Eight Tools & Techniques that Make Me a Better Business Owner

Tips, Resources & Tools

Paul Worcester

There is a saying that a working professional may never possess more than 2 of the 3 following life goals at once: health, career, and personal relationship. We’ve compiled a list of resources that proves this wrong.

As business owners, we are always looking for new tips and techniques that might make our work-flow more efficient and organized. Even though we are property investors, these resources have improved multiple divisions of our company. We feel these tools can be valuable to any individual, business or industry.

1. Salesforce.com

When you have 1,000s of contacts you need to keep track of, most business owners have a tough time keeping them all organized and up to date. Salesforce is a web-based customer relationship management (CRM) program that allows us to easily record all communications between us and those we work with. It offers a decent amount of user-friendly customizations, and offers 3 different tiers so you don’t overpay for features you don’t need. Salesforce is a great tool that encourages in-depth relationship building and qualifying efforts against results. We generally use SF to document communications between investors and vendors, but its exportability, campaigns and report generating features have also been incredibly useful to our marketing division.

2. Evernote

Many times we\’ll get suddenly inspired and start a great brainstorming session, until 5 minutes later the phone rings and we forget we were even working on a big idea. Evernote is like an endless sticky note that stays with you wherever you go. Although, instead of just documenting ideas in text form, you can save files, pictures, videos and websites, too. We use this app all the time to keep an ongoing list of everything pertaining to our company. It syncs between your mobile devices and computers, and you can share your notes with others which makes for easy collaboration on the go. Evernote also saves a lot of time we might spend looking for items with a quick and user-friendly search function. The best part is that Evernote is a free application, making it a must-have for anyone in a personal or professional environment.

3. ManicTime

As our company has grown and we\’ve developed a large staff, we\’ve realized it can be difficult to keep track of who is doing what work and how. ManicTime is a very non-intrusive application that tracks all your activities on your computer. It always runs in the background, so we never have to worry about signing in or forgetting to start a timer. Not only does it record every time we tab between applications and files, it notes how long we spend in each. ManicTime data is stored locally, which is more secure and often more quickly accessible than saving in the cloud. The user interface is very friendly and visually appealing. The statistics of the data collected are very powerful and organized, which lets us easily determine where we’re spending too much time or not enough.

4.Getting Things Done by David Allen

When we started our business, and even as we\’ve continued to evolve, we\’ve accepted that organization and efficiency are the bottom line to success. The book Getting Things Done has shaped our entire organizational protocol. David Allen is a management consultant and executive coach, and a national bestselling author. This book is broken down into 3 parts that are designed to help you get control over your organization and efficiency in general. Part 1 outlines the five factors of workflow, which includes collection, processing, organizing, reviewing, and doing. Part 2 reiterates these factors while providing a detailed analysis of the actual execution of these methodologies. Part 3 breaks down why these methods are successful and the benefits of applying David Allen’s philosophy. Getting Things Done has really helped us determine the best manners and reasons in which we should be prioritizing, delegating and completing tasks. The methodologies in the book have increased our personal efficiency so much that we are now implementing his strategies in every aspect of our company.

5. Target Process

Marketing is an easy area to accept “maintained chaos” because it\’s involved in every aspect of the business, but juggling several projects at once can lead to disaster if we can\’t track our efforts. TargetProcess is a web-based application initially designed as a project management tool for web developers, but its extreme customization makes it a powerful resource for projects of any industry. TargetProcess uses Agile project management techniques: Kanban and Scrum, or a custom variation of both. These methodologies break down projects into smaller chunks, which are then broken down into even smaller tasks. We can designate who should be working on what part, how much time we should expect to spend on it, what kind of priority it requires, and make organized plans as to how we are going to accomplish our goals. We also have the option to log errors, requests, and view the velocity of different tasks and the people completing them. TargetProcess has been vital in balancing and optimizing the individual workloads of project team members.

6. Dropbox

With 1,600+ units, 3,000+ residents, and 80+ team members, we acquire and maintain a huge amount of information. In order for us to stay efficient, our files need to be accessible, organized, and managed. Dropbox is a file hosting service that lets you access photos, videos and documents from virtually any configured device, or through the cloud-based login. Using a freemium business model, individuals can access up to 2GB of storage for free. They also offer a Pro Level, with anywhere from 100-500GB of storage, and a Business Level that starts at 1TB of storage. Using Dropbox as a business has been very smooth and useful. We are easily able to permit and block access to different folders, and we can even pause the syncing on our local devices if necessary. Being able to access everything through Androids, iPhones, iPads, Blackberrys, Kindle Fires, laptops, computers, and in the cloud, it allows us to work from anywhere, and we always know where our files are. Although Dropbox can slow down our computers depending on the file types and sizes we’re storing locally, it also lets us customize allotted bandwidth and sync times. Dropbox is user-friendly and simple enough that anyone can use it efficiently, and upgrading to larger amounts of storage is quick and painless.

7. Good To Great by Jim Collins

In the early years of our business, we often sought mentor-ship and improvement through books to develop intimate industry knowledge. The book Good To Great focuses on 11 companies that have transformed from good to truly great over time, as determined by performance internally and externally. Collins and his research time analyzed 1,435 Fortune 500 companies, 6,000 articles, and 2,000 pages of interview transcripts. The book is written with the mindset that any company – bad, mediocre, good – can achieve enduring greatness by applying key principles. After extensively studying the history of the 11 great companies, and comparing with multiple “just good or less” companies, Collins found that it all comes down to leadership, competence, discipline, and the ability to embrace and execute change. This book is one that we have and will continue to read again and again. It has truly helped us cement our goals and the steps it will take to get there, touching on all aspects from staff, technology, finance, and company culture. We would recommend this book to any entrepreneur or business of any size.

