Monday, March 6

✔️ The 5 "cannots" that are blocking you from achieving the success you deserve

Just last month we celebrated 10 years of Nozbe and today, I'd like write about a few learnings from this experience. I’d like to share my experiences and advice on how not to let anyone convince you that you “cannot” do something and pursue your own goals to achieve success. You deserve to be successful and when somebody tells you that something "cannot" be done, you should pay attention and instead of giving in, find the ways you can make this work. Here are the 5 "cannots" people have been repeating to me over:

The cannots

Note: The following article appeared first in the February '17 issue of iMagazine - the leading lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts in Poland. I'm a regular contributor and write my monthly productivity column there. That issue of iMagazine was really special for me as we celebrated Nozbe's 10th anniversary at the time. On that occasion apart from my regular column February edition featured a special Nozbe cover and the following article.

1. You “cannot” develop a business “after hours”

As I wrote in the article about Nozbe’s 10th anniversary and my interview, my app was created as a side project. It was just a hobby: I wanted to test GTD principles (the “Getting Things Done” (Amazon|Audible) time management methodology developed by David Allen) and Web 2.0 technology in real life. Even after launching the project in February 2007, I still developed it after hours, working on Nozbe in the afternoons. Even though I acquired my first 100 customers in May of the same year, I still wasn’t sure about the future of the project. I continued to develop it, hoping that it would succeed but it wasn’t until 2008 that I decided to make Nozbe my main source of income and quit my job.

Many wise people argue that in order to achieve success you must drop everything and focus solely on your new venture. I disagree with this and my story proves that if the new project really has potential, you have to give it some time, work “two jobs” for a while and develop the project to such an extent that you are really able to devote 100% of your resources to it.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way. My friend Michał Szafrański, author of the blog “How to save money” did the same and he’s achieving even bigger successes.

OK - so obviously you CAN develop a business "after hours". But there are 4 more "cannots" to go:

Monday, February 13

✔️ Ten years feels like one day – Nozbe’s 10th birthday

This month we’re celebrating Nozbe’s 10th birthday!. It’s the perfect time for a short summary of the past decade – in the context of business and technology developments. It's really interesting to see how Nozbe started as a Web2.0 product and later embraced the smartphone, desktop and the watch...

10 years of Nozbe

Note: The following article appeared first in the February '17 issue of iMagazine - the leading lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts in Poland. I'm a regular contributor and write my monthly productivity column there.

2005 - why a Nozbe web app?

I read David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” (Amazon|Audible) and realized I needed to get organized. As a freelancer involved in internet marketing I was taking on more and more clients and I wasn’t able to manage all of my obligations. I searched for various tools to implement the GTD methodology in my life but I couldn’t find anything that I liked.

Thanks to PHP and MySQL magic I wrote a prototype of Nozbe in a single weekend!

I decided to use web technologies because I wanted to have access to the app from anywhere on Earth. Over the next few months I improved the project, rewrote it about twice, and finally in 2006 I decided to start getting ready to show it to the world. If I enjoyed using it, maybe others would like it to. Here's how it went down:

Monday, February 1, 2016

★ Almost a decade getting stuff done - how I celebrated 9 years of Nozbe?

My company Nozbe just celebrated 9 years today. Wow, it was a crazy week, an interesting year and an amazing stint so far. Not everything went as planned but I think it's safe to say we're on the right track. And I still can't believe how the time flies. Just read my posts after 7 years or 8 years to compare. And this year I'm even more bullish on Nozbe than ever. Here's why:

Nozbe 9 years

We doubled our core team to 20+ people

Just as I wrote on my 2015 review blog post, we practically doubled our team at Nozbe in a year. And now we're all in to capitalize on that and really find our spectacular growth. The longer I'm running Nozbe the more I realize how much more can be done. How many more people can be reached. How many you still have to convice to stop using email for collaboration. How many teams should just communicate through tasks...

This year with my bigger team we have bigger goals than ever before.

We launched Nozbe Business

It's a big deal. And we've had our first customers today already sign up for Nozbe Business. It's a whole new world for us but we're ready. New challenges, new features, better support and most of all - helping companies implement Nozbe to literally multiply their productivity and "internal happiness" of having people get lots of stuff done in sync with each other.

I particularly love the new "shared projects" with three roles: admin, user and guest. And I can't wait how our customers implement this in their organizations.

