Here’s Why Your Projects Always Cost More Than You Think

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When you and your team plan a project, you imagine that you’ll move from where you are now to where you want to be in a linear fashion. After all, that’s what seems most reasonable. 

The problem is that the world doesn’t move linearly in business projects (or in pretty much every other field for that matter). We like to believe that change is a straight line, but it usually does a few loop-the-loops on the way. 

Just look at the stock market. Over fifty years, you can say that the stock market goes up, on average, about 7 percent per year. Not bad. But if you look at any single year, you can have enormous variation. Some years it’s down by 40 percent, others it’s up by more than 20. The world doesn’t move in a straight line, and neither will your projects. 

The good news is that you can do a lot to make sure that your project doesn’t cost more than you think. There are ways around this seemingly intractable issue: it just takes a little thought. You need to fundamentally change the way you see the world and becoming more accepting of the chaotic nature of reality. 

Reason #1: Your Estimates Are Way Off

We all like to think that we can plan cost estimates for our projects, whether they are construction projects, new products, or organizational redesign. Projects are just something that we “have to get on with.” Once the ball is rolling, milestones will fall like dominoes. 

What’s strange about this mentality is that we all know it’s wrong from our past experiences. Very few of us have ever had the luxury of working on a project which progresses effortlessly from one step to the next. There’s always a problem. And those problems always result in higher costs. 

Quality estimation services can help you calculate your costs better. Most are sophisticated enough these days to ascribe a probability range for prices, instead of an actual figure. Costs that nobody foresaw can come out of nowhere and change the nature of the game. 

Reason #2: Your Project Is Not Effectively Managed

Working out how much it’s going to cost to design a project and hire the people to implement it is one thing. Organizing people correctly is quite another. A substantial part of risk site risk management is choosing and coordinating contractors. It’s not easy to pick up if you’ve never done it before. You need professionals on-site who know what they’re doing and who have experience interacting with various stakeholders. 

Reason #3: You Have Administration Issues

The people administering your project need to understand what stage you’re currently at. You might think that you’re in control of the situation on the ground, but if your admin people don’t know anything about your progress, then they could make mistakes. 

The best way around this is to provide admin with project management tools. If they see the stage that you are in, they are in a better position to provide proactive support.

Tips for Better Business Communication

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The task of communicating with customers is one that your business can’t afford to shy away from. How will you get your message across and deal with problems effectively if you can’t communicate well with your customers? It’s something that lots of business can and should do better because doing so has a real impact on your chances of success.

Good business communication can boost productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction, among many other important things. If you’re wondering exactly what you can do to improve your approach to business communication, read on and find out.

Use Common Sense When Communicating with Clients

When communicating with clients, you first need to use a bit of common sense. There are certain things that you probably don’t want to discuss with them, even in an information situation. For example, if you want to keep your clients on side, you probably shouldn’t bring up topics like religion or politics, unless your brief is directly related to those subjects. It’s all about avoiding controversy and not creating avoidable problems through poor communication strategies. You’d be surprised by how often companies get this stuff wrong.

Focus on Collaboration Over Dictation

When working alongside colleagues and employees in your workplace, you should become less of a dictator and more of a collaborator. People tend to respond far better to people who are trying to work with them rather than just ruling over them and telling them what to do all the time. It’s so much more productive for you to listen to people, understand their talents and then work with them from there in order to create the best possible outcomes for your business. That’s the way it should be.

Offer and Ask for Feedback

As a manager or business owner, you’ll have people working for you and you’ll be in charge of them in the workplace. As a result of that, you’ll be responsible for providing feedback to them and this is something that should not be overlooked. By providing constructive and helpful feedback, you’ll help people to grow and improve in their career. This not only helps the business, but also helps them too. You should also ask for feedback on how you’re doing and what colleagues and employees think you could improve on.

Embrace New Communication Options

The way in which we communicate in the world of business is always changing as new trends and technological advances arrive. Things like text to voice messaging bring benefits that you won’t want to miss out on, and that’s just one recent example of a new communication method that you can take advantage of. Whenever there’s a new trend, consider its benefits and think about whether or not it’s something that will help your business advance its approach to communication.

Become an Active Listener

Communication is not just about what you say and what you communicate to other people; it’s also about being a good and active listener. Put some real effort into what people are trying to get across to you. If you can do that, people will respond to you differently and more positively and that can only be a good thing for you and everyone in your workplace going forward.

