A Simple Guide To Tracking Goals with Trello

A Simple Guide To Tracking Goals with Trello

Setting goals is a crucial aspect of every small business that should not be overlooked. In planning for short-term goals such as daily activities, or long-term goals such as annual growth in sales or brand awareness, a small businesses can strategise on how to achieve their targets. To learn more about how to set business goals, you can read this Smart Goal Setting Guide we wrote for SMEs.

Goals, however, remain nothing but dreams if they are not put into action. Fortunately, we live in the age of technology. Where every business activity has been made manageable through online tools and software applications. There are many free project management applications available for tracking all your business goals, but at the top of my list is Trello.

Trello is a project management app designed to help users plan and organize their projects into boards. The boards allow you to  easily visualise and track your activities. If you are a business owner and you do not have a Trello account yet, this would be a great time to start. CLICK HERE

Here are all the ways on how to use Trello to track goals: 

Boards and Cards

Trello allows you to create separate boards for all the different projects you intend to undertake. In the boards, you can outline:-the workflow, processes, or strategies you have put in place to achieve your goals. Additionally Trello allows you to break down these processes into actionable tasks by adding Cards containing all the various activities you need to undertake.

Trello boards are a great way to visualise all your goals and tasks at a glance. Therefore ensuring that everything is on track and that no important detail is left out.

Checklists

If you thought Trello could not get any more detailed, you’re wrong. Trello allows you to further create checklists for every task on the board. Checklists are a great way to increase productivity, and Trello will enable you to check off every item on your list. If the items on your checklists grow bigger and therefore require more planning, Trello allows you to convert them into cards with a couple of clicks.

Labels

Another great way to track your goals with Trello is by adding labels to your cards. Labels are basically colour codes that you can allocate to cards according to the different categories or priorities. For instance, you can give red labels to all your urgent priority tasks, allowing you to identify them on the board quickly. With Trello, you are also able to filter out your cards according to their labels for easy tracking and monitoring.

Due Dates

Tasks only become actionable with added dates and deadlines. Trello allows you to add due dates on every card, along with reminders before the deadline to ensure you are always ahead of the game. This feature is particularly useful for small businesses to prevent time overuns, which may affect the schedules for any subsequent activities. The reminder feature on Trello allows you to plan in advance. Hence enabling you to remedy any delays before they occur – which is critical in achieving your goals promptly.

Card Covers

The Trello card covers allow you to create a vision board out of your goals and tasks. Card covers are visual images that you add to your cards and are visible from the board. Card Covers make boards visually appealing and inspiring, but also highly functional. By adding images that are related to the card, you can promptly identify the card on the board without having to read through each card. With this, you can easily keep track of all the activities on your board. Hence, making a mental note of what is still pending. Trello allows you to upload card covers from your computer, or select from a wide variety of images from Unsplash.

Attachments

You can also track your goals on Trello by adding all the relevant attachments to the cards. With Trello, you can attach links,images, or files that are relevant to the completion of the task. With this, you can quickly build up on tasks, enabling you to instantly access all the resources you need to complete them when they are due.

Collaboration

One of the most incredible key features in Trello is the ability to collaborate with others on cards and boards. Trello allows you to achieve your team goals by adding your friends, employees, and colleagues to the respective tasks, for accountability and assigning of roles.

Adding your Virtual Business Manager as part of your team is a brilliant way to assign them specific tasks. This will help you achieve your goals, and keep track of how their activities contribute to your business, as a member of your team.

Power-Ups

Power-Ups are third party apps that can be integrated to your Trello board to maximise efficiency. You can enable these apps from the board’s menu on the right. 

Trello has various Power-Ups for analytics, reporting, automation, project management, communication, and collaboration, among others, that may come in handy in tracking and achieving your goals. 

  • The Calendar Power-Up, for instance, is particularly useful, since it allows you to visualise cards on a calendar as per their due dates. You can also drag cards on the calendar to automatically change the due dates. Plus import calendar feeds into third-party calendar apps such as your Google Calendar.
  •  The Card Aging Power-Up is another excellent app that causes your cards to fade if there has been inactivity for a while. Which allows you to keep track of all your priority tasks, ensuring they get all the necessary attention.

