August 2019

10 Project Management Tips for Startups

Being involved in a startup is exciting, even exhilarating. Perhaps for the first time, there is a sense of being completely in charge, but in charge of something that feels slightly out of control. 

Project management techniques are essential for a startup business. Running a successful project will require more than just enthusiasm and flair. The project will need to have a clear scope, a budget and commitment from the team. Here we look at ten of the most useful project management tips for a startup.

1. Win (and keep) clients

What could be more important than winning your first client? Your stunning business idea is futile if you can’t convince a client. Leaving aside the quality of the idea and your own charisma, winning a client is a project in its own right. 

It involves setting goals; such as the kind of client you are trying to win, the anticipated revenue and how much you are willing to spend upfront. It requires a hard look at resources, weighing up the talents and availability of the team. Finally winning a client needs more than just an entrepreneur with a great business idea, it needs input and commitment from the whole team.

2. Set challenging but realistic goals

The first step in any project is to define its goals; to identify the aspects of the project that are important to the business. This could be as mundane as saying it must deliver the agreed scope, on time and within budget. For a startup, however, it is likely to include aspirations towards business growth such as a client list or revenue target.

Goals should be SMART: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable – the goal must be clearly defined so it can be checked later in the project
  • Achievable 
  • Realistic
  • Timebound 

3. Mentors

Looking for a mentor may be anathema to an entrepreneur; that would mean giving away some of the credit for their success. For a startup, however, a mentor may make the difference between success and failure. A person who has been around the block may be able to spot a risk to the business or a flaw in thinking. 

4. Methodology

Choosing a project management methodology is a key step. This will give the project a structure and help the project manager to steer the team. Since the advent of formal project management, many different methodologies have been pioneered (and abandoned). The right methodology will be the one that suits the project, taking account of its complexity, goals and team. 

It’s important to consider the client’s perception too. Project management certification may be an important factor in winning the client, demonstrating that you understand how to deliver a project. A reputable accreditation such as PRINCE2 certification will reassure the client that they will get good regular feedback and ROI.

5. The project management triangle: scope, budget and time 

A project’s scope is the list of features or benefits that it will deliver. These must be clearly defined at the start of the project, by discussion and negotiation with the stakeholders (of which there can be many). 

With a defined scope, the project manager can work with the team to break down the work into tasks and estimate the time required and therefore the cost. These 3 constraints, scope, budget and time are the variables for the project. Increasing scope will increase either cost or time, or both. 

6. Motivate the team

Team members are people, with different motivations. Although financial rewards are important, it’s rarely just about money. Make time to talk one-to-one with the team and understand what inspires them.

7. Communicate clearly

Communication is the cornerstone of project management:

  • Regular progress reports to the client and stakeholders
  • Daily stand-ups with the team to check for issues 
  • Weekly team meetings to share information

8. Be flexible

Flexibility is one of the assets of a startup. As a business grows, it becomes progressively more difficult to change. If business conditions change, a startup can pivot quickly, responding to market opportunities. 

This flexibility extends to project work too. Overcoming a challenge during a project, or recovering from a failed project may mean changing direction.

9. Project management requires focus

A partner in a startup will have many different priorities competing for their time. It’s essential to stay focused on running the project and make this the highest priority. This is especially so for a hands-on person, who likes to carry out tasks on the project personally.

10. Close out

After the project has delivered, the team should get together for a final review meeting. This is an opportunity to reward their hard work and to capture lessons learned. Encourage everyone to contribute.

Be in control

There is plenty of excitement in the roller-coaster environment of a startup; it can seem out of control at times. Following these tips and using a reputable methodology will give the project manager control over the project, supporting them in delivering what the client needs.

How Interdependence Public Relations Transformed My Business

For many years I was advised by friends and colleagues of mine to use the services of a public relations company but I always felt that it wasn’t an investment which would bring solid returns, and capital wasn’t in abundance during those years. Last year however I decided to bite the bullet and use the services of the brilliant Interdependence public relations. At that stage I was really looking for some direction from the guys and what actually happened was that they completely transformed my business, aiding me in more ways than I previously thought possible. If you have a business, big or small, a public relations company can offer you a brilliant service and here is how the team at Interdependence were able to help me and my business.

Reputation

When I hired the team at Interdependence my company’s reputation was lukewarm at best, it was something which I felt that I had no real control over and other than trying to offer the best service to my customers, I didn’t really have any ideas how to boost the reputation which my company had. Interdependence came in and within just a few months they had managed to boost my reputation, something which I was able to see by way of increased sales, better online reviews and far more leads than I had ever had before.

