<![CDATA[G-Force - Blog]]>Tue, 12 Dec 2017 04:08:23 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Why Your SOP Isn't Working]]>Tue, 20 May 2014 03:10:13 GMThttp://gforceacceleration.com/blog/why-your-sop-isnt-workingPicture
Customer Quote of the Week                       

“Standard Operating Procedures?  We have ‘em but just don’t follow them and we pay for it daily.

Could your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) be better described as Hopeful Operating Procedures Never Complied With (HOP-NCW)?  

Most of us understand that systems and processes are necessary to be efficient.   A business coach I work with (Gary Furr) claims you don’t have a business if you don’t have organized systems and processes.   Why then do so many companies have their SOP (Standard Operating Procedures collecting dust on a shelf?

One of the first things that I ask new clients is to give me an overview of their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).  If you have a process / checklist oriented mindset, with embedded automation and controls (DIGITIZE IT!), a business owner can immediately  realize incredible returns on investment.  Too often, I find that companies started with some form of specific procedures for carrying out routine operations but they became lost in the rush and inconsistencies of daily business.


It’s never too late to re-baseline this critical business discipline!    Particularly for small business, there has never been more software tools that can help this process like today.     Every small business should have a good Standard Operating Procedures manual (written, web-based, etc.) that includes all tasks essential to your business, specifically how they are to be done and who is to accomplish them.  This is critical for streamlining your business and increasing productivity. 

Do you experience these benefits:

·         Processes essential to your business success are fulfilled consistently

·         Consistency in desired outcomes for you and clients is ensured

·         Reduced learning curve for new hires

·         Checks and balances for all employees

·         Increased productivity

·         Improved customer experience

Don’t keep your SOP on a shelf.   Review and edit it as necessary.   Make it accessible and essential to all employees.   Better yet… live and act within your SOP.   What does this mean?   DIGITIZE YOUR SOP!    Infusionsoft is our preferred tool for digitizing SOPs.   Infusionsoft allows us to have a living, breathing SOP.  An Infusionsoft managed SOP isn’t sitting on a shelf gathering dust.   It is watching compliance and providing reminders and notifications when clients or internal employees are getting behind.   It also will automate a bunch of the follow-up we all want to make but always back-burner and never get to.   Whether you have a manual that your employees use on a daily basis or an automation software like Infusionsoft, do something to organize and standardize your business.   You’ll never regret it!     This really represents what we do at G-Force.   We identify and then automate an organization’s SOP (most often with Infusionsoft).    We perform what business owners want to do but never seem to have the time to do.    Instead of distracting themselves and their employees from running the business with executing projects like this, we get these type of projects done.

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<![CDATA[#whereisthemoney in Social Media]]>Mon, 31 Mar 2014 20:21:17 GMThttp://gforceacceleration.com/blog/whereisthemoney-in-social-mediaPicture
Customer Quote of the Week

Social Media ... "Where is the money?"

This is a great question.   First, stay away from marketing people in trying to answer it.

I was asked to review a proposal a client received from a marketing professional to do "social media" marketing for them.    Below is my response.   

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Hi Susan,

Thanks for asking for my advice.   I think you can tell that I think more like a business owner than a marketing person.    In this light, as you explore hiring a marketing person to "do social media" I would recommend quantifying the outcomes you want to see and investing in a few inexpensive tools that can help them achieve those outcomes.   The proposal you have received, has no target outcomes, and you easily could pay for months of busy work with no outcomes.   There is no shortage of channels and good ideas to waste money on.   Fortunately you have Infusionsoft, a powerful marketing automation solution that can help you verify your channel return on investment.


“The pressures on marketers today keep getting greater and greater as there are more channels to market in, more types of marketing programs to manage, more data available for intelligent buyer segmentation and higher expectations for personalized communication among your buyers and prospects. As a result, there’s an increasing need for a marketing automation solution that can help manage these challenges,” David Raab, owner of Raab Associates, Inc.   http://www.softwareadvice.com/
 
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Here are a few outcomes I would recommend you ask for and I encourage you to ask for up to 50% of their pay tied to these outcomes.    

1)   Quadruple your likes in two months  What good is it to post great relevant content twice a day if your FB likes remain at 81?

2)   Get 10 qualified leads a month from social media
   10 a month for your industry seems like a good goal to start with.   If you close 1 of 10 in a month, the social media campaign easily pays for itself?    Of course you can't capture such leads without a marketing automation tool like Infusionsoft.   Fortunately you have made that wise investment.    We will create distinct webforms for our giveaway collateral and "request free consultation" webform, where those links are used exclusively within your "social sharing" so you know the effectiveness of your social media blogging.    A qualified lead means that the interested party indicates a future interest on our follow up info and interests verification webform.    End of the month, we pull all new contacts in the month with "social capture" tag, and "had future interest" tag.    Easy peasey to measure.

i.e.   In two months, as each of the above is achieved, we will raise the pay 25% for achieving each outcome above.

