Does Your Project or Small Business Need a “War Room”?

So you need to brainstorm or “put the pieces together” for a new project or your small business. But maybe you need a little help coming up with ideas, organizing, or just a space to focus on your small business or project. If either of these situations or something similar pertains to you or your small business, consider setting up a “war room”.

It sounds humorous, doesn’t it? A “war room”. In fact it might feel like just that. This is basically a project team’s or a manager’s own space that consists of everything that has to do with a particular project or small business. A “war room” usually has a bulletin or dry erase board, a table, chairs, project props, and any other items or furniture pertinent to working on or discussing a project. Although it may seem like an oxymoron, as a “war room” should provide team members and project managers with a place to think and organize, it actually looks like a cluttered mess, hence the name. However, project managers like to refer to this as “organized chaos”, which is supposed to spark and stimulate creativity.

“War rooms” have actually existed in business for quite some time. Project managers became huge fans of them, especially since they have proven especially helpful to projects of major or complex buys. This is because these types of projects that involve a lot of risks, phases, and procurements require a sound management plan and risk response plan in order to tackle the project effectively from all angles. A “war room” is also where team embers gather and bring their “worries”. It’s a common meting area for the sole purpose of discussing, brainstorming, and working together on a major project.

Although “war rooms” are still a very popular project management project response method, many organizations have replaced the idea of the “war room” with a concept from the twenty-first century and that is a “war site” or a website. This website can be a website or wiki, which is a virtual common area to post and share all project related information and ideas. This is prefect since so many project teams today are virtual and work off site or remotely. It is still a vital visual component to project organization where team members can post ideas, suggestions, or study project information that is already gathered and organized. A “war site” is also a cost effective approach as it saves on office space, time, materials, and furniture.

“War rooms” or “war sites” can also work for small businesses. It is a great way to brainstorm or organize a marketing plan, business plan, or even a particular project or service for a large client. “War sites” are actually more popular for many start up businesses since most don’t usually have the extra office space to dedicate to such a large project or part of the business, if they have the space at all. If you and your small business or team prefer to work with a “war site”‘ the project manager can take charge and take “ownership” of operating, managing, and updating the site, or he or she can promote a project team member to manage the task and make sure all tram members are actively using the site and stay informed.

All in all, “war rooms” may seem humorous or even a dated strategy, but they are still a highly effective brainstorming and organizing method for major or complex projects, special projects requiring a lot of time and development, or even a place to organize that small business.

Three Ways to Use Requirement Management Software to Generate Repeat Business

There are a number of Requirement Management software tools available in the market. As a Consultant or Business Analyst, naturally it is important to use the software to elicit, gather and manage requirements for successful delivery – but how do you go beyond the deliverable and generate repeat business?

The first stage is making sure you have the right software for what you, and your client, needs. Evaluation criteria can be seen as moving goal posts, but as a general rule of thumb, product features should be benchmarked in the following areas

  1. User-friendliness
  2. Integrated facilities (how does it work with other software and programs? Is there scope for customisation?
  3. Functionality
  4. Scalability
  5. Maturity and adoption within the wider industry
  6. Support

Once you’ve found the perfect-fit tool – here’s three ways to can use the software to your advantage and generate future revenue streams:

1.  Impress them with your time and cost management skill

Since requirements are the basis on which potential solutions are assessed, and the potential solution and the process that leads to its success is what you are measured on (and potentially rehired for), it’s critical to do it well.

Online, cloud-based requirement management tools can generally offer a customisable, flexible and cost-effective way to get the right supporting infrastructure in place. With many in-built features, scalable apps and custom development opportunities, project plans can be setup, bugs and issues can be tracked, overspend can be reduced and requirements management can be done with ease.

From a time and cost perspective, a solid software product will enable non-duplication of work and effort too. Since requirement management software holds a single copy of your requirements up in the cloud and allows the whole team to work on the same version. This then feeds into shared and allocated responsibilities and creates an effective output of change management and traceability.

On the same thread, requirement management software really gets to grips with the requirement verification process early on in the project life-cycle so as to avoid costly rework further down the line.

