How Do You Manage?

There are a lot of project management software options out there these days. It's tough to choose just one without trying all of them out first, but most people tend to stop at Basecamp since it is the most popular and widely used on the market.

It's important to recognize that project management is much more important than any type of software can allow. While these tools help alleviate the stresses of management immensely, management is more of a mentality and certain skill set that one possesses inherently.

AceProject is one of those apps that recognizes the importance of the human aspects of management. The release of their new mobile version allows managers to utilize the application from any smartphone or mobile device, or leverage it normally from any desktop browser.

If you're an agency like Endagon or Jiggy Piggy, you can brand the AceProject's login and dashboard materials with your logos so that clients believe you're as professional as possible. Multiple projects allows you to also juggle all of those pesky clients in one location, which frees all project managers from the headaches that disorganization can cause.

Even if you think you don't need a project management system in place, I urge you to look beyond Basecamp and tap into your management potential.

UCF Nation's 25 Days of Christmas

As a UCF graduate, I feel obligated to post the following links on this blog. It might not be relevant to everyone that reads this, but it is a major part of who I am, so I thought I'd share here.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you should recognize each of these from my constant updates throughout the entire month. This is a clean all-inclusive list of the top 25 UCF holiday items that I conjured up for all of the fellow Knights out there.

1. UCF USB Flash Drive
2. UCF Wrapping Paper
3. UCF Tie
4. UCF Santa Hat
5. UCF iPhone Case and Another One
6. UCF Ball Ornament
7. UCF Board Shorts
8. UCF Dog Collar
9. UCF Socks
10. UCF Puzzle
11. UCF Golf Balls
12. UCF Tumbler Cup
13. UKnighted For The Cure T-Shirt
14. UCF Carbon Fiber Pen
15. Monsoon Survivor T-Shirt
16. UCF Hat
17. UCF Homecoming 2011 T-Shirt
18. UCF Notepad
19. Once A Knight, Always a Knight T-Shirt
20. UCF Bottle Opener
21. I Love Knights T-Shirt
22. UCF Wall Clock
23. UCF Window Decal
24. UCF Helmet Desk Caddy
25. UCF Sunglasses

The Email Game

When I first heard about The Email Game, I was instantly intrigued. To me, email is always a game against myself everyday. With hundreds of new emails coming in everyday and a lot of "real" work to do, it's a constant struggle trying to keep inbox zero and overcome the pain that is keeping up with email.

The Email Game is an interesting solution to people with this problem.

Essentially, the Email Game is an application that grabs your email account and toggles through your latest emails one-by-one. With each email, a timer is displayed, and it then becomes your task to reply, read, or dispose the email before the timer runs out. Although the points aren't as important to me, you do earn them each time you succeed. However, it's more about the time saving component for me.

I have been using the Email Game for almost two weeks now and I can honestly say that it saves me hours everyday. I used to have to monitor email all day waiting for important Client issues, but now I can take 5 minutes every few hours to toggle through everything super quickly.

Check out the Email Game and let me know what you think. For your reference, I have embedded their overview video below.

The Email Game - Conquer your Email from Baydin Inc. on Vimeo.

Buying Supplies for Your Business

Most businessmen will tell you that the easiest way to increase the profitability of a business is to cut costs, and the supplies you buy for your business are no exception. Some companies if pushed will admit to putting the issue of buying in materials, whether that’s timber for a shed building firm, jiffy bags for a delivery company or stationary for just about everyone, is left to its own devices, leaving employees chasing round after shortages. It doesn’t have to be like this however, and here are a few pointers to get overheads and organisation in this area in check.

  • Economies of scale are your friend when buying for business purposes, and leveraging for discounts via your buying power is the way to make the most of them. The bigger the company, the larger these discounts can get. Building up a relationship with suppliers is also useful, and means you can start to suggest things like shipping larger volumes and tying in the price to bring down both yours and their costs, and see if they offer any rewards for large scale recycling on your part, which in some industries could be lucrative.
  • Having a well-thought out inventory system, especially for any materials used for consumption by and end-user (customer or client), is extremely important, and all too often companies will dismiss this option as time-consuming and costly. All it really takes is the discipline to put a system into practice, and ultimately should even include office supplies. Over-time you should see patterns emerge, and eventually you’ll be able to anticipate what will need purchasing in the weeks and even months ahead, helping out with budgeting no end.
  • It’s also important to purchase enough to take advantage of economies of scale, without over-buying and losing more than just the initial outlay. A good idea is to set out the savings made from bulk-buying and negotiated discounts, and weigh them up against the ‘cost of money’ i.e. the interest accrued on bank loans used to purchase supplies. If savings are larger, then ordering more shouldn’t be a problem, the other way round however, and a larger loss than estimated may be being made.