Value Face-to-Face Communication

Face-to-face communication is something that’s really suffered and declined in recent times. We can all send emails and messages to one another instantly without any problems at all. So, why meet in person when it’s easier not to? Well, there’s something different about face-to-face communication, especially when it comes to meeting clients and things like that. When you speak to people in person and directly, much more is communicated than with a short sharp email.

Ask Questions

Clients also want to know that you actually care about their needs, and one way to show them that you care is by asking questions and taking an active interest in those needs. It makes a real difference and it’s something that you should certainly be looking to work on going forward. You’ll also learn a lot more about what your clients want and how you can satisfy them better if you ask those questions.

Communication is the cornerstone of pretty much everything your business does. It’s important that you’re always doing more to communicate with customers, clients and colleagues better. It can be tough to get it right 100% of the time, but as long as you’re striving to improve and taking the kinds of steps mentioned above, you’ll be on the right track.

Work From Home? Apps You Need

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If you work from home, you are probably always looking at the easiest way to keep your workflow as smooth as possible. Many freelancers work across a computer and a laptop – so having apps and software that can sync is going to be in your favor. There are many applications that will help you improve your productivity to some degree. What you use will depend on the size of your enterprise and what you do, though. 

Let’s take a look at some of the apps that will help you manage your workflow and access your work easier.

Work 

Process Street is a process management platform. It allows users to create, assign, schedule and manage structured processes. As well as documents and checklists really quickly. It works on drag and drop technology and integrates with Zapier – so you can import and export data with ease. This one is great for processes that need to be repeated often. 

Trello is less about automation and more about organization. You can see who is where in there project, what has been completed and what is due to be done. It is a very visual platform which helps more users feel a sense of urgency and also awareness of where the projects are currently on the timeline. Trello is very easy to edit, and you can drag the cards and boxes around with ease. You do need to upgrade if you intend to send the board to more than one person though. If you are working alone, it is excellent at keeping you on track too. 

Project 

Google Drive/ G Suite is obviously the go-to for millions of businesses and freelancers. It is free to use has a lot of functionality and sharing it is as simple as copying a link – which is ideal. You can have more than one person working in the same sheet or document at the same time, the ability to add notes and it works will all popular file types. 

Microsoft Office 365 is the standard for people in offices or at home. Even though Apple has their own locked-in system, many still purchase Microsoft Office 365 because, it, like G Suite the most highly compatible. It has a range of options, and you can access your files across anything in your subscription. 

Automation

There are things that you will do in your business day in and day out. They take up time that would be better spent elsewhere. IFTTT – If This Then That is a super popular app. It is literally working on the basis that if X happens, then so should Y. IFTTT can hook up to so many different apps that you can get it to the point that after you post a photo on Facebook, it gets flushed to Instagram, tweeted on twitter and added to your blog – but you can only have connections between two events – so you need to get creative. Or, smart home users can have the coffee machine go on at the same time as the bedroom light. 

It is going to take more than a quick peek on the internet to find everything that you want. But once you start exploring your options, you might just find your workflow is smooth and systematic.

Managing The Speed Of Your Customer Interactions

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To keep your business moving, you need to be able to act instantly. There has never been a better time to be able to do that than right now. Technology speeds up so much of your business needs, making you more efficient. But customers may not react at the speed that you need them too. 

Have More Channels Of Communication Open

If the problem that you’re facing is waiting for your customer to respond to your messages, then chances are they are not talking to you using the best tools for them. Having as many routes for your customer to get in touch with, you will speed things up dramatically. Using messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, offer your customers a great deal more convenience than emails. Often, when talking through emails, exchanges can take a great deal of time. There is a general tendency to write longer messages, and very often, emails are not replied to immediately. 

By utilizing the quick reply functions on messenger apps, you’ll get shorter, but more prompt responses- allowing you to get straight down to business. 

Keeping The Cash Flowing

Waiting for your customers to pay their invoices can often mean that you’re left waiting in limbo. With some companies keeping a tight grip on their own funds, they’ll push payment back as late as possible. Often to the due date, which could be anything up to ninety days after the invoice was sent. You can’t afford to wait that long. 

Your business has needs, and if you’ve completed a large job, your staff need paying for it. You may need the capital for the next project too, and if you’ve not got it to hand, you might find yourself turning down jobs. 

There is a way around this. Using factoring services such as BCashflow Positive you can effectively use an intermediary to claim your invoice immediately.  And, for a small percentage, they will wait to receive the money from your customers.