2. Get closer to the client

For a client to feel actively involved and contributing to the project, communication, reporting, feedback and progress updates are essential.

Requirements come in thick and fast from a potentially huge pot of stakeholders. Externally, they will come in the shape of customers and partners. Internally, they may take the form of sales and support teams. The challenge of managing the ideas, wants and needs of these groups is much less overwhelming and manageable when the software you have in place streamlines it all.

Engagement with the project team and stakeholders can be much more accurate, and an automated process with the use of good software. Greater levels of insight are available and Consultants and Business Analysts have fast and accurate visibility of progress against key performance indicators.

Within the requirements matrix, feedback and results of validation and verification processes trace back through risk and control matrix to the originating requirements. Keeping the client involved in the progress of the project

All of this positions you well to deliver consistent and relevant reviews to the senior client team.

3. Bend over backwards

Figuratively speaking of course. The client wants and needs to see its requests are being managed and delivered, and that every part of the requirement management process has their interests at heart. This means that you, and your requirement management software, needs to do everything they want it to.

Scalable software with integration functionality allows you to mould an approach to that of the client. Some tools permit project teams to use any methodology (such as Agile, waterfall, hybrid, Prince2, PMBok) – so you can quickly adapt and fit in with the systems used by the client team for happy faces all round. It also means that you and your clients don’t have to change systems each time a new project or development is initiated.

Requirements are the building blocks of any project, so it’s fascinating to learn that around 80% of projects fail as a result of inaccurate or incomplete requirements – or poor management of accurate ones. Approaching a project with the right requirement management software can potentially avoid failure, and could transpire into repeat business as well as a new addition to your portfolio of successful projects.

The Importance of Work Atmosphere

Most of us spend a huge proportion of our lives at work, so naturally it is important that we have a good environment to work in. The effects of work atmosphere on all aspects of a person’s well-being is much further-reaching than most realize.

A recent study (Robert Half International, 2012) found that the work environment is the most crucial factor in employee satisfaction.

In this article we take a look at why work atmosphere is important and how you can recognize the signs that the atmosphere isn’t as good as it should be.

The effects of poor work environment

It is a commonly known fact that if one person is feeling down, they bring everyone else down with them. Negativity is contagious, and it can have a detrimental effect on the workplace. Not only does a negative environment cause employees to be unhappy with their jobs, but it makes them less productive. Plus, if they have other things on their minds, they can be more prone to making mistakes. As a business owner or manager, this is not a good situation to be in. Mistakes equal money!

Not only can a poor work environment slow down productivity, but it can cause employees to consider resigning and moving on to a new job. Once again, this costs your business money. It can also cause current and former employees to spread negative remarks about the business — which is particularly damaging if you are a small to medium sized business.

Aside from the effect on the business, a bad working atmosphere can have a significant effect on individual employees. Several studies have found that poor working conditions can cause long-term health problems including stress, depression and anxiety.

On the other hand, a good work environment can have a lot of positive effects on not only the welfare of the individual employee, but on the business’ bottom line. If people are happy with where they work and the environment they walk into each day, they have been proven to be more productive and make less mistakes.  Just as negativity is contagious, so is positivity.

Signs of a bad work environment

Before you can set about trying to improve your workplace environment, you need to identify what problems there are. It isn’t always immediately obvious that there is a problem. So what are the signs?


Is your workplace so silent that you can almost hear other people breathing? This lack of social interaction between your employees could be a sign of an unhappy workplace. And really, sometimes all it takes is a glance around and a gut feeling of whether you are in a ‘happy’ workplace or not.

High turnover

This might seem obvious, but if you are finding that your top performing staff members are leaving to work for your competitors, there is a good chance it is because they don’t enjoy the environment they work in – not because of the job they are doing.

Inability to make decisions

If managers have completely differing ideas and goals, there can be ongoing underlying tension in the office. This tension can quickly work its way down the food chain, with other employees feeling unsure about what goals they are trying to achieve. It can almost become a tug-o-war between management.