Social Media

Social media was something which I used for the business to try and drum up a little bit of interest and to engage with my clients. As it turns out there was so much more which I could’ve been doing with my social media pages and thanks to the guys at Interdependence all of that has now changed. They updated the content which I was producing, they boosted the engagement by posting at the right times and to the right people and they transformed my social media to become a tool not just for engagement but for brand growth and visibility.

Promotions

Whenever we would launch a new product or offer a great promotion the reaction would never really be what Iw as looking for and for many years I couldn’t really grasp what it was that I could do in order to gain more attention. The guys at Interdependence are absolute experts with this and thanks to their contacts, their know-how and most importantly their creativity around launching such a campaign, I was able to get far more traction and far more interest from product and promotional launches.

Profit

Ultimately what this company was able to deliver for me was more sales and a higher amount of profit. Through their approach to the digital side of things and the way in which they were able to help me shape a new message and a new identity for my business, I saw a huge increase in customers and sales, which in turn contributed towards a far healthier amount of profit.

These guys are the real deal and I cannot recommend them enough.

Why We Decided to Use Interdependence PR For Our Public Relations Needs

Two years ago we decided that it was time for our business to push for growth and to try and increase the visibility of our brand. We went to many business conferences where growth was discussed and it quickly became apparent that the best way to do it was to work with a PR firm. We decided to work with Interdependence PR after meeting with a great many companies, and in truth it was quite a difficult decision to come to. There were a multitude of reasons why we chose Interdependence over other firms, and here is how we made our choice.

Understood The Business

It was quite incredible to look at the different attitudes of various PR companies during our search and one of the main reasons why we settled on the team at Interdependence PR was because they instantly showed us that they understood us. They understood what our business was trying to achieve, they understood what our clients wanted to hear and most importantly they understood how to speak to our market. some firms we met with clearly had little understanding of the fintech market and given that the PR firm is going to be our mouthpiece, this was something which really concerned me.

Creativity

We look to a service such as public relations so that they can help us to reach our goals using their creativity and their ideas. This is what I expected most firms to bring to us when we first met with them, yet a surprising number just didn’t show us any indication that they had been thinking about what they could do with our business. This is where Interdependence PR really won us over and from our first meeting with them they were throwing out ideas which could help to take our business to the next level. This not only showcased the creativity which they have but also the desire which they had to win us as clients. As it turned out we made a brilliant choice as this is a PR firm which is the real deal and which has taken our company to new heights.

Reputation

The reputation of a PR firm is massively important and it is vital that you check that it out before you meet with any firm. You shouldn’t just be looking at what the firm says about their own reputation, after all they are specialists in bigging things up, which is of course why you want to work with them. You must ensure that you have found out whether or not the PR firm which you have chosen can actually do what they say they can and in order to discover this you need to do plenty of research and find out what previous customers have to say. In the case of Interdependence PR, we found a huge amount of positive information which we believed was enough to convince us that their reputation was very strong indeed.

Audit Defense Reviews – The Power of The IRS

Something which has always scared the life out of me is the IRS, ever since I was younger and heard stories about them closing down businesses, hitting people with penalties and generally taking no nonsense from people when it came to paying their tax bills. For me this is why I have always used the service of Audit Defense, they take care of your tax returns and work with you on any audits and if you check out the Audit Defense reviews you can see for yourself just how much they have been able to help their clients. Many underestimate the power of the IRS which is why today we are going to have a look into just how you can get caught out and what the IRS can do.

Here is what they have to say regarding penalties:

 “If you do not file your return and pay your tax by the due date, you may have to pay a penalty. You may also have to pay a penalty if you substantially understate your tax, understate a reportable transaction, file an erroneous claim for refund or credit, or file a frivolous tax submission. If you provide fraudulent information on your return, you may have to pay a civil fraud penalty.”

Being Late

The IRS will most certainly charge you if you file your tax return late and they will increase how much they charge you by each month that you go past your due date. They will also hit you with penalties if you make a late payment for your taxes and just like filling late, this will be more expensive as each month goes by. The fees vary depending on your individual situation but you can be absolutely sure that they will not be cheap.

