Using Mind Maps To Plan Your Business

Using Mind Maps To Plan Your Business

Mind Maps Make Meetings Better (and more productive)

Every have to take meeting notes?

How about use the meeting as problem solving method? And everyone sits in a room to defend their business silo, but no one wants to talk about the primary issue that needs to be addressed?

Well using mind maps might be the way to draw out the best solutions from the group.

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What is Mind Mapping

  • Way of visually getting ideas you don’t know are in your head or trapped in a team and representing them in an easy to use format of subjects, ideas and sub-ideas.
  • Essientially here’s how it works
    • Start with a main topic or issue, the Subject. Say, SEO for Website
    • Start populating the second level, or Ideas, with possible issues or groupings of drill-down items. In this case. Internal teams, External Resources, Training, Measurement Criteria, Other Items, etc.
    • Then, inside each of these ideas, there are sub-ideas, resource details, questions to ask, action items, etc.
      • All of these can usually be signified in the software with either custom icons like a checkbox, question mark, etc, or with different text colors.
    • Each of the Ideas start a branch of “bubbles” on the mind map, which then branch out again, and even again if necessary. All of this forms an easy to use diagram, which in many cases can be converted to a more traditional outline format if needed. 

Why is Mind Mapping Better Than Plain Old Words?

  • Ever try to add an item in a traditionally list on paper or a white board? Your options are to erase and move items, add it to the bottom and signify it needs to be somewhere else, or draw an impromptu mind map with lines, bubbles and some text anyway.
  • Humans consume visual data quicker and better than plain text. Ever wonder why TV and magazines and of course, the web, have ousted newspapers? Highly visual and easily consumed ideas instead of long, wordy sentences. 
  • Mind Mapping encourages grouping of ideas and expanding on those ideas, whereas simple text can be limited by the format.

How to Mind Map?

  • Start with an idea or subject that is easy to solve. If the subject is too complex, break it down and then build mind maps for an easy to consume part of the mind map, therefore solving the bigger issue by conquering the smaller ones.
  • Use images, hyperlinks, contact information and more to make the document more useful or easy to follow. 
  • Also use different colors for the different Idea branches to make it easy to navigate inside each topic and subtopic.
  • Use short phrases to capture ideas, especially in the brainstorming portion of mind mapping. You can always go back and expand on issues, but capture what you need, and only what you need initially.

Any Pitfalls to Avoid When Mind Mapping?

  • Concentrating on one item too long. Dump ideas and move on, you can sort everything out later.
  • Not having someone leading the mind mapping that knows how to ask for expansion or more creativity. 
  • Capturing vague ideas and not documenting or expanding them.

What Software Can I Use to do Mind Mapping?

  • Mind Meister : Free for up to 3 maps, $5 for personal, $8 for a Pro account and $12.50 for enterprice (all per user, per month)
  • Coggle : Little more bare bones, not the catalog of templates or “flair” but cost : Personal – free, 3 private diagrams, Awesome is $5/month for most of what you will need, and $8 for an “organization” account if more customization needed for teams.
  • Mind Manager : really a virtual whiteboard but it’s by the company I was first exposed to in Mind Mapping, Mindjet. It’s #349 for Windows, $179 for Mac. All have 30-day trials. Full-featured and wonderful software. 

Have any questions or suggestions on going mind mapping? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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BBP : Episode 56 – Capterra

BBP : Episode 56 – Capterra

In this episode we talk about how Capterra can help you find the right software solution to manage your business.

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Tech News

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update released on Oct 17

  • As always, running updates has certain risks, as talked about on last week’s podcast
  • Make sure you have plenty of time to run the updates, possibly a couple of hours.
  • Always back up and know there’s that small chance the backup may fail and you’ll either have to revert back, or it could cause your system to become unstable.
  • Features.
    • People Integration – You can now pin friends, co-workers, business partners, family members, etc to the task bar for easy access. It can even be used to contact via Skype
    • Fluent Design – a new design language from Microsoft regarding animations and effects. Some included changes are blur effects, easier resizing of apps and windows and a “shinier” design for the Start Menu.
  • You can also pin website shortcuts to the task bar. This was available in previous versions of Windows, and now it’s back.
  • New emojis – dinosaurs, genies, zombies and more are part of the Unicode updates for the fall creators update.
  • Cortana – Cortana notifications can now be seen on your Android phone. And you can control Windows a bit with Cortana, including locking, signing out, shut down or restarting your computer.