Of course it is normal and healthy for everyone to have their own ideas, but it’s when agreements can’t be made that problems can occur.

Faith in your product

Whether your company produces cat food or computer security systems, at the heart of every business is a product. Do your colleagues use the product themselves? Do they believe in the product they are, in some form or another, working to sell? If not, this can be affecting the overall environment.

Improving work environment

Whether you have identified serious causes for concern in the workplace or you simply need to make a few tweaks, changes won’t happen overnight. However, there are lots of ways to inject some positivity into the workplace, which over time will make a significant difference to the whole vibe and output of your office.


Sometimes the only way to get a job done is to tackle it on your own! Do you go into work feeling lethargic and unmotivated? If you do, chances are other people do too. So what can you do on an individual level to make a change?

Once you have identified what it is about your job that is getting you down, you can work on fixing those things. No interaction with your colleagues? Why not spark up some conversation, suggest a lunchtime activity or even after work drinks?

Organising an event outside of the office is a good way to get your colleagues into their comfort zone. Outside of the work environment people can be themselves and often interact better. A couple of social events can be what you need to break the ice.

Work-life Balance

Also working on the idea of self-improvement is your work-life balance. It is important that every employee has a healthy work-life balance. If you or your employees are working overtime every evening or having to cancel personal plans to be at work, then chances are it is affecting your overall happiness at work. You can grow to detest your work, which doesn’t benefit anyone.

Whether its you that’s putting in the extra hours or you know that your employees are doing so, you need to ensure that the work-life balance is maintained. Sometimes people need to be told to go home or be told that ‘it can wait until Monday’.

As a manager, you should not be rewarding those that work late regularly. This makes other employees feel that they can only be seen as a ‘good’ worker, or progress in their career if they give up some of their personal time for work. This can result in stress, particularly in those that have a lot of commitments outside of work.


It is natural for people to want to feel valued and important in their workplace. With technology and business changing at such a rapid pace these days, many people are concerned they will get left behind. By keeping yourself and your employees as well-trained and up-to-date as possible, you can help boost morale and confidence in staff members.

Many types of training courses can also double up as team bonding exercises. Training doesn’t necessarily have to be dull and boring — many courses these days are very hands-on and involve working in teams.


Staying on Top of Financial Project Management Goals

Smart planning, communication, and delegation put the budget on track – and keep it there.

For most project managers and cost administrators in corporate departments, financial project management is an everyday occurrence. Dealing with business dollars is simply part of the routine for team members who work with vendors, undergo product development, and engage in any sales activity as a part of their department activity.

But that doesn’t mean financial project management is a walk in the park. Whether your company is a Fortune 500 or a small startup, abiding by budget restrictions in order to meet company goals can easily be a difficult mandate to keep, even if your intentions are good.

Financial projects can easily grow beyond their scope

No one necessarily sets out to waste company resources, but it happens. Projects can easily surpass their original breadth and depth when close attention is not paid to their progression. Although finances can create tight restrictions for a project manager, often poor planning or wasted resources suddenly causes a project to exceed the parameters established for it. Unless you plan up front for unexpected costs, projects can easily miss the target and fail to meet expectations.

Planning, preparation, and teamwork are key

Smooth, successful projects that stay focused on project goals, define the scope and budget and don’t rock the boat with worrisome extra costs or lack of organization will help the organization meet its bottom line – and keep the overall budget in line. When preparing for project management on the financial side, pay attention to these tips for before, during, and after the project in order to ensure the best possible outcome for your company.

Before the project begins

  • Provide education for your team and workforce. A department that is up-to-date in budget management and best financial practices will be more adept at handling large projects with ease. Ongoing education in the budget and financial realm ensures that you’re less likely to begin a project with uninformed people at the helm.
  • Establish the goals and benefits of the project. A clear definition of the project’s goals and expected benefits will ground your team in a common goal and help guide the budget’s development. Knowing what the main goals and benefits are should determine where resources land, the largest budget categories, and the areas to cut back.
  • Determine all possible costs and expenses. Inevitably, extra costs arise in every project. A good practice to deal with this is to allocate resources for the “extras” that may come up, or for areas that may end up going over budget, especially if predicting final amounts is difficult.
  • Assign budget categories to relevant team members. Although you as the budget manager are the one to oversee the entire financial project, there are often people in charge of certain aspects, endeavors, or categories of the project. Letting them oversee their own portion of the budget spreads out responsibility and ensures that the people who are dealing with a certain area report on the finances for it.