Jeff Bezos is the New Steve Jobs

p>The current rumor is that Amazon will be entering the offline retail space in 2012. Following in the footsteps of other large tech/web companies like Apple and Microsoft, Amazon believes they now have the consumer products to fill up a tangible storefront and hopes to increase sales with the added incentive of "in-person consumption." We all know that being able to see and touch a product leads to higher conversion rates, but is the Kindle product a good enough reason for Amazon to make such a bold move?

I have a lot of thoughts on this and I'd like to share some of them with you.

First of all, never bet against a guy like Jeff Bezos. Over the years, he has done a countless number of impressive and unexpected things with the Amazon brand. He's acquired major companies, he's disrupted the publishing world, and most recently, he is proving that a less expensive product, even if you lose money on each sale, equals more market (and mind) share and creates lifelong customer loyalty. What he has done with the new Kindle Fire is arguably just as impressive as the unveiling of the first generation iPad (at least to me). It's still an e-Reader (not a tablet), yet it's carving it's own sub-section of tablet/reader hybrid products. And let's not overlook the Silk browser. The caching technology alone is as innovative as something like a browser can be. I can't wait to see how Silk disrupts browsing on the computer in 2012.

Next, if the aforementioned rumors are true, Amazon's retail stores will be a whole lot more than just Kindles. Bezos has apparently been secretly working on a broad collection of retail products that can be offered under the Amazon label. I know this sounds risky, less-focused, and out of scope for an online company like Amazon, but again, Bezos is doing this for a reason. If you can pick up some other amazing products while you're in a store shopping for a Kindle, you're going to do it - especially if you already love the Kindle and have shopped with Amazon for several years already. After all, isn't Amazon known for having just about everything on their site?

That leads me to my next point. Amazon has done their time. They've served billions of customers over the years. In order to continue being an innovative technology company as oppose to just being a stale e-commerce site, they have to continue to grow. How else can Amazon's products reach the older generations that deserve to read from a Kindle? It's much easier to sell a newbie on a product when their grandchild begs them to go into a store because they have been shopping at Amazon online for 7 years. From that, more eyeballs will generate even more sales - but it all stems from the trust that they have built with the world over time.

There is no stopping Jeff Bezos anytime soon. I will continue to follow his every move as an entrepreneur as he continues to innovate and disrupt any of the markets he can touch. It's a real pleasure to watch him.

What do you think about Bezos? Please leave your comments below.

How to Tell If Your Business Needs Professional Help

There is such a thing as healthy paranoia in business. It is as much an instinct as a trained response to a situation which does not feel right. Experienced businesspeople turn this into a reflex action when assessing doing new business and it’s a real asset.brideswhisper Nowhere, however, is it more of an asset when you’re getting that feeling about your business’s health. There are a range of options for getting out of trouble before you get in too deep, including voluntary administration and other possibilities for shutting down problems before they turn in to catastrophes.

Telltale signs of trouble

The signs are readable, if you know how:

  • Slow payment of accounts- This is one of the most notorious of all problems for any business, and it can put a serious strain on cashflow.
  • Extra costs- These unexpected and unwelcome costs tend to show up along with other issues that are costing money. They’re a potentially serious issue, if they represent significant costs relevant to revenue.
  • Credit issues- Credit can blow out. It needs to be kept under close scrutiny, because this is a cost which can also blow up into a serious viability issue for the business.
  • Business debts- These things tend to accrue over time. They’re sneaky, and they can add up to nasty amounts of money.
  • Debtors- When the slow payments turn into non-payments, you’ve actually got two problems- Credibility and cash. You can’t do business as a charity. You need the cash.
  • Operational costs- These things are unavoidable, and the money for them has to be scheduled into a workable methodology relative to revenue. The costs may include maintenance, new equipment, new software, or staff.

If you’re getting the impression that these things in combination add up to major problems, you’re right. Keeping an eye on costs is a basic business issue, and it’s rarely easy, particularly for new businesses which don’t have the cash to be sure they can manage extra costs. The need at this stage is for financial projections, and pinning down facts.

