No matter how self-sufficient you feel your business is, you can’t be an expert on every aspect of running your company. That’s where Michael Nelson comes in. As COO of T3 TigerTech as well as running his own consulting business, The Cogent Coach, he’s been in the business of solving problems for decades. We were lucky enough to chat with Michael about his work and how Slideshop saves him time and hassle.

Tell us about the work that you do.

Most of our work at T3 is consulting. We do a lot of work for the federal government at the moment, and we have done commercial work in the past. Our work is writing policy. We’re deft at consolidating information into proposed policy, helping them explain what they do and why. So we write a lot of proposals. On the Big Data side, we’re rolling out new solutions which are about a decade ahead of other Big Data strategies on the market. It’ll run faster than what’s out there today and can analyze data live.

When I’m doing my coaching, it tends to be with entrepreneurs and startups. I focus on strategy; the conceptual idea of what their strategy is. Then I help my clients get on the path to execute on this strategy. Small businesses are exciting to work with, since they’re so innovative. I always want to keep my hand in strategy work and I coach two to three entrepreneurs at a time.

Dive into the coaching a bit more for us.

A lot of people I work with are people who started a business because they can deliver something. They have a certain skill set. What I do is help them figure out what they want to actually accomplish with their business. I help them figure out the process of creating and achieving business goals as they build. A big chunk of strategy is integrating in and answering questions like: Who is your market? How do you find your market? What is your value prop? What’s your brand? Why should they buy from you? The scope of what I do rolls sales, branding, and marketing all into one.

What are some tips you have for small business owners?

Number one, you need to understand why you’re in business at all. Many start businesses and get revenue, but not many have a clear picture of what’s down the road. When you’re 20 years old, fine, but do you know where your business should be when you’re 40? Where exactly do you want your business to go?

Number two, there is an endemic misunderstanding with SMBs that their clients will come to them, and that their clients will just understand the value that they deliver. Instead, you need a clear value prop. You can’t just expect the right people to come in expecting to buy. In the digital world, you’ve got about 30 seconds for them to decide whether they’re going to buy from you or not. You need to communicate what they need to hear. You need to sell yourself in an obvious way.

If you’re a service business, the danger is that the business becomes brand YOU. Meaning, you are the brand. And that’s a problem. If you’re not defining in clear terms, you’ll be going out on sales pitches and just selling yourself. If your company only has brand YOU, it’s hard to scale and it’s hard to sell to people. They will think “I expect YOU as the business, so if you’re not there, I may not come back.” You can only scale YOU so many hours, so that’ll stunt your growth. Knowing what you want in your business, and knowing how to brand the business, will really help you grow.

How does Slideshop help you work?

Slideshop filled a huge gap for me. “Death by PowerPoint” is just the worst. People don’t understand that PowerPoint is just a tool for communication. And if you want to communicate well, you want to think it through and not ramble. You need to have a plan. A flow. People who don’t think about their communication get caught up in the tool.

When I put together my presentations, I dig into some communication fundamentals: Am I convincing someone? Am I trying to transform them? Educate them? Once I figure out what I want to say, I look to carry the gravitas of the message with graphics. So I go to Slideshop and I search for elements, the right graphic for the slide I’m working on. I use Slideshop like LEGOs, putting together building blocks of elements to build the visual message. I love it for that.

Other services out there that sell complete decks make you create it online, then download it. It’s a hassle. I love that with Slideshop I can cut and paste from the slides and grab what I need, and then I can import it. It saves me time. Rarely will I grab an entire slide, but I’ll grab a big robust graphic for use in my own slide. Slideshop probably saves me at least 2 or 3 hours every time I create a deck.

Thanks Michael! For more information on T3 TigerTech and The Cogent Coach, follow the links here.