New logo, new design... and the best Nozbe ever

I can't highlight enough how much I love new Nozbe 3.0 and what my team has done to make it an amazing release. I pushed them and they pushed me... and together we made miracles happen to make it the Nozbe 3.0 release for our 9th anniversary - and I say it was worth it. This year will be all about 3.X Nozbe branch, with lots enhancements, polish and great collaboration features.

9 years in... and there's still so much to do. And it all comes down to the same 5 loves (laws) of my work. Thank you everyone who made my February 1st my own personal #NozbeDay.

As they say, the journey is the ultimate destination and I'm priviledged to have you join me. Thank you.

Question: How did you like our Nozbe 3.0 release all the goodies that came with it?

Friday, August 7, 2015

☆ How I work and communicate with my assistant [on: Nozbe blog]

On the Nozbe blog, together with my assistant Magda we wrote how we work together using Nozbe, Gmail and Dropbox. Hiring an assistant and delegating lots of administrative duties to her over the last two years has been one of the best decisions in my career as the CEO. I needed a person who spoke both Polish and English fluently so I couldn't just get a Virtual Assistant just like most of my readers from the States can. I suggest you try it. Just see how we work together:

me and Magda

"Magda manages my email. Although we said farewell to email in Nozbe long time ago, we can't prevent the whole world from using it :) I receive hundreds of emails every week and it is Magda who takes care of them..."

"Magda forwards email to a dedicated project in Nozbe called CEO, using Nozbe’s email-to-task feature..."

"When I don’t reply to a task Magda has delegated to me for too long, she would ping me, by adding a comment to it: @Michael - I am waiting for your reaction here!"

It's a very detailed post so I recommend you:

Jump to read the entire article »

Thursday, July 30, 2015

☆ How I use a project template to implement Pomodoro Technique and Unschedule Calendar every day [on: Nozbe blog]

One of the most popular posts on my site is the one I did on Pomodoro technique and Unschedule calendar so inspired by this on the Nozbe blog I wrote a pretty long post showing how I exactly I implement this every day using Nozbe. It's pretty easy when you're using one of the more advanced Nozbe features like project templates:

How I use a project template to implement Pomodoro Technique and Unschedule Calendar every day

"I created a new project in Nozbe called "Today" and filled it with tasks that describe each 30 minutes of my day. So first task is "6 - 6:30"..."

"Now every day in the morning I go to my "templates" in Nozbe and open the "Today template" and create a new project from this template with today's date..."

"I've found out that adding comments really helps. It's like a diary. It helps. When I have a lousy half an hour, I'd write it and try to make the next count. It helps me stay motivated and productive..."

Jump to read the entire article »

Monday, July 20, 2015

☆ New video with yours truly - how to get things done on your wrist [on: Nozbe.watch]

We've just released Nozbe 2.1.8 with amazing new features like a native widget for Android and a totally redesigned app for the Apple Watch. As you know I'm a big fan of this new gadget from Apple and I think my team did an amazing job with the Nozbe app for Watch so to celebrate it we launched a dedicated web site for this:

Nozbe.watch

Nozbe for Watch

This site explains what is important in creating a "wrist app" and how we think you'll get more things done with Nozbe on your Apple Watch.

Video showing off dictation, force touch and more:

To prove my point, we recorded a promo video with yours truly, showing the power of dictatation, force touch and much much more... what do you think?

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Jump to check out the site showing you how you can get things done on your wrist »

Friday, June 12, 2015

☆ What I think about Nozbe being one of the "best new apps" on the AppStore [on: Nozbe Blog]

On the Nozbe blog I just wrote about how Nozbe was singled out by Apple as one of the "best new apps" on the App Store right on the eve of us releasing a newer version of Nozbe 2.1.8 with lots of improvements for the Apple Watch, bigger screen phones and lots of Android love.

Check out these few quotes or read the entire article:

nozbe is best new app

"Yes, it's nice to see your work being recognized by a big player like Apple. Especially after seeing that they usually recognize our competitors who are not really better than us..."

"Nozbe has been successful despite all that. We've managed to attract more than 300K users without being highlighted by Apple or Google."

"Thanks to you we didn't need to be singled out to be successful and become one of the leading productivity apps on the Internet. For that I thank you so so much!"

