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Happy Quote

April 27, 2007 in Happy Quotes

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that something is too competitive. Once you subtract the people who don’t work very hard, or the people who aren’t as good as you, your competition shrinks dramatically.

- Maggie Mason, entrepreneur, author, and founder of Mighty Goods

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April 24, 2007 in 4 out of 5 stars, Business Planning, Hosted software, Project management

What is it?

PlanHQ: Online business planning software.


Who makes it?

PlanHQ Limited

Why is it the killerest?

Remember when you were in third grade and you had that math workbook? You may be reluctant to admit it, but it was kinda fun and you even accidentally learned stuff as you hurried to fill it all out. PlanHQ is like your favorite business plan workbook from MBA school.

It's greatest benefit is how it challenges you to think through and answer for the whole business picture of your venture. As you're working through your strategy, goals, competitive analysis, market analysis, sales forecasts, etc. it's like having a very detail-oriented MBA coaching you. If you're like most entrepreneurs (one big part passion, and one small part business training) this is an excellent tool to help you get your act together.

There are also collaboration features to help investors, partners, and others monitor and participate in the evolution of your venture. Nifty features like the ability to export it all into a Word Doc or PDF, and a report to tell you how complete your plan is are a nice touch.

As you use the system, it evolves organically to provide you richer information and business intelligence for making decisions. If you have the discipline to use this software and challenge yourself to account for all the extraneous details we often overlook, you'll be better equipped for success.

It's a brilliant bit of software. Intuitive, very well designed, and comprehensive without being overwhelming.

What could be improved?

I would love to see a "lite" version for free. Something with 1/5th the stuff, just the basics, to get you sold on the value of having the discipline to think everything through.

It does shoehorn you a bit into their business philosophy. It's a sound philosophy and not heavy-handed, but you can feel the constraints of their approach keeping you between the lines.

How much does it cost?

From $9 to $49/mo

All plans start with a free 30-day trial and you can export it all before you leave.


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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Happy Quote

April 19, 2007 in Happy Quotes

"Is it possible that you’re just not good enough? That you (or your team) just don’t have enough talent to be the best in the world? Sure, it’s possible. In fact, if your chosen area is the cello, or speed skating, then I might even say it’s probable. But in just about every relevant area I can think of, no, it’s not likely. You are good enough. The question is, will you take the shortcut you need to get really good at this?"

-Seth Godin. His latest book The Dip is about dealing with (wisely quitting, or deftly overcoming) that stage, after the euphoria of starting, when your venture gets really hard.

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April 3, 2007 in 4 out of 5 stars, CRM, Hosted "Office", Hosted software

What is it?

Highrise: Take a CRM, rip out the extraneous confusing garbage no one uses (or understands), accidentally throw a bit of the baby out with the bathwater, but not enough to break the deal, and you've got Highrise.

Highrise logo

Who makes it?

37signals, LLC

Why is it the killerest?

Highrise is extremely clean, immediately understandable, well thought-out and useful.

37signals makes software that I use after the initial infatuation wears off. I'm a regular user of most of their other products (they're best known for Basecamp). After spending a few days with Highrise I'm confident this one's a keeper too.

By appearances, they didn't try to emulate a CRM so much as solve the problems folks typically turn to a CRM to solve. The result is an elegant contact and communication manager.

I'm using it to keep track of the communication I have (email and phone) with partners and customers. When I'm on a call, I just open it up and take notes as we talk. For email I love how I can BCC (blind carbon copy) an email to my Highrise "drop box" and it will attach that email to the contact to whom I sent it. I can also forward any email I get from a contact to that same address and again it's attached and everything is organized. Outlook remains my cesspool of chaos, Highrise is my clean organized communication headquarters.

A little tip: set an Outlook or Gmail rule/filter to auto-forward contacts from specific parties to your Highrise email drop box to make sure nothing gets missed.

It also does reminders, to-dos, contacts, and "cases" where you can group and manage all the contacts, notes, and files related to a specific undertaking, or "case."

Additionally, while I haven't tested it out yet there are several features for sharing all this information amongst various users.

It also supports some ninja moves where you can (for example) forward an email and create a task at the same time based on how you format the email address going to your drop box.

Note that there's a version specifically catered to freelancer/solo folks called the "Solo Plan." It's at the bottom of the pricing matrix (and hard to spot).

The help section is well done and gave me the answers to all my questions as I ramped up the (very gentle) learning curve.

This really is a thing of beauty. 

What could be improved?

Highrise shows its youth. There are a few immature features that I'm sure they'll resolve in time. The software was released on March 20, 2007 and they've already released several new features and re-jigged the subscription plans. It's clear they want to make this work for users.

The one disappointing omission I found immediately was the inability to wholesale import my Outlook contacts (note they do allow "vCard" importing which you can do one-at-a-time from Outlook). Outlook can spit out a predictably formatted text file, so I'm guessing (and hoping) they'll add this feature soon.

The only big feature I expected but didn't find was a shared calendar. I haven't missed it yet, but when I start sharing this with other users, I would love something to get me away from Microsoft Exchange for that.

How much does it cost?

From free to $150/mo for the motherload


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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