During the project

  • Invest in good financial project management software. Software that allows for easy team collaboration, planning, frequent updating, re-forecasting, and reporting will make the project management a hundred times easier. Rather than tracking spreadsheets separately, having a central budget software for everyone to access will ensure accuracy and better overall management.
  • Continually revisit the budget and reforecast any areas that appear to be off. Re-planning throughout the project will help keep surprises to a minimum and allow for changes to be made that may affect the rest of the project’s completion – i.e. if one area turns out to require less resources than expected, more resources may be allocated for another stage of the project.
  • Stick to the scope. Balancing budget adherence and budget re-planning can be a tricky business, but overall it’s important to stick to the general budget scope as defined by the goals and benefits originally established.
  • Ensure that individuals manage their portions of the budget, if applicable. Monitor and check in on people who are responsible for reporting their expenses as part of the overall financial project management.
  • Plan for periodic reporting. Depending on the length of the project, plan for times when a formal or semi-formal report can be shared with anyone who needs updating, such as other departments, executives, or shareholders.

After project completion

  • Ensure that benefits met expectations. This post-project step can be ignored if the project met its budget, but it’s important to gage whether or not the investment truly provided the benefits anticipated. Although staying on budget is extremely important, it is not the only measure of success, at least for most projects.
  • Measure how closely you met your original goals. Did the project achieve what was expected? Reflection will ensure even better management next time and help the department in tracking the year’s progress.

For any team that wants to successfully plan and track projects in the financial realm, smart initial planning, careful tracking and re-planning, and post-project reflection will most ideally ensure that the project can be praised as a success.

Project Management is Time Management

One of the greatest abilities that project managers have is time management. Not only is this an incredible asset and skill, it’s also a remarkable talent. In fact, many project managers have gotten pretty creative in their time management abilities in what they can master and how many tasks they can manage and multi-task at a given time.

In today’s busy world, project managers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners are forced to really buckle down and focus on time management. After all, time is money, and both are important to small businesses, especially for new start ups when time is of the essence and money is tight. So what can project managers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners do to maximize their time and resources in the beginning?

Set priorities. In the beginning, it’s really important to prioritize. It’s easy and can be overwhelming to feel like your business needs to go in a hundred different directions all at once. Of course, this is where exceptional time management ability can come into play, however, don’t let things get out of control. Start with choosing top three goals or priorities where you should focus on your business each year. For example, maybe some of your top goals include boosting your brand or advertising, developing a strong online presence, making a certain amount each month, or generating a certain number of leads. Setting specific goals will help keep you focused on your priorities as well as help you work towards reaching those goals.

Manage expectations and deadlines. When starting it out, whether as a project manager or a small business owner or entrepreneur, it can be difficult to get a feel for managing deadlines and expectations, of yourself and your projects. In the beginning, be realistic with your deadlines and what you can handle. The more comfortable you feel with managing work loads, deadlines, and schedules, then the more you may take on down the line. Trying to exceed your own expectations early on could set yourself up, or your business, for failure.

Leverage resources. Leveraging resources is important for project managers and business owners. One resource that most entrepreneurs leverage today is technology. How can you leverage technology for your small business? Society and today’s world makes it very easy to acquire and use technology for just about everything, especially with doing business. Everything can be done from using a touch screen tablet or Smartphone. So why not incorporate one to use for managing projects or running your small business? Make technology work for you.

Time management is certainly a crucial thing to consider as a project manager or small business owner. Time management allows project managers and entrepreneurs to be able to handle multiple tasks at one time. However, it’s important to remember to keep things in check for awhile as your business or projects are starting out. It’s important to avoid biting off more than you can chew as this will only lead to failure. However, mastering project management and time management will only help project managers and businesses achieve success.

