Thursday, January 22, 2015

Procrastination – Your Secret Weapon

Procrastination has long been seen as one of the evils to be avoided. It’s safe to say that all of us have dawdled on a task at one point or another in our lives. In the business world, managers, supervisors, and business owners have spent countless hours reading helpful articles on the topic and books. They have invested thousands of dollars attending bootcamps, seminars, intervention, and re-education programs – all in hopes of overpowering procrastination but to no avail.

Is it time to declare that resistance is futile? Not necessarily. What if there’s a way to look at procrastination from a different angle - as something that will lead one to success and glory, rather than failure? The secret lies in the fact that not all forms of procrastination is necessarily evil.

Think about it: would jumping to a task right away always result in the most productive output? When you start to make more conscious decisions on what to procrastinate on, you might end up being pleasantly surprised. Consider the following:

Doing Nothing Can Be Better Than Doing Anything
What if you do not have to do anything at all? Sometimes, what looks like a crisis can be a matter of opinion. Have you ever experienced something that looked like an issue initially but worked itself out and/or went away on its own? Some clues to the true severity of the problem can often be overlooked in the heat of the moment. Perhaps the best way to resolve such situations would be wait until the dust settles and then re-assess the situation later or to simply let things run their course.

If You Are Busy Procrastinating It Could be a Good Thing
We don't mean playing a game on your smartphone in a middle of the day. If you are busy working on something else that’s more meaningful, dropping everything to pick up a new task will not necessarily lead to a better outcome. When you try to do too many things at once, you may end up finishing nothing at all. On the other hand, if you take the time to finish what you’ve started, you will end up with a task well done and a renewed sense of energy to tackle other tasks – like the one you’re procrastinating on. Going back to the prior point, you may also find that the task in question is no longer relevant.

Get Someone Else to Do it!
These days, you can outsource almost anything. The beauty of allowing yourself to outsource a task is you can always find others who can do the job better and faster. With delegation you may still be procrastinating but you are no longer wasting your time! Of course, if you find yourself delegating work because you don’t like anything you do at work, it may be a reason to revisit why you’re still there in the first place.

Know Your Enemy
According to the ancient strategist Sun Tzu, taking a step back to understand the reasons why you procrastinate could help you get the upper hand in the battle. A lot of times, we end up procrastinating because we feel pressured to do something or take on too many things. 

Give yourself a break. A clear mind spawns great ideas and fosters creativity. With the acronym below you can procrastinate like a pro.

Perceive – see the task or action for what it really is.
Reality – is it a true crisis or does the need simply exists in your mind?
Observe – how are you reacting? Are you giving yourself some time-off?
Collate – gather information before you jump unto something
Receive – be receptive and try to understand what needs to be done.
Acknowledge – accept that someone else may have a better solution.
Sit – don’t be afraid to sit it out!
Time out – stop worrying when you’re procrastinating. It won’t help.
Indulge – enjoy your time by doing something you like instead of worrying.
Note – every procrastinating event maybe a lesson to learn from.
Accept – not everything deserves your attention or is worth fussing over.
Talk – a perceived problem or difficulty can be solved by communication.
Entertain – other solutions maybe right in front of you. Like the ones in this article! Go for it!

Rachel and the team

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Three Stages of the Product Selling Cycle

Good ideas often start in the most unlikely places. After your initial "Eureka!" moment, however, comes the hard part. You now need to turn your idea into a feasible product that will actually sell. As an entrepreneur, you probably know that you should start by validating the idea and creating a minimum viable prototype (MVP). You show the prototype to your friends and family and everyone is excited. But is it a home run yet? Not yet!

Here are three helpful steps, also known as the "Sales Learning Curve," to assist you and your creative team in managing your product's progress from being a simple prototype to becoming a success on the market.

Initiation: You have your product made, now what?
A new product is almost never ready prime time fresh out of the production line. There are always improvements to be made to both the product and positioning; this helps reduce cash loss and accelerate the time a product takes to reach its prime market point. Your MVP may be based on the feedback of a very small group … so it may not accurately reflect and address the broader need of your target audience. Positioning may need to be fine-tuned as well. Finally, your manufacturing processes whether your product is a physical object or a piece of software, still need to scale.

Initiation, the first stage in the "Sales Learning Curve," is the time immediately after your product hits the market. The primary focus of this phase is to learn from your customers. At this stage, you may choose to hire a few analytical salespeople to find leads in the market and get customers' responses regarding the product. Even better than salespeople would be to have your product managers, developers, and executives get out there in front of the first few customers to learn about their experiences with your product firsthand.

The objective of this stage is not to meet sales quota, but rather to gather data to fine-tune the product and learn about where it fits into the market. This is where the product evolves, new features are added, and the engineering team tweaks the design of the product. It is important to be flexible with the market and the final positioning of the product in the market, so stay open-minded! Just because you love your particular solution does not mean that it will necessarily resonate with the actual users.

