels this way at some point. 

2–Make a list of everything that needs to be done for this project to be complete. If it’s a new product, the product has to be created, marketing materials need to be produced and the right audience needs to know about it.  What’s your role?  Do you need to research the product so you can write a fact sheet or a brochure?  Write down everything that needs to get done for that project then rank them in the order they should occur.  If you’re familiar with mind mapping this is a great technique to use for clustering all the associated tasks. 

Break the project down into individual tasks and then break those into smaller, bite size chunks. For example, you need to write a brochure–who’s the audience for the brochure?  What should it highlight?  If you’re introducing a new product for dentists for example, look at the key benefits of the product–will it save them time?  Does it make an activity easier?  What’s in it for them? 

3-Set a timer–at eggtimer.com you can set a timer on your computer that will alert you when your allotted time is up. Or, you can set the timer on your cell phone.  Tell yourself for the next 30 minutes, you’ll truly focus on the task at hand.  When your mind wanders–and it will!–bring it back by reminding yourself of your time limit. 

4–Shut out distractions for the duration of the time you commit to focusing on the project at hand.  That means close the door.  Turn off your emails, pagers, cell phone and land lines. Have a snack and drink at your desk so you don’t feel the need to get up for that.  If you have staff, tell key people you are not to be interrupted for the duration of your project slot. 

Here’s my own favorite “gotta get focused” trick.  I drink 2-4 cups of Ginkgo Clarity tea (double bagged of course).  Either this herbal concoction is really effective or my mind just convinces me I’m more focused because of it.  Hmmmmm…?

I hope you will start implementing some of my tricks for staying focused.  If you feel overwhelmed and need help prioritizing,  I’m never more than a phone call away! (215) 292-4947. For more great business growth tips subscribe at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com

QUESTION: How do you get focused when you’ve got too much to do? Please share your comments below:

About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development.  Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com  To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947. 

© Copyright 2016

Tips to Improve Your Personal Productivity

personal productivityIf you’re a small business owner your livelihood depends on your ability to make business happen. Personal productivity for entrepreneurs is top on the list of skills you MUST MASTER.

If you’ve ever gotten to the office early determined to make headway on an important project but instead got caught up in the daily tasks of the office you know the frustration of being constantly busy without feeling productive.

Lots of people are busy all day but they don’t make any progress on their long term goals.

Returning calls and emails, attending to meetings that further the goals of other people–these may be things you have to do–at least some of the time–but if you’re not clear on your long term goals, you aren’t moving forward in your business.

If you ever feel like you’re stuck or spinning your wheels, take a look at your schedule. How many activities are geared towards you reaching your long term goals and how many are putting out fires and attending to others’ needs?

Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, breaks down schedules into four distinct components.

Important and urgent

Important but not urgent

Urgent but not important

Not urgent not important

Personal Productivity Tip #1: 

When you make your to do list, highlight the ones that are Important but Not Urgent–whether it’s furthering your professional education or getting published regularly in a trade journal you have to take steps to make your goals happen.

Personal Productivity Tip #2: 

Look at your schedule–what can you delegate or delete in your life to make time for the things that matter to you? If you had a boss, and that boss required you to prune back 20% of your weekly activities, which tasks would you rank as your lowest producing time investment?

No matter what your situation you have some options. You could get up an hour earlier to spend 60 minutes a day paving the way to your success. If an hour seems difficult, find 15 minutes a day to move yourself forward in your goals. 15 minutes a day over a 5 day work week adds up to 75 minutes. Those 75 minutes add up to 5 hours over a month. Now, what can you accomplish in 5 hours? Break it down into 15 minute chunks and put it on your calendar.

Personal Productivity Tip #3:

Identify which routine tasks could you delegate to another to free up more time.

Outsourcing is becoming more and more common. Websites like Upwork.com, Guru.com and Rentacoder.com can help you find short term or longer term help for your routine tasks.

Or, maybe, you don’t need to do it at all. Depending on your business, there may be aspects you just don’t need to do anymore, or you shouldn’t be doing right now. Take for instance one of my startup clients. This NYC businesswoman was launching her second company. When she finally asked me to coach her she was pretty exhausted burning the candle at both ends. What we found out was that she was spending a huge amount of time designing her website herself (when she never did this before) and applying for patents. She was frustrated that business wasn’t happening soon enough. During our coaching sessions, she quickly became aware that she was focusing her time on all the wrong areas. She was working feverishly on stage 7 while skipping right over stages 1-6. She realized that if she would first lay the foundation in the sequential order that her time is then truly productive and results begin to happen much quicker and easier.

Personal Productivity Tip #4:

Regularly review your long term goals. Keeping your eye on the prize requires reminders of where you want to go and how you need to spend your time now to make sure you get there.

My challenge question for you is — “how long have you been tolerating low personal productivity in yourself?”  The trap that blinds so many entrepreneurs from losing awareness is the thinking that because you’re so busy every day you are being highly productive.

I put together a free template to help you start focusing on the key result areas in your business. You can download the Millionaire Productivity Time Template here:  https://www.paramountbusinesscoach.com/millionaire-productivity-time-template/

QUESTION: What is your best strategy that keeps you focused on working in your key result areas?  Please share your thoughts in the comment box below:

© Copyright 2018-2019