Project Management Skills versus Tech Skills: Which Do You Think Are More Valuable Today?

It is true that in the last decade at any form of technical skills have been a huge asset to organizations, companies in the corporate world, and even to small businesses. However, times are changing. While technical skills are still a great asset to a company, especially since a large focus on social media, online marketing, and developing web content still exists, project management skills are actually proving to be worth more.

This is especially true for technical project managers. More and more organizations and small businesses are looking for one person who can literally do both jobs. A project manager is also knowledgeable in technical fields and vice versa is the winning candidate today. It is also essential for IT staff to have some project management abilities and skills.

Ultimately the goal is for IT personnel to step in and work another team member’s job should he or she be absent. The technical IT member should step in and pick up and continue all routine QA testing and analysis work on another project as necessary, right where the other person left off.

Okay, let’s take a step aside from the technical world for just a minute. Even of you aren’t a technical PM, but maybe a construction or engineering PM or anything of the like, wouldn’t it be better if you had skill sets and knowledge in both construction and/or engineering? Think of how much more valuable and asset you become to companies of you are knowledgeable, experienced, and maybe even certified in both.

Most project managers would agree that a PM’s abilities and knowledge within a specific role or industry is valuable regardless and can easily be transferred into any new role. However, it has been proven that knowledgeable and technical project manager can help drive down a project’s cost, increase productivity, increase the overall project’s success rate, and even reach and exceed customers’ expectations more efficiently.

Of course, a project’s overall success rate and productivity doesn’t necessarily depend 100% on a project manager’s performance or knowledge. Project managers know that there are plenty of factors that go into delivering and managing a successful project. However, it is true that risks significantly decrease when a project manager that is well versed in both project management and a technical or related field is running the show.

Finally, while technical skills are still already for any candidate to have, companies, organizations, and small businesses are looking for those project managers who have both. Project management plus knowledge or experience in a similar or related other field is highly desirable. For those technical folks, displaying some form of project management skills or expertise and experience is important. Project management is most certainly where it’s at today.

Project Management Tools to Consider For Your Small Business

Most small business owners and entrepreneurs recognize that running a business involves a lot of project management in skills, abilities, and responsibilities. Luckily with many of today’s technology and online tools, small business owners can take advantage of some of the project management tools and software available today to help run their businesses. Here are some tips and project management tools for running that small business.

Technology. We’ve already talked before about technology and how it’s a huge asset to small businesses and project management today. The truth is technology has even sparked the start up of many small businesses. In fact, some small businesses are run 100% online without purchasing and storing any supplies, equipment, or setting aside any office space. Technology has made this possible by being able to communicate with clients on the other side of the world at any time of day, sharing files and other data electronically, and set up inventory systems that are 100% online.

Some businesses, particularly those service entities, can run their businesses with a single tablet or Smartphone. Smartphones and tablets have the capabilities to email, share and send files and other data, conference call, make payments and take payments, transfer funds, and even manage calendars. What more do small businesses or project managers need?

Project Management Software. Most organizations are run and operate today with some form of project management software. Most of these are available online and can function be managed within the cloud, and are relatively low cost, or even free to use. Gone are the days when companies and organizations had to purchase expensive software and the licenses to install copies on everyone’s machine in an office. With laptops, tablets, and Smartphones, everything can be controlled, managed, and powered with an app, a file sharing program, or even with apps.

Some of the most popular project management tools and software include Basecamp, Teamwork PM, Zoho Projects, and Do. These are all extremely user-friendly, web-based so you don’t have to worry about installing or purchasing anything, and most are even incredibly cost effective! Most project management tools and software also have an app available for tablets and Smartphones so they can be accessed easily on-the-go.

Social Media. Social media is another tool that many businesses are still getting on board with. Social media is today’s way of getting your business name and brand in the faces and hands of your customers and potential customers. Social media does the networking and marketing for you all in one. It can be used to connect with existing customers, inquiring customers, and even other businesses and competitors within your industry. Customers can even “share” or connect with other customers with questions or feedback on your product or services.

