Tag Archives: The WIMS Guide

The WIMS World is Expanding

The WIMS World is Expanding!

As business has continued growing rapidly for WIMS Consulting, the preexisting business model of leveraging elite independent contractors to assist with client projects has needed to evolve. So, we’ve begun growing more in-house as well in order to focus on enhancing client service by way of emphasizing project management and streamlining operations. Simultaneously, we’re more focused on continuing to grow and take on new challenges as well.

What’s been happening with my company’s EolianVR and Augmented Reality Real Estate (ARRE) either which have been exploding with growth recently too. We’ve landed deals with government entities, major health care companies, and are closing in on major real estate companies from brokers to developers to architects as we’ve refocused on improving development. We’ve also just filed a full patent to further expand on our provisional patent. It’s been an insane year and it’s not even halfway through yet. By the way we’re also hiring (Unity Developers particularly, and front end even more specifically).

Just wanted to take a few moments to update those that may be interested on some of latest developments in our world.

We’ve had Craig Oliver on as a project manager for a while now yet his role is continuing to evolve and grow with experience.

Tom Schaefer, Jr. has been brought on as a strategic partner to head up our business development efforts in both Charlotte and Miami (and beyond).

We’ve got interns Evan Shirreffs and Taisha Johnson who are helping with marketing, CRM, finance, and additional projects as well. Their roles will continue to expand as well heading into the summer.

Further, we’ll soon be announcing new partnerships as they’re formalized within the next month or two with people/firms in Los Angeles/San Diego, Atlanta, and New York in addition to more in Charlotte/Miami to go with our existing ones.

We’ve also got some new packages rolling out over the new few weeks to leverage our partnerships with Picnic Table Video Productions and Novelty Technology.

We are committed to working with the best and brightest team to ensure we bring the greatest possible solutions to our clients, maximize the value we bring to them, and to ensure they grow their revenue to unprecedented levels.

What is 10X Tom Schaefer Jr.

What is 10X?

If you’re an entrepreneur, a sales professional, work within your city’s start-up ecosystem, or are a follower of one of the dozens of personal/professional growth coaches, chances are you’ve seen or heard of “10X”.  This has become a hot term in the last half-decade, and I wanted to break down my interpretation of what this means, and how it’s meant to be applied to your efforts.  It started as a way to describe the “best” engineers who are 10 times as productive as their “worst” counterparts in the field of software development.  The term has been appropriated, perhaps most famously by Grant Cardone in his book “The 10X Rule”, as an understanding of the levels of effort and thinking required to break out of the average results and truly succeed.

The first component in The 10X Rule (get it here free, just pay shipping) takes a closer look at how we think about success, and how we set goals.  While we’re taught “slow and steady wins the race”, this puts our mindset in a place where average is OK.  However, average is a sliding scale.  If everyone is struggling, your struggles are justified.  We set smaller “realistic” goals, limiting our belief in what is possible.  I believe this way of thinking is rooted in the fear of failure, so we celebrate even the smallest victories.  Failure is necessary for growth.  As we fail, we learn what doesn’t work and improve our efforts for the next attempt.  Welcome failure, set audacious goals that are “10X” what you originally thought possible.  10 new clients a month instead of 1.  Raise $1 million for your start up instead of $100K.  Thinking in these magnitudes, even a “failure” of getting 3 new clients or raising $200K is still better than the original goals.

Now thinking at a higher level than before is great, but making them happen can seem daunting.  This is where the second part kicks in, and understanding the order of magnitude of your actions comes into play.  Break down what it takes to reach your goal.  Does it take 5 meetings to get that 1 client?  Schedule 50.  Does it take 10 calls to get 5 meetings?  Make 100 calls.  Don’t have 100 people to call?  Start building your network by sharing what you do with others and ask them if they know anyone that fits your ideal client profile (ICP).  Start somewhere and create the activity to get to the next step.

“But Tom, I’m a solopreneur and I’m already working 60 hour weeks, I can’t possibly work 600 hours a week, it’s impossible.”  or “Those numbers aren’t realistic, in my industry a 20% growth is considered a huge margin.”  Excuses are a justification of our fears.  We stay in a comfort zone to avoid failure.  Well a solopreneur can leverage tools like CRM to manage a sales and marketing strategy, making scalability much more attainable. A strong digital marketing campaign can grow an audience 100 times what was previously done with more traditional methods at a fraction of the price (and often at no cost at all).  The fear of failure is stopping more people from succeeding than the actual failures ever will.  Stop thinking small and start doing, because nothing ever happens overnight, and every great journey begins with a single step.