Financial projections- Finding problems before they find you

Financial projections don’t have to be 100% accurate, but they do have to accurately disclose incoming issues for the business. You can do a rough financial projection in your head.

For example:

  • Projected revenue is $5000 over a given period of time
  • Operating costs- $2500
  • Credit- $500
  • Electricity- $150
  • Phone $200
  • Rent- $1000
  • Stock $1000

You’re $350 in the red at this point based on your revenue. That’s 7% of your gross monthly income. In 12 months, it’ll be $4200 on base revenue of $60,000. It also represents over 4 months’ worth of stock purchases. That’s also assuming no other costs occur, which is unlikely. Do you have a problem? Yes you do. You’re operating at a loss with no safety net against extra costs. One unpaid account could be big trouble. You’ve also got taxes to consider.

This is where you need to get some professional help. One option is receivership, a process that puts an expert in charge of managing your business. A receiver is appointed to turn around business, and they usually do.

The trick is to get help before you need help. If you’re getting worried, now is the time to start looking for solutions. prom dresses online shop Talk to your accountant about options.

Creating Multi-Level Businesses

Reselling products is a great business model. We see plenty of affiliate marketers making money off of selling someone else's products. On the other side of the fence, there are endless amounts of "gurus" selling their knowledge to people that will then essentially be passed down the line when those people make their own "guru" product.

A lot of the commerce taking place on the web has been designed like that of a pyramid. A great product is created, then passed down the line, either as an imitation or repackaged in the form of a Reseller's program.

A good example of a business that creates this type of value down the line of consumption is PHP Dir Submit. Essentially, this site sells a "business in a box," which allows purchasers to open their doors as a service provider thereafter. This particular product is an article directory submitter, but I'm sure you can see how this type of business infrastructure can work in many types of verticals.

If your passion lends itself to a multi-tiered sharing system, tap into it. Be careful, however, that you don't cross into being an MLM or a Ponzi scheme. At the core of the business has to be a valuable product that is actually well worth the purchase.

Gen-Y Capital

Earlier this week, the White House announced the launch of the YEC's newest project, Gen Y Capital Partners.

Here is a description of the project directly from a personal email from Scott Gerber, the Founder of the YEC:

Gen Y Capital Partners will invest $10M in early-stage ventures and will be the world's first early stage startup accelerator for generation Y, by generation Y. In addition to capital, our first-of-its-kind approach combines the benefits of Income Based Repayment, academic partnerships and a support network of the most successful young entrepreneurs in the country (you!), to remove many of the barriers young entrepreneurs face in creating new businesses and jobs for themselves and their peers. This is a new, scalable 360 degree approach to investing in our nation's youth.

The concept of Gen Y Capital Partners was born over a year ago, but in the past few months it has become a reality with the help of a solid team of fellow YEC members and entrepreneurs; Jeremy Johnson Co-Founder and CMO of 2tor, Carissa Reiniger Founder and CEO of Silver Lining Limited, and Lauren Maillian Bias Founder and CEO of Luxury Market Branding are working hard to build every aspect of the company with our advisors.

We look forward to receiving piles of business plans from our country's future innovators, and it all starts with your support. Thank you!

Your fearless leader,

Scott Gerber
Founder and President of YEC

The Youth Entrepreneurship Act

I am proud to be supporting the Young Entrepreneurship Act.

To best relay the mission of the movement, I have copied and pasted some information directly from the Young Entrepreneurship Act's official website.

"Today, young people are turning to entrepreneurship to overcome a tough economy, and in the process, creating new businesses and new jobs. Now is the time to support this movement. That's why our organizations support the Youth Entrepreneurship Act, legislation designed to make it easier for young people to start a business. The Act includes student loan forgiveness programs, expanded access to micro-loans, and increased investment in entrepreneurship education. All of our voices must be heard. Sign this petition to join our coalition and help young people rebuild America."

Sign the petition to support this incredible campaign and spread the word by clicking on either the Twitter of Facebook buttons (or both!) on the website.

Let's make America more entrepreneurial!

The Benefits of Software Asset Management

p>Software has become an indispensible tool in the modern workplace, and is now more important than ever. Having procedures in place to keep track of these important assets is becoming an issue, which is where ‘Software Asset Management’ or SAM comes in. The full lifecycle of software assets from original purchase date, use, upkeep, upgrades and expiry date are all managed effectively, giving huge advantages to businesses.

