7 Twitter experts who will inspire you to get your small business groove on

It’s the latest roundup of our Twitter Gurus series! In case you’ve forgotten, we already acquainted you with insightful influencers and experts from the project management industry as well as the world of productivity and time management. Our latest blog series instalment dealt with 7 Twitter leaders who will save your business any possible costly mistakes.

While we’re still on the topic of business… a lot of our clients are actually small businesses. That’s why we think it might be a good idea to focus on small biz Twitter personae this time.

Here they are, in their full glory as experts ready to spread some valuable knowledge!

#1 Richard Lorenzen @rlorenzen

Who: Many things at ones, but primarily CEO of Fifth Avenue Brands. Richard lives and breathes entrepreneurship and shares his insight in prestigious media such as the ever-classy Entrepreneur and Huffington Post.

Why: Many of his pieces of advice are invaluable for small businesses out there in the wild. Especially if we’re talking about PR (an area that, we have to say, too many business that are just starting out tend to underestimate). Take this article as a great example of Richard’s guidance.

#2 Matthew Toren @matthewtoren

Who: Matthew is a small business superhero, juggling between entrepreneurship, being an investor and serving as an inspirational influencer. He’s co-founded Young Entrepreneur, Biz Warriors and a myriad of other ventures.

Why: This guy is an information-filled gold mine for any small business owner heading on the entrepreneurial journey. As we’re particularly fond of cloud technology, we loved his piece on cloud-based unified communications for small enterprises.

#3 Sara Davidson @saradavidson

Who: Ladies are killing it in the small biz scene and Sara is a shining example of a successful entrepreneur. Meet Hello Fearless – Sara’s take on a business world led by unstoppable women whose dreams have absolutely no limits!

Why: Sara’s attitude is fantastic and inspirational. Period. What we particularly like are her interviews with successful female business owners. Lots of insights and personal stories to tune in to.

#4 Ivana Taylor @DIYMarketers

Who: Ivana is DIY to the bones and a significant marketing influencer when it comes to small businesses. A mastermind behind DIYMarketers, she always has something valuable to share with biz owners.

Why: We like her style and the fact she cuts to the chase and gives you actionable tips. Not only that, but she goes in-depth in many areas related to running a small enterprise (and businesses as a whole). Like her ‘How to break up with a bad customer’ article. Terrific.

#5 Ramon Ray @ramonray

Who: Ramon embodies what we mean whenever we think of the term ‘small business guru’. He’s a proven expert in all things enterprenurial and is willing to share his experience with biz owners.

Why: Two words. Smart Hustle. Ramon’s Smart Hustle magazine has tons of stuff you’ll do great to utilize and learn from – including interviews with leading professionals. Like, you know, Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec.

#6 Barry Moltz @barrymoltz

Who: Barry is a blend between a) an author, b) a consultant and c) a speaker, and he manages to do all of these flawlessly. Did we mention he’s also a radio talk host? His specialty seems to lie in getting all those stuck small businesses leave the quicksand they’re sinking in.

Why: Small businesses have it tough. They’re extremely prone to facing difficulties and lacking the power to counter them adequately. Barry’s book titled ‘How to Get Unstuck’ throws 25 ways to battle operational despondency and get back on track with your enterprise. Recommended!

#7 Practical Ecommerce @practicalecomm

Who: Practical Ecommerce is an all-in-one resource for all things ecommerce related. Chances are if you have an online shop or run your own digital business, this Twitter account will become a favorite of yours. Heaps of articles focused on ensuring your ecommerce engine runs smoothly.

Why: Online shops have been swarming the web, yet many fail to make it through. Running an ecommerce venture isn’t as easy as it seems and any entrepreneur can do with a little bit of guidance. Practical Ecommerce lends a hand with fantastic articles, such as this one, focused on product page layouts that simply work.

The Cronforce.com Team

7 Project Management experts on Twitter you need to follow

Last month we introduced you to some influential and must-check-out-and-draw-insight-from productivity and time management gurus on Twitter. But as you know, Cronforce also targets project management, providing you with an extensive project cost management solution.

Which means that yes, we monitor the project management industry. You can also bet that we have some favorites among the people who make things happen there. Here’s our list of 7 project management personae who you might not know yet, but you should totally read, listen and follow.

Some important Twitter project management accounts to follow with Cronforce.

#1 Jurgen Appelo @jurgenappelo

Who: Jurgen has one of the catchiest Twitter descriptions ever. What matters more, however, is his motivation to spearhead revolution in company structure when it comes to management.

Why: We didn’t find Jurgen on Twitter, actually. What we came across was one of his Forbes articles – “Managing in failure mode”. Concise and punchy, it resonated with us. Jurgen is a regular contributor at Forbes and you can check his other pieces here.