I am thinking xx hours a week, with bundlepost, and grosocial, you can get there with three core weekly tasks.   

1 - Weekly blog - x hrs a week 
2 - Weekly posts - x hrs a week (using bundle post, I would focus on two primary social + twitter outlets - i.e.  Facebook & Pinterest?  posting twice a day for each).
3 - Weekly progress review (1 hr), self-training, and a unique campaign - x hrs a week  - Example:   Training #1 - Infusionsoft 101,   Training #2 - Set-Up & Learn Bundle Post,   Training #3 - Set-up & Learn Grosocial,   Campaign #1 - 5 reviews on Google Local.   Campaign #2 - pic uploads to Houzz.   Campaign #3 - 5 reviews up on Houzz.    (probably just focus on one review site - google local.   You don't have the client volume to generate reviews on multiple sources, and it will be hard enough to get some of your baby boomer clients to even give you one electronic review.  

So beginning at $xx/hr - $xx a week, $xx a month, increased to $xx a week ($xxhr) / $xx month if the first objective is met and $xxwk ($xx/hr)/$xx month when second outcome is met.    Throw in cost of Bundlepost & Grosocial (or equivalent) say $50 a month plus $50 for funding promos & incentives (Example:   gift card to Home Depot, free subscription to Remodeling Magazine, monthly drawing giveaways, etc.).   These promos are nice relevant nudges to get folks to like, share, give reviews, and engage with you.   Initial monthly budget $xx which if outcomes are realized can reward 150% of that amount.      

Oh yeah ... you do not need any investment in rebranding or updating your website.   It is ok and adequate in my opinion.    Rebranding and new websites are another favorite black hole of unaccountable marketing expenditure.   

Best,

Giancarlo

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<![CDATA[The Business In Your Business You Are Missing]]>Thu, 20 Feb 2014 04:06:39 GMThttp://gforceacceleration.com/blog/the-business-in-your-business-you-are-missingPicture


Questionable Quote of the Week

"I need new business."

Ok.   From where?

Marketing / Life Lesson 101   
Remember, you can usually count on the people closest to you.

After filtering out those you can't trust, you might be surprised how much "business within your business" that has been otherwise hidden from you.    

The thumbnail on the left represents a new infographic that we are proud of,  showing just one case study of the "business within your business".   These results were achieved with Infusionsoft marketing automation and our sharp G-Force apprentices.          

The full size infographic and some tabular results of 6 similar campaigns are below.

  
Per the table below, in the last quarter of 2013, 6 different G-Force clients ran virtually identical campaigns to their contact network asking their network to update their information, indicate future interests, and any referrals they might have.    9.4% to 17.1% of their networks indicated they had future interest (leads) or business intentions with these clients.    These leads represented new business potential of $4.5M for these clients.   

All of these clients had no systematic communication or marketing automation program in place for their "word of mouth" network.   These responses were from what were relatively "cold" lists.    A year from now, we will run the campaign again to see the results how on-going systematic marketing and network engagement should improve even further these results.    
 

G-Force Marketing Automation Case Study 
Infographic

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<![CDATA[Superbowl Training for Small Business?]]>Sun, 02 Feb 2014 06:20:10 GMThttp://gforceacceleration.com/blog/superbowl-training-for-small-businessPicture
Questionable Quote of the Week

"I wish I could have some superbowl level coaching and live training to help my business".

You can.

Have you ever participated in an event that inspired you so much you wanted to share it with everyone?   What if unlike many events, after attending, your inspiration and confidence didn't fade but grew?

This was my experience when I attended last year's Infusioncon (this year its called ICON14).    

In my opinion, ICON is the best "superbowl level" coaching and training conference for small business leaders. 
  
Two goals for this blog:

First, practically speaking, the price of this year's ICON14 goes up February 7th from $399 to $499.  If you are remotely interested in attending, I recommend checking it out and making a decision this week.   FYI - Since I am now a Certified Partner of Infusionsoft, you can use promo code NEWSOME10 and you can get 10% off.   Pretty darn incredible event value for $350.  

Second, there are things we can learn as business leaders as well as individuals from principally the Infusionsoft culture behind their ICON event.    

Are you like me and had your fill of conferences chock full of big ego talking heads who give inspiration without implementation help?   Have you noticed how there is no shortage of good ideas but there is always a gross shortage of help in implementing those ideas?   This is what made ICON stand out for me last year.  

