Managing Projects: The Power of Dynamic Scheduling

Are We There Yet? The Power of Dynamic Scheduling
Since time is money, time management is arguably the most important part of any project. There's no way you could conduct a project without time management; but are you doing everything you can to ensure timeliness and efficiency? If time management is the most important part of any project, planning and scheduling are the most important processes in managing a project.
There are six processes associated with project management:
  • activity definition
  • activity sequencing
  • activity resource estimating
  • activity duration estimation
  • schedule development
  • schedule control
Notice a pattern there? It seems the words activity and schedule come up quite often, and for good reason. The most basic part of any project is an activity which can be further broken down in to tasks; and of course a schedule is the most basic thing you need to manage time at all.
Scheduling activities in a responsible and educated way is the key to project time management. Identifying activities and scheduling them is a great first step to effective project time management, but it's not that simple. Anyone can take a guess at how long an activity will take you, what you have to do is come up with the best estimate, as well as make allowance for that estimate being a little off.
Any schedule, no matter how good it is, is still an estimate at best.
To ensure that your project isn't derailed by an activity taking longer than planned it's best to schedule some slack or gloat. That simply means you have made room in your schedule for unexpected delays and the project won't go off track when these delays occur. The time spent on a project and its costs are directly proportional. Your schedule may very well determine the budget, and a mistake in scheduling could cause you to break your budget, so getting the schedule right before you start is important. As long as you get the best advice you can about how long activities should take and schedule slack to allow for miscalculation your schedule should stand the rigor of the project cycle.

By Frank Payne
Photography by Nikola Hristovski

Skilled Questioning, Not Pressuring, Generates More Sales

I attended a festival recently and visited a jewelry booth while I was there. The jewelry designer was a talented, but modest woman. Her sister, on the other hand, was quite the promoter.She engaged me in conversation immediately. She asked me question after question while showing me different pieces of jewelry. I definitely knew she was aiming to make a sale but didn't feel pressured by her activities and comments.

If you struggle to 'close' the deal too often, it's likely you're doing something in the process that is preventing the other person from stepping forward to take advantage of your offer.

What is it that has some people be great at sales while others struggle?

Here's what I learned from this sister-promoter that could help you improve your close ratio.

One of the biggest mistakes people make in sales is talking too much. They are uncomfortable with silence and erroneously think they are 'controlling the process' by talking all of the time.

One of the biggest lessons I learned from my first sales coach is "People love to buy. They hate being sold."
Armed with that info, here are some of the things the Sister-Promoter did that ended up with me buying a trinket from the designer plus a few more choice tips that should help you increase your sales.

1. Ask pointed questions

Your aim is to get the other person talking. You'll learn more and they'll be more invested in the conversation. People won't walk away from you or hang up on you when they're talking!

2. Ask open ended questions mixed with closed ended questions.

Open ended questions (How, What, Where) reveal info to guide your inquiry. They also get the other person thinking. Closed ended (Do/Have/Would) questions get people to some decision point and allow progress toward the end goal to get made.

3. Ask questions about the future

Get people to imagine a future with your or your product. Hypothetical questions suspend reality and allow your prospect to dream about the future they want and what it would be like to get their with your support. (Imagine/What if/Suppose)

I've learned another important sales lesson from Sharla Jacobs. She said "Your job is to ask great questions until your prospect convinces themselves, they have to work with you."

When you can skillfully guide your prospects through that process so that they arrive at the conclusion, they have to have you, on their own, your sales will increase and both parties will leave the conversation happy and inspired.

By Loretta Love Huff
Photography by Raphotography

Loretta Love Huff, the Dream Leader for Business™, is an award-winning business and executive coach. She helps entrepreneurs leverage their ideas and dreams into profitable & fulfilling businesses. Visit to grab your two free audio series titled "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Service Professionals Make in their Marketing" and "The 7 Secrets for Sales Success". (c) 2010 Emerald Fiji Management


Creating Successful Systems for Your Interior Design Firm

Is Your Business Running Smoothly? Check Your Systems!

If you "opened the hood" and looked inside your business - what would you see? Would you see well-oiled systems and processes that keep your business humming along, streamlined and documented? Or would you see gunked-up processes and frequent communication failures?


It may be time check your engine. Are you experiencing any of these symptoms:

- Are you working LONG days, nights and weekends?

- Are things slipping through the cracks?

- Are you stressed?

- Are you too busy now to get things in order, like systems and your team?

- Do you have a massive to-do list?

- Do you have projects constantly on the back burner?

- Are you completely overwhelmed with every aspect of it?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, you may need a tune-up. If you answered "yes" to most or all of these questions, you may need an engine rebuild.