#2 Pawel Brodzinski @pawelbrodzinski

Who: Pawel is the leader of Lunar Logic where magical web apps get brewed and clients are left utterly satisfied. But he also has another side to him: the whiteboard junkie.

Why: We came across Pawel’s awesome presentation on Kanban theory. It’s great and you should watch it and draw some very important conclusions after doing so. Remember that we’re Kanban fans too?

#3 Elizabeth Harrin @pm4girls

Who: Elizabeth is pure class and reveals the world of project management from a professional’s perspective. Her insights are easy-going, yet you can truly see how much of a pro she is.

Why: Whichever article you grab off her website will be some time spent well. What we had a lot of fun with upon discovering her project management was (and still is!) her monthly “What I’m reading” series. You can check it out here and see her literary critic side too. We can be bookworms too! 🙂

#4 Bob Sutton @workmatters

Who: It’s fairly hard to describe Bob Sutton in just a few words. You just have to witness his thought process and read a few pieces and you’ll understand why we have trouble putting our impression into words. His Twitter description summarizes “Stanford Professor who studies organizations”, but he’s way more than that.

Why: There’s a distinctive elegance in members of highly established academia who write on business topics (such as project management). It’s like a revelation of sorts. You can check why on Sutton’s website or simply read his “Trust the Evidence, not your Instincts” article written together with Jeffrey Pfeffer. Lots of workplace-related tips and insight that can be of use to any employee…and any business of any scale.

#5 Susanne Madsen @SusanneMadsen

Who: Susanne has worked with jaw-dropping companies like Philips, ExxonMobil, Expedia and Citigroup. Not to mention academia such as Kingston University or Regent’s University. There’s a lot to be learned from her insight on project management, leadership and other crucial angles to getting things done.

Why: Her blog is a goldmine. Susanne’s article on working with remote teams hits all the right spots and gives some precious tips and advice. Cronforce is targeted at remote teams that want to improve their project management/communication so we know the remote team drill well enough.

The last two Twitter accounts we want to mention aren’t “people”, but they are run by distinguished professionals. In a way, contemporary project management wouldn’t be the same without them.

#6 Project Management Institute @PMInstitute

Who: PMI’s concept is clear: that’s the single most prestiguous membership association of project managers all over the world. Think of it as the ultimate project management treasure vault. A must for anyone interested in the industry.

Why: We don’t think there’s any reason to clarify why you would do well to check out PMI’s Twitter account. Just do it and be in touch with everything project management related.

#7 Atlassian JIRA @JIRA

Who: JIRA is the key to amazing software team management. From Kanban boards to Agile reports and a myriad of other features, we can’t recommend it enough.

Why: If your software team needs an intelligent, functional way to shoot projects and get stuff done flawlessly… That’s JIRA for you. What’s even better is combining JIRA with Cronforce (we’ve got a brilliant JIRA time tracking integration for that). This way you get double the opportunities and project management gets a ridiculously easy task. Your team will love you.

The Cronforce.com team.

Why We Like Kanban Boards So Much (And You Should Too)

If there’s something we need to recommend as a complete must in any business, it would be Kanban boards. Make it twice as important in the context of doing digital-based business (we’re looking at you, startups, eCommerce ventures and other new types of small business). Let’s just say that for us, Kanban is a true organizational gift to every horizontal of a business. Business owners, supervisors, project managers, employees – all draw benefits from the Kanban method.

Kanban boards are so awesome due to 5 simple reasons:

  • The Kanban concept rests upon a clean, easy-to-understand layout. No clutter.
  • They visualize all those workflows that might have your head spinning otherwise.
  • They boost team communication and improve the delegation of employee responsibilities. No employee overload. Clearly identified areas to be improved. A steady, balanced pace of work that ensures smooth advance to a project’s goals.
  • They help you identify challenges/impediments and tackle them in an early stage.
  • They make your team’s productivity skyrocket.

Going further, let’s dig into what is a Kanban board actually.

The Extremely Lean Concept of Kanban Boards

A Kanban board is a simple means to visualize the workflow of your business. It helps you oversee every single step involved in this workflow and segment your operations properly. Have you ever used sticky notes? There’s a high chance you have. Well, think of the Kanban board as an intelligent way to organize your sticky notes on a whiteboard…something you can now do online too. Here’s the basic “skeleton” of a Kanban board:

Kanban boards and their functional simplicity.

In other words, these are a) the tasks awaiting production, b) the tasks in progress and c) the already completed tasks related to your business’s operations.

Seems like a simple concept, right? Maybe it is, but after all, genius is often found in simplicity. The Kanban method was inspired by Taiichi Ohno who is the brain behind the infamous Toyota Production System. Ohno utilized the Kanban method for Toyota’s sake with great success and we can count the Just In Time concept and Lean Manufacturing amongst his groundbreaking creations. Which means you can do the same for your small business or startup too, drawing from what he found works flawlessly.

