Category Archives for Planning

Keys to Beating Project Deadlines

Keys to Beating Project Deadlines

Beating project deadlines is an essential part of keeping stress down and delivering excellent work. It doesn't matter what types of projects you work on, if you can beat a deadline you'll be in high demand. Here's how to do it.

Set Realistic Deadlines

The fastest killer of a deadline is overestimating what you can do and how fast you can do it. Always work in a cushion to your deadlines just in case something happens; that way, you can avoid stress when reaching deadlines.

Set Deadlines in Stone

Once you set a deadline, tell yourself it is set in stone, and you must meet it or beat it. Since you put in a cushion before setting the deadline, that means that you should be able to get done before the deadline if all goes as planned.

Plan and Organize Efficiently

Part of setting deadlines is learning to plan and organize efficiently. Set up a system of organization that you do for every project. Having systems in place eliminates the problem of forgetting any aspect of your project.

Use a Calendaring System

No one can do anything online without a calendar. Today online calendars can sync with your smartphones so that there is no reason to forget anything. Train yourself to look at your schedule every evening and every morning so that you avoid forgetting anything. Do not rely on memory.

Communicate Deadlines to Team Members

If you work with others, such as vendors or service providers, you must communicate deadlines to them in a way that they understand the importance of the deadlines.

Do the Most Productive Thing First

If you are not sure where to start, and you can identify items that independent of other things being completed, then you can begin to complete them. Sometimes just getting something done can unleash more creativity.

Baby Steps

Break up all the work into small, bite-sized pieces that you can do a little at a time that will ensure that you meet your deadlines. Setting shorter deadlines throughout the project will also help.

Start at the End

Write down what must be done to constitute a final deliverable on your project, then work backward to today assigning yourself and others tasks that will ensure the project is done on time. 

Plan Ahead

The first thing you should do for any project is to make plans ahead of time to get the things done that need to be done. They say that failing to plan is planning to fail, and nothing can be more accurate than when it comes to project management.


Never forget that you don't have to do everything yourself. Outsourcing aspects of any project will help you focus on what you do best.

If you want to beat deadlines, it requires organization, planning, and dedication to be self-disciplined enough to follow the plan you created for yourself to meet your goals. It all starts, of course, with that realistic deadline, and advanced planning. A good project management system doesn't hurt either.

How to Improve Project Management through Evaluation

Project management can help you with many everyday and long-term tasks and projects. But, like with most things, how you do project management can be improved. One way to improve anything that you do is through evaluation.

The definition of project planning, according to Wikipedia, is, “… the process and activity of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources, procedures, and protocols to achieve specific goals…”

Evaluation - What to Consider

When you read the above definition, one of the things that stick out is the idea that project management is about “controlling resources, procedures, and protocols.” The only way you can be sure that you are doing so is by evaluation. Therefore, part of your project management set-up should be all about evaluating whether or not the way you’re managing projects is working. You know they are working if you’re meeting or beating deadlines, and finishing projects successfully under budget.

To determine these facts, you’ll need to:

  • Compare performance to planned performance
  • Identify correct or mistaken parameters
  • Focus on relevancy, efficiency, and effectiveness
  • Determine whether objectives were met
  • Determine why objectives were met
  • Determine why objectives were not met
  • Ask if results were in line with the scope
  • Determine what role technology played

When you evaluate, you consider all aspects of inputs with desired outputs to determine if goals were achieved and why you can improve the next project.

For instance:

The project was delivered on time but with considerable stress and over budget. You earned less than you thought you would because your bid was lower than it should have been.

Look at:

Project proposal compared to project deliverable. How much difference is there between the two? Did you allow scope creep to take over? Also, which areas of the project were over budget? Assuming deliverables and proposals matched, did you miscalculate the amount of time it would take you to accomplish specific tasks? If you miscalculated your time commitment, why? Did you read the entire proposal carefully before giving your bid?

As you evaluate each step of your project management procedures, try to identify what can be accomplished easier, better, with less time, and less stress. A straightforward fix for avoiding scope creep is to ensure that when the client sends you a change, you add it to the contract and send the contract with a new bid to the client each time. If you make that a habit, you’re not likely to have too many issues with scope creep.

If you are having issues with underbidding due to a miscalculation on the amount of time it will take you to do, why are you doing that? Are you overestimating your abilities in some way? Are you allowing your need for money to cloud your judgment when bidding on proposals? Only a complete evaluation of each project after completion will help you determine these answers. No matter how successful you perceive any one project, an evaluation should be completed to help you improve.

business plan and marketing plan

Do Your Marketing Efforts Support Your Business Plan?

If your marketing efforts don’t match your business plan, you’re going to run into trouble. As you create your marketing plan, it’s essential to refer to your business plan to ensure that you are living up to your vision, mission, goals, and objectives.

Your business plan should include the overall strategy for your business. This consists of all aspects of finances, markets, sales, products, services, operations, and marketing. Your marketing plan takes the marketing portion a step further. It outlines precisely your strategy to penetrate social media, content marketing, pay-per-click marketing, or whatever marketing you plan to engage in.