Google Advanced Protection

  • Meant for high-profile celebrities, politicians and other possible targets for hacking.
  • Advanced security features for your account (gmail, google drive, etc)
  • Need a physical key to unlock your data (USB)
  • It also locks down your files and email to ONLY Google apps, eliminating the possibility of using 3rd party programs to attain the data.
  • This will make using Google’s products a bit more tough, but if you’re concerned about information security more than you are about ease of use, this may be a good solution.

Capterra

Capterra is a website with a mission to match up businesses with the right software to optimize any part of the operation. Whether it’s project management software, bookkeeping, marketing, testing or just about anything else, Capterra can suggest the right software taking into account budget, ease of use and more.

  • Guest : Claire Alexander – General Manager of Capterra
  • http://capterra.com
  • Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Capterra/
  • Twitter : https://twitter.com/capterra
  • Website to help find a software solution for your business
  • Capterra has been around since 1999
  • Virtually any sort of software for your business organized by software type, then displaying the most used, best cost effective or easiest to use.

Have any questions or suggestions on going paperless? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Planning & Budgeting Your New Website – BBP EP 53

Planning & Budgeting Your New Website – BBP EP 53

In this episode we talk with Scott Wild from NISC about the budget and organizational steps in planning and developing a new website, the upcoming iPhone, and Twitter Night Mode

BBP : Episode 53 – Scott Wild Talks About Planning a New Website

Scott Wild, the Onboarding & Employee Engagment specialist at NISC and owner of the Wild Trivia Tour, joins the podcast to talk about planning and budgeting for a new website. Scott and I have done several podcasts and other projects together in the past, including working for the same advertising agency in the same role a few years apart, so there’s no one I trust more when it comes to planning and pulling out the steps for a new site.

Let’s Start with the Basics

Websites are now the storefront of most businesses. It used to be billboards, newspapers and then television ads, but now many consumers find you online. So it’s important to have a user-friendly site that funnels potential clients through the buying experience. It’s not unlike how grocery and department stores are set up in that you walk through the store to get essentials, then back through everything again before being shown the “add-ons” at the checkout. You should find  out what your visitors want, get them there quickly, then take them through the desired path while still serving their needs.

  • Planning Meetings : planning up front will decrease development time (and therefore cost) and get you the site you want.
    • Who is the audience(s)?
    • For each audience, “where do they itch?” Or what do they want/need to find on your site?
    • What do you want them to do right now? What’s the call to action?
  • Development
    • What CRM? WordPress? Drupal? A specialized CRM that’s built for your industry? Custom build? What’s the best fit for your business or organization?
  • Hosting
    • There are many criteria for hosts including cost, operating systems, server specs, bandwidth speed and limitations, and many, many more.
    • Choosing a good host can be a determining factor when Google and other search engines rank your site.
  • Domains
    • Pick a domain that matches your business name for the primary domain, then you can select “vanity” domains for landing pages
      • For example, my DJ business is BeLoudEntertainment.com, but I also own BismarckWeddingDJ.com.
    • OWN YOUR DOMAIN! This can be important when you want to move the website, or just to make sure the domain is handled correctly for updating.
    • Your domain name is just like your business name. Keep it safe!
  • SSL’s

Some Advanced Planning Tips

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
    • Can be expensive
    • Can take a fair amount of time
    • Can be very punitive if “black hat” methods are employed, even to the effect of getting the domain shot WAY down the list
    • Is affected by proper titles, descriptions, keywords, page content, page layout, links (inbound, outbound and internal), page load speed, server response speed, and more.
  • Digital Marketing
    • Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are critical in sending good traffic back into your website. Use them correctly and often.
    • PPC – We didn’t really talk about this on the podcast, but a good Google AdWords or LinkedIn campaign can be a great way to generate leads
    • If you really want to make a splash, there are large volume marketing pieces like Spotify or other campaigns that can be fired up, but most have a minimum spend.
  • Security
    • Make sure the site is backed up and has some security apps or plugins monitoring the site. This is critical when, not if, something bad happens.

There were so many other items to discuss on this podcast, but in many cases it’s better to discuss in person or over the phone. If you have questions on developing a new website, or would like to discuss in more detail, please call 701-214-6271 or contact BeBizzy Consulting and let’s find out how we can drive more customers to your website.

Don’t forget to send us any suggestions for apps to review or people to interview. And subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

And as always, leave the technical stuff to us!

I HATE Printing : BBP EP 44

I HATE Printing : BBP EP 44

I hate printing.

PC Load Letter…?