In-Depth Team Training

Customer service issues may take some time to resolve, and your team will no doubt want to get them dealt with quickly. But often, the way that your team handles an issue might not be the best way. Making sure that your team are well trained in all aspects of customer handling will ensure they do not get stuck on cases for longer than is useful. 

Specific and Measurable Targets

Time is money, and you need to set limits on how long things should take. Obviously, this will depend on the type of business that you are in, but you need a specific and measurable target to set your customer service representatives. These might be based around how quickly they respond to an initial query, to the total time that a ticket should be open. 

Customers expect a quick resolution, but importantly, it is in your best interests to deal with these in a timely manner, allowing you to move onto the next query sooner.

How To Find Exactly What You Want To Do

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While life is this almost magical set of circumstances with amazing, strange and wild aspects within it, it does come with a lot of uncertainty. We never really know what we’re heading into both collectively and as individuals. It can be a fairly daunting world out there for a lot of us both physically and mentally, so we need to have everything prepared and sorted out before we head into new things. 

One of those facets of life that can hold a lot of doubt and uncertainty is the professional, working side of things. We all have to get a job and bring in money in order to live, but the way in which we go about it can be a little puzzling at times. Leaving school and jumping into the real world is difficult enough, and finding a job that we want to do or that suits us can be ever so tricky. 

It’s not something that we should constantly be fretting over, but working is a big part of our lives, so the thoughts always reappear when we’re not in the situation we’d like to be. Our minds have a habit of reminding us and making us overthink! At the end of the day, a job is a job, and it will come with some hard days – no matter what line of work you enter. That said, you may as well look to minimize the impact of the hardships by stepping into something that you’ll be content in. 

Working in something that you’d enjoy isn’t a luxury that’s afforded to every single person. It is absolutely possible, however. Let’s have a little talk about things you should think about when considering a job that you’ll like.   

Think About What You Love

Obviously, you’ll probably want to jot down what you enjoy doing and then do a little research into the jobs that surround that kind of thing. It might seem like a pipe dream at first, but there will definitely be opportunities somewhere that have links to what you want. Somebody has to fill that role at some point – why can’t it be you? 

Think About What You Hate 

On the flip side, you should probably also write down what you absolutely do NOT want to head into. As we said before, it’s a big chunk of your life, so why would you want to spend eight or so hours a day absolutely demoralized? 

Rule Out Overnight Success

It’s something we all instinctively think about when we picture a job or a career path. We skip past the journey and see success. Think about a job that you’ll enjoy actually grind away at. The journey, at times, is just as satisfying as then end result. 

Careers Advisors 

If you’re really struggling, then you can absolutely get in touch with people that help out lost and occupationally nomadic job-seekers. They’ll be able to give you career tips as well as telling you about the ins and outs of different jobs you might be interested in. They pride themselves on getting you into a better position than you were before, so you can rely on them to push you in the right direction.  

Try Different Things 

Perhaps just getting out there and having a good go at different jobs could be the way to go for you. There’s nothing quite like actually experiencing something. You can read up on it and know all of the theory, but actually doing it makes a big difference. You might get into a job and realize that it’s something you’d absolutely love to pursue.

Make Them Wait, See Them Disappear

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For every business, time is money, but that can be true for customers too. Customers that are in a rush, or browsing while on the move don’t have time to wait for your website or other features to load. They might only have a short amount of time and thus they need to make sure every second is not wasted. You would think that with the advent of smartphones and Google prioritizing mobile friendly websites that this would be a no brainer. Yet, so many small businesses don’t realize how long waiting times make people just swipe or click away. And yet, the standard of what can be deemed ‘too long’ is also changing. Maybe 5 years ago it could take 5 seconds to load up a page and seen as normal. Now, 5 seconds is just too long. Inherently, you should be up to speed with what kind of technology you’re using as well.

Focus on priority content

Take for example your business blog, you don’t want certain pieces of content to load slower than others. Sometimes you have catchy slogans, titles and first paragraphs or sentences that are designed to capture the reader so they don’t click away so easily. Well, you need to give your main content priority when it comes to the loading que. If you have videos and text together, you need to choose which one is going to be more eye catching and thus order them correctly. Maybe you think your blog content is more important than any visuals, thus images and videos will need to load after the text. This also comes down to any ads you’re running on the webpage. If you have a video or PPC ad in the banner, you need to decide whether to load the ads first or the content. In other words, you need to formulate a queue so you have a better chance of keeping the consumer on the page for the initial few seconds.