All in all, running a business by using project management tools really consists of technology and good project management software…not to mention excellent project managerial skills and tactics. With the flexibility and convenience behind technology, social media, and project management software and platforms today, anything –even running a business—is possible.

5 Newbie Mistakes to Avoid With Your Company Brochure

How is your company brochure performing? Is it a marketing workhorse, tirelessly sending prospects to your website already convinced of your value and ready to convert? Or does it lack social grace and charm, positioning your company more as a Leisuresuit Larry of your industry? Your brochure may actually be harming your company’s marketing efforts, creating perceptions that you hadn’t counted on.

Brochure design matters, and here I describe the five biggest killers to an organization’s image that show up in company brochures.

1. Lofty and Unlikely Claims in Your Tag Line

Making ridiculous claims on your brochure cover is a mistake frequently seen in the do-it-yourself brochures of small mom-and-pop businesses. This could be likened to meeting someone for the first time and blurting out “Hi! I’m incredibly handsome!” If your company brochure looks like it was designed by your nephew, Travis in Microsoft Publish, your audience will not be convinced by lofty claims such as “The Next Generation of Real Estate Marketing.”

2. Use of Meaningless Buzzwords
Do you think outside the box? Are you an expert, a guru, or a maven perhaps? And is your marketing REALLY “Evolutionary”? It’s unlikely to find anyone that could still be convinced by these terms, so why do we still see them in marketing? This is like saying Ah, Screw It – Just Put Anything On The Cover. Real professionals know that to have any chance of speaking meaningfully to your audience, you need to use real language, not clichés. As seen in this example from Paradigm Real Estate Solutions, terms like Expert, Visionary, and Evolutionary lack credibility and even meaning. Leave them out of your marketing.

3. Cheesy Stock Photography
Want to really make your audience think you have no idea what their business is about? Contrived scenes of happy, sexually diverse, architects with no sense of personal space are probably not going to make a connection with prospective clients, and are likely, rather, to position your company as a b-grade player. Instead of following this approach, select imagery that indicates you understand your audience.

4. Amateur Typography

In 1979, a computer program called Apple Writer was published, and it was amazing! It would allow anyone with an Apple II computer to use all kinds of text effects within a word processing document. These effects included different font sizes, various font colors, a choice of font families, and an assortment of font styles such as bold, italic, normal, and underlined. With this new freedom, came new responsibility – the responsibility to avoid using all the effects in one document. These days, most of us have matured beyond this temptation, and typography has returned to its once noble place in design, but we still see examples in the websites and brochures of legitimate organizations. Use typography to present your information, without getting in the way.

5. Incohesive Story
When presenting information to an audience, it’s best to apply some kind of structure. There are many types of information structure to choose from, and the decision relies on the type of information being presented. For example, when describing a process, it is common to use a sequential structure. When explaining the cause of something, a series structure can be very effective because it indicates how one event leads to another and then to a third, and so on. A list of supporting arguments can be presented in a parallel format, with each argument supporting the motion like legs of a chair. Each of these formats makes it easier for your audience to mentally digest your information, providing structure they can understand. Failing to lead your audience through a recognizable structure can seem like pointless rambling, with pages lacking any relationship to each other, and headings which seem to crop up as interruptions to the previous topic.

Small Businesses: It’s All About the Brand

Today with small businesses it’s all about the brand. Branding is an essential component to any small business’s marketing strategy—whether online or offline. So how does a small business go about developing a really effective brand? How does a small business increase their brand effectiveness? Here are some tips for how small business owners or project managers can build or improve their brand.