I tell people often that I did not buy software from Infusionsoft, I bought their culture. 
One outcome of their culture is some pretty incredible software.   Yes, I believe the software is a game changer for our time, but their culture, like Apple, is the source of the innovation.   The quality of their annual ICON event (formerly Infusioncon) also is a great reflection of their culture.   Infusionsoft is sincere and passionate about loving to see small business and more fundamentally, seeing people's dreams succeed.   Sounds hokie and cliche right?   

See if I can't prove to you that Infusionsoft is the real deal in terms of the old school value that profitability should be a result of first a culture of genuine service and care.   Most corporate conferences I have ever been a part of centered around the hosting company.   Company clients that address the main audience are obviously carefully selected by the hosting company.   These clients know what to say and what not to after careful scripting and guidance by the host company.    
Infusionsoft instead invites its clients to compete to show off their success at the annual ICON event!   
 Infusionsoft does not select their showcase clients but encourages their clients to volunteer to compete, unfiltered, to be showcased.   Yes - there is money involved ($10K for the winner) but for these businesses this is "chump change" and clearly not their core motivator.   What was interesting was how many of the audience members I ran into that were excited to share their success stories that were not formally competing.

ICON13 last year was great in that clients could get powerful high level or strategic "work on the business" ideas, but then in later sessions immediately go to work "in the business" to implement those ideas.   Infusionsoft is committed to not only an inspirational event (last years speakers were outstanding and this years line up looks incredible) but clearly by the structure of the event, Infusionsoft also shows how they share accountability with clients for implementation and results.   There was no added cost for these instructional implementation courses.  

What I found interesting was how many of the courses were not delivered by hand-selected top company instructors (some were) but how many fellow business owners had volunteered to give the classes from their own raw experience.   It was clear that these business owners had not been muzzled either.   
I remember thinking to myself, I bet Infusionsoft management would not have appreciated that level of transparency in regard to some frustrating area of limited software functionality they shared and overcame.
This leads me to my second point.   Infusionsoft does not try to hide their humanity and imperfection.   While committed to making the most valuable software for small business, Infusionsoft also recognize that they don't hold a monopoly on good ideas or perfection.    Infusionsoft welcomes, trains, and even incentivizes 3rd party developers to present solutions that Infusionsoft can not come up with or is not core to the Infusionsoft offering.   Again, most corporate events highlight their own product development progress.   The other highlight event at ICON for me was the Battle of the Apps competition.    I thoroughly enjoyed watching the creativity and competition of Infusionsoft's top 3rd party developers.        

What would we learn as a business and as individuals if we maybe were not so rigid and controlling of how we want people to view us?   What if we let down our guard a little and allowed people in?   What if we allowed people to help us?   Are there business partnerships or friends you have stiff armed because they ruffle your feathers and tell you what you don't want to hear?    Embrace those customers and friends.    Verify their guidance with trustworthy and proven coaches you keep on hand.   

Within this context, at a professional and personal level, I found ICON immensely refreshing.   I have never been to a professional event with such an assembly of positive and productive individuals.  Let me know if you plan to go to this years ICON14.  

ICON14 is the closest thing to superbowl level business leadership coaching and training in a single event that I have ever experienced.   
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<![CDATA[The purpose of business is to make a profit...right?]]>Sat, 14 Dec 2013 19:31:34 GMThttp://gforceacceleration.com/blog/the-purpose-of-business-is-to-make-a-profitrightPicture
The questionable quote of the week

"The purpose of business is to make a profit...right?"

Wrong.

A dear friend, a nuclear scientist, while working for a software company helped me understand a few years back that what is simple and intuitive is not always right.    

We live in an age of sound bites and a pop culture that reinforces that our purpose individually or as business is fame and fortune.   This entitled focus is cancerous and is lethal to long term success individually and in organizations.   Last week I spent some time with a super fast growing organization where the CEO's number one metric WAS NOT profitability.   

****

Last week I participated in an intense certification course to become an Infusionsoft Certified Consultant at Infusionsoft's headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona.    While the discipline, the seriousness of their quality control in who they certify was extremely impressive (not everyone passes and the investment in the course is quite expensive), the coolest take away was hearing an employee talk about how their CEO, Clate Mask, his number one performance metric is NPS.   NPS stands for Net Promoter Score.   This in a nutshell is the degree in which customers are promoting (or not) the companys' products and services to others.   Effectively a net roll-up of positive and negative word of mouth marketing.    I heard no mention of profit as a point of focus of their business during my entire visit.    Click here if you want to learn more how NPS might work in your org.