Speed is essential

Speed is often the savior in many forms of life. The speed of your transactions, decision making, problem solving and also webpage loadings is vital to success. Take a look at Pagespeedplus.com where you can learn how the speed of your web pages can be calculated and improved. Sometimes the homepage loads faster because it’s going to be the main page in the results of search engines. However you may also need to keep a high standard for your ‘browse products’ page. Although it’s understandable that this kind of page will be slower because of the amount of links and images. However, this page will always be added to thus the page will load slower and slower. Using bulk testing you can see which pages aren’t loading as fast as you’d like them to.

 

Allow quick access

For businesses that allow users to create accounts and profiles, you will have a sign in or log in bar on the homepage or pretty much every webpage. However users that just want to log in to comment on a post in the forums, comment on a blog post or just generally sign in so they can use their account to shop, should not be left waiting for the log/sign in bar to load. Therefore this is also something you must take into account when designing the bar itself. Your page might load from the top down, or just individually but the login bar must be one of the first in the line. You might also want to allow the bar to be inside of another item such as a profile picture. This adds another step to the process even though the profile picture may be the first thing that loads up. However if you put the login bar as a separate item to load, this can mean you need to sacrifice content in the loading que. It’s good practice to therefore make the login bar top priority for only some pages because after all, it may only be used by those that are regular customers

Speed is absolutely essential when it comes to loading times. Pages that are not set up for mobiles will not keep that browsing commuting consumer on your website for long. It’s even easier to swipe away than it is to go back on a desktop computer. It’s also within your best interest to make sure you have a content priority queue. Only the most important content that you believe will keep customers on the page for longer should be loading up first.

Improve Your Customers’ First Impressions

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Good first impressions help to establish trust and convert customers. In fact, according to one study, it only take seven seconds to build a first impression. Here are just some of the ways in which you can make a positive initial impact on your customers.

Use the right body language

When meeting a customer in person, body language is important. In fact, it can often have more of an impact than the words you utter. Some of the basics include a smile, a confident posture, eye contact and a firm handshake. Try to also limit other activities – fiddling with your phone as you talk to someone may come across to them that you are disinterested.

Dress presentably

How you dress is also important. Not all jobs require dressing formally (in fact, overdressing could make you come across a little too conservative), however you should always keep a tidy appearance such as not having any creases or stains on your clothes. Messy hair, dirty nails and stubble can also be off-putting to many people.

Improve your telephone manner

If the first time you interact with customers is on the phone, having a good telephone manner could be vital. Small details such as giving a warm greeting, remembering the customer’s name and speaking slowly and clearly can make people warm to you.  Some companies go so far as to outsource phone answering companies such as Ivy Answering to give a good impression on the phone. Having little interference on the phone is also important – when it comes to mobile phones, choosing a provider with the best signal could be important.  

Keep your workplace tidy

If a client’s first impression is likely to be a visit to your workplace, you want to make sure that your workplace is tidy. A lack of cleanliness can cause customers to immediately lose trust by showing that you’re careless and disorganized. Keep on top of tidying so that your workplace is always presentable – hire a cleaning company if you have to. Also make sure that your workplace is not in disrepair – a faded shop sign or a faulty automatic door is not going to create a good first impression. 

Make sure your website looks professional

When it comes to attracting customers online, your website is often the first point of contact. This needs to look professional so that customers know you’re competent digitally. You can build a website yourself, but if you want to guarantee a professional look you may be better off hiring the services of a website development company such as Cyberfrog Design. Aspects such as SEO could be important too for ensuring that your website has high rankings (this will make your company look more popular) whilst positive reviews and testimonials could also help gain trust online.

5 Ways to Speed up Your Small Business Strategies

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Every business owner wants to make the most out of the hours in a day. At the moment, it seems as though you are being chased by the clock, so how do you speed up the way you work? Whether you’re trying to achieve a much sought after work life balance or streamline your strategies, you can find a more effective way of carrying out your work right now. Consider some of the following five ways to speed up your small business strategies and you will feel more productive in an instant.

  1. Investigate Speedy Software

Working with sub-par software can really hinder your business performance and leave you lagging behind your competitors. If you’re sick of watching emails hang about in your inbox because the files are too large, then why not find a new method? Jetdrop is possibly the fastest way to share files, with your clients so investigate how this might work for your company. Trying out new software can seem daunting, but you won’t know if it works until you try it out!