Jump to read the entire article »

Monday, March 2, 2015

✔ Nozbe story - interview with me for "Stories of the best Polish apps"

This is an interview that I granted at the end of 2014. It was published on Spidersweb.pl - one of the most popular Polish tech-blogs platform. It was a part o a series on Polish apps used internationally authored by Hubert Taler. If you want to dig deeper about my story, check out my Interview about Nozbe and my "about" page on this blog and my recent blog post about our 8th anniversary.

Story of Nozbe

1. Were the Nozbe apps and web service launched at the same time? Which platform did you focus on at first?

Nozbe is not just an app - it's a whole suite of productivity apps for time, tasks and projects management. Apart from the web access, we offer apps for Mac, Windows, Linux, Android… and of course for the iOS platform, meaning iPhones and iPads. When I launched Nozbe in 2007 iPhone had just been presented by Apple. I didn't realize, at the time, how much the world was going to change and thus I thought that Nozbe would be a web app forever...

Even Apple's point of view seemed quite similar - at the very beginning it was only possible to build iPhone web apps, not native ones. I remember it very well - they started selling iPhone in the US in June 2007 and I decided to quickly develop a simple "web app" for iPhones which I called "iNozbe". I made it together with my customers - as I lived in Poland I couldn't even touch the real iPhone... I wrote the code for the first version within a week and I released it for testing. The users who owned iPhones reported how the things were and I would fix the bugs and update the app. My zeal was finally appreciated by the industry in September 2007 and I was invited as a speaker to the Office 2.0 conference to San Francisco. It was then when I got my first iPhone and a chance to see how my app works on it. And there's more...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

✔ How to apply a Nozbe Productivity Sticker? Productive! Show #72

Note: To get this cool Nozbe sticker, go to Nozbe Sticker (by MakeItStick) web site and choose your sticker size (11" or 13" or 15" or 17") and use coupon code nozbe to get 10% off - for limited time only for my readers

This is not a typical Productive! Show episode. I recorded it as I couldn't resist sharing something with you. What is it? I am going to decorate my MacBook Pro with custom Nozbe sticker designed to fit the Apple computer.

How do you like it?

If you wish to show everyone around that you are productive thanks to Nozbe, buy yourself a sticker too :) You can get it from Mads - the founder of Make It Stick (http://makeitstick.co/)

Question: Have you got any stickers on your electronic devices or you prefer to have it absolutely plain?

Please post your comments below, thanks!

Check it out:

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Monday, June 2, 2014

✔ How to design a productivity app? Our Nozbe 2.0 design process

On this blog I have described the way I work, my tricks, gizmos and gadgets many times over. Today I am going to show you what is my job all about and how much in common it has with design. I'm also going to reveal why I read all the books about people like Steve Jobs and Johnathan Ive, why I admire them immensely and why I am such a fun of their products.

Note: The following article appeared fist in the April issue of iMagazine - the leading lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts in Poland. I'm a regular contributor and write my monthly productivity column there.

How to design a productivity app? Our Nozbe 2.0 design process

My job title: Chief Productivity Officer - Chief Visionary

I am the owner, founder and CEO of Nozbe - a suite of apps for getting things done and team collaboration. However I prefer to think of myself as the "Chief Productivity Guy and Visionary". Why? Because I focus mostly on the two things: company and product development. Here, I want to show you how I focus on the latter:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

✔ 7 years running Nozbe... and just getting started!

Wow, time really flies. It's been now 7 years since I started Nozbe and I really feel I'm just getting started. Last year I published a la-la-la-la-long interview with me to give you a whole back-story explaining why and how I started Nozbe in the first place. If you haven't read it, you should. In this short blog post I want to look at the future of my company and give you an idea of where we're going.

7 years running nozbe

Last year was important

I had very ambitious plans for last year for Nozbe but they changed right in the middle of the year when we decided to disrupt ourselves and start building new, shiny Nozbe 2.0 which we internally call "One Nozbe". It's the next step for our tool which effectively will make it truly "mobile first". It's a fully responsive app that works beautifully (and crazy fast) on all the platforms we support.