In short profit is an outcome.    It goes without saying that if shareholders and employees don't realize an attractive profit and are not genuinely valued, in the long run, the organization will lose the intellectual and passionate energy to produce truly innovative products and services that will maintain a high NPS score.    

Another takeaway is that when I chose Infusionsoft, while I initially thought I chose their software among a host of alternatives, I now realize that my choice was more about selecting Infusionsoft as a company and a culture.   The software is simply an outcome of their culture.    A culture that is sincere, genuine, and has a diehard commitment and vision to bring radical new competitive advantage via software to exclusively small business.   A culture that only hires individuals with the same sincere passions.   As I walked their halls,  it was openly evident that the purpose of their business is their culture and vision.   This drives their strategy, which therein drives the quality of the product they produce.    

Per the photos below, the growth momentum they are now realizing from their principled focus and incredible amount of hard work is a great American success story we can all learn from individually and professionally.    

Let's pray that the venture capital that is involved and watching is as principled as the founders who are as equally committed to their clients profitability as their own.   
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<![CDATA[Not an Entrepreneur? You might rethink that.]]>Mon, 18 Nov 2013 05:25:46 GMThttp://gforceacceleration.com/blog/entrepreneurship-isnt-for-everyone-or-is-itPicture

Customer Quote of the Week

Entrepreneurship Is Not for Everyone

Or is it?  

Many view entrepreneurs as that radical and constantly broke inventor or that friend that thinks business is an "extreme" sport, taking risk where no one else will.     

What if entrepreneurship is at the heart of our longevity in each of us as working members of society?    On this Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for our forefathers' entrepreneurship but also our future entrepreneurs.  

What if you could find more satisfaction with your work if you viewed yourself more as an entrepreneur?    What if we could cultivate the same enthusiasm for a new future as our forefathers?    I think we can.


I would like to introduce you to Dr. Nathan Furr.    I was introduced to his work by his father, Mr. Gary Furr, who I am proud to count as one of my business coaches www.TheGrowthCoach.com/gfurr.   

Side note:  I strongly recommend having a professional business coach.  Think about it - all top athletes and performers have them. 

Anyhow ... as I was exploring Gary's recommendation for me to read his son's book Nail It Then Scale It  (which I recommend) I stumbled on an obscure video recording of a presentation his son made.   His presentation has some statistics and simple logic that will challenge your conventional knowledge, our educational conditioning, and general view of entrepreneurship.

Digest just these two stats!  The video recording and reference is here.

1)  From 1973 to 2011 over 70% of the Fortune 1000 were no longer in the Fortune 1000....

2)  All net new jobs created come from organizations less than 5 years old....    

What does this mean?     Big business corporate America collectively does not produce ANY new jobs.    Job security therein in the Fortune 1000 is clearly a false perception.   Also, with this background, consider in the collective sense how much innovation and entrepreneurship then really succeeds or is stifled in big business America?     Of course there are exceptions, because this represents a collective average.    I think we all know the well paid, but miserable colleagues, captive in their own golden hand-cuffs knowing that they are supporting a declining company hanging on to the hope that the org is "too big to fail".  

Dr. Furr goes on to highlight how Business School "MBAs"are really a new phenomenon in world history, and really came about as a result of the creation of the big businesses created during the industrial revolution.    Think about the title - Masters of Business Administration - nothing about business innovation.   i.e.  Is our higher education system producing thinkers, risk takers, or simply administrators or managers?    While I greatly value my higher education, my greatest education has been putting theory into practice.   Putting your own money and that of close friends at risk is a completely different learning paradigm.   

I liked Dr. Furr's definition of entrepreneurship.   Paraphrased - entrepreneurship is simply the conscious derivation of value from innovation.   In short, all careers, all levels, all positions, big business and small business can benefit from a culture of entrepreneurship with this definition.   

I think we all have experienced that great feeling when we come up with a better way to do something.   Every time you have that feeling, tell yourself you ARE an entrepreneur.   I think we also can think of times where a great new idea is squashed by an ego in the room.   Therefore for entrepreneurship to flourish, taking from one of Infusionsoft's core values (a company I deeply admire), it is important that "we check our egos at the door".

A little more on Dr. Furr.   Dr. Furr received his Ph.D. in Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations from Stanford University 2009 and is currently a Professor of Entrepreneurship at BYU (Brigham Young University) not to mention writing at times for Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, and other journals.


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<![CDATA[Quit Improving?]]>Sun, 13 Oct 2013 17:52:45 GMThttp://gforceacceleration.com/blog/quit-improvingCustomer Quote of the Week

"Quit Improving?!"

Some improvements only help hide bad habits.

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What's obvious to improve is not always what is best to improve.   Making a bigger and better sandcastle, with a bad habit of building it too close to the sea ... is well... predictable.  