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Pineapple Consulting

WIMS Client Spotlight: Pineapple Consulting

Pineapple Consulting Firm was created with only one goal: to help small businesses succeed. It helps how synergistic that is with WIMS Consulting, as not only is there a client relationship, but it really fits our model of creating partnerships too.

While Pineapple is eager to help however they can, they have a particular specialization centered around analytics and efficiency. Specifically, they are wizards when it comes to Excel, spreadsheets, lead generation, and project management (something we’re really interested in helping businesses with right now at WIMS Consulting too).

Their service offerings include:

  • Data Analytics
    • Inform decisions and strategies for the best results.
    • Data gathering, manipulation, and visualization with expertise in Excel.
  • Financial Analysis
    • Cost benefit analysis, Financial modelling and projections all in customizable Excel tools.
  • Project Management
    • Lead a project from idea development all the way to post-execution monitoring.
  • Lead Generation/Data Scraping
    • Extract leads and data from online and present it in easily manageable files.

They work with a wide variety of industries, but have a niche surrounding professional service firms. Pineapple’s founder has an extensive background in the financial services and wealth management industry. However they also work with startups of all sizes, accounting, banking, insurance, real estate, non-profits, and health care among others.

The company is based in Charlotte, NC but of course is able to work with clients from throughout the country.

Click here to check out their website and let them know that I sent you!

2019 Small Business Week

 

 

This week, May 5th to May 11th, 2019, is National Small Business Week, which is a great time to think about the importance of small businesses in our economy. In addition to this piece I would also direct you to my colleague Michael Simmons piece on 2019 Small Business Week which is filled with valuable Small Business Resources. In this post I will be looking into the data behind small businesses in America and tackle some of the FAQ’s about small businesses. During this week small business owners and their employees are celebrated for their contributions to the economy, society, and their local community. The value of these companies goes well beyond the economic impact they provide as they contribute to the culture and identity of local communities.

 

Small Business Data

 

Small businesses across America serve as the engine steering economic growth of the economy in general. The Small Business Association’s Office of Advocacy has complied data and answers to common asked questions about small businesses. There are over 29.6 million small businesses in America and these organizations create many jobs in all corners of the nation. The impact of these small businesses account for 63% of net new private-sector jobs created and in total account for 59 million jobs which is almost half of all jobs across the nation (47.5%). These figures are impressive and show the scope and volume of economic activity provided by small businesses.

 

Small Business FAQs

 

What is the composition of small businesses in the US?

The role of small businesses is felt across the US economy and contributes to the economy in different ways. Most of the small businesses are nonemployer firms, in total these firms account for 80% of small business and number around 24.3 million of the 30.2 million businesses while the other 20% of small businesses, around 5.9 million total businesses have paid employees.

 

How do these small businesses fit into the wider economy?

Some of the stats regarding the importance of small businesses to the greater economy are very impressive and show how the greater economy would greatly suffer. This includes the 40.8% of all private-sector payrolls paid by small business and 32.9% of known export value amounting to $440 billion of the total $1.3 trillion in export value. These figures show the value that small businesses create and highlight how the resilient business leaders across America and beyond generate economic growth through the power of exports.

 

What is the survival rate of small businesses?

The one-year survival rate of businesses started in 2016 was 79.8%, the most recent data available meaning that almost 4 in 5 businesses survive their first year. The five-year survival rate has differed over the past decade with firms started in 2006 and weathering through the great recession have a 45.4% rate of still being in operation after five years. Companies established in 2011 as the economic recovery was into effect had a five-year survival rate of 51% showing how external macroeconomic factors also have an impact on the survival rate of a small business.

 

Small Business Week Actions

 

Everyone can take some small steps to support small businesses both this week and throughout the year. Buying from small businesses when possible is one way to support them and offers the opportunity to learn about the business owner and their employees. From here a connect and relationship can be formed with the business and then the business can become a part of your routine. In addition to becoming a customer of different small businesses people can lobby local and national politicians to support legislation that is favorable for small business growth. One of the simplest ways to help small business owners is to thank them for what they are doing and provide validation that they are making a meaningful impact on the community.

 

Sources

 

National Small Business Week. SBA. U.S. Small Business Administration. https://www.sba.gov/national-small-business-week.