However, the free version only allows you one power-up so choose wisely

 

Conclusion

Trello allows you to plan all your goals in detail, breaking them down into achievable tasks and enabling accountability and collaboration with other members of your team. Tracking goals with Trello has never been easier!

Download the Trello phone app to track your activities on the go. 

Why You Need A CRM – A Simple Explanation

Why You Need A CRM – A Simple Explanation

Often, when someone starts a new business, their biggest clients are their friends, family, and acquaintances. Maintaining a personalised relationship with these customers is usually very easy. The small number of contacts and existing relationships make it easy to maintain great connections. These connections often result in referrals and fantastic reviews as a result of our personalized services.

However, with time, the businesses grow. Customers multiply, and it will most likely get difficult keeping tabs and feedback from every single client. It is for this reason that most growing and successful businesses require a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

What Is A CRM Tool?

A CRM system is an automated system for managing all details and contacts of your customers and potential clients. Data stored is often determined by the business or industry. It can range from merely their contact details to:-

  • their preferences,
  • former communications,
  • emails,
  • previous purchases,
  • sales details,
  • follow-ups, deadlines, and
  • any other notes collected from your customers.

There is no limit when it comes to CRM.

With a CRM tool, you can centralise the data collected by all the members of your team, in one place. Therefore enabling you to maintain meaningful personal connections with an unlimited number of clients. While additionally allowing for the scalability of your business, generation of analytical reports, and collaboration with members of your team.

Why Use A CRM And Not Spreadsheets?

According to a study by HubSpot, about 40% of salespeople still use informal tools such as spreadsheets for CRM. While using a Spreadsheet has its perks such as affordability. As your business grows, spreadsheets will just not cut it, especially if you’re aiming for efficient and productive relationships with all your customers.

For instance, spreadsheets limit your entries for each client’s information. When working with a spreadsheet, you might find the need only to record the basic contact information of the customer. A CRM, on the other hand, allows you to keep track of every detail of the customer’s information across the sales process.

Additionally, as you hire more people in your team, you will require a system that allows all members of your team to access the information in real-time and to collaborate. Research has shown that 65% of successful businesses adopt CRM in the first five years of operations. The rate of adoption has also been proven to get higher as companies employ a larger team.

Furthermore, spreadsheets do not:- 

  • offer automation, 
  • marketing campaign options, or 
  • integrations with other apps such as emails. 

Moreover, they do not generate useful insights and comparative reports on your customers. Therefore, it might be time you considered upgrading to a CRM system.

Bottom Line

Small businesses find a challenge moving from spreadsheets to CRM, due to fears of complexity, integration, or cost. However, you can leverage the many user-friendly and free CRM tools for small businesses to get you started. As you continue to grow your customer base, perhaps you can invest in a premium subscription with more advanced features.

If you’re still not sure whether a CRM is an excellent fit for you, or if you need any help getting started with CRM, get in touch. As a Virtual Business Manager I can set up an automated CRM system that fits your business needs. Helping you grow your operations, manage your current & potential customers, and assist you with maintaining a personal relationship with each one of them, no matter how many they are.

The Amazing Benefits Of Project Management Systems

The Amazing Benefits Of Project Management Systems

I am a great believer that even a small business owner should embrace project management techniques in order to organise themselves. In addition, utilising project management systems enables the business owner to focus more easily on the proactive steps needed to grow.  However, I do understand that for many business owners this is an alien concept. Hence, I thought it would be useful to highlight the top half-dozen benefits of using a good project management system?

 

1. Overall Accountability.

As each project is loaded into the system by the project manager – who may well be you or your Virtual Business Manager – assigns responsibility for completing each stage of the task. By assigning these responsibilities at the beginning of the project means that all those involved clearly understand their role in the success of the project and your wider business.