So Where Does a Kanban Board’s Secret Lie?

We already mentioned that, but Kanban is extremely clean. No clutter means you can focus on the important things. And focusing on the important things is way easier when you’ve got everything visualized. Both physical Kanban boards and Kanban-based software frequently use specific colors suited to a certain workflow for additional visual cues.

So for example, you can use a green colored visualization for the work in progress across all your divisions while the completed tasks are yellow. Or you can “reserve” a color for the whole workflow of a department (e.g. Software developers get red and digital marketers get purple).

Kanban boards’ simplicity is more than crucial as we’ve seen way too many people who overburden themselves by using too much or too complex tools. As you can guess, such a situation actually does more harm than benefits.

But isn’t Kanban too limited, you might ask.

Not at all. The beauty of Kanban’s simplicity is that it’s incredibly flexible and expandable. If you think about it, the “Awaiting production”, “In progress” and “Completed” graphs can be applied to every single compartment of any business. They can be fitted to your business’s operational narrative like these two Trello-based examples show:

Kanban Board layout type 1

Kanban board in small business and startups.

On Kanban software and Cronforce

We’re mentioning Trello for two reasons. First, it’s one of the best tools utilizing the Kanban method and doing so with extreme finesse. Second, because we’re actually in the finishing stages of integrating it into Cronforce’s rich portfolio of 3rd party integrations. Combining Trello’s lean approach to workflows and project management with our abundance of features will provide any business of any scale with a powerful tool to tackle organization.

In addition to everything mentioned beforehand, the Kanban method is especially valuable for remote teams. It facilitates better delegation of responsibilities and improves the flow of communiacation among teams (and especially between supervisors and the employees they oversee). A trend that’s becoming more and more common, remote-based companies are the ones who benefit the most from organizational tools like Trello or Cronforce. There’s a reason most of the digital-era businesses you’ll encounter utilize Kanban boards and improve the concept’s benefits with an intelligent software tool.

A piece of advice from us if you haven’t tried out Kanban boards yet: grab a whiteboard and some sticky notes or a Kanban-type software. Give our free trial a shot to complement the Kanban way of doing things. It will be a completely free testing period to check out how much more organized your business and team, could be. We know Kanban boards definitely made a change to our workflow – and how productive we were. There’s a high chance the same will hold true for you too.

The Cronforce.com team.

Amazing 2015. 2016 is going to be even better.

2016 rolled out and we’re hoping you had a great celebration and set your minds on the goals you want to achieve throughout the year!

For us, the New Year celebration put an end to a crazy 2015. Cronforce’s last 12 months were a real rollercoaster of emotions, events and achievements. Luckily, with your help and appreciation of our business software, the rollercoaster ended at a high point. With that, we’re ready to tackle an even better-looking 2016!

Let’s get a brief overview of what happened. We know it might seem dull to you, but we gauged what worked (and how it worked) for us, so last year’s trends are the basis of what you’re going to receive from us over this new year.

Expanding our portfolio to meet the needs you have

Cronforce started humbly, with a pack of well-tested functionalities. It was meant as a steady, reliable tool for tackling common project management issues. We had a MVP, we developed it as a core, and took it from there. You helped us refine and expand its functions later on.

Throughout the last years many projects managers and teams messaged us that a budget-related feature would complement Cronforce’s existing portfolio. So we worked on one and added the Finance module with its advanced budgeting, project costs overview and many other integral functions for a business of any size.

If you haven’t checked it out already, get your financial groove on and test it now!

Sailing the 3rd party integration seas with success

You also nodded towards our beneficial 3rd party integrations, mentioning how that made us shine in comparison with other business management solutions. That’s why we went further and added an award-winning Jira integration with the core of our project management software.

We like to believe it was yet another reason for the prestigious FinancesOnline awarding us with a Great User Experience badge.

As Jira is getting the industry favorite, we feel it will continue to gain traction as one of our most important 3rd party integrations. Why not give it a spin and tell us what you think of it?

Project management and time tracking with Jira

 

The social side of it all

We know everyone is so keen on social media right now, but we did some precious offline networking too. (Not only with our project management clients, we can be fun too, you know!)

Going back and forth, we ended up attending as much as 30 events. From industry-related happenings to events focused on startups or general tech, we gained important insight. It sure helped us re-imagine some Cronforce features for the better.

As it was our second Cronforce year, it was pretty spectacular to be able to connect with so many people! We also got to conclude some crucial partnerships that kickstarted a promising new 2016.

 

But if you really want to know about the social media side of things…Well, we tweeted a great deal of almost 1 200 tweets. What’s more important, close to 2 700 people on Twitter and the same amount of similarly thinking sidekicks decided to give us a like on Facebook. It’s a great result so we’re looking forward to taking our social media communication to the next level.