SBA Office of Advocacy. Frequently Asked Questions, August 2018. https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/Frequently-Asked-Questions-Small-Business-2018.pdf.

Simmons, Michael. “WIMS Celebrates National Small Business Week 2019!” WIMS Guide. https://www.wimsguide.com/tag/small-business-week/.

 

Small Business Week 2019

WIMS Celebrates National Small Business Week 2019!

In honor of Small Business Week I’ve put together a collection of resources, information, articles, etc. for you to check out whether you’re currently an entrepreneur, if you’re considering becoming one, or if you simply want to support your local crazy roller coaster rider like myself. Also, to celebrate WIMS Consulting is offering a 20% on all services/projects for other small business owners. Just reach out and mention it during your consultation!

What is SBW?

From May 6th to May 11th, 2019, it’s National Small Business Week where the SBA (Small Business Association) recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners from all across the 50 states and U.S. territories.

About: “Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.”

 

For North Carolina Companies:

Charlotte Business Resources – it’s Small Business MONTH for the CBR and the city of Charlotte (thanks Mayor Vi Lyles)! Check out everything going on. They’re using #31DaysofBiz too if you want to follow along.

Check out NC IDEA, they’re expanding the long-standing NC IDEA SEED grant program by introducing a Micro-Grant Pilot Program to award micro-grants to deserving companies not yet positioned for their traditional $50K seed grants. “The NC IDEA SEED Micro-Grant Pilot Program will award project-based, micro-grants in the amount of $1K – $10K to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea; or if further along, validate scalability where a small amount of funding would make a significant impact. Grant recipients will also receive mentorship and assistance from NC IDEA, as well as access to its wide network of advisors, partners and investors.”

 

Other SBW2019 Resources Worth Checking Out:

Entrepreneur Magazine SBW2019 HQ

Entrepreneur Magazine SBW2018 HQ

Fundera Ultimate Guide for Small Business Owners

Amazon Business Small Business Week Page

They also created: The Small Business Office Playbook is a resource endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of its commitment to continually support small businesses’ needs and growth opportunities.

Vista Print 33% off entire site with code SMALLBIZ

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

Top TedTalks for when you want to start a business.

Consider These 9 New Ideas For Small Business Week PR (Forbes)

Why National Small Business Week Matters Now More Than Ever (Business.com)

Small Business Week 2018: Need money to get started? We’ve got you. (USA Today)

43 Reasons You Should Support Small And Independent Businesses (Forbes)

Project Management

 

The business world is shaped by the ability of organizations to effectively manage and execute projects in a team environment. Projects stand at the center of any idea and serve as the means of turning ideas into meaningful action. From the planning through executing and reflection on the project constant communication and decision making is needed to direct the project in the best direction. The ability to have leaders in an organization who can direct resources and personnel during uncertain times will reap many benefits for the entire organizations ability to provide the best quality solutions.

 

The value of project management stands out in the business world as a core competency which focuses heavily on operating the project. This includes reinforcing leadership decisions, maintaining project goals, and ensuring open communication occurs between stakeholders. Project leaders provide efficiently run projects developing a unique project management strategy which fits the specific needs of your organization. To improve your own project management skills, an in-depth view of the definition of a project from the Project Management Institute (PMI) will be examined. Some of the different project management frameworks will also be examined along with the dynamics of teams including the Five Stages of Group Development. Understanding the differences in project management frameworks as well as what constitutes a project and the ability to help develop and lead teams will become more ingrained into the core of your organization. The ability to understand how to construct your time and resources on projects will reap rewards and allow for more goals to be on time and under budget.

 

Project management is a skill set which does not fit into the boxes of specific industries or mindsets but encompasses the changes and complexities of a project over the course of its lifespan. Every project that is implemented changes and faces unique challenges and uncertainties yet the most telling sign of the success of the project is how the team reacts to changes and uncertainty. Effective project management will not solve all the uncertainties of projects yet that is not the purpose of project management and effective leadership. Project management serves as a framework to keep the project on course and ensure that the team can stay on track during good times and the more difficult times. Instead of being an exact science project management combines specific industry knowledge, emotional intelligence, and team building to create the most innovative solutions for teams and allowing teams to perform at their highest level.