Business

Many small business owners will file their business taxes on their personal return, but even if this is the case you will be charged a different set of penalties if you are late in filing your business taxes or late in repaying them. As you can imagine businesses are charged significantly more for filing late. Another key point to watch out for if you are a business owner is that you don’t make any errors on the tax return. If you do make mistakes then you won’t be hit with a penalty but you will have to refile which could mean that you file late, thus incurring a penalty. Make sure that you check all information and that you have filed well before your due date.

Fraud

If the IRS have found you to have committed or tried to commit fraud, or having field a frivolous tax return then you can expect to get hit with a huge fine, a fine large enough to ensure that you never do the same thing again.

Don’t mess around with the IRS, it simply isn’t worth it and it could cost you a significant amount of money.

Bharat Bhise HNA – The Types of Dangerous Cyber Attacks

I have had a small business now for around 6 years and one aspect of the company which I was never convinced about investing in was cyber security. Our company uses computers for just about everything but I always believed that simple virus protection would be enough. Last year I decided to look into this a little more and spoke with industry expert Bharat Bhise HNA, about whether or not I needed to invest in cyber security. Bharat was very kind to take a look at our systems and spot the gaps which people could exploit, and so I decided to take Bharat’s word for it and invest some cash in tightening things up. What convinced me was when Bharat spoke to me about the types of attacks which can take place, truly terrifying attacks I must say.

DoS and DDoS

One of the most common attacks is a Denial of Service or a Distributed Denial of Service Attack, these are very simple to create and very effective indeed. Basically these attacks look to overwhelm the system which it is aimed at, until the system crashes and denies service. Strangely this is an attack which actually doesn’t benefit the attacker, it doesn’t give them access to your systems, they are just looking for the satisfaction of a successful attack. For businesses however this can shut you down for at least a day and cause all manner of upheaval, lost time and lost money.

MitM Attack

A Man in the Middle attack is something which companies should be worried about and through this kind of attack hackers can get access to your entire system. Basically what happens here is that an attacker will hijack a session between client and host. Your employer signs on to the system, the attacker gains control of the client’s computer and then disconnects from the server, meanwhile the IP address is switched for that of the attacker and the connection is made again, only this time the attacker has full access to the system.

Phishing

Opening an email which you don’t recognize can do huge amounts of damage to your system and they could see you fall victim to a phishing scam. These scams are easy to put together and they essential load a ton of malware and other viruses onto your company’s server. These emails can trick people into downloading harmful viruses or even into employees handing over sensitive information.

Password Attack

Hackers have an uncanny ability to guess and gain access to password protected information, either by brute force which uses a random approach to passwords, or through a dictionary attack which uses relative information to gain access to someone’s computer or system. This is why it is so important to think up creative and complicated passwords, because many of them are very easy to guess if a hacker wants to try.

Kersh Law Firm – What to Look For In a Great Lawyer

If you have run into some legal difficulties and you need to lawyer up then it is important that you spend the time on finding the very best lawyer for you. Regardless of whether you have been slapped with a DUI, gotten yourself caught up in a dispute with your employer or are about to file a petition for divorce, the things to look for in a great lawyer remain the same. I have a friend who works for Kersh law firm and he has helped me to put together a quick checklist of what you should be looking for in a great lawyer.

Reputation

A good reputation in law is hard to earn and easy to destroy which is why if you can find a lawyer with a great track record, you are going to be well on your way to getting yourself the very best legal representation. When looking for a lawyers rep focus on the law firm that they work for rather than their individual reputation. The reason for this is that there are many brilliant young lawyers who haven’t had a chance to build a reputation just yet, but the law firm that they work for understands their capabilities and if their reputation is great then you know that you can trust their team.

Communication

Many lawyers fail to realize that their clients don’t know as much as they do and as a result their communication skills can be terrible. The truth is that very few of us actually know anything about the law or how cases are tried and this is why you need to know that you have a lawyer who is going to keep you in the loop with everything that is going on. Regardless of the case you will no doubt be going through some emotional turmoil which is exactly why you need a lawyer who will inform you of everything going on in the case, and to put your mind at ease.

Empathetic

When you find a great lawyer you will find that they are incredibly empathetic to what you are going through and they will act as both a support to you and a lawyer. Some lawyers just don’t have empathy and whilst they believe that it helps them to win cases, the truth is that their clients are not always happy with their approach. A great lawyer will do both, they will present a strong case on your behalf and they will be empathetic towards your issues.

Competitive Price

As you can imagine the very best lawyers cost the highest amount of money but at the very least these prices should be competitive. A greta lawyer should be able to offer you a great service and do so without taking your eyeballs out when it comes to price.