I'm freaking out about it a little (in terms of both anxiousness and excitement)... and I think in the end you'll be blown away. It ships this Spring. In hindsight I think it was a great investment to decide to postpone other side projects and focus on it. We needed it... and most of all - you, our customers needed it even more. You'll see. But there's more:

Friday, December 13, 2013

✔ How to never forget to pay your bills (thanks to Nozbe)

Just recently a friend of mine called me up and asked for advice regarding bills, she said: "I usually pay all the bills on time. Especially when I receive them in the mail - they're easy to process - I get the bill and I pay it right then. Recently many companies start sending me e-invoices (via email) and sometimes I slip and pay only when they call me to say my payment is overdue. How can you help me set up my payment reminder system so that I will remember about all these bills and be able to pay them on time? How do you deal with that?". Here's how I do it:

How to never forget to pay your bills (thanks to Nozbe)

I use Nozbe to track all my bills. (duh!)

As Nozbe founder I use my own software for managing projects, communicating with my team and other business-like tasks... but I also use Nozbe for these small administrative chores like paying the bills. What David Allen says in GTD (Getting Things Done), it's important not to think about something... until you have to think about it. This is why I set up my bills in Nozbe and I'm being reminded about them only when I need to deal with them. Not earlier, not later. Here's how my setup looks like:

Monday, May 10, 2010

5 Tips on Creating Subscription Plans in a Startup - Nozbe case

Today I want to share 5 basic tips and tricks on creating good payment plans for an online service.

I've been running Nozbe for more than 3 years now and I'm still learning a lot about pricing and selling... and we've come a long way from first Nozbe beta, first 3 Nozbe plans through 6 Nozbe plans a year later... and we've just reduced the payment plans to 4, giving our users unlimited projects and contexts in the process and now if you go to Nozbe signup page, you'll see this offer:

New-nozbe-plans

Here are some rules when creating subscription plans:

1. Reduce the amount of plans to the minimum

We used to have up to 6 different plans for different kinds of Nozbe users. After we've investigated the sales and usage we found out, that these can be reduced to 4 plans... and maybe even more. The idea is that users should have a simple choice. The more choice you give to the user, the less likely they are to buy from you.

2. Avoid Excel sheets - focus on the essential

We used to have a real excel sheet on our signup page. Lots of features and lots of "ticks" and "dashes" showing you which plan has what, which doesn't have, etc. Very confusing and lots of reading for the user. When we reduced the signup page to the one you're seeing above, our conversion rate trippled.

3. After focusing on the essential, focus even more on key differentiators

Find out what's the main difference between your plans. We thought they were amount of projects and contexts you would create. Later we realized they don't matter. Now the main differentiator is the number of users you can sign up for Nozbe, the second one is file storage and the third some additional features.

4. When doubling the price, X-duple the key differentiator. Folks want good bang for the buck!

- In Nozbe, personal account for less than 10 bucks is for one user only.
- Pay twice as much and you can have up to 5 users.
- Pay 2.5 times as much as the last one... and you can get 4 times the user count.
- Pay twice for the Team plan and you get 5 times the users (up to 100)

Anyway, see the pattern here? Raise the price a little and give a lot more. I've seen many startups double their features when doubling their price... what's the incentive for the user to go for a more expensive plan then?

5. Include as much as you can in the basic product. Give the entry users a good feel of what you've got.

I used to save SSL connection for higher-paying users. Now even on the personal plan you can have full SSL encryption, unlimited projects and contexts. You have a fully working Nozbe for the minimum price. You wouldn't want to pay for half-baked product the entry level price. Later, if you want more users or storage (key differentiators we talked about earlier) you'll upgrade to higher plans. But because I give you great basics, you already know what you're paying for.

This way I have lots of users who start with "Personal" plan and later upgrade to Family, Team or even Business plans.

.... and there is one more thing - give a great Money-back guarantee

People are risking a lot by trying your online web app. And they don't want to risk their money, especially not in the economy we're in right now. This is why I'm giving full 60-days money back guarantee on all Nozbe plans. I'm letting my users test Nozbe for full 2 months and if they are not happy for any reasons, I refund all of the money.

This works miracles. People know I'm here for the long haul and I want to make them happy and productive. They know that they can take their time to take Nozbe for a full spin totally risk free. Believe me, you want your users to be really comfortable using your app and giving you money.

These are just basics

These 5 basic tips may seem obvious to you but I've seen many startups fail in creating a compelling product plan list. Make sure to go through these 5 steps with your business and make sure you're offering your users a good bang for their buck.

Please let me know what works for you and for your business. Which tips help you convince your users to give you a try and pay you for the service. I'm looking forward to your tips and tricks!

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.