 

Project Management

Introducing the WIMS Consulting Project Management Service Line

The WIMS Consulting project management service line was born out of our own need to allocate the time and resources to make sure and improve this area of our business. A core business tenant is that the best business models solve real problems that you can relate to and those that make a significant impact on your life. Getting the project management process built and implemented is working wonders for our business, and we realized it would likely do the same for yours.

Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Gantt. Excel, Google Sheets, Trello, Jira, Smart Sheets, Asana, SharePoint, Bitrix, BaseCamp, Zoho Project Management. We scoured the web, read countless white papers, articles, watched webinars and seminars, and researched the heck out of this problem until we found the best approach that works. We didn’t just look for the best methodology, but also the best software stack too. Because just like CRM programs (which we intertwine this with in our case) you can have the best understanding of the principles and software in the world, but if you don’t actually use and implement the program correctly it will still fail.

Many people conduct project management intuitively, or by using a combination of Outlook, post-it notes, and to-do lists. Others at least have upgraded to a Trello board or Smart Sheet subscription. It’s time to level up and incorporate a robust project management strategy as a core part of your company’s operations.

While we primarily built this for us, we quickly realized how replicable it is for our clients too. The value it brings to your overall business is profound. It helps improve communication, holds everyone accountable, ensures you’re focused and prioritizing the right things. All of which are crucial as you work to grow and scale. We spend a lot of time helping our clients get more business and increase revenue, now we’re also focusing on helping them to keep that business in a long-term and sustainable way. We’d love the opportunity to assist your company with making it happen. Reach out when you’re ready!

Project Management Offering

WIMS Consulting can act as your long-term outsourced project manager, or on an ad-hoc project basis as they arise. Our solutions are customized and flexible based on the client’s specific needs. Whether you have a system in place that needs some minor tweaks, or if you want to start over from scratch we can help. If you want to migrate to a new software platform, we got you covered.

Our primary objective is assisting you with improving your critical decision-making processes, streamlining your operations by enhancing efficiency, improving accountability, encouraging clear communication, and ultimately increasing your ROI.

Our Process

The WIMS project management service line is centered around the mission and goals of the client. To begin, we conduct an informational interview, or discovery call, where we take a deep dive into the organization’s operations to get a better understanding of the existing project management systems and policies in place (if there are any). During this due diligence phase, we learn what the client thinks is working, what isn’t, identify bottlenecks, and learn as much as we can.

This initial conversation will help frame the service and solutions proposed through having a candid conversation to understand where the organization is at and where it desires to go. When this method was undertaken internally, we included some of the questions included below.

Project Management Audit

We provide an audit of your organization’s existing internal processes. After this due diligence phase, we then take the time to thoroughly review and assess. Once this is complete, we come back to you with recommendations and next steps that we believe would lead to the most appropriate project management system for your organization. Before implementation however we will review it together to make a cohesive decision that includes the buy-in and commitment from both of our organizations.

Sample Questions:
1.    Describe your current project management/day-to-day operations process. What are three main points that stand out?
2.    Who is involved in the project planning process? Include all key stakeholders/administrators/decision makers, etc.
3.    What software (if any) are you using?
4.    What type of budget and resources do you have to solve this problem?
5.    Have you ever lost a project or not bid on one because of your current internal project management process? Have any other negative experiences occurred because of it?

Of course this is just a high level overview of what is ultimately a complex process. We’d love the opportunity to connect with you and your organization to learn more about your specific project management/operational needs and how we can assist.

 

Project Management in Perspective: The Panama Canal

 

Project Management in Action

 

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of volunteering at a meaningful event held by PMI (Project Management Institute) Metrolina Chapter for members of the military who are about to transition into civilian life. The 3rd Annual Veterans Transition & Skillfest Event serves as outreach to military personnel from the Fayetteville area interested in learning about career paths and certifications in project management.

 

This is a great event which provides networking and education to military members who are about to transition into civilian life. This event also centered on some of the connections between the military and project management including a look at some of the historic additions made to the project management world by the military. One of the most significant lasting contributions from the military world on project management was the construction of the Panama Canal, which was a decades long project that including death, corruption, innovation, uncertainty, and finally triumph.

 

 

Historical Foundation of Project Management

 

The discussion of the Panama Canal project and other important historical projects including the D-Day Invasion was a central theme of the keynote speech given by Jay Hicks. Hicks is a Florida based author of a series of books on military transition including The Transitioning Military Project Manager. The aspect of his presentation which I found most meaningful was centered on the historic relationship between planning effective projects and the military.

