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 Leaders that Save us Costly Mistakes with their Wisdom about Life & Business

Each month we introduce you to some influential and thoughtful leaders on Twitter with the last publication being 7 Project Management experts. As a company obsessed with how to control the spend of your hard-earned money and ensure you don’t lose sight of costs, sometimes is good to look at the broader pictureThis is why we won’t talk about project cost management solution or about how to track time efficiently. This time it is going to be about some of the most powerful management influencers as recognised by LinkedIn. Here’s the list of 10 personae who you might not know yet, but you should totally read, listen and follow.

#1 Brian de Haaff – CEO, Aha!

Who: Brian writes about personal and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.  He finds inspiration and new ideas everywhere and all the time.

Why: Brian has topped the writers column about management and culture at LinkedIn. He did it with articles such as: Why this CEO will never hire another Salesperson and How smart Bosses manipulate Employees.

#2 Justin Bariso – Founder, INSIGHT

Who: Justin writes weekly on the topics of leadership, communication, and how you can find valuable business lessons…well, pretty much everywhere. How he measures success in writing: “If I inspire others to think, I’ve been successful. Of course, it’s nice if my writing helps pay the bills as well.”

Why: His most-popular post is Starbucks’ CEO Sent a Remarkable Email to Employees Yesterday. Here Are 2 Takeaways. One takeaway: “If you see an opportunity, pounce on it. Think it through, but don’t overanalyze”.

#3 Carson Tate – Founder, Working Simply

Who: Carson writes about productivity strategies that can help individuals work simply and live fully, whether that means reducing sloppy emails, improving daily planning — or just making time for adult recess. Most proud of writing What burning out taught me about prioritizing my work.

Why: Likes writing because: “I shared a very personal moment in my own journey to find simplicity and balance. I heard from numerous readers who shared their own struggles … it was humbling and inspiring.” Her favorite comment on a post: “As we mature, we realize that many things are important but not equally important. Prioritize based on your values. The strongest person at the negotiating table is the one who can stand up and walk away.”

#4 Dustin McKissen – CEO & founder, McKissen + Company

Who: He writes about the intersection of our personal and professional lives. That includes articles on topics such as the time he had to fire his brother; what he learned while living and sleeping in his car; and how he discovered that he couldn’t “work” his way through the emotions surrounding his mother’s death.

What: He is most proud of his article The Amazing Skillset of a Stay-at-Home Parent.

#5 Suzy Welch – Co-author, The Real Life MBA

Who: She covers: “The good, the bad, the ugly, the uncomfortable, the complicated, the crazy, and the wonderful of getting ahead…or put another way, the here’s-how-it-really-works of career management.”.

Why: Most-popular post: Three (Unprofessional) Ways to Get Ahead at Work. Her favorite interview question: “What did you do to prepare for this interview?” Why she likes it: “It offers, I think, an ‘a-ha!’ for both parties in the interview process — the person doing the questioning, and the candidate him or herself.”

#6 Louis D. Lo Praeste – Global business consultant, Quodfatum

Who: He writes about political and social commentary, about the times we live in, the economy, and what more enlightened leadership might look like. He says: “I’m controversial at times, funny I think, and generally very blunt.”

Why: Post he’s proudest of: “An Open Letter to my Fellow Men struck a cord with a lot people because I took on sexual harassment from the male perspective.”. Morning habit: “I take a hot towel from the water I heat to make pour-over coffee and wipe the sleep from my eyes and face, read the Economist Espresso briefs, drink my coffee and write at least 1500 words. Everyday. Sometimes it’s rubbish, sometimes it’s decent. Try the towel method; it’s very refreshing.”

#7 Gary Frisch – Founder, Swordfish Communications

Who: Corporate scandals and the responses to them. Recent controversies he analyzed: Why Volkswagen’s apology fell so flat; why the recent Starbucks’ red cup outrage was more like a Christmas gift.

Why: Favorite post: Why Olive Garden Has Earned My Loyalty. Why he likes it: “It highlighted something positive about a popular company … and so rarely do I get to use the phrase ‘I feared the other tortellini was going to drop.'” How he comes up with story ideas: “Easy, I follow the news media. There’s never a shortage of topics and companies crying out for some Monday-morning quarterbacking.”

Hope you like it! And keep in mind – always feel free to contact us at support@cronforce.com if you need any help.

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.

