Project Management Tools

In this day and age, business owners are handling more than ever, multitasking and wearing a variety of hats. Project Management tools are available to help you and your staff access, utilize, and control projects either from a single user perspective or more intricate programs that allow for collaborative projects. They can be used to oversee everything from a simple marketing or sales plan to an elaborate construction project. These tools allow for scheduling, coordination, tracking issues and bugs, specified task lists, calendars, and messaging between staff and management, all in one meeting place accessible from anywhere in the world.

Businesses have long used integrated software for project management, such as Microsoft Office, a suite of programs each designated for one aspect of a project, including presentations in Powerpoint, spreadsheets in Excel, documents and mailings in Word, and email through Outlook. Another option is Google Docs – a free, online based office suite that allows users to create documents, collaborate with other users, and store data online.

There are also online and downloadable software options, some free with payable upgrades when you’re ready. These programs make project management far more seamless, typically with a simple setup process:

Trello
Podlio
Basecamp
Teamlab
Ace Project
Zoho Project
Huddle

See Office Solutions ME’s Business Resource Library page for more tools to help your business thrive today!

Resume Formatting Tips

We make assumptions based on appearance, and resumes are no different. In addition to being clear, concise, and informative, your resume needs to be easy to read, appealing to the eye, and unique. Your resume should portray your personality as much as your experience, and be easy to visually navigate.

In addition to the actual content of a resume, consider formatting for readability and personality;

  • Font – Size and type can help make your resume flow better and increase readability. Headings should be Larger and Bold. Limit font styles to 1 – 2. A san serif font can be used throughout, or descriptive text could be easy to read in a serif font type. Subtitles, such as dates and employer names can be italicized to help differentiate them from descriptive text.

I recommend headings be 11-14 point, Arial (or some other san serif font), and Bold. I recommend descriptive text be 9-12 point, and either the same font type as your titles, or times new roman (or some other serif font).

  • Spacing – There should be more space between paragraphs than between lines. This helps to ‘group’ information. There should also be just enough space between lines to read your content.

I would recommend 1.15 – 1.5 between lines, and 6 – 12 points between paragraphs.

  • Color – Here’s a great place to show character. Add some color to your presentation! Titles, Your name, a border, your footer, are all good options for a splash of color.

I would recommend keeping your use of colors to 1 shade, 2 at most.

  • Effects – Using effects such as Horizontal lines, Page boarders, Bolding, Italicizing, and Bullets, can help text stand out and guide the reader’s eye where you want them to look.

I suggest horizontal lines between sections, bold and colorful headings, and bullets outlining experience or education.

  • Length – With increasing experiences, resumes have become increasingly lengthy. Unfortunately, many people will not look past page 2, so be careful not to put anything important on page 3 (if you have one). Better yet, try to fit it all on 2 pages.

I suggest trying the following; minimize space between lines and paragraphs, decrease margins, and decrease font size.

Check out these additional resources for more information on Resume writing and formatting:

WritingHelp-Central

Resume Tips – Top Resume Tips

Sample Resumes

Guidelines For A Better Resume Presentation

Resume Basics for Freelancers

Need more help with your resume writing and formatting? Contact Office Solutions ME!

 

App of Month – WordPress

Here is our Smart Phone Application of Month for August:

WordPress iPhone ApplicationWordPress – The WordPress application allows you to manage multiple blogs from your smart phone! This application let’s your write, edit, add pictures, view comments, publish, and more from virtually anywhere. Plus, any changes made via the application are also saved on the traditional site.

Cost: Free

5 Cool Tools for Business

Every business (and business owner) needs tools to get the job done. Small businesses need especially versatile tools, that they can easily master and that offer the necessary value.

Office Solutions ME provides Virtual Administrative Support, so many of the tools that we use are software based or allow us to access the software that we use.

Here are 4 of the tools that we use most often, and really couldn’t operate without;

  1. Smart Phone – Not just a phone, but a miniature computer! We use the iPhone. It allows us to access the Internet, e-mail, social media sites, and so much more from almost anywhere! We can download applications that allow us to view and alter Microsoft Office documents, make calls via VOIP, scan QR Codes, and an endless number of other geeky yet useful things.
  2. Laptop – A notebook computer is really essential for any company, but completely unavoidable for a virtual assistant! To be able to complete client work virtually, you have to be accessible and able to respond efficiently. A laptop ensures that it is possible to meet your client’s demands from (almost) anywhere. This was our most recent purchase, as we upgraded from a 6-year-old Averatec to a Sony Vaio.
  3. Scanner – Green is gold! Being able to scan and e-mail documents, instead of faxing or snail mailing is another necessity. This improves productivity and creates less waste. Plus you can then store your documents electronically and save valuable office space. We choose the Canon MX860.
  4. External Drive – Back-up is King! With all of our electronic documents and important e-mails, we need to make sure we are protecting our assets appropriately. With an external hard drive, we can create protected and encrypted back-up files quickly and easily. We chose the Western Digital My Passport Elite.
  5. Blue Tooth Headset – Multi-tasking is easier when your hands are free, so our 5th and final cool tool for this post is the hands-free blue tooth headset. There are many versions, at various prices, but they are an essential for note taking, typing, driving, and other tasks without missing a call. We have a very basic Jabra that does the trick.