I believe looking to the past is a good way in understanding the underlying values of a topic. This is true in project management which is used across industries and has a foundation in the US Military. To understand the value that project management can add to an organization understanding from past projects and noting lessons learned from these past projects is one of the best ways to enhance project management terms.

 

This can be used by those looking to get started in the project management field, amateur historians interested in learning more about history, and those interested in gaining a better understanding about geopolitics. I am interested in all of the above areas so the chance to write and share some of this history is something I find to be intellectually delightful. So, let’s venture to the Isthmus of Panama and see how the improbable connection of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean forever changed the world.

 

 

A Complex Project

 

The military undertook some of the most complex projects of the 20th century under the leadership of effective project planning and effective execution. Of all these projects the Panama Canal project which was completed under the direction of the Army Corp of Engineers stands as one of the most important.

 

 

The Panama Canal and Project Management

 

The most significant contribution to the world of project management from the Panama Canal project was the construction of the first work breakdown structure (WBS). This is a concept that is central to the core of operating and maintaining projects under budgetary and time constraints.  In the century since this project, practitioners around the world have implemented WBS into projects across the world to deconstruct the cost and schedule of a project into manageable pieces to best accomplish the project. By reframing the project into many pieces which need to be accomplished to reach the final goal the schedule of the project can better be handled, and the cost structure become more manageable. Over a century after the project began the WBS is still a major tenant of project management across industries showing the value that this adds to constructing and operating efficient projects.

 

 

The French Experiment

 

The French undertook the first attempt at constructing a canal across the Isthmus in the 1880s and was highlighted by corruption and ineffective project execution. The rampant spread of illness was a main factor behind the reason that the project was forced to be abandoned. In addition to this corruption, poor execution led to the halting of construction in 1889. The human cost of this ineffectiveness was massive with over 20,000 deaths. While the main factor behind the failed project was illness it was exacerbated by poor management. Although few projects will fail this spectacularly the understanding that projects often fail because of a range of factors which are made worse by ineffective leadership. The takeaway from this is that understanding that poor leadership is never the singular cause of a failure but can make shortcoming become more extreme and can lead to setting up a project for failure from the beginning.

 

 

The American Experiment

 

The history of this project tells a compelling story about a project on a massive scale which provided many technological innovations and helped propel the US onto a platform as a world leader during the 20th century. It is hard to believe but through the early 20th century the US was still seen as a minor player on the global stage with a few colonial holdings. By constructing the canal, the US was able to stand out as the undoubted leader of the western hemisphere and allow the US to shape the politics and international relations of a complex century.

 

By the time of the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt the ideas of constructing some type of canal across Central America dated back hundreds of years. The initial thoughts of construction on a canal began during the Colonial period of the 1600s and marked one of the first global projects undertaken by the US. This period was historically important as the US expanded onto the global stage during this era and the construction of the Panama Canal proved the leadership and effectiveness of American execptionalism. The success of the project centered on the ability to shift and build off the failures of the French project.

 

The first year of construction by the Americans appeared like the French project with high turnover rates and major financial losses. Eventually, the arrival of a new chief engineer, John Stevens led to a unique approach to the construction by not building but by building up the surrounding infrastructure of the construction zone beginning with eradicating the diseases which were so rampant. This major undertaking occurred by bringing in Dr. William Gargas who had previously worked to eradicate yellow fever in Cuba.

 

 

Creating Infrastructure

 

By spraying chemicals in the Panamanian jungle, the threat of diseases from mosquitoes was mitigated allowing for the work to begin on the supplemental infrastructure needed to complete the construction of the canal. Towns grew from the jungle as swamps were drained and critical infrastructure was completed. By breaking the project into manageable steps, the scope of the project grew from merely building a canal to limiting the factors which caused illness and creating the infrastructure needed for success. By repositioning what work was necessary to be undertaken the Panama Canal was able to be completed. This success shows the importance of planning for the intermediate steps and understanding that changes in the project will strengthen end results and overall efficiency of the project.

 

To understand the impressive feat the Americans accomplished by finishing this project it is important to examine the long and complex history surrounding the construction of a canal. A good place to take a further look is the attempt by the French to construct a canal decades before the Americans undertook a similar plan. This endeavor provides an example of the complexities of building a canal and some common themes that stand in the way of effectively executing a project to completion including rampant corruption.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

With such a strong history the military and project management have gone hand in hand for generations. Long before the corporate world adopted project management the military was utilizing complex projects under quasi project management offices from the Army Corp of Engineers as they constructed the Panama Canal during the early 20th century. The addition of the work breakdown structure (WBS) allowed this complex construction project to be deconstructed into a series of manageable tasks along the course of the project.