Make sure that you invest a lot of time in finding yourself the very best lawyer for whatever case it is that you are dealing with.

Reviewing the Sack Race With Bogoljub Karic

In anticipation of the upcoming Premier League season we are going to focus today not on which team will win the league, nor who will be relegated, but rather on the manager’s who will be the first in the crosshairs of their owners this season. The sack race is always an interesting one, especially in this day and age of owners looking for instant success, and who have twitchy trigger fingers. We have seen throughout the years that no manager is safe, Ranieri and Mourinho can attest to that, Premier League victory even prevents some from keeping their jobs. I am joined today by Bogoljub Karic, and here are our predictions as to who will be the first to get the chop in this coming season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The temporary hiring of the Manchester United legend was certainly the right decision but handing him a long term contract is a gamble which United have taken, that is unlikely to pay off. Furthermore Solskjaer now has even more pressure on his shoulders after United have backed him heavily in the transfer window, to the tune of almost £200 million. We don’t think that Ole has what it takes to bring this calamitous team together, despite the massive amount of talent which he has, and we expect him to be gone by Christmas.

David Wilder

Sheffield United did extremely well to get themselves out of the Championship and into the Premier League and their manager David Wilder should be given huge plaudits for doing so. Unfortunately however this is a team which just concedes too many goals and this is something which we think will continue into this coming campaign. Wilder is not a bad manager by any stretch of the imagination but as the team continues to lose games, the owners will do what all owners do with a newly promoted side, switch the manager in a vain attempt to save their season and maintain their status in the top division.

Marco Silva

Marco Silva showed great ability during his time at Hull City, he was then given the Watford position where in truth he hardly pulled up any trees, before jumping to Everton at the first opportunity. Silva however has been found out, he has been backed heavily by the Everton board, who traditionally were a frugal club, yet hasn’t given them the value for money which they have come to expect. Everton have the easiest run of fixtures in the first 2 months of the season, if Silva’s Everton don’t perform well, he could be out on his ear.

Steve Bruce

Mike Ashley has turned Newcastle into a circus of a club and this is why new manager Steve Bruce will be under pressure from the word go. Bruce has been backed in the transfer window, which only adds more pressure to the position. Newcastle will be in a relegation battle this year and we don’t think that Ashley will let Bruce stay the course.

Who is your money on?

Ron Cadman – Benefits You Can Count on When You Start Gardening

When we first moved up to Alberta, Canada from the USA our house needed a lot of work doing to it, especially to the outside areas. Because of the money this house had already cost us we had to visit a lender to get a little extra cash to get the place sorted out, but I have always preferred to just get jobs done rather than bide my time.

The garden work was completed by Ron Cadman, a local a gardener, who even offered me a discount if I was to help. I would be a fraud if I told you that ‘we’ completed the garden because the truth is I was just a pair of hands, nonetheless I saved some cash.What this sparked in me was something which I never realized that I had… green fingers, that’s right, I discovered that I loved gardening and since that day I have spent as much time outside as possible. There are so many benefits to gardening which I enjoy and if you have never tried it, here are the benefits which you can get.

Pride

Naturally there is a great amount in the garden which was carried out by Ron but since then I have been adding my own bits and pieces such as a water feature and a bedding area, and there is an enormous sense of pride which comes with looking out on the garden knowing that you created it. It is even better when people comment on your work!

Relaxation

If you had asked me a couple of years ago what I thought about gardening I’d have told you that it looked boring and probably quite stressful. As it turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong as I find this one of the most relaxing parts of my day. I love to get my gloves on and head out into the garden for a couple of hours each night. When I am out there I just switch off from everything entirely, the world seems a place which is miles away and the only thing which I am really focussed on is my gardening.

Project

I have always felt that everyone should have a project which they are working on, something to aim for and a reason to get up in the morning. For me that project is my garden, and in fact you can break this down into lots of mini projects which you have to complete. You can’t hurry the garden either, unless of course you are adding a physical installation, because when it comes to plants, you have no control over how quickly they grow.

All in all this is a great hobby which I had no idea just how much I was going to enjoy. There is nothing like the peace and quiet of getting out into the garden and getting some fresh air in your lungs is always a good idea.