Transition: Your product is reaching its ultimate form
In the transition phase, which typically occurs when the sales yield is in line the costs per rep, all of the data gathered and improvements made in the first stage are used to create a market strategy for the product. The product is now fully functional and revenues are on their way to maturity. As exciting as it is that your sales capacity is increasing, it is strongly advised that while you celebrate you also hire a larger sales force to help you manage this growth. Equally importantly it starting to expand and develop your support and implementation team.

Your relationship with your customers should be less analytical but rather more service oriented, as well as more focused on solidifying the market strategy you've established. This means that the design of the product gets refined in response to changing market conditions needs fewer and less drastic alterations.

Execution: Sell, Sell, and Sell!
The final phase of the "Sales Learning Curve" is the execution phase. This is when all of the assistance you're receiving with selling your product, your sale plans, and your marketing materials are truly established and solidified. Your selling crew should grow once more in this stage with the hiring of traditional sales force or relying on other strategies optimal for your solution who sell to customers following specific guidelines for the purpose of meeting your sales quotas. Your product has reached its fullest potential and hopefully your sales will skyrocket! Best of luck!

The "Sales Learning Curve" is a process. Establishing a position on the market for your product requires incremental adjustments for you and your team until you hit that sweet spot when you really start selling as you should. What is your optimal sales curve approach for your product or service? Share your thoughts with us!

Rachel and the team

This article was developed in collaboration with Stephanie Gedal.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Navigating Through the Organizational Logistics: Creating a Virtual Office

So you have a brilliant idea; the chances are, you read the first article to figure out how to validate it & take the first few steps toward realizing your vision. Here are a few more steps to get you set up on the track to success: organizing your virtual office.

There are many tools, products, & services that can help organize and manage a modern distributed team. Some important aspects to consider are: creating corporate email accounts, getting a virtual phone system, finding a fax solution, and registering a business address/mailbox. Let's explore some of these tools.

Set up a Professional Email Account
Creating an email address specific to your business is one of the first steps to establishing your brand identity. It also helps to separate communication pertaining to your personal life from your professional one, not to mention that looks better than If you want to take it a step further, creating aliases or setting up separate email accounts for sales, general info, and tech inquiries could be useful. In the future, you may split the handling of communication of each separate channel to the different people in your firm. A number of providers offer to free or inexpensive email hosting.
Select a Phone System
There are vendors who offer automated virtual phone systems, with sophisticated auto-responders that forward calls based on extension to your cell phones or specialized online voice mailboxes. Providers such as,, & are some of the most popular choices, with pricing that starts between $15-20 per month. For entrepreneurs on-the-go Bluetooth enabled headsets such as the Plantronics Voyager Legend, allow you to take a call in a middle of the Time Square & have your caller enjoy virtually the same sound quality as though you were in your office.
Your Scanning and Faxing Solution
Forget the days of waiting around that old fax machine! Handy services like,, and allow you to send & receive faxes electronically for as little as $2 per month. You may also find that you need a scanner. The Fujitsu ScanSnap mobile scanner is tiny enough to fit into laptop bag and is great to use on the go.
Get a Mailing Address
You do not have to have an actual physical office to have a mailing address that looks like you have one. UPS provides convenient mailbox rental and allows to refer to your mailbox number as a  "Suite". Pretty convenient for a team of one or many more! Picking an easy to access central location can allow to keep your mailbox as your official mailing address even after you create an physical office. Prices range $12-$18/month depending on the size of the mailbox.
Piecing Together a Few More Parts
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): a number of vendors such as Zoho, Insightly, or many others offer free or affordably-prices CRM solutions.
Web conferencing: could be as basic & free as Skype screen sharing, Google Hangout, to the more specialized FuzeBox, GoToMeeting, Webex & others going for $20-40 per seat.

Hosting: a world of options, with many starting @ $10 per month.
Digital data storage: too many to list :). It is important to consider data security practices of the provider in the context of your specific business.

Accounting: FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Xero or others. Prices start at $10/month for basic packages with discounts offered the first year of service.
Let's tally up the scores: your total investment to setup a virtual office and keep it going can add up to about $60-$71/month. We are not endorsing any of the products or vendors listed here. There are many more other types of services available and not all of the ones listed here would be relevant or you. Make sure you do your homework to pick the optimal solution at the right time for your business.

Whether you are setting up a daycare center or building a software product for the cloud, getting your company off the ground can take a number of steps. Find the process that works for you and your specific needs. During the course of your activities, never stop your quest for the like-minded – and not so much - individuals who can help realize your vision.
Rachel & the team

Hungry for more?
Look out for more information coming out shortly! Next time we will explore designing the logo/website, thinking about business insurance, opening a bank account, and setting up a corporate credit card. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite suggestions for setting up a virtual office?