 

The completion of the Panama Canal stands as one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of all times. Combine this with the timing of the completion of the project as the US ascent on the international stage highlights the value that effective project management had in this historic event.  The opening of the canal was overshadowed by World War I and the spread of conflict in Europe. The completion of the Panama Canal meant that the Americans had made the steps to enter the top of the world stage influencing geopolitics and forever altering Central America.

Marketing Sales Automation Tech Stack

The Best Marketing and Sales Automation Tech Stack for B2B Businesses

Just about every company in America would publicly emphasize that they’re committed to revenue growth (this is more important than ever now). Yet simultaneously its common to try to cut corners and get cheap when it comes time to invest in tried and true resources that help them realize that goal. Further, these resources will easily pay for themselves and more by leading to significant ROI both monetarily and via efficiencies.

In 2019 I can’t believe companies still need to be convinced that they need things like CRM programs and marketing automation but here we are.

And let’s get one thing out of the way before going any further. No, having a free HubSpot account doesn’t count as investing in a CRM program. It may be slightly better than a Google Spreadsheet (yes some solely use that as their “CRM”) but it’s still a lame attempt at best (that’s not to knock them, they have a fine platform if you’re willing to pay the fees to upgrade it).

Fortunately, there is an upside whether you have a CRM and marketing automation system or not. Regardless if you have none, a poor/dysfunctional one, or even one that’s working decently well, now is a great time to make it even better. Take the time, make the investment, and ensure it’s a priority to get dialed in and implemented now to lead to massive dividends later.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right, so I’ve put together a list of the best tech stack in the game to work synergistically and seamlessly whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or a $100 million company with hundreds of employees.

To set the ground rules this piece is predominantly focused on marketing and sales automation. There are plenty of additional angles to take to assist with ERP, HR/recruiting, etc. (if there’s interest I’ll gladly do a follow up post). Also, there are a variety of effective approaches and platforms to pull this off so in some cases I’ll include secondary and tertiary options. If your favorite tool is omitted it doesn’t mean I’m not a fan, just trying to make this easier in a world with a vast amount of options to avoid analysis paralysis. I’m not going to let that be your excuse not to take action and execute.

Ok here we go.

Communication

This is obvious, but your base starts with communication, so email, mobile device, etc. Personally, my preference is overwhelmingly an Outlook and iOS base. However, Gmail/Google Suite or Android are just fine. I use both Outlook/Gmail and both accounts are connected/integrated with my CRM. If you’re working in teams, adding Slack to the mix is worthwhile as well. Price: $5-$10 per user per month.

CRM

This is really the major component that ties everything together and is the key to making everything else in your business work. If you’ve read anything I’ve written about CRM’s you know my #1 preference right now is Zoho One. It does so freaking much for your company for the price that it’s absurd. Their tagline is: “The Operating System for Your Business” and it’s 100% true. There are literally 40 applications that go along with it that could easily eliminate much of what you’re using right now. But if you love your other platforms and want to keep them it also integrates with them all.

A few steps allows you to sync and keep track of all your communication with clients and prospects, ensure you follow up with leads who fill out contact forms or simply visit your website (yes it includes a heat map and website analytics) and so much more. I also use it for project management.

Almost on equal footing (albeit it comes with a much higher price tag) is Salesforce, followed by HubSpot. These are both great platforms, they just cost a whole lot more to license and don’t come with the extra bells and whistles that Zoho One does. Price: $30-$40 per user per month.

Social Media

This section will be brief, your company has got to have at least the following accounts: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you want to add others to the mix more power to you, but this is the base. I use Zoho to manage, automate, and track my posting (which is included) but you could easily use Hootsuite too. Price: Free (Zoho) – $30 per user per month for Hootsuite.

Email Marketing

Another quick section: you need to be incorporating email campaigns into your marketing activities. Email isn’t dead, that’s a lie (neither is direct mail, but that’s for another time). This is one where you could get away with Zoho to manage it, yet I stubbornly have stuck with MailChimp. I love the platform, the company, and what it stands for and have remained loyal. You can start with a free account for under 2,000 contacts, I have more in my list, so I pay a monthly fee (the fee staggers based on your amount of contacts). Constant Contact is a fine option too. Both integrate with Zoho. Price: Free (Zoho) – $30 per month and up for MailChimp.