Best of all, we started producing more content on our blog. Seems like you like it, as we had some heartwarming thumbs up for that on our email!

Looking to the future with more project management in mind

2015 feels like a warm-up practice. We learned our lessons and you helped us throughout the process. We have just started giving back to you – and shaping Cronforce as the power business management software we want to see it develop as.

Thank you for being around over the last year. 2016 will be even crazier and we guarantee that you and your teams will love it. Stick with us and let’s reimagine how intelligent project management looks like. It’ll be beautiful.

The Cronforce.com Team

3 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make When It Comes To Project Cost Management

Ah, project cost management. One of the most dreaded things for business owners alike, no matter their location or the size of their business. Nobody likes costs. Nobody likes gauging costs either.

Yet you have no choice than track them (or at least try your best to do so), if you want to have your business operating as intended. Otherwise, you risk a soon-to-be sinking ship scenario.

With that said, a lot of people underestimate tracking their costs and setting a steady schedule to calculate and implement an extensive, properly formulated project cost management strategy. A huge case in mind are the numerous startups that come with the era of digitalization we live in. Mostly tech-related, they consist of amazing web developers or designers… who sadly lack the perspective of calculating and tracking their costs.

It might be a bit harsh, but the startup and small business scenes are really full of people who are careless of their budgeting. Yet when they fail, they blame it on something else. We’ve seen such cases and as you might guess, this was a motivation to include a project cost management tool in Cronforce.

But where are the pitfalls when it comes to project management – and the costs contained therein?

You Think “Costs” Is a Monolithic Term

Far too many people seem to think that costs are just costs, making no distinction between different types of expenses. Of course, there’s a great variety here: some small businesses or medium-size companies extensively rely on a specific type of costs, yet are low on other expenditures of another type.

getting worried

What’s guaranteed is that you have overhead costs. These are the expenses that have to deal with advertising, rent, taxes, bills (electricity, phone), various utilities, fees (insurance, legal, accounting and other services). Like it or not, you’ll have some of these. This holds true especially for brick-and-mortar businesses tending to accumulate a lot of overhead due to building expenses (mainly rent). Cloud-based startups and Software as a Service (SaaS) ventures at least have it a bit lighter here, though web-based overheads can be cruel too.

Along with overheads, you’ll have various direct costs, fixed costs or variable costs. For example, direct costs are related to your actual product – when you sell it, what are the expenses it involves? Perhaps the shipping? No sale means no expenses in the case of direct costs. That doesn’t mean that you can get lighter on your overall project cost management practices, though.

The most important thing here is to start having an “all costs are not the same” mindset. Gauge your business and identify what type of costs you rely most on.

You Don’t Calculate Your Costs Properly

Feeling guilty as charged a bit? Don’t worry – lots of companies (especially small businesses) seem to mess up their expense management. After all, that’s why business consultants and project cost management tools and software exist.

However, a great chunk of companies don’t even identify that problem in order to seek a solution to repair the faulty financial pipeline at hand.

Before even starting a project, you should calculate all your costs immediately. What is, for example, your overhead cost per hour? What are the overhead costs related to various departments (if you have them, of course)? How much is your revenue and how are you currently allocating it? Who needs it the most? Have you actually set your product’s/service’s price to guarantee some juicy profits despite your overhead costs’ level?

office night frustration

Approach your business’ expenditures in a smart manner and from various viewpoints so as to gauge the financial situation to the optimum.

You Don’t Keep a Regular Track on Your Costs

Doing business is an extremely intensive thing to take part in. Variables are a constant here. Markets change, competitors come and go, customers’ preferences shift like crazy. What was once a fixed cost scenario can easily get shaky and need some tweaking. All of this especially holds true for eCommerce and tech-related small businesses/startups.

That’s why you need to always be in touch with what’s happening to your costs and all variables surrounding them. Not to mention that it’s about discipline – if you skip a week or two, it’s easier to fall into a downward spiral and ditch it for a long time. And then at the end of the year you’re left wondering what the hell happened and why your initial financial forecast didn’t turn out as planned.

Tweak your costs. Play around with your overheads. Be a dynamic swimmer, not a lethargic floater.

Project Cost Management Made Easy

Keeping a small business or even a medium-size company is a daunting task. It’s so demanding and requires of you to juggle so many things at once that sometimes the costs switch in your head might just shut down. We’re all human, after all.

That’s why we came up with a project cost management tool that you can utilize to become a flexible, functional and all-around efficient software sidekick of yours. What’s in the bag? Well, we:

  • Make it easier for you to set up budgets and rates
  • By providing you with a transparent, simple way to track your costs
  • In real time, on the go
  • With plenty convenient integrations with services such as QuickBooks or Paychex

What do you say about giving it a try for free and getting those costs settled once and for all? We reinvent project cost management tools. You draw the benefits.