Both your business plan and marketing plan help you:

Establish Your Identity as a Business

In other words, they help create a cohesive brand across all channels. Ensure that your marketing matches the mission statement within your business plan, and you’ll stay in line with your business plan.

Conduct a SWOT Analysis

When you create your business plan, you’ll do a SWOT analysis. What this does is establish what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are for your business. You can use this information in your marketing plan to address these issues.

Predict Consumer Behavior

Doing the work to create a complete business and marketing plan will identify potential customer behavior in advance of your marketing plan. If you do your homework right, your marketing plan will work as you suspect. 

Understand Your Cash Flow

Creating your business and marketing plan will help you understand your cash flow so that you can create a reasonable marketing budget. Your cash flow is an important consideration when developing a marketing plan.

Set a Realistic Marketing Budget

When you truly understand your business, the opportunities your business offers, and your market, you’ll be able to set a more realistic marketing budget that helps you reach your goals. 

Set Goals and Objectives

Based on your analysis and established a budget, set goals and objectives for your marketing efforts based on the goals and objectives you set in your business plan. If you stated in your business plan that it would take five years to reach a specific dollar figure per year, is your marketing helping you achieve that goal?

Establish Your Strategy

With the information you’ve gathered, narrow your focus to a specific target audience who needs, wants, and desires what you have to offer. Ensure that your marketing efforts, while aligning with your business plan, also happen where your customers are.

Measure If You’re Meeting Set Goals

The goals you set should be measurable, and you should have a mechanism in place to test whether or not you’re meeting those goals. Be very specific when you set goals so that you can have a number in an area that defines success for you.

Review, Rethink, Revise

The good thing about testing and measuring is that you can change midstream and stop doing something that isn’t working at all, and do more of what is working. This is especially true when marketing online. That’s what’s so great about online marketing; you’re not trapped into a marketing plan that isn’t working.

That was the long answer to the question; Do your marketing efforts support your business plan? The short answer is that they need to. If they don’t, you need to rethink both the business plan and marketing plan to craft a successful result from both.

Confidence Coach: A Viable Career Choice

Do people tell you you're encouraging? Do you find that you enjoy giving people helpful advice and boosting their confidence? Then you might consider becoming a confidence coach.

This rapidly-expanding business takes several forms. Some people specialize in coaching certain types of people (such as entrepreneurs) or age groups (such as teens). Following are some examples of what a confidence coach is and what he or she does, and some tips on becoming one.

What Is a Confidence Coach?

Generally speaking, a confidence coach is someone who makes a living at encouraging others and boosting their self-confidence. Confidence coaches give their clients tips on how to think positively and discover their gifts and talents, and they help their clients identify what situations cause them to lose confidence.

A confidence coach then gives tips and training to his or her clients to help them overcome their low confidence. The coach helps clients to identify where they have confidence trouble, and to face that "glitch" and overcome it.

Another thing confidence coaches may do is help clients identify goals, both short- and long-term. Ultimately, confidence coaches want to see their clients achieve success in life.

How Do Confidence Coaches Do What They Do?

There are several approaches you can take as a confidence coach. For example:

* YouTube and Facebook are a popular way for confidence coaches to reach their clients. You might produce a series of videos to offer them in correlation with printed media.

* Online tutorials, to which clients can subscribe, are another visual medium through which confidence coaches can help their clients.

* Ebooks and written guides help confidence coaches sell their message to clients while still having a personal connection with them.

* Phone calls, personal emails, online chats, and live video are some personal ways that confidence coaches can connect with their clients.

How Can I Become a Confidence Coach?

There are training courses you can take, and if this is what you would like or need, you have your choice online. Most of these courses are offered by businesspeople like yourself, so generally there is a fee for the course.

Or you can also simply go for it without special training - some successful entrepreneurs say they became experts on a certain topic on the day they decided they were! In other words, there is a great deal of information out there and you can avail yourself of it and train yourself.

Look at the websites of other confidence coaches. Read the testimonials and find out what clients appreciate. Then, you will need to set up a unique and powerful website yourself.

Tips on Setting Realistic Business Goals

When it comes to setting business goals, it can be tricky to find that middle ground. If you set goals that are too high, you might get discouraged. If you set them too low, you may end up bored or complacent, or disillusioned with your business. So how do you strike a balance? Here are some tips.

1. What do you want?

First, you need to determine what you want. Go ahead and brainstorm - make a list as you do. Put it down on paper and don't hold back.

2. Assess your list

Now, take a look at your list. Make a sub-list of steps you have to take to reach each of those goals and dreams. Are there some items on your dream list that involve steps you can't take? If you cannot take the steps necessary to achieve that goal, then it needs to be modified or removed from your list.

3. Strategize

As you are making your sub-list of steps, you need to develop definite strategies for those items on your dream list that are achievable. Being able to see what is necessary to achieve that dream can help you decide whether or not to pursue it. The strategy may in fact be doable, but you are unwilling to take those steps for personal reasons. That is fine; it's your list and your goals.

Go ahead and don't judge yourself - if you can't/don't want to adopt a certain strategy for your own reasons, then cross that goal off the list. The point is to narrow things down.