Bottom line: anything that is not going right with your business, or that you are lacking in your business is a result of having no systems, or having ineffective systems.

Systems are the foundation of your business - no matter at what level your business is in - it won't run well without adequate systems. Systems will help you become more productive, more profitable and give you more time.

What systems do you need for your business to run smoothly? Think about all the things you do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis that could be systemized. Here are the two most important ones:

Client work and communication.

Ensure that there is clear documentation and communication in the client work process by using a project management tool. A project management tool puts clients, team members and project files all in one place, so nothing falls through the cracks and everyone knows what is going on at all times.

New-client inquiry and follow-up.

Establish systems for responding to new clients efficiently and thoroughly. From putting Q&A's on your site to answering questions ahead of a consult call, to scheduling out the new client process (mailing info package, consulting call, and follow-up).

Don't ignore that "check engine" light! It is never too early nor too late to put systems in place or give your old systems a tune-up. Your business can't run without them!

By Donna Toothaker
Photography by © Anatoly Tiplyashin

Donna Toothaker is CEO, founder and coach of Step It Up VA Coaching. These highly sought-after VA coaching programs have been created for established, successful VAs who wish to create the 6-figure business of their dreams. Visit to receive the free report, Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid in Creating a 6-Figure VA Business


10 Ways You're Ruining Your Chances Of Getting Publicity Without Even Knowing It

There's more than a few ways to get your name in the news. Extravagant claims, incredible altruism, unique twists on old themes. But even the best laid plans of a top notch performer can be sabotaged by any of the following 10 "no-nos" of the promoting business.

1. Never Leave A Job Half Done

Don't decide half way through the planning phase of a project that it isn't worth continuing. Not if you've already committed yourself to the press. Nothing will get a reporter or program manager more upset with you than having to print a retraction to a story they helped you promote.

2. Never Do Anything But Your Best

It's all about reputation. Editors, reporters, talk show hosts and program managers need to know, beyond a doubt, that if your name is associated to a story, it's about a project that's sure to be done right.

3. Don't Wait For The Big Story

You Need to keep your name alive in the news room. It's impossible to have a reputation if your name only comes up once every other year. Watch the news for angles you can twist your reputation, credentials or services into.. Keeping your name alive is.

4. Don't Wait To Get Started

Promotional offices need to have a general information folder about you on file. It allows them to call you when they find a story need. It also gives them backup information to look up when you send a press release. Put together and mail out a folder headed with, "General Background Information on Leila Santori, Archeologist, for your records".

5. Don't Make It Too Long

One page is as much as you can afford to use on each press release. Make it short and informative.

6. Keep It Simple

Make the press release simple, straightforward and to the point. Try to imagine a person who makes a living doing nothing but orchestrating media events. They regularly send out press releases and definitely don't have the time, energy or motivation to print them on fancy, rose trimmed paper. Print your press releases on simple white paper without frills or gimmicks.

7. Don't Go Overboard

It's almost like keeping it simple, but with a slightly different focus. Whereas number six is about making the paper and format of your release look simple and conservative, this idem is about how it's delivered. Again, place yourself in the shoes of the people that send out the vast majority of press releases hitting the desks of editors and program managers. Most releases are sent by people that couldn't dream of sending them all out with a dozen roses. Avoid singing delivery people, costumed couriers, or any other cheap gimmick (regardless of how much you had to pay for it).

8. Establish A Trademark

Within the parameters of keeping it all simple, try finding a way to earmark your press releases. Maybe instead of a simple headline, you might try increasing the size a bit and doing it in bold, underlined Arial. If you're consistent in your general appearance, it won't be long before media people will be able to glance over at an incoming fax and immediately know it's coming from you. This along with a good reputation as a newshound will get you pulled out of the crowd and dropped on top of the list stack for immediate attention.

9. Remember It's The Story, Not You

It's okay to sit in the background. Promote the news item they're interested in. Your schooling, your goals and your family life mean nothing to them (unless you happen to be the actual cause that's being promoted). As long as your company includes its name somewhere, it won't be

10. Do Your Proof Reading

Remember these are media people. Poor grammar or spelling will make a strong negative impression. Be sure you check everything before sending it out.

There's obviously a long list of don't we haven't included here. Lots of subtle variations on these themes and probably a handful we haven't even hinted at. But if you can manage to make it past this list, you're going to find yourself well on your way to writing a winning press release.

By Paul Hartunian
Photography by Gabi Moisa

Ready to really learn press release format? Paul Hartunians free publicity information center will teach you and many other aspects of publicity. Visit now to get powerful profit-producing publicity tips!