Please feel free to share if you have any other business tools that you can’t live without, or if you have questions about any that we have listed.

For product reviews and prices, we recommend cnet.com.

Need help getting organized and being productive? Please Contact Us for help with Administrative Support and Business Developement!

Time Management Tips & Software

Pocket WatchTime is money, time is of the essence, time is a valuable commodity! We never have enough Time, yet we take it for granted.

So, how do we make the most of the time we have? When it comes to business, there are many tools that we can utilize to make the most of our time and maximize our efficiency!

It’s all about organization and scheduling, then sticking with that schedule and using the tools that we have available!

  1. Set Priorities – Tasks will be different for everyone and may even change depending on the week or month. They can include any of the tasks you complete on a daily weekly or monthly basis; Client Relations, Blogging, Filing, Invoicing, Prospecting, Updating Social Media Sites, Newsletters, Mailings, Reading E-mail, Updating Websites, Working on Client Projects, Staff Meetings etc…
  2. Arrange Availability – Coordinate the activities that require others’ participation. Check with those that are involved in your tasks and be sure they set aside time for you. There’s no sense in scheduling time to meet with a client if you don’t know when they are available, or setting aside time for a staff meeting when staff will be out in training. Be practical about your time usage in order to get the most out of it.
  3. Create a Schedule– After you’ve determined the most important tasks and the best times to coordinate Wrist Watchwith others; it’s time to set a schedule. Set up task in order of priority and then block off the time during the week or month that works the best for each task. You may find that Tuesday is a good day to block off an hour for website updates, Wednesday or Thursday evenings are dedicated to business networking events, Friday mornings are the best days for staff meetings, Blogging will get done on the 10th and 20th of every month, AP/AR will be best completed on the 14th or 15th of each month, and you will check e-mails at 8am, 10am, 2pm, and 4pm.
  4. Use Tracking Software – Whether this is new to you or not, chances are you will need some sort of tools to assist you. This could be as simple as setting timers or alarms on you cell phone to remind you to check your e-mail or start prepping invoices. This could also be as complex as utilizing time tracking software. There are many versions of time trackers available, some are even free.
  5. Adjust when Needed – If it’s broke, fix it! If your schedule isn’t working, then adjust it! It’s not set in stone, it’s a tool that’s suppose to make you more organized and less stressed, more efficient and more productive. So, make it work for you. And you may find that you can’t do everything… it’s okay to get help!

Here is a list of some time trackers and project managers that I’ve discovered;

Find more time Management tips;

If you have tips or can recommend any time management software, please feel free to comment!

 
 
 

Entrepreneurs Getting Started, Getting Organized!

What better time to talk about Entrepreneurs, with EWeek right around the corner! EWeek Maine, February 20th through 27th, encourages and supports entrepreneurs with panel discussions, workshops and networking events, designed to foster entrepreneurial education and lifelong learning. Go to http://www.eweekmaine.com/  for a complete listing of events.

Not many of us have one-dimensional lives. Most of us have expectations and requirement coming from many directions; bosses, employees, spouse, children, parents, teachers, students, neighbors, etc… In order to ensure all of these responsibilities are fulfilled and expectations are met, we have to be organized. This holds true, and is even multiplied, if you are the business owner.

Business owners now need to consider not just how to complete an order and the process of making the widget, but also the marketing, security, finances, regulations, taxes, etc… that go into running a company. While these tasks may grow with regards to the company size, they exist on some level at any size. So what is an Entrepreneurs or Solopreneurs (single person company) to do? How can you effectively wear all of these hats?

Here are some options/suggestions;

  1. Take the time to learn all of the functions of running a successful business. Just bite the bullet, take classes, attend seminars, and make time to learn the material.
  2. Find a mentor or business counselor that can help you find resources and give you tips. It’s important to find someone that will be honest with you, someone who continues to expand their knowledge and share that with you.
  3. Hire a consultant or business coach that has experience in running a business or in a particular aspect that you are struggling with. Again, It’s important to find someone that will be honest with you, someone you can trust to help keep you on track.
  4. Get a partner or hire an employee to help share the work load. When choosing to work with others, you add the human resource function to your plate, so be sure that is something you are prepared for.

Here are some websites that I have found helpful as tools and resources for getting started, getting organized, and learning how about the many aspects of running a business;

National Resources

Local (Maine) Resources

If you are not already a member of the Maine Entrepreneurs Group or the Maine Successful Thinkers Group on LinkedIn, I would highly suggest it. There are some great resource discussions.

Feel free to comment on additional resources that you have found helpful!

If you are looking for local places to network, check out our newly created Maine Networking Calendar.