Monday, March 29, 2010

Tips for Entrepreneurs

The self-employed business owner is responsible for every aspect of the business from sweeping to managing the finances. All the while, they must ensure that staff are performing well and that new business is coming in. That's a lot to be responsible for so it's no surprise that business owners are often heavily stressed individuals. From a 16-year entrepreneur, here is some advice on how to circumvent the most common problems:

Business Development
The cheap solution? Network. Join clubs and groups. Follow clients/potential clients on Twitter and attend seminars and events. Be courageous and make your presence known.

Other ways to inexpensively promote yourself:
• Go after industry awards.
• Put success stories on your website.
• Write press releases and send them to newspapers.
• Let your network know that you're looking for new accounts.
• Check procurement sites that your industry/state might offer.
• Check job sites such as Workopolis for contract work.

Another inexpensive way to develop new business is to do it from within your existing client list. Treat your current customers very well. Be in touch with them often, listen to their challenges and do whatever it takes to meet or exceed their needs. Foresee what things they are going to need next. Be proactive and propose the ideas before they ask! Prove that you're dedicated and they're likely to show the same dedication in return.

Time Management
Manage your day by reducing distractions, prioritizing and using an electronic organizer. Know from the outset what you need to accomplish that day. Make a list (keep it reasonable), allot time slots and then plow through the tasks. Give yourself treats to work toward if you have to. Identify the things that are distractions to you then schedule them just like you'd schedule any other task — and only every few hours at the most.

Ask your network for referrals for qualified people so that you don’t have to invest in training. To reduce advertisement costs, post job openings on your website and put an announcement on free websites such as Ebay Classifieds. Also check on government employment programs that could sponsor an employee.

Cash Flow
Prepare a one-year cash flow forecast and update the spreadsheet weekly. This will allow you to see cash flow shortages in time to correct them. Send out reminders to clients to pay overdue accounts. Reduce expenditures. Have a loan in place before you need it.

Balancing Work and Life
This is a biggie. Most people start a business to have better control over their workday but end up falling into the same trap that their old employer fell into. You don't know how to stop thinking about the business when you're at home and your life goals become work-related. Identify 5 things that regularly consume your day then delegate them. Revisit your life goals and start scheduling them into every day. Add them to your electronic organizer if you have to!

Tips and Warnings
Caution: Lower stress during the workday can lead to more fun after-hours.

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