Dr. Curtis Cripe – Understanding What Neuropsychology is

Neuropsychology is a science and a branch of medicine which you may not have heard of before but this is something which is helping thousands of people around the world. There are some geniuses in this field, people like the brilliant Dr. Curtis Cripe who have dedicated their lives to the implementation and the advancement of neuropsychology. We were fortunate enough to catch up with Dr. Cripe at a recent medical convention to dig a little deeper into what exactly is neuropsychology, let’s have a look.

Overview

Neuropsychology is actually a branch of psychology which of course studies the mind. This branch combines characteristics of both psychology and neurology and it is about our understanding of the brain’s physiological functions, and how this contributes towards cognitive function and behavior. We all know that there are many mental disorders out there which are in fact brain disorders, the role of a neuropsychologist is to focus on the causes of these issues, and deciphering what is a neurological disorder and which is a physical disorder, as well as treating the issue.

Range of Treatments

There is a huge range of medical issues which a neuropsychologist will look at that fall under the mental/psychological banner. Here are just some of the issues which can be treated by this specialist branch of medicine.

  • Learning Disorders
  • Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Endocrine Disorders
  • Brain Tumors
  • Brain Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizure Disorders
  • Sex Chromosome Abnormalities
  • Klinefelter Syndrome
  • Motor Neuron Diseases

As you can see there is a wide range of medical and behavioral issues which neuropsychology is able to treat.

Differences With Psychology

It is important that whilst we recognize that this is a branch of psychology, the two actually differ greatly. For example neuropsychologists must have significantly more training than a psychologist and this is because they must both understand the mind and its behaviors, as well as having a deep understanding of neurology and how each brain function can contribute towards these behaviors. The role of a neuropsychologist is to work with patients who display signs of mental health issues, and the dig deeper to find out root cause and treatment.

Within this they will look into focus and attention, intellectual functioning, academic functioning, adaptive functioning ,personality, basic motor skills and speed, memory, speech and language and the ability to visualize. Each aspect of what the brain does needs to be understood and more importantly the consequences of any aspect the brain which is not functioning as it should be.

How to Become a Neuropsychologist

To forge career in this field it is essential that you have studied neuropsychology at university level and obtained a degree in the subject.Once this is complete then you will have to attend medical school in order to obtain your license to practice medicine, and then much like doctors do, you will spend 4-6 years  in a clinical setting until you are granted your license.

Brennan & Clark LLC – The Advantages of Settling With a Debt Collection Agency

Last week was a truly fascinating one for me as I was lucky enough to spend 3 days with the team at Brennan & Clark LLC, a debt collection agency. Now to many these may seem like 3 days wasted but in a world where people’s personal debt is spiraling out of control, those days gave me a great insight into what life is like on the other side of the fence. Throughout the US there are hundreds of thousands of people who have debt which they are mismanaging, can’t afford to pay or simply ignoring, a worrying trend which is putting many under huge pressure. Settling with a debt collection agency is the best case scenario for so many, and here is why.

Debt Collection Agencies Explained

First let’s have a brief look at what debt collection agencies are and how they operate. Simply put, big lenders like banks do not want bad debt on their books, when they have loaned money or given to credit to someone who hasn’t or isn’t paying it back, they would far rather sell that debtor to a debt collection agency, for a lower price. This way the lender at least gets some money and moves forward, which is far cheaper than chasing the money themselves. The debt collection agency then seeks to recoup the money.

What Can They Do?

Debt collection agencies will try to reach out to the debtor with calls, emails and house visits until they are able to speak with them. They will almost always e very accommodating with the person who is in debt and they can offer settlement offers, payment schemes without interest and other benefits which the original lender cannot. Unfortunately however so many people still fail to acknowledge the debt collection agency which is where they can get unstuck. A debt collection agency has the power to remove items which were bought using credit such as vehicles, furniture and gadgets, and they are lawfully allowed to do so.

Why You Should Settle

Beyond the obvious fact that you should settle to avoid a debt collection agency coming out to your home to repossess items within it, you should also settle because they can offer you a great deal. Let’s say that you owe $10,000, you may very well be able to settle for around $7,000. The reason for this is that when the debt collection agency bought the debt from the original lender, they could have bought it for 60 cents on the dollar, which is why they can afford to pass that saving on to you. Ultimately debt is not good for anyone, it is not good for the person who owes money, it is not good for the original lender and even in the case of a debt collection agency, they want clients to come and go with speed as they have money tied up in the debt which they have bought.

If you are contacted by a debt collection agency, don’t think twice, do all that you can to work with them.