 

2. Sharing Resources.

With careful planning and strategic allocation, multiple team members can work on multiple projects simultaneously. Additionally, using the project management tool to divide time appropriately and set relevant deadlines ensures the task stays on track. It is also possible to allocate resources using the tool. Resulting in strategic utilisation of your cash, as you are only making purchases when necessary.

 

3. Reliability.

Time is money. Using a project management system you can reliably predict when the project will be complete. Moreover, it helps to calculate its value in terms of time or money.

 

4. Brainstorming.

You can look at a project management system as something of a mastermind group. Remember that your team of outsourcers are already skilled and knowledgeable and bring plenty of direct expertise to the table. When a number of people are invested in making sure that your project is a success this unleashes an element of brainstorming. Capturing different options and ideas can only seek to improve the overall project in the long run.

 

5. Direction.

The typical project is the sum of a number of complicated, moving parts and pieces. Without a centralised project management system, it’s likely that

  • something is missed,
  • somebody slips up or
  • something is misinterpreted or
  • simply there is confusion on how to proceed at a crucial moment in the project history.

Overall, therefore, the system provides direction and certainty for all involved.

 

6. Completion.

How many times has a project been started but never finished? Without adequate planning, oversight and supervision there is an ever-present danger. However, with adequate planning and allocation of responsibility, all team members know what their role is. They can see the deadlines and know that the project will be completed, on-time.

 

Why Are The Benefits Of Using A Project Management System Important?

Why do you need to consider implementing a project management system? Well, it is simple, to replace uncertainty, risk and threat of failure. As we all know from the recent COVID situation there are many potential hazards and stumbling blocks ahead in business. However, it is important to the success of your business that the lack of internal preparation isn’t one of them.

There are some very sophisticated cloud-based systems available today. Given that working from home could be the new norm and that outsourcing to virtual resources in on the increase, the adoption of a centralised project management system is a critical component if business success is your goal.

Lastly, we shouldn’t forget another potential advantage. By looking at the results of past projects, evaluating success and learning from mistakes, the entire team can learn valuable lessons. This can only help to improve future projects and strengthen the team dynamics going forward.

 

More Information

For more information on how small business owners can use project management tools in their business please read my other blogs

Why should small business owners use project management strategies

Which project management tool should I be using

The best project management tools for small businesses

 

 

How To Set Up Email Templates

How To Set Up Email Templates

Responding to every single email can be very time-consuming.  Especially if you have to deal with loads of emails every single day.  Copy-pasting responses from other emails could work,  however, this involves searching back and forth through your emails to get your previous responses.  Luckily, email providers have now added the email templates features to provide a simple efficient solution to this problem. Plus the good news is they are absolutely free!

 

Creating email templates allow you to:-

  • compose & reuse email messages,
  • create automated responses to similar emails, and
  • reduce the amount of time you would otherwise spend constructing every single email afresh.

Besides preparing templates for the body of the email, one can also:-

  • build a bank of other resources such as frequently asked questions (FAQs),
  • incorporate guides and videos into the email as responses to inquiries.

 

Here’s How To Create Email Templates In Gmail And Outlook.

Using The Email Templates Feature In Gmail 

Enable the Templates Feature

  1. Log into Gmail.
  2. Click the Settings Icon and select Settings.
  3. Select the Advanced tab.
  4. In the Templates section, select Enable.
  5. Scroll to the bottom and click Save Changes.

Create and Insert a Template

  1. Click Compose in Gmail.
  2. Enter the email content in the compose window.
  3. Click on the 3 dots at the bottom-right of the compose window to get More Options.
  4. Select Templates and choose whether to Insert Template, Save draft as template or Delete template. You can either save a draft as a new template or overwrite an existing template.
  5. Once you have inserted the template, customize the content and click Send.

Automate Templates

  1. In the search box at the top of your account, click the down arrow to your right.
  2. Enter your search criteria according to the email addresses, content, size, date, location or attachments.
  3. At the bottom, click Create filter.
  4. Gmail gives you a variety of options. You can select Send Template and choose the saved template you would like to automate from the dropdown box.
  5. Click Create filter.