Contract/Proposal Management

If your company is like mine, you crank out a lot of proposals and contracts on a regular basis. While we customize each one there is still plenty of overlap and recurring content that we leverage often. Standardizing as much as possible with templates creates a HUGE advantage. It allows us to crank out much more in less time. Business is a numbers game, i.e. more activity leads to more volume, which leads to more sales and revenue. So being able to get more proposals and contracts out in a timelier fashion is going to make a tangible impact on your business alone. For this I use/recommend IntellyDoc. Adding this to your tech stack is going to make a major impact on your business. Price: Free (Freemium Model) – $150+ per month depending on your company’s situation.

Payment Processing

Not that your company is closing all this new business you’ve got to collect, right? I have an account set up with PayPal, Square, Stripe, Venmo, Zelle, Coinbase, and Gold Money to collect fees from clients. I recommend having them all nothing else in your business matters if you don’t collect the fees you charge. They all connect to your bank, which should connect to your bookkeeping platform, which then connects back to the CRM to tie in deal flow tracking and to assist with financial forecasting, etc. Price: Free aside from a percentage per transaction.

Bookkeeping

QuickBooks gets all the love, but I’ve been using Wave and it’s really great too (you’re probably sick of hearing this by now but Zoho has an application that comes with your Zoho One account too). QB integrates with Zoho, Wave doesn’t which is a minor annoyance, but I created a work flow to work around that.

Other recommendations:

Scheduling: Acuity is awesome to assist with scheduling meetings, demos, calls, etc. by allowing folks to see open times on your calendar and book appointments. They have a freemium model.

Ecommerce: Shopify.

Strengthening Project Management

 

In the current business world competition and adding value to your current operation is becoming increasingly important. Every organization needs to address and strategize how to attract and sustain top talent. The specifics differ from company to company and often depend on location and the necessary skill set to accomplish a specific task. Some challenges stand in the way of companies as they attempt to grow their company with a talented and engaged workforce. Staffing and operating strong project portfolios go hand in hand and should be thought of as ways to improve the efficiency of both specific projects and the entire organization.

 

Good organizations understand that to stand out resources and focus should be placed on finding people to fit roles. Looking outside your organization as well as within can assist in understanding and using human resources and project management to establish a company culture. Getting the right personnel can help improve solutions and reduce friction among current team members. Collaboration should be viewed from the perspective of bringing in new team members.

 

To grow, companies need to address how to maintain a competitive edge in their industry while growing internally. Some hurdles stand in the way of growing and sustaining a workforce which can handle projects and helps your organization grow.

 

The focus is placed on creating effective and simple project proposals for existing external projects while building up internal systems. Quickly it becomes evident that this would be a valuable investment which would provide an additional service line. Many organizations are in the same spot as WIMS in need of investing internally to increase the effectiveness of existing operations while making plans to expand into new business opportunities. This can be difficult, and close to impossible, without a developed internal project system which allows for maximizing the value of your team while fulfilling growth and expansion into new projects.

 

The project manager must document the steps across the project lifecycle and create an environment where every team member actively documents work and changes to the project. There should be a standard procedure for documenting the project which should be communicated up front and allow for input from workers. The project manager needs to ensure that accurate progress is being communicated. Communication is critical across the entire team and when the chain of communication is well constructed with multiple ways to raise questions and provide insights the entire team can focus on issues that need the most attention. Communication can help build trust across the entire team and allow for the specific focus areas of the team to be given more attention and be build up for sustained success.

 

The time to invest in project management solutions is now. If your organization already has a project management system in place the system should constantly be evaluated and additional improvements should be made when necessary. Planning to improve project planning poses the opportunity to create a project itself which can be used as a learning experience to incorporate new ideas. Every additional opportunity to expand projects provides the chance for members of the entire team to gain meaningful hands on practice across the development of projects.

 

Creating the final projects and tasks around all of us are truly unique with many complex aspects. A project involves many internal and external stakeholders who must be in constant communication. With many complex parts and changes the need to have a robust team which can deal with the changes that arise across the project is necessary. Taking the time to invest heavily in project planning will allow for the best-case scenario for reacting to unexpected changes. By having a developed and strategic project management system in place, organizations can better handle existing projects while also bringing in new work and expanding the project portfolio.