More than most anything else in running my own businesses, paper drives me nuts.

Now I know this makes me a bit out of the ordinary. Most people still default to notepads, post-it notes, or random pieces of paper to keep short reminders, meeting notes, and ideas, but maybe it’s time for you to buckle down and think about using your technology to do this job, and de-clutter your life and business.

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Things You Probably Need To Print

There are some things in business that you might need to print, unfortunately.

  • Contracts
  • Invoices for Clients
  • Meeting Agendas

Print these if you must, but try to use tools like Docusign for contracts, email invoices from your accounting software for invoicing, and email or other electronic means for meeting agendas if possible.

Why Digital Instead of Print?

Like most controversial subjects, humans are looking for justification on why to do this process instead of just doing it like we’ve “always done it.” Need a few reasons to use digital instead of print? Here you go !

  • Offsite Backups – Fire, water, carelessness, etc can ruin your print documents. Digital files can be secured and backed up in several locations in case there’s a catastrophic event.
  • Searchable – Ever tried searching for a term or keyword in piles of paper? How about searching on the internet? Way easier to just type in what you want and have a few documents presented to you, isn’t it?
  • Accessible By Multiple Devices – Get to a document with your laptop, phone, tablet, or really anyone else’s device, all protected by login credentials.
  • Share or Limit Access to Files – Pretty much anyone can get into a general access filing cabinet. So that means you need MORE cabinets saved in secure areas like the accounting office, C-level suite, or possibly even another room. Digital files can be locked down to a single user, keeping access as secure as possible. On the flip side, if you need to share with multiple users a document can be shared across the network with anyone you wish.

Avoid the Day-To-Day Paper Mess

Ok, so it’s apparent that moving to paperless is a great method to clean up the office and become more efficient. How about some tools that will help you do this?

  • Storage – The first thing you need to do is determine how you are going to store and share the documents. If you want to keep everything contained in your network, you can use your internal server to do this. But if you want the advantages of outside accessibility you might consider using a cloud storage.
  • Backup/Security – Of course a big concern is security and backups of the data. Most of the cloud services have automatic backups and recovery systems. Also, most of them have encryption either natively active or available as an add-on.
    • Versioning – In some cases having multiple versions of the same document is desired. This works great on marketing documents, meeting agendas, policies, or other items that require several revisions. Cloud services like Box.com have a great way of tracking versions and accessing them as needed.
  • Receipts – One of the biggest sources of paper for many small businesses are receipts or bills. Get them digitized and out of your filing cabinets and make them easy to sort and report. All of the tools below make it easy to scan, photograph or submit a PDF of your receipts or bills.
  • Track Mileage and Travel Expenses – Eventually we all have to travel for business and tracking vehicle mileage, gas, food and other expenses can be tricky, or just a pain in the butt. Luckily there are many mobile apps and computer programs to help you with keeping track of these easily.
    • Milebug
    • MileIQ
    • Quickbooks
  • Notes – The staple of business life, right? We all take notes… lots of them. And most of the time they are on legal pads or composition notebooks that contain pages and pages of random notes and meeting results. Using electronic note systems keeps these loose notes organized, searchable, and shareable. And, if you use an tablet or some smartphones some of these applications also will allow the saving of handwritten notes.
    • Evernote
    • OneNote
  • Project and Task Management – Need to keep you and your team on task? You could use a whiteboard, random post-it notes, or just your brain to do this, or you could find a technology solution that meets the needs of your tasks and projects.
    • Scribblepost – My favorite task management application. Usable across all my devices.
    • Basecamp
    • Outlook, Gmail and GSuite all have excellent task management tools built in.

More Tips on Avoiding Printing

Reasons digital is better than paper… check. Tools to keep me from printing… check. Now, you just need a few more tips on how to avoid using paper during the work day.

  • Print to PDF – Every time you would normally print a document to be placed in a filing cabinet, select Print to PDF and file it in your digital storage system.
  • Don’t Print Emails – I can’t think of a single reason, short of saving something offsite to maintain your innocence or proof of someone else’s guilt that you would print an email. It’s in your email, leave it there and use your other tools to
  • Maps – Remember the frustration and pain of using (and folding) paper maps? Heck, most people can’t even find north! Paper maps are close to obsolete the second they are printed. Use your GPS or smartphone to get where you need to go.
  • Faxes – If you need to fax something, first of all, yell at the company you are faxing information to. Then, after your meltdown, use a service like E-Fax to send electronic documents to their system. Odds are they have a digital service and don’t realize that the rest of us beat up our fax machines in an Office Space-like rampage.
  • Web Pages – Printing webpages was a pretty useful service several years ago, but now it’s just extra pieces of paper lying around. Send URLs via email, messaging systems, or share websites using apps like Pocket.
  • Bills – Did a bill arrive in the mail? Open it, scan it, save it in your storage location and accounting system, then put it in the shredder or trash bin… where it belongs.