 

 

Using The Email Templates Feature In Outlook

 Create an Email Template in Outlook

  1. Go to the Home tab, click New E-mail to compose a new email. You can also press CTRL+SHIFT+M.
  2. Compose the content for the email content.
  3. In the message window, click on the File tab, and select Save As.
  4. In the Save As dialog box, enter the name of your file, choose Outlook Template as the Save as type and click Save.
  5. Your email template will be saved in a default location, but you are free to change the location before clicking Save.

Insert and Send an Email Template

  1. Go to the Home tab, in the New Items drop-down menu, select More Items then Choose Form.
  2. In the Choose Form dialog box, under the Look In drop-down box, select User Templates in File System.
  3. Select your template in the default templates folder opened or click Browse to select templates saved in a different folder, then click Open.
  4. Customise the email and click send.

 

How To Make It Even Easier

You can get a virtual business manager/virtual assistant to set up your email templates for different responses to inquiries, FAQs, thank you messages, marketing among other frequent and repetitive emails in your business. This will save you lots of time and efficiently minimize the time you spend in your inbox.

Are Your Emails Out Of Control? Here Are 7 Top Tips That Can Help

Are Your Emails Out Of Control? Here Are 7 Top Tips That Can Help

According to Statista, it has been estimated that a whopping 306.4 billion emails will be sent in 2020. This considered email management has become a necessary skill for effective time management. There is a need to slice down the amount of time spent replying, sorting, deleting and searching through emails. Below are my 7 top tips for effective email management:

1. Handle Your Emails Once a Day

Responding to emails can easily become your full-time job, as you receive higher email traffic daily with the growth of your business. It is, therefore, important to schedule a time slot for responding to your emails, just like all the other activities in your business operations. Emails are simply meant to facilitate communication. They should not interrupt your entire business schedule.

It is important to stick to the time slot allocated. Respond to what you can within that period and continue on the next day if time runs out. Generally, it is necessary to limit the time you spend in your inbox by:-

  • sending short and brief responses,
  • taking the necessary action on the email promptly and
  • setting it aside as fast as you can.

If you have concerns about not immediately responding to emails then simply set up an out of office explaining when you will be reviewing emails and set an expectation on when you will be responding.

 

2. Prioritise Your Mail

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of outputs come from 20% of inputs. Applied to emails, this means that only 20% of the emails you receive will be relevant to the running and growth of your business.  Therefore, you should prioritize which emails are the most crucial and respond to them with more urgency than the remaining 80%.

It’s good to note that you don’t have to read or respond to all your emails.

Read the ones that are relevant to you and defer the remaining emails to archives or folders to be accessed for information whenever you need them. Only respond to emails if you find that it’s necessary, and the benefits outweigh the cost.

 

3. Categorise Your Emails

To manage a high number of emails, it is crucial to categorise them into different folders or labels. You can simply sort and name your folders according to the relevance, priority or content. For instance, you can create separate folders for your feedback emails, account emails, and urgent investor emails. Segregating your emails means you will spend less time taking action on them or searching through your mail.

Filters are integrated tools in your email account that will assist you in automatically sorting out and archiving your incoming emails into different categories. You can set your filter to look for particular words or email addresses and dictate the action taken on them. An organised email is the most efficient way to spend less time in your inbox.

 

4. Apply the 2-Minute Rule:

The next top tip for effective email management is the 2-minuter rule. This rule for email management requires that if responding to the email takes less than 2 minutes, then do so immediately and archive it. Do not postpone it to a later date. This will help you to clear batches of emails in a shorter time.

If an email takes a longer time to respond to, then you might need to archive them to a folder with a ‘Reply By’ date. This is essential in making sure that you do not overlook any important emails, but at the same time manage the time you spend on your email.

 

5. Use Email Templates

Are you tired of typing a new response for every client inquiry?

Email templates come in handy for faster response to similar emails. For instance, all your responses to FAQ inquiries from your clients probably have the same format. Therefore, you can develop templates for responding to such emails. Then, integrate them into your email account, which allows you to spend less time than you normally would typing each response from scratch.