  • Content Marketing. In addition to branding, it’s all about content marketing today. This pertains more to online marketing rather than offline. Take a look at your current website. How does it make you feel? If you were one of your customers, would the site interest you? Would you spend more than thirty seconds on your site? Would you read your own content? If you responded with a “no” for any of these, then it may be time for you to revisit your current content marketing strategy. Maybe you don’t really have one! So how do you build one? Learn your target audience, and see how you can individualize your site.
  • Build a Blog With Your Brand. Again, more online marketing strategies here. Building and marketing a blog goes hand in hand with content marketing. Your content should be trending within your industry, topics that are relevant and interesting, but yet should be centralized and focused and appeal to your target audience. When visitors read your blog you want them to think: “How will this article help me?” “How does this information pertain to me?” It’s all about individualizing and personalizing your audience’s experience.
  • Tone and Style. While tone and style completely relate to online content marketing, it is also relative to your business as a whole. What is your business personality? Are you friendly? Are you fun? What do you do for your customers that your competitors don’t…and vice versa? Your business and brand should have an overall tone and style to it that is easily identifiable and reputable. Once you’ve defined this, tie it into your brand. Market your brand, and make it known. Stretch it across your online and offline marketing strategy.
  • Educate. Once you have really nailed down a hardcore branding and marketing strategy, it’s time to educate your staff. Project managers and other leaders can step in here to make sure the organization’s brand is known and understood throughout staff members. Why is this important? Think about it. Your project managers and staff members probably work with your clients on a daily basis. You want them to carry the same tone, style, and “voice” to them. This is will increase your overall brand recognition and help your customers to learn who you are. However, making it custom can also help,  as  there are examples where such effective work has been seen in the case of custom t shirt design website, including those who make brand a key focus for what they’re attempting to accomplish.

All in all, most small businesses and entrepreneurs focus too much on generating leads and making sales that they completely overstep branding. As mentioned above, branding is a crucial component to any small business and any online or offline marketing strategy. Customers should talk to you and instantly know what you are about. Your brand should be splashed across your business cards, your website, and your “voice” should be apparent through your web content, including your blog.

Of course, online branding efforts require a website. To get started building your own website we recommend using GoDaddy. They’ve got affordable plans and a great product.

Organizational Transitions: Closing the Summer Season

While some organizations slow down during the summer which allows staff members to take long weekends, vacations, or half day Fridays, some organizations peak during the summer. It is very common for organizations to hire interns, assistants, or temporary staff members to help out with office tasks and projects during the summer. Now that we are entering August, many of the hired summer staff members are leaving. What are some things that a project manager or business owner can do to thank them for their help during the season?

Gift or Reward. First, business owners and project managers should determine what summer staff members would enjoy more. For example, many summer interns consist of high school or college students who were looking for work for the summer before going back to school. If this is the case, maybe hold a pizza party before they depart, or distribute gift cards for iTunes or movie passes that they can take with them before going back to school. If the pool of assistants that you hired included a range of ages, then perhaps hosting a nice lunch offering several meal options would cater to everyone.

Positive Feedback, Commend a Job Well Done, Say ‘Thank You’. All in all, it’s important to thank everyone for their hard work. Sometimes a “thank you” and “everyone/you did a great job” goes a long way in employees’ eyes. In fact, studies have previously shown that most employees or staff members would prefer positive feedback over a monetary reward. Even though it may seem miniscule, “thank you’s” and positive feedback is worth a lot to staff members.

Offer to Be a Reference. It’s very possible that in during your working months or season together that you’ve developed great working relationships with the staff you hired. Sometimes even long term friendships or professional working relationships can stem from this. So the best thing you can do? Stay in touch! Exchange business cards or contact information or even offer to be a reference for them in the future. This is especially vital for younger workers since they may still be becoming established in the working environment. And who knows? Maybe there will be work come next year!

Regardless of whether business owners or project managers spent the summer on vacation or working with a full staff, dealing with the “summertime blues” with Labor Day and the end of the season on the not-too-distant horizon or saying goodbye to summer staff can come with a certain level of nostalgia.

All in all, it’s up to small business owners and project managers to decide how to see off summer staff. These are just a few suggestions on how to say, “thanks for a great season”. While it’s never easy to let staff go, even if the expectation is that they are temporary or seasonal, it is helpful for them to know that they were valued and appreciated and even consider working with you next year, or recommending your organization or firm to others for the next year.