Do we really need another "improved" diet program?   Maybe we just need to stick with the last one we started and find a practical way to address our bad habits (eat less, exercise more, and do it consistently).   

Maybe we should take a break from "new" improvements, "new" ideas, "new" causes, "new" education, and stop avoiding or reinforcing our bad habits. 

Another pointed example?    Being "busy" and involved in "good works" are great for covering up bad habits.    Consider church, volunteer organizations, or political causes.     These are great places to get excited (and distracted) with the "bigger cause" and avoid our own bad habit gremlins.  
  

*****

Maybe you should volunteer less, or maybe work less, and spend more time with your family or your spouse?   How can the divorce rate in church be the same as outside the church if we are supposed to become more purposeful, more honest with ourselves, manage our bad habits better, and care for others better (our spouses and family to start)?    What if church, our social activity, our "busy-ness" at work,  is just a cover for avoiding ourselves and our bad habits?   Whether we acknowledge our bad habits or not, we will still pay the price for them.

The problem with bad habits is that they are often taken for granted.   Need help identifying your bad habits?   Just ask close family, friends, customers, and co-workers - especially subordinates.  They haven't forgotten your bad habits like you have.   They are waiting for you to ask!     

With this context, NOW look at and commit to solutions that can help you eliminate your bad habits.    

ACTION:   Will you list your top 3 bad habits?    For each one, if you could get one habit under control, how would your life or business improve?     Will you pick one to tackle over the next 6 months?    Will you put this in writing and make a contract with yourself?     Will you share this with one other person to hold you accountable?   
  
In many respects, this describes how we work at G-Force.    We teach young people and refresh business clients on timeless fundamentals.   As a result, bad habits are exposed and prioritized in terms of consequences.  We then apply the best software, automation, and resources to correct bad habits, create sustaining good habits, and therein accelerate the realization of desired outcomes.   

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<![CDATA[I shouldn't get a loan?]]>Mon, 23 Sep 2013 18:33:41 GMThttp://gforceacceleration.com/blog/i-shouldnt-get-a-loanCustomer Quote of the Week
"I shouldn't get a loan?"

Loans are dangerous as they can reinforce bad habits with tragic consequences.

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This logic applies to our business owner / business leader audience as well as our apprentice age audience.    If you have bad habits, and you can admit what they are (if you can't identify any, just ask a colleague or family member...), be sure to ask yourself if that loan you are considering will further enable those habits.   

Business Owners / Leaders:   If you do not systematically engage and interact with your ENTIRE network, fueling word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, a loan will simply compensate for your indiscipline.  Word-of-mouth sales would have averted your need for a loan in the first place!   Read more for some solutions.

Young Folks:   If you get a loan for cash you otherwise could have earned but didn't because of a lack of self-discipline and hard work, you are making your future work that much harder.    Perhaps being sure that you know how to work hard, smart, and earn money, even if it is digging ditches, should be the first form of higher education that you invest in.    

Business Leader:   You know that more sales are the least expensive resource to provide you growth capital.     So ... when you look in the mirror do you know you are doing an excellent job of generating repeat and referral business (word-of-mouth marketing) in the digital age?   How is your follow-up and continuous engagement?   Not sure of your word-of-mouth marketing prowess and efficiency?  

Check two areas:

1)  How efficient and effective is the software you use to facilitate your word-of-mouth marketing?    Sorry, your traditional black book, calendar reminders, etc. are not going to cut it.   With 3000 brand impressions hitting us a day, manual "follow-up, follow-up, follow-up" is not going to do it for your business to be remembered above the digital fray. 

2)  How adequate, efficient, and costly is the labor you apply to "staying in touch" with your network?     Most small businesses know they want to improve their engagement and follow-up, but it always gets the back burner relative to the daily "firefighting".

Software Guidance:   Do you struggle to maintain good follow-up?    Are you using software to help you?   Throw out your server based software (go to web based software) and any software that does not play well with other software.    Look for and employ "stupid easy" business and marketing automation software like Infusionsoft.    If you use different systems to manage your contacts, build webforms, do e-mail communication, automate your business processes, and make your social media posts, you are not current with the latest evolution of business and marketing automation software.   There is software to fit any budget.  Call us so we can help you work through the enormous options. 