8. Smart Phone

It seems obvious, but it is so necessary we have to reiterate it. Having a smart phone in the work environment is essential. It gives us access to so many tools and applications on the go and has saved us from making mistakes on several occasions. Whether it’s the convenience of pulling up driving directions or accessing our notes applications so we don’t forget our sudden ideas, we use our smart phones a lot more than we realize. As technology has evolved over the last several years, people have begun to communicate in very different ways. It is comforting to know that a phone call, text message, email, or application is with you at all times, which makes us more accessible to our employees and clients and more efficient all around.

As a banker who works with many small and mid-size businesses, I certainly feel that Worcester Investments is a step above the rest. You will not find a more professional, well-run organization. They are unparalleled in all aspects of their business, from the execution of their business plan to the planning, acquisition and financing structure. They are extremely thorough and always do their homework. It is truly a pleasure working with them.

- Chris Grossman

Paul and Joel were easy to work with and honest throughout the purchase process. We were able to close the transaction successfully. I look forward to working with them in the future.

- Aaron Mesmer, Block LLC

Joel and Worcester Investments are a pleasure to work with. They are tenacious negotiators, tireless researchers and incredibly dependable partners. Whether partnering in real estate purchases or loaning them funds for opportunities, I am always confident that the outcome will be successful.

- Kerrie Johnson

We have worked with the Worcester family and Worcester Investments for over a year and closed multiple transactions together. They have always been very straight forward, accessible, and accommodating with the many information requests and questions that go along with processing a loan. Their knowledge of real estate, especially multi-family, is truly impressive. We welcome the opportunity to work with Worcester Investments for a long time to come!

- John Schorgl & Tom Cohen, Johnson Capital

Gebhardt Family Trust financed a property with Worcester Investments in 2007. Since that time Worcester Investments has made all payments timely. I would recommend doing business with them.

- George Gebhardt, Trustee

The Worcesters are humble, hardworking people who are continually bettering themselves. I am not surprised at the success they are experiencing. I highly recommend any potential business partners, lenders, etc. to work with the Worcesters.

- Joe Isenberg, Brothers Cleaning

It has been a pleasure conducting business with Worcester Investments, as they have remitted all payments on time and provided timely documentation for all necessary activities. I still maintain a singular business relationship with Worcester Investments, but would, without hesitation, discuss other business opportunities with them. I highly recommend Worcester Investments and I believe they represent the correct risk/reward opportunity.

- Toby Ream, Imagine Investing

I financed Worcester Investments on 3 properties in the Saint Joseph area. They have always paid on time and have been a pleasure to work with. I would recommend them to work with.

- Howard Miller, Spirit Miller Trucking

The Worcesters are a delight to work with and display exceptional wisdom in real estate investment. We can vouch for their integrity, honesty, and desire to serve more than be served. Most of our investments with WI earns interest that the firm pays in monthly installments, always on time. There is no other opportunity available that can match the returns WI offers and also gives us the sense of security that our funds are in safe hands.

- Stuart & Christine Smith

It's my pleasure to recommend the principals of Worcester Investments. The principals have strong knowledge and keen financial strength in the commercial real estate arena to recognize an opportunity to add their value added expertise to a property. I've seen the high results of their efforts and know that their future will be full of successes moving forward.

- Jack Hanrahan, First American Title

Over the past few years, we have had the pleasure of working closely with Worcester Investments LLC on a number of real estate transactions. They have a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding the real estate industry in St. Joseph, MO, and are very thorough when it comes to the details of each and every acquisition. They are an asset to our community and we hope to continue doing business with them for many years to come

- Saint Joseph Title & Abstract

Paul and Joel were easy to work with and honest throughout the purchase process. We were able to close the transaction successfully. I look forward to working with them in the future.

- Aaron Mesmer, Block LLC

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the business you with Nodaway Valley Bank. The loans we have with you have been maintained in an excellent manner. It is a big asset having Paul manage these investments for you and gives the bank the comfort level we need. I look forward to a long standing relationship.

- Jerry Ingle, Nodaway Valley Bank

I have been the Worcesters' accountant for several years. I have found them to be professional, competent and ethical in their business ventures. I would not hesitate to recommend their services to others.

- Gerald Hoots, Hoots, Baker & Wiley PC

I would recommend Paul Worcester as a very good man to do business with. He was very honest, helpful and businesslike in our dealings. He is a man of his word which I appreciate very much.

- Ray LaVaugn

Worcester Investments has been a great partner and manager. The income our properties have produced has exceeded my expectations. They always follow through on their commitments, and they communicate very well. I consider them true professionals.

- Dr. Stephen Hull

I've worked closely with Worcester Investments through every aspect of acquisition. I have found WI and its members to be knowledgeable investors who are well equipped to handle all aspects of a real estate transaction. A purchaser of investment property is presented with a number of challenges during the course of a transaction. WI has met every challenge. Worcester Investments and its members are timely, efficient, knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with.

- Robert Smejkal, Oregon State Bar

I have worked with Worcester Investments on a couple projects. They always paid on time and delivered exactly what was agreed upon. The Worcesters are known for their great integrity. I will gladly work with them again.

- Kevin Pendergast, O’Riley Capital

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