Gmail, for instance, allows you to turn frequent messages into templates in the advanced settings. You can then either insert the templates as you compose the messages or simply use them to create automatic replies with the filters feature.

Learn how to set up Email Templates HERE

 

6. Unsubscribe from Irrelevant Mail

We sign up for different subscriptions that over time become irrelevant to us. If it’s a subscription for content that you can easily lookup on the internet, then unsubscribe from it. Similarly, if you constantly find yourself deleting emails from a given subscription, it might be time to unsubscribe.

 

7. Hire A Virtual Business Manager

Time is money, and as your mailing list grows, it might get harder to keep track of everything without compromising your time. Hiring a virtual business manager to take responsibility for your emails will enable you to focus on your business. A virtual business manager can

  • optimise your account,
  • set automatic responses,
  • create filters for different emails,
  • sort your emails into different categories and
  • prioritise your emails so that you only need to read and respond to what’s relevant.

To find out more book a no-obligation consultation today to find out more

Smash Your Business Goals Using Project Management Tool

Smash Your Business Goals Using Project Management Tool

Starting and running a small business is a painstaking process. Finally, after putting in all the hard work, your business catches on and is steadily growing. You’re happy with the progress, but feel worn out by all the additional work. If you’re wondering if there are any solutions out there that can make everything more manageable, well, you’re right! Project management tools may provide you with the perfect solution.

There are several tools available to make the growth easier, without any significant additional costs of hiring an extra management/admin team. Let’s discuss the top solutions that are available for effectively managing your small growing business:

Types of Project Management Tools

Planning, Scheduling And Budgeting Tools:

From to-do lists to scheduling, cost management tools and resource allocation tools, it has never been easier to keep track of your activities, appointments, time and finances.

Most project management and time management tools allow you to

  • create a project,
  • break it down into smaller tasks,
  • schedule each task with timings and deadlines,
  • allocate resources and finances to each task, and
  • assign tasks to different individuals.

Associating each task with its time and costs makes it easy to not only track the general progress and costs of the project. Also to identify and locate which specific tasks are causing time and cost overruns. This makes it easier to react and streamline your processes.

Calendar integration similarly allows you to harmonise your business appointments with your personal calendar.

 

Communication Tools:

These project management tools will ease your communication by effectively integrating all your communication channels within one platform. You can now initiate and track conversations on emails, video calls, conference calls, voice calls, team messaging all within minutes. The social media integration features allow for the sharing of content to all your social media platforms.

Additional features such as screen sharing are also available, allowing your virtual assistant and other members of your team to conveniently view an operate your computer screen with no limitations as to the convenience of physical location. Most project management tools also allow for feedback and comments on the designated projects. With all these in place, you no longer have to scroll back and forth between different communication apps wondering where that last important communication was sent.

 

Collaborative Teamwork Tools:

Project collaboration is an essential feature that allows all the members of your team to work and contribute to a single project concurrently. Creating project activities and allocating to different groups allows you to efficiently manage and track the productivity and input of every member of your team, as well as improving the synchronization of processes.

A bonus feature for such tools if often file sharing and management, which allows for the uploading of all relevant files to a central platform allowing access to all authorized individuals, and allowing each individual to download or edit the files when needed.

 

Reporting and Analytics Tools:

Various project management tools allow for the analysis and automatic generation of reports for the visualisation of the progress of activities on graphs, Gantt Charts, pie charts, tables, and other templates.

Analytic tools further analyze data and generate trends, identify opportunities for improvement, carry out predictive analytics and web analytics among other processes.

 

Summing Up…

With the growth of technology and innovation, there is a tool for almost any challenge you may be experiencing in your business. Selecting a tool that simultaneously integrates most of your business processes in one simple platform will efficiently reduce your workload.

As for the paradox of choice, hiring and consulting a virtual assistant to assess your business, suggest the best management and workflow tools, integrate the needed features and apps, tailor and automate the systems of that tool to fit your business, may save you tons of time, energy and costs.

If you need more information on Project Management Tools check out this blog —>> HERE