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Personal Branding: 7 Tips to Help You Stand Out From the Crowd

7 Tips to Building Your Own Personal Brand

Personal branding is more than just what you do - it is about what is uniquely you and what sets you apart from everyone else. By following these 7 steps you will get a head start in creating a great personal brand that will set you apart from your peers. It will help you to highlight your talents and develop a strong personal image which you can use to help sell yourself at an client interviews, apply in your advertising and marketing material, and on your social networking media.

* Document the specific problems you want to solve and for whom and what results you want to see.
* Consider what really motivates you to do what you do and what do you never get tired of talking about? - write down everything you can think of.
* Know what your purpose is and the vision you have of your achievements.
* Recognise your strengths and what makes you memorable. Again, write down everything that comes to mind and even ask friends or colleagues to tell you what they believe your strengths are and see if there is any overlap.
* Now you need to re-read everything you have written in your answers to 1-4 above and come up with a couple of sentences which really sum you up what is unique about you and what you do. Don't expect to come up with a great statement first time - it will take time so play around with it until you come up with something that you feel comfortable with.
* Use this statement repeatedly in your marketing material and social networking - by being consistent, you will be more successful.
* Live your Personal Brand consistently in everything that you do and you will build up trust from people who will want to employ you or do business with you.
"Find your style, build your brand and boldly express yourself through your brand. It's powerful and it makes you memorable".

By Anne Galloway
Image by  Hadrian Kubasiewicz

From Anne Galloway: And now I would like to invite you to sign up to recieve your free copies of my Inspirational Toolkit delivered direct to your inbox when you visit, - just click on the subscribe button. Here you will find even more free advice and tips to help you put the fun and passion back into your working week.From Anne Galloway, "The Inspirational Coach" at power-to-change.


How to Beat Out the Competition and Become a Client Magnet

Beating Out the Competition and Becoming a Client Magnet
There were two male birds challenging each other and trying to win the attention of the nearby female bird.
She walked away while they 'duked' it out. When the 'hero' emerged and I captured him on digital film, he was following her up the hill for a little fun and merriment and family making.

So what does this have to do with you?
Few of us are in businesses that are so unique that we don't have any competition. So as a result, we're constantly having to distinguish ourselves as different, better than, smarter than, more prestigious than, cheaper than...You get the picture. It's a primitive battle where only the strongest survive. And it's really hard getting deals done like that.
The key is to position yourself as the go-to expert so that your reputation raises your above the herd. When you do that, you get people seeking you out. When they seek you out, they're already pre-sold on you. They've already decided they want YOU so there is less need for you to 'convince' them that you're the best choice. You become a client magnet!

So how do you become that expert & client magnet? There are 3 ways to do that.
Speaking - Most people are literally scared to death of speaking in public. You've probably heard that when surveyed, people rate speaking in public ahead of dying as their top fear. So if you have the guts to stand up in front of a crowd (even a small one) and have your voice be heard, automatically, you're a rock star in the eyes of the audience. Even if you're quaking in your boots on the inside, you've still accomplished a mighty feat from their perspective.
Writing - Whether writing articles for a national publication or your local neighborhood periodical, having your name in print makes you look smart! Clearly the national publication will get you seen by WAY more people, but you'll get credibility none-the-less with the readers of your work.
Publicity - Being written about is even more compelling. That third party endorsement goes a long way toward building credibility. When someone with familiarity, name recognition and credibility (like a report) writes about you, their importance and credibility transfers over to you. It's like having someone make a referral introduction for you.
I've been using all three of these strategies for years and now I get to reap the benefits of them. Wherever I go, people tell me "I see you everywhere!"
Can you imagine how great (and humbled) that makes me feel? Can you imagine if people were saying that about you, that you wouldn't have to work so hard to dredge up new clients? You betcha! So start using these three magic strategies to raise your visibility, credibility and client-magnet quotient.
By Loretta Love Huff
Photography by Andres Rodriguez

Loretta Love Huff, the Dream Leader for Business, is an award-winning business and executive coach. She helps entrepreneurs leverage their ideas and dreams into profitable & fulfilling businesses. Visit to grab your two free audio series titled "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Service Professionals Make in their Marketing" and "The 7 Secrets for Sales Success". (c) 2010 Emerald Fiji Management

7 Things to Avoid When Starting Your Interior Design Business

7 Things to Avoid When Starting Your Own Business

I'm not usually one to look at the negatives however I hope that by making you aware of these potholes which try to wreck your journey on the road to success you will be able to steer round them successfully!