Existing Paper

Finally, what should you do with the existing paper products you have in the office? You may have years of old documents, invoices, meeting notes just sitting in filing cabinets waiting patiently to be shredded when you’re ready to move or need more space. The easy solution would be to drag them out the parking lot, gather everything up, and set it on fire. But safety, and the law, make that impractical. So your options are really down to two. Store existing paper and remove it as it becomes unneeded or obsolete. Or, scan existing paper into your new digital system.

Scanning existing can be an expensive solution. However, do some math on what processes could be optimized by having the old documents digitized. Could more workforce work from home or remote locations more effectively? Could you share some information with partners, vendors or other resources to make things quicker? Could you make more money, or possibly spend less by buying less equipment or renting less space by getting rid of clutter? Is having your documents in a secure, emergency-proof location attractive to you as a business owner?

Scanning services are in nearly every town. They roll up to an office with a truck to keep documents in-house for the most part, and can even provide some solutions or guidance on how to set up your digital files. And if it’s something easy like receipts, Shoeboxed offers a service where you send in your receipts, then scan and organize them all, and you’re all set.

Stop Printing!

A paperless office might be right for you and your business. Maybe it’s time to get rid of those printing costs like paper, printer leases, toner, ink, storage and more by going all-digital. And, think of all that time you’ll save by not standing around the printer/copier waiting for you document to print!

Have any questions or suggestions on going paperless? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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BBP : EP0039 – GSuite & Mailbird

BBP : EP0039 – GSuite & Mailbird

BeBizzy Break Podcast : Episode 39 – GSuite & Mailbird

Hosted by : Marv Dorner, owner of BeBizzy Consulting

Ever get the feeling that someone’s watching you?

That happened to me this week, as I started to look for a replacement for my Outlook replacement, Mailbird. The problem was that although I had hundreds of contacts saved in my various GSuite email accounts, there was no way to easily sync to or from GSuite. On many occassions I was either grabbing email addresses from my phone or having to log into the web interface to gather the email addresses so I could send.

Just this morning, I recevied an email from Mailbird claiming they had a new Contact Manager ready to roll out, all I had to do was update Mailbird, click a few things and BOOM!, contacts. The scariest part was that it worked EXACTLY like it was supposed to work, and now I don’t have to look for a new email system. Way to go, Mailbird! Check them out if you’re a GSuite or Gmail email user.

And if your NOT a GSuite user… here’s why you should be.

GSuite is a powerful email, calendar, document sharing, task & project management solution. Some other benefits are:

  • Uses Google secure and “always-on” hosting solution. I have had very minimal outages in many years of use.
  • The system is available from anywhere, so as long as you can get to a computer, tablet or phone and remember your login info, you can see you mail, calendar and documents.
  • Easy to share documents within the GSuite environment, so anyone with your domain email can easily receive, share or collaborate on documents.
  • You can still use Outlook. While I recommend getting outside the Office forcefield with apps like Mailbirdold reliable still works with GSuite.
  • 2-Step Verification security to protect your email.
  • 3rd party apps like CRMs, project management suites, mind mapping tools, and much more can be easily made available across the network.
  • Excellent support
  • Relatively cheap at $5 per email address per month.

Check out if GSuite is a good fit for you and your business by going to https://gsuite.google.com

Don’t forget to send us any suggestions for apps to review or people to interview. And subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

And as always, leave the technical stuff to us!

BBP: Episode 15 – Scribblepost, IE Loses Bigtime, and President Trump?

BBP: Episode 15 – Scribblepost, IE Loses Bigtime, and President Trump?

Well, it’s the day after election day. Hopefully all of your candidates and measures passed, and if not, lick the wounds and get back to work, right?

BBP: Episode 15 – Scribblepost, IE Loses Bigtime, and President Trump?

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Today we are talking about Scribblepost, a wonderful task-management system that I’ve been using for a few months. Paul Berkovic joins in from Australia to talk about the app and how you can use it to manage your business and your day better.

We also spend some time on :

Don’t forget to send us any suggestions for apps to review or people to interview. And subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

And as always, leave the technical stuff to us!