Labor Guidance:    Even with the best software, the business must feed that software.  Feeding the business network with continuous high quality and engaging content is critical for word-of-mouth marketing.    Don't have time to generate content or to "stay-in-touch"?   You are right!    Just because you have the most knowledge in the organization does not mean you have to do or even should do the bulk of the content generation.   You should only guide its creation.    Business leaders should simply have to provide topics to write about, or at most, outlines for others to expand upon and "make pretty" for public update and distribution.   These entry level workers simply need to have a knack for creative thinking, writing, and visual aesthetics.   This describes the apprentice talent we cultivate at G-Force.   The business leader, after a few minutes of initial guidance, with the right talent helping, should later only have to do a quick 5 minute polish and final sign-off.    Also, don't forget that content should be delivered in a variety of formats, styles, and mediums.   Think not just written blog posts or newsletters, but informational papers, e-books, videos, testimonials, surveys, maybe even a game / giveaway, etc.

Young Person:   Not sure of your personal self-discipline and work ethic.   Work along side a small business owner.   They will teach it to you.   If you learn the small business owner work ethic, every $ you invest in higher education will mean so much more.   A small business owner not only teaches you how to be shrewd with your money but also your time.  Read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and The Millionaire Next Door by Dr. Thomas Stanley to see how misleading our pop culture is in communicating how real wealth and fulfillment is generated.   Spiritually, according to Christ, if he is God, and we are supposed to be extensions of Him, to realize spiritual wealth and fulfillment, we are to focus on serving others (work) instead of being served ... again completely counter cultural.
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<![CDATA[I remain skeptical about cloud based software.]]>Fri, 06 Sep 2013 20:41:31 GMThttp://gforceacceleration.com/blog/i-remain-skeptical-about-cloud-based-softwareCustomer Quote of the Week

" I remain skeptical about cloud based software "

Maybe you should be more skeptical of standard convention?   

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Ponder this quote by motivational speaker Tama Kieves "The worship of convention will never lead to astonishment".   Skepticism in moderation and with the right motive is healthy.   However, skepticism driven from a reluctance to leave our comfort zones in my opinion is equivalent to self-imprisonment or intentional delusion.          

I am pretty comfortable challenging convention (yes, sometimes to a fault).  In the past few weeks it has paid off.    In this blog I will share my latest "astonishment" in regard to how "cloud computing" is especially valuable to small business.    Some of the "cloud computing" based apps that are exploding around us to integrate completely different "cloud based" software platforms and databases with no programming skill required is simply awesome.  


continued from e-mail / blog intro...

Quick refresher for those still fuzzy on what "the cloud" means:  
 Cloud based or web based software services, also described as SaaS software (Software as a Service), allow us to operate software from any computer, anywhere in the world, whereever there is internet access.    No expensive back end IT infrastructure of servers, networking, and individual license downloads or long product keys to maintain for individual computers.    No more need to do individual computer configuration updates, troubleshooting, compatibility checks, etc. to accommodate the individual license.   The software largely updates itself centrally not by an individual user.   You update the software in Texas, your colleague updates it in Oregon, you all are instantly on the same sheet of music.   All this in itself is pretty cool.    

Sure there are some different risks that must be managed, but the economic benefit of this flexibility and the reduced cost overall, far outweigh these risks.    At the end of this blog post you will find a top ten cloud based software selection checklist we made to help your skepticism or concerns with going with a particular SaaS, Cloud, or web based software provider.

Three cool stories with the best for last ...  

Story 1 (last week):  So last week, I was getting frustrated trying to efficiently update some project plans for a few different clients.   The project plan strategy changes constantly with my clients with an amazing amount of details to keep up with.   I played with Microsoft Project and Excel as tools to assist with managing my "jobs" and bidding out work to apprentices, marketing specialists, etc.   I was saving and sending this stuff out, back and forth, to three different types of stakeholders, with different information needs, countless times, and well - uggggh.      

I decided to search the web for "best web based project management software".   FYI - when I did the search Microsoft Project did not come up once....   I couldn't believe the options and in many cases how much capability you can get for free or for incredible prices.    I actually signed up for about 3 different web based software platforms, and seem to have this habit as I try different software out.   I always go with the one that is easiest for me to use instantly, resolves my immediate challenge at hand, and of course, the software with the lowest cost - which includes the cost of my time.   

What is nice, is that if you ensure that all your data is always exportable, you can "easily" (relative term) migrate your work to more capable software when your needs exceed that software's capacity (fyi - I did this with futuresimple.com Base CRM to Infusionsoft).    The project management software I am using right now is Trello. OMG.  What a beautifully built piece of software for both business and even personal use.   Best of all, like Gmail, the standard version is free.

Check out what Trello does for me in under 24 hours:    I now have it on all my families smart phones and each have a desktop link to their login.   My daughters can argue or push back and forth their "Chore Card" assignments.    I can update the shopping list from my computer and it updates real time on my daughters phone while she shops.    For business, instantly my clients can see collateral we produce for them.  I simply drag from my windows explorer the files onto the "task card" on our shared project management "Board".    Members on the card can make comments directly on that card, edit, and update content.   Members to the card can add or check off a checklist within that task card.   Add a member by simply putting their e-mail in an "invite member" box.