Money saving and finance control

A big motivation for businesses embarking on software asset management programmes is the opportunity to save money, and also put into place more accurate budgets and fiscal controls. This is of course especially important given the state of the world economy in the last few years. A good SAM system makes sure that:

Licences are used to their fullest, and money isn’t wasted on overspending
Companies can plan for future spending more accurately, given their advanced knowledge of the necessities of software purchasing: unplanned and unexpected software purchasing is a thing of the past
Fines for non-compliance, which can be fairly hefty, are avoided completely
Discounts for large purchases of certain software can be achieved due to the nature of a more centralised licensing process.

Security risk reduction

A software asset management scheme will enable businesses to stop users from downloading illicit software that may lead to viruses on the system. This also means that the need for IT support is reduced because of the eradication of the needs to fix errors caused by infected software. Also, software misuse is reduced and so again IT support is less necessary, leaving technical teams free from helpdesk calls and available for more important fundamental IT support work.

License Complicity

The most obvious benefit of a software asset management system is the knowledge that you’re fully licensed and compliant with contracts at any one time. Any audit from a software vendor can be easily navigated, without adding the worry onto an already large list of ‘to dos’. Understanding the terms and conditions of the software is another advantage, and ensures you stay within the law with the software that you are using.

Guest Post: The Benefits of Renting

Starting up your own business can be an exciting time for anyone, but there are often hurdles to overcome along the way. One of the seemingly biggest of these can be where you plan on situating your new venture, but it’s often much more straightforward than you might think, just as long as you know how and where to look.

Thanks to the internet, locating your ideal working environment is now very straightforward. Better still, it’s free too because you can look for available desk or office space in your area within the space of a few clicks of your computer mouse using one of the may comparison websites that now exist. They make looking for the right place to work as easy as searching for a broadband or mobile phone deal.

  • All the trimmings

The benefits for a start-up business that is moving into rented desk or office space can be numerous. For one-man scenarios it’s possible to get a rented desk in a stylish office environment for very little outlay. What’s more, the great thing about this is that it can often be surprisingly cost effective, while contract lengths are often short-term and run on a rolling basis.

A desk rental scheme will often be fairly short on trimmings, but you should at least get a desk, naturally, along with basic amenities and a broadband internet connection too. This will prove ideal for the likes of freelancers or people who don’t want to work in the more solitary confines of a home-based employment setup.

  • Getting bigger

Remember that the best thing about these desk and office space rental schemes is their convenience and flexibility. So, if the desk space option has worked well for you then it’s entirely likely you may want to move on up to a more sophisticated shared office rental scheme if the business you have created has expanded beyond the restraints of one solitary desk.

A shared office setup can be a great way of expanding, as it will deliver lots of additional benefits, such as receptionists, post and IT support facilities. Of course, the other bonus is that renting desk or office space will generally see you situated in a prime spot too, in London for example you can easily find office space SE1 or W1 which will give you the ability to network with others as well as attracting new clients and customers.

  • Respectable identity

Having started up your business, it’s very likely that you’ll want to get it a ‘proper’ address and location as soon as possible. Going down the rented desk or office route can be one of the best ways to do this, because it’s not only convenient and cost effective, it can also mean you’ll be in an excellent location. What’s more, it can all be arranged via the power of the internet, which will also save you both time and money in the long run. If you’re looking for a specific location then using online comparison tools can allow you to check the going rate for office space in the sort of area that you’re looking for. That alone will give you an immediate advantage in the early days of your business start-up.

About the author: Rob Clymo writes on behalf of www.officegenie.co.uk, the UK's first proper online marketplace for desk space and shared office space.

Guest Post: Safeguarding Your Assets

Is your business losing money but you have no idea where it’s going? Do competitors seem to have an inexplicable knack for preempting your every move? Has your store been the focus of more than one robbery? Windows 8.1 Professional Key If you’re having trouble seeing to the safety and security of your business (and your employees), then perhaps it’s time to implements some safeguards to protect your company assets. Here are just a few steps you may want to take in order to ensure that your business continues to function and remains financially solvent.

For starters, you need to protect your physical location, especially if you’re operating in an area that suffers from a high crime rate. Locks on the door may be enough for some areas, but if you’ve been the victim of break-in and theft in the past, you’ll need to take stronger measures. This could mean installing security gates, an alarm system, and monitoring devices such as surveillance cameras, or even hiring a nighttime security guard (although this constitutes an expense that most small businesses cannot afford). Since the cost of theft can be high (including damages to property, loss of inventory, and time wasted on recovery and cleanup), it can definitely pay to put these security measures in place.