  1. Prioritize Your Task List

If you are constantly trying to tackle a whole host of things on your to do list, then you need to learn to prioritize more effectively. Figure out the most important elements on your list and make sure you see to them first and foremost. Many business owners struggle with prioritizing because they want to get everything done there and then. It’s okay to leave something to another day, as long as you have time to come back to it.

  1. Hire a Helping Hand

Partnering up with somebody might not be a bad idea if you’re feeling overwhelmed with work. You might have certain gaps in your knowledge that need filling, so why not team up with another professional? A business partnership isn’t for everyone, so make sure you research the pros and cons before diving in!

  1. Outsource if Necessary

If you aren’t quite ready to hire a partner it might be worth outsourcing some of your work. From finances to marketing, you might find it useful to lighten your load and leave the experts to deal with certain aspects of your business.

  1. Take Regular Breaks

You will never be able to work to your full capacity if you are over worked and exhausted. Learning to switch off is an important part of being an entrepreneur and it will help your productivity in the long run. Take a walk outside to get a coffee and learn to turn off your work phone in the evenings. Creating good habits now will benefit you in the long run and you will feel refreshed when you return to work the next day.

Try out some of the following ideas and you will be prepared to tackle anything that falls in front of you. Running a small business can be time consuming, stressful and overwhelming at times, but with the right strategies in place, you will be working speedily and swiftly on a daily basis.

Personal Inspiration Is Not A Vapid, Vague Quality

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Most of us understand the basics of motivation. We have likely felt its force at some point in our lives. It can come in the most unexpected of forms. It might be an impromptu job application you decide to make once you realize someone is hiring, or perhaps simply wanting to talk to that person who’s caught your eye at work. It could be that you’re motivated to lose thirty minutes of your evening free time to read a story to your child as they sleep, knowing that these moments are those that you’ll often remember.

Personal inspiration underlies motivation, however. It always will. If motivation is a fast-moving river, inspiration is the riverbed directing the flow of water through its geographical shaping. But we can often think of inspiration as something less-than, something boring, something we needn’t keep a close eye on. We might think of it as something vague, like sand through our fingers. You might be inspired one moment, and the next it leaves you.

But these impressions are false. Inspiration is actually much more stable than motivation, and if carefully corrected, can guide you much more reliably. Let us consider why, how, and what you might need to do in order to make the most of it.

Consider Your Options

Considering how your life will proceed can often help you gauge if that’s something you’re interested in or not. There might be an open position for you at your parent’s business, but you may not find that work enjoyable, and would much rather begin starting your master’s in a direction you are most compatible with. Simply laying all of your desired options on the table, whittling them down, and considering how that might influence your life can serve as  a tremendous means of visualizing how you might wish the future to continue. To us, that sounds quite worthwhile and not a little bit exciting.

Find A Mentor

It could be that finding a mentor, even in a light capacity, could help you become inspired by how far you could go – and it also might unlock your potential. Finding a mentor is often easier than you might think. For example, you might simply volunteer to help with the personal projects of your lecturer after they put the opportunity out there. You might simply ask a professional in your life to teach you something they are also interested in, and they will often be happy to lay this information down. It could simply be that learning as an apprentice, or in a job role such as listening to your head chef could all culminate in your absorbing skill, experience, and realizing your potential. This might sound like an artificial opportunity to try and create, but you’d be surprised just how many people like this are around and willing to let on what they know. From this, you might decide to shape this to your own understanding and set of principles, but never be too narrow minded to learn something.

Learn The History

Learning the history of a trade, a community, a movement, or perhaps just a craft you’re interested in can help you become informed by the building blocks of those that have come before you. Perhaps you are heavily inspired by women in tech, or the inventions of the names we all know, or the philosophies written by those you find fascinating. A history can be many things. It can help you think of the past, yes, but it can also help inspire you to better understand the present.

For example, a painter can become even more inspired by learning the techniques and insights used by Leonardo Da Vinci. Even those without a creative bone in their body might be inspired through reading such as this. This is why classic literature can hold such sway compared to modern novels. Keeping the masters in mind, or simply reading around a subject can help inform, and inspire through that. There’s almost no better means than to direct a mind through this, and it’s not hard to see why that could be the case the moment you feel it.

To Summarize

There are very many emotions, feelings, insights and contexts that can provide inspiration. Sometimes it can come because you seek it. Sometimes, it might occur due to seeing a beautiful landscape, a sunset, or simply giving your mind time to pause from the heavy responsibilities you have to keep all day. What matters is always being receptive, and applying it when it’s there.

With these tips – we hope you’re able to find your strongest inspiration.