11 Productivity and Time Management Twitter Personae You Should Check Out

We can safely say that we’re a bit of time management & productivity freaks around here. Why would we even consider creating a piece of software that focuses on a timesheet system otherwise?

But as ordinary human beings, we also draw inspiration from other people focusing on what interests us. New angles to the delicate art of time management and productivity are always a nourishing meal for the mind. Here are 11 Twitter personae who are pretty educational when it comes to time management & productivity bits of insight.

Time management gurus to follow on Twitter.

#1 Craig Jarrow @TMNinja

Who: Obviously, Craig is a time management ninja who battles chaos, unmanaged tasks and shows the right path to time management. Straight to the point with his actionable advice, he’s a favorite of ours.

Why: We fell in love with his “5 ways a positive attitude makes you more productive” article. Especially the silver lining bit resonates especially well with us, as we’re natural born optimists.

#2 Christian Reber @christianreber

Who: Christian is the founder of the legendary productivity tool Wunderlist. We love it. Some of our clients love it too. It’s simply wunderful.

Why: Wunderlist is enough of a standalone reason for following Christian. Aside from that, he’s an important inspiration to us, as Wunderlist’s headquarters are in Berlin – the same as ours.

#3 Violeta Nedkova @VioletaNedkova

Who: Violeta  is a creative marketing guru with various bits of advice scattered along her website (and Twitter). We think her trademark is the enchanting way she talks on…well, just about anything that interests her.

Why: We already elaborated on the fact that we’re a bit of a control freaks. Violeta’s article on her specific calendar system is simply marvelous and we couldn’t help but fall in love with it.

#4 Paul Sohn @pauljsohn

Who: Paul Sohn ranks in the top 33 under 33 millenials and is a sheer inspiration to bloggers and entrepreneurs alike. While primarily focusing on leadership, his insight expands to many other areas.

Why: His extensive Must-read books list caught our attention, but what surprised us is that we have similar taste with Paul. Seth Godin and Cal Newport make for a killer combination.

#5 Erik Fisher @ErikJFisher

Who: Mixing social media management with productivity podcasts, Erik Fisher offers an extremely fresh perspective to both of these worlds.

Why: Erik’s podcast “Beyond the to do list” features established entrepreneurs and people who have many things to say about productivity and balancing personal life and careers.

#6 Asian Efficiency @asianefficiency

Who: We’re talking about a team here and what a team that is. Asian Effiency gives us tasty portions of tips and articles on the fine art of productivity.

Why: Sometimes people forget that productivity involves mistakes and we can easily slip into making them on a regular basis. Asian Efficiency’s article on productivity mistakes is a refreshing and educational read here.

#7 Dragos Roua @dragosroua

Who: Dragos offers a refreshing Romanian take on enterpreneurship, personal development and the world of motivation and productivity.

Why: Productivity might be a intangible concept to some, but it follows a certain pattern and you have to follow its rules. Dragos’ article on the 10 rules of productivity is a must-read in this regard.

#8 Think Productive @thinkproductive

Who: Gathering from scattered locations around the world, Think Productive’s ninjas help you out bring your inner productivity beast forth and get stuff done. The collective offers a fun take on what it means to get things done – and how you can do that.

Why: Distractions are deadly to productivity. We especially loved Think Productive’s article on Mindfulness and its positive effect amidst a “digitally distracted world”, as the collective puts it. Bonus points for meditation, as some members of our team practice it.

#9 Pomodoro Technique @PomodoroTech

Who: If you haven’t heard what the Pomodoro Technique is, we advise to take a trip to unleashing your productivity at this very moment. How? Just check out what the technique is on Pomodoro Tech’s official website.

Why: Isn’t such a genius method of boosting your productivity enough? We think it should be.

#10 Michael Sliwinski @Msliwinski

Who: Michael Sliwinski is founder of Nozbe and a real inspiration when it comes to productivity and entrepreneurship. Definitely a person you should check out.

Why: Cronforce focuses on remote teams with our set of features and Michael has a killer article on his remote team without any office present in the equation.

#11 A Life of Productivity @ALOProductivity

Who: A life of Productivity is the project of Crhis Bailey who is infatuated with both mondfulness and productivity. Aside from his valuable tips, the design of ALOP’s website is simply fantastic.

Why: Have you ever thought what does your time really cost? Chris offers us a very interesting perspective to the exact value your time has and we tend to agree. An absolute must-read in our opinion.

The Cronforce.com team.