Set-up / learn time?    Maybe 5 minutes and one video.    The rest was intuitive and a few quick google searches when I got stuck.   FYI - Basecamp, the second project management software runner up is cool, but I think has hype momentum, but Trello, which has less hype, when you dig a little deeper had better reviews for user friendliness and the simple level of collaboration / project management I need.       

The coolest part?  The "open API" nature of most cloud or web based software.

Story 2 (last week):   When a prospect is interested in working with G-Force, they become an opportunity in my Infusionsoft software.   Within that opportunity description I start documenting the potential project plan.    Wouldn't it be nice for when I mark in Infusionsoft that the opportunity has closed, it could automatically start a project plan in Trello?    

So, I did a simple Google search for Infusionsoft and Trello to see what type of integrations might be out there - completely happy if there was none.   Sure enough?!@# such an app exists!!@   I had heard of these bridging apps and the benefits of an "open API", but not really used one yet.  I pretty much use software one at a time.    I looked at three "bridge" providers.    www.zapier.com, www.itduzzit.com, and www.cloudwork.com    I met the Zapier guys at Infusioncon, they are well established, and once again, they had the cleanest and simplest user interface and went with them.   In under 5 minutes folks, I had bridged the two pieces of software together for the goal I wanted to achieve.  ^%$!@ : ) 

Story 3 (this week):  This week, we are helping a client who uses a Woocommerce shopping cart to sell unlocked smartphones  (these phones are as capable as the most powerful Samsung Android, but for like half the price - e-mail me if you want to know when her site goes live and when the phones will be available) but wants Infusionsoft to do the post sale follow-up, communication, and relationship development with her resellers and the manufacturer.     Her awesome SEO & web developer and I, in under 10 minutes, after we had all the right payment IDs, logins, etc. together, wired the two pieces of software together.  Again - OMG!!!   Keep in mind neither of us are programmers....      This is the beauty of open API software platforms.

I have bragged about how Infusionsoft is truly customer centric and customer driven, but I have also bragged about their commitment to maintaining an Open API (which means they let other software plug-in to their database).   Similar to the Apple App store, but even more open, you can check out the Infusionsoft marketplace (app store) here and Zapier integrations here (check out all the software they have tied to in the explore search box).   Unlike old-school organizations like Microsoft, note how they are not trying to be all things to all people.    

Remaining skeptical about web based software, and hanging on to standard convention, will hold you back from experiencing astonishing improved results.   The valid risks driving some skepticism can be mitigated (see checklist below).   This is the one time it will be ok to have your head in the clouds.   

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Top 10 Checklist for Picking a Cloud / Web Based Software Solution

1)  Does the user interface look stupid simple to use to get done what you want?     It doesn't matter if they have the most powerful functionality if you can't easily figure out how to use it.    If its "stupid easy", their customer acceptance will grow faster,  the company will then grow faster (all things equal) and company longevity in the long run will outlast the higher functionality / less user friendly alternative.

2)  Always be sure you can export all your data out of the system.    The software company should not own any of your data.

3)  Feel good about their data security and privacy.   Despite what I read on the software site, I really wouldn't know what was really secure or not without hiring a pro to check it out.   So if they sound smart and seem to have 3rd party name brand security controls, and a big enough following - like in the 1000s, my bet is that a few of their customers took the time or money to pay an attorney to do the due diligence to test their subscription agreement. Educated gamble?

4)  Make sure that the web based software has an Open API.     If they don't play well (integrate) with others, avoid them.    See how many integrations are available for them with folks like Zapier.    The more the software offers to do it all, the more reason to be wary.    You can't do it all, why do we expect the same from software?   What is best, like hiring talent, is to get the best talent you can, for what you specifically need done, and then make sure that the different specialists of talent (or software) have a means to efficiently exchange common information.    

5)  Watch out for the "hook you and bleed you" strategy.   Look at the subscription tier pricing.   If they have too many options or it looks too complicated, I would take it as a warning.    You are about to get "nickle and dimed".     

6)  Dig in and verify their customer support system.     They should at least have an 8-5 chat support with an average queu time of not more than a few minutes.     They should have plenty of "stupid simple" to understand DIY (Do It Yourself) videos and instructions that you can search on their site or on Google with equal results.    See if they have a user forum that is active with the software company.   