4. Timeline

Determine a timeline for your goals. Do you need to make more money right now, as in this month? Or do you have more long-term goals, such as eventually quitting your day job? On your master list, write down your timeline. This will help you further narrow things down - if the goal can't be reached within your allotted time, then it doesn't belong on your list of goals.

5. Know yourself

One of the keys to succeeding is to be really honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes we think we can do it all, or do anything...and other times we think we can't do anything. Neither of these extremes is likely to be true! If you can, ask others what they think they can see you doing. Once again, break out your pencil - list things you like to do and abilities you feel confident about. Just about any skill or attribute can be channeled into helping your business succeed.

These list-making exercises can help narrow down your goals and keep them realistic and reachable.

How to Use Visualization to Achieve Success

What is visualization? For what can it be used? There is a lot of talk about visualization these days, and it may seem confusing. It's more than daydreaming, different than meditation, and not a religious belief. Here is a brief explanation of visualization and how it's used.

What Is It?

Visualization involves seeing yourself in certain situations with the expectation that the scenario will happen in real life. When you engage in visualization, you concentrate on something you want to achieve and imagine yourself achieving it. Some say this exercise heightens your awareness of those things around you that pertain to your visions. This is said to make you more apt to recognize opportunities and so forth.

Sources say that the brain is wired so that you become what you focus on. This explains, in part, why people can be so determined not to engage in a certain behavior that they end up engaging in it. They were so focused on what they didn't want to do that they ended up doing it. Proponents of visualization take advantage of this mental process and turn it into something positive.

How Is Visualization Used?

Visualization can, technically, be used to achieve anything you like. However, it is generally applied to several main life circumstances and situations.

* Relationships - It is said that visualization can help relationships. Perhaps you could envision yourself in a successful marriage, or meeting your soul mate. Maybe you can visualize improving an existing relationship. Maybe you have dreams for your family relationships, and could use visualization to achieve a more harmonious home.

* Business - A lot of successful businessmen and women attribute their success to visualization, at least in part. Visualizing business success has been credited with increased income, more clients, and a strong sense of self-confidence.

* Self-Image - Visualization can be used to attempt improving your self-image. Using visualization techniques, you can imagine yourself as a confident, competent, popular person. Hopefully, these dreams will then begin to play out in real life, starting a cycle of continuing boosts to your self-esteem.

How Do You Do It?

When you practice visualization, there's a bit more involved than just daydreaming. When you seriously visualize the hopes of creating life changes, you need to be specific in your goals and imaginings. Your visualizations are supposed to be targeted toward those specific goals. Visualization infuses more energy, focus and vividness into your dreams.

When you visualize reaching your goals and dreams, you are meant to imagine the very smells, sounds, and feelings that surround the scenario. The brain is said to blur the line between observing something in real life and something imagined, enhancing the possibility that the scenario will come true.

What Will Your Business Look Like in Five Years?

When you sit down to make goals in your business, it’s important to not only make short-term goals but also long-term goals. You need to know the overarching goals for your business. What will it look like in five years' time? This is going to help you prepare your business for change that is going to come whether you like it or not. By design, you can prepare for these changes and ensure that your business also grows in the next five years.

Know Your Value Proposition

Your value proposition is what you are competing on. What differentiates your business from your competitors? For example, do you compete on price, quality, authority or something else? This is your value proposition. 

Know Your Customers

Knowing who your customers are, and how they may change over the years, is a good thing to do. You may not be able to keep a customer for five years, but you may if you know how to keep solving their problems (which within the scope of your offerings may change over time). Having said that, if your customers are moms who want to cloth diaper their infants, you’ll have to learn how your demographics ideas have changed due to culture changing.

Know Your Competition

Who is your competition? Knowing this is going to help you differentiate yourself and may help you realize why you need to know what they do, who they do it for, why, and how. This in turn is going to help tremendously when you create and promote your value proposition.

Know Your Key Indicators

There are some key indicators in your metrics that will show you how things are changing over time. What are the key indicators that can most affect the growth of your business? These are the things you must pay the most attention to. If sales are dropping in one area, why? Is that going out of fashion, or has technology replaced this? What is happening and how can you change with it?

Know Your Revenue Streams

Notice this says streams with an "s". You really should always have multiple streams of income in your business to help you stay afloat. When one stream is killed by technology, you can rebuild and not suffer and lose your entire business.

Know Your Resources

Resources include savings, cash, technology, intelligence, and people. Anything you can use to build your business bigger and better is a resource, including a connection that can help you open doors.

Know Your Strengths

What are your strengths in your business? Are you good at identifying problems your clients have and then quickly making an offer that fills that need? Are you good at being the authority in your niche? Know what it is and stick to it.

When you’re paying attention to these factors, you’ll be able to identify key changes in the market that may affect your business. For example, Netflix was known for the mailer they used to allow people to mail movies back and forth easily, but they saw the writing on the wall with digital streaming and changed their business model to accommodate those changes. You may be a smaller business, but with eyes wide open you can manage change and prepare your business for growth.