However, you also need to consider the safety of your employees. Depending on the type of business you run, this could include in-store safety such as an under-counter alarm (to alert police of robbery) or even a screening desk surrounded by a protective barrier. However, in most cases these items won’t be necessary. The more pressing concern for most businesses is the physical safety of employees as it pertains to carrying out their jobs. If heavy lifting is required, for example, you may want to institute protective policies that include safety gear and processes meant to limit liability. Or if you run an office, you might want to purchase ergonomic chairs to ensure that employees are less likely to suffer back problems associated with sitting all day. You simply need to address the potential health and safety concerns of your business environment and address them accordingly.

Finally, there are the material and virtual assets of your business to think about. If you deal in data, you certainly want to ensure that it neither comes under attack nor makes its way into the wrong hands. So you’ll definitely want a secure system that includes a beefy firewall to keep out hackers and viruses. You may even want to install software that blocks inappropriate sites from being accessed by your network (such as adult or spam sites that can compromise the integrity of your system). Of course, you can also use this software to ensure that employees aren’t stealing time by spending all day on social networking or gaming sites.

As for equipment and office supplies, you may want to hire a facilities manager to handle both the building and all of the physical assets contained within.Windows 8 Professional Key Office supplies can be kept in a locked cabinet and doled out upon request while larger items like furniture and computers can be tagged with equipment labels, complete with a barcode that is scanned and linked to the name of the employee using them. Protecting your assets doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you put in a little forethought and implement the policies and systems needed to secure your small business.

Carol Montrose is a writer for SeaReach a manufacturer of labels, tags, and security documents.

A Letter To a New Business on Twitter

To __________,

I've been following you on Twitter. I know you're not taking it too seriously right now, and when the time comes, you'd probably want to outsource management of the account to me anyway, but I wanted to give you a quick crash course on how to leverage it effectively for the time being.

Businesses need to use Twitter for "pulling," not "pushing." The old school of thought in business and marketing was to "push" out content, usually a sales pitch of some sort, and hope for the best. Traditionally, that worked. On a "social" network, however, it tends to have an adverse effect. Businesses that don't know any better continuously post information about themselves that nobody cares about and they continue to sit on a lonely island because of it.

The best way to attract more interest and eyeballs is to engage. This is best accomplished by "pulling" in content. In other words, try logging on to Twitter as a reader, or a company wanting to learn something. Use search.twitter.com to search for keywords relevant to your industry, use wefollow.com to find influencers in your area, and follow everybody that you deem fit. From there, retweet their meaningful tweets and send @ replies to anybody that you want to ignite a conversation with. A quality Twitter timeline should have plenty of @ symbols running through it. Otherwise, you look like a boring one-way business that is trying to sell me something. Who would want to follow an account like that? Would you?

Think about who your demographic is and what is most relevant to you as a business and get out there. The more conversations you have, the more memorable you will become.

My Entrepreneurs Unpluggd Interview

I'd like to thank Tim Jahn of Entrepreneurs Unpluggd for asking me to do this interview.

In the 20 minute discussion, I talk about paving your own entrepreneurial path, as well as my experience with my 3 most prominent ventures - Endagon, Jiggy Piggy, and Iced Tees.

Update: The embed code will not work inside Wordpress for whatever reason. So, you can head on over to my "Stalk Me" page to view the interview.

What Does a Photocopier Even Do?

Think about the term "photocopier" for a minute. I wasn't there when it was first introduced, but one should probably assume that it was designed to "copy photos." Was this a general naming process or were people expected to take a photo and make copies on these large machines?

As time went on, the photocopier evolved into what most people refer to as "copy machines." The printer on my desk serves this function as a 3-in-1 device offering me printing, scanning, and copying functions. Although, I try to avoid using the machine altogether (I hate wasting paper and killing trees), it's inevitable that I will have to print contracts and work with those that still don't understand the concept behind digital signatures.

It's those older executives that still call copy machines photocopiers and ask that ask their Secretaries to make hundreds of copies of some document that should be passed around the entire office. I have an idea... what about an email instead?

I'll close with a plug for a great online office supply store called "Online Connect" in the UK. If you're one of the older executives that can't get enough of the value that new photocopiers generate for your office, Online Connect is offering a plethora of options for 70% off.

I'll send you an email about it.... Tssssss...