7)   How fast does the software "boot up", refresh, or update?   Do they brag about their uptime and back-up / recovery capacity?     There is pretty software out there with ugly back ends.   I have a Lexmark WIFI printer that is beautiful, the ink is dirt cheap, prints great when it prints, but the software crashes every 3 print jobs....I will post video soon of me, my 40 cal Walther pistol, and my Lexmark.........   Does the software open and work quickly?    Can you navigate through the software quickly with few levels of depth?    How fast does the page refresh as you navigate and enter data?     With the best software, you don't even notice the refresh or "save".

8)   What are their customers saying?    Check out the customer reviews.    Are customers raving about them?   Conversion stories are telling (going from one software to another).    Are the testimonials current?    See what their employees are saying about them at www.glassdoor.com.

9)  What is the market saying about the software?     Search the software company name and select "news" in Google and see what the "talking head" community thinks about the different software options.   Bigger is not always better.

10)   Try the software out for free for a few weeks (most offer that).     If it is a higher end piece of software like Infusionsoft, take the time to observe an exhaustive demo, or share in the license of someone you know? At G-Force for simple contact management and follow-up we allow our clients to borrow for a month or so our license of Infusionsoft.   A try before you buy service.    
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<![CDATA[My New Employee is Failing Me]]>Tue, 20 Aug 2013 05:24:04 GMThttp://gforceacceleration.com/blog/my-new-employee-is-failing-meG-Force Customer Quote of the Week
"My New Employee Is Failing Me".

Or are you failing your employee?      

Just like politicians, too often we throw money at or hire individuals as a magic pill for fixing things.    Do we really own the problem and do we really have the knowledge to fix or even hire the solution for that problem area?  

Sales, marketing, and general administration are a few favorite and easy places to misappropriate funds, talent, and unrealistic expectations; especially as the digital market place continues to become more complex.   

Here are a few classic examples:

1)  When we hire a salesperson valuing the size and quality of their rolodex more than the quality and competitiveness of the company's offering and customer service (what we are selling).  

2)  When we hire a do-it-all marketing person to do PR, graphic design, manage PPC ads, do SEO, maintain the website, grow social media engagement, coordinate events, manage print collateral, build and place ads, conduct market research, build market forecasts, etc. 

3)  When we hire the do-it-all admin who mainly picks up all the pieces for where the owner or other staff drop the ball, plus of course answers the phone when no one else will.
   
These type of hires hurt the employee and business.    Like a slow growing cancer, the initial impact is intangible yet can become enormous.   When the impact is finally felt, sometimes it is too late to correct.   

Without a clear strategy and clear execution processes, or hiring a proven strategist in the field to determine those fundamentals, throwing money or people at problems simply perpetuates bad habits and empty hopes.    The complexity of the digital age is compounding this problem.    The digital age is our greatest opportunity but also our greatest threat.    This link provides several infographics that exposes the depth of this complexity that we take for granted and is burying many of us.    A recent 2013 Gartner Report highlighted how "companies are outsourcing up to 50% of all digital marketing activities ...[as] the technological complexity of digital marketing has created a need for a new type of marketing leader, the Chief Marketing Technologist"  See the article here

It is our opinion that it is important to hire proven strategists for functions outside your expertise.  Strategists that are personally proud of their own individual competitiveness in the market, are well connected in their field, and who apply the latest technology to maintain their edge.    Their strength is not their own.   Their strength is in their ability to call up when needed the right talent, the right technology, at the right time, and at the right (best) price.   

I encourage you to dig deep as to why you like having a "captured" employee at your beck and call more than a "free agent", pay-for-performance, independent contractor.   Do you have employees that happily perpetuate your bad habits to keep their jobs or do you have strategists (employee or independent contractors) empowered and compensated to clearly improve your business, including even eliminating their own position?    What incentives are you giving your overhead consuming employees to eliminate some of their job functions with some of the latest, super cool, cloud based business automation software (have a cool blog on the topic coming up soon)?

In closing, for your sake and your future employees, be slower to hire.   Also, don't be afraid of what you don't know.   If you have not yet engaged any virtual contract support, do some research on the topic and try some out.   From virtual chief executives and executive business coaches to virtual assistants or apprentices, they can be a great value for the money.    However, just like any employee or contractor, there are no magic pills for solving your problems.   Everyone who works for you must be appropriate for the task, given SMART objectives (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely) and regularly followed up with (managed).  

“Entrepreneurs have long seen outsourcing as a strategy reserved for big business, but technology has made it a more accessible tool for small businesses--and for some small firms, outsourcing has made a powerful impact on their growth, productivity and bottom lines.”   http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/204652

Association of Corporate Counsel talking about the growth of virtual corporate legal counsel here.

Global Accounting Alliance talking about the growth of virtual CFOs here.   One more reference here.

Maybe one day someone will write about G-Force leading the charge for virtual marketing support?  

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