  • Don't underestimate what it will cost - Very few business actually make any money in the first year maybe even two so when putting together your Financial Plan, you must overestimate the capital required to not only start the business but also the amount required to stay in business for the first few years - and this includes money for you to live on. Remember also, that any money that you make in the first few years will be re-invested back into the business. The key here is to overestimate how long you think it will take to become profitable, overestimate the costs and expenses and underestimate what you anticipate your income to be.

  • Inadequate support systems - Think about all the people you will require to get started in business - these are your key support system and include; accountant, lawyer, banker, tax advisor, business coach etc. You must have these people in place before you actually need them. Create effective internal systems and processes that are easy to change as your business grows and which free you up to do what you do best - get help to create these systems if necessary.

  • Lack of Market Research This is where so many businesses fall down in the first year. You must fully understand the market and the industry and even more importantly, understand what your customer really wants and provide it. Think carefully about your Marketing Plan and about how your customers will find you.

  • Don't shut yourself off - This is another mistake entrepreneurs frequently make - you can't do it all yourself and it's not profitable for you to even try to. Ask for help. Join the Chamber of Commerce and other industry specific networking groups and get yourself a good business coach.

  • Don't be inaccessible to your clients and customers - If you want to make money, your customers need to be able to find you easily. This means you need to have a good advertising budget so people know that you exist. Be everywhere that your customers might look for you via brochures, signs, etc. This is your chance to get creative (ask for help if you need it), have a great website that is easy to locate and easy to navigate and make use of twitter, face book, LinkedIn etc. Do everything you can to make it easier for people to do business with you.

  • Inadequate skills - Recognise your weaknesses and recruit people where required or look at ways to turn your weaknesses into strengths where possible. Get any training you need to help you to get started and to manage and market your business. Create a training plan so that you can always be up to speed with what is going on in your field and associated fields.

  • Inadequate planning - You must create a great Business Plan (a business coach can help with this) which is used regularly not just left on a shelf to collect dust! It must contain your vision, mission, long and short term objectives, strategies and action plans. Anticipate change as well as growth and be prepared with contingency plans.

By Anne Galloway
Photography by Michal Popiel 
From Anne Galloway: And now I would like to invite you to sign up to recieve your free copies of my Inspirational Toolkit delivered direct to your inbox when you visit, - just click on the subscribe button. Here you will find even more free advice and tips to help you put the fun and passion back into your working week.From Anne Galloway, "The Inspirational Coach" at power-to-change.


Business or Hobby - What Do You Have?

I recently ran across an article that included a quote we hear sometimes when it comes to starting and building a business, "Find something you love and money will flow". They make it sound so simple. But as many of you have probably learned, this is easier said than done.

Sure, passion for what you do is certainly an important ingredient. No one wants to spend their days, weeks and years doing what they hate. But if you can't make a living at it - or generate enough profit to create the income and lifestyle you want -- then you have nothing more than an expensive hobby.

A successful business, one with sustainable profit and personal income for YOU, requires consistent cash flow and a growing number of profitable customers that comes from products or services people want or need and a value proposition that is better than your competition.

Whether you are just getting started or looking to give your business a much needed boost, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Can I make significant money doing this? Will the business bring in enough cash to cover all the expenses, pay me what I'm worth, plus extra for long-term savings?
  • Can I make money consistently? Will it produce regular and predictable sales and cash flow?
  • Do you (or others you know) want this product or service, but can't find it? Or maybe current products or services don't provide the best solution?
  • When you discuss your business concept or model, do you find some people think it's great while others think it stinks? Sounds funny, but this can be a plus because niches are developed when small groups are passionate about what you do. You don't need the world to like what you do, just a small segment who are passionate.

If you are considering a new business or struggling with your current business, there is one more question you need to consider - do you want to be an entrepreneur or a technician. There is no right or wrong here -- it's a matter of personal preference, built on your goals and aspirations. So why is this important?

As a [designer], your primary focus is on mastering your craft. It's about doing what you do, well or efficiently. Of course, your personal income will typically be dependent on what or how much you can actually do.

As an entrepreneur or business owner, your focus is on building the systems to support what you do - so others can do some or all of it for you over time. It provides the flexibility to change as you and your business grow. Systems, in all areas of your business, are a key to sustainable growth and profit.

Building systems in your business is not difficult - I've done it with hundreds of small business owners. But it does take a commitment and time. However, it's important if you want more sales, profit, control and freedom from your small business.

By Joan Nowak
Photography by Yuri Arcurs

Joan Nowak is a Small Business Profit Builder, seasoned Business Coach, and creator of the Hybrid Coaching System for small businesses. For additional resources and ideas to grow your small business, visit While you are there, join her mailing list to get her monthly eNewsletter and receive a FREE copy of her eBook, Mastering the 7 Elements of Business Success.