Helping Yourself When You Work Alone and From Home

Helping Yourself When You Work Alone and From Home

When you work from home, starting out with your own business, then you take on a lot of roles. You are the financier, the budgeter, the accountant, the marketer, the admin team, and the CEO; it can be a lot. Of course, this is how a lot of small businesses start out, and getting to grips with a variety of different aspects of the business can be important. However, in order to grow the business, you need to make sure that you are able to do the real big things that are going to grow it, rather than getting caught up in all of the emails, calls, appointments, bookings, and other admin. So here are some things to think about, in order to make your small business grow, and so that you don’t overwhelm yourself with all that you need to do.

Hire a Virtual Assistant

Hiring a virtual assistant is just as it sounds; someone to assist you, but done online, rather than in person. Which is why this can work great for many solo-business owners. There are a number of virtual services sites online that you can hire from, as well as using freelancers. It can be a good idea to have documents like an NDA ready for them, so that you can’t give away any information about your business. They can take control of a lot of things that need to be done, but that don’t need to be done by you. Then you have time to focus on the growth aspects of the business.

Set a schedule

When there is so much to do, it can be very tempting to just do things as and when they come in. But the truth of the matter is that you don’t need to be sat at your desk all afternoon going through emails. New ones will come in all of the time, so you can’t possibly do that, as you’ll deal with one and then another will come through. So instead, you should set yourself a working schedule, so that you know exactly what you should be doing and when. It can be a good idea to set yourself a timer too, so that you don’t go over schedule. When you do this, you will be able to get much more done throughout the day, and you’ll be able to prioritize what needs to be done first.

Be strict with working hours

There is no getting away from the fact that when you work for yourself, and when you work from home, there is always something to do. But you need to remember that although this is the case, you need to avoid burnout and give yourself time to relax, as well as proper weekends or days off. As a result, you should set days and times that you will work, and when you won’t. Of course, there can be some projects of events that will differ and need more of your time, but on the whole, setting yourself working hours and sticking to them, can really help.

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This is a contributed post.

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The Emotional Challenges Of Business Management

The Emotional Challenges Of Business Management

Business management is stressful, especially if you’re new to the management world. When you’re in the process of launching your own company, you face a long and twisted path of self-doubt, anxiety, and mood swings. It is the journey of every entrepreneur. While you’ve – hopefully – prepared a strategic plan to guide you through your progress, the strategy is no help to your mental health. Indeed, building your first company is an emotional rollercoaster that can make you feel inappropriate. Creating the foundation for your business is a labor of love that takes a lot of dedication and effort. But, more importantly, it’s a path that exposes your vulnerabilities. As an entrepreneur, you have no choice but to go through and try to keep a cool head. Thankfully, you don’t need to let emotional challenges distract you. There is plenty of practical support available to take your worries away.

You wish you had more time at hand
As a solo entrepreneur or the owner of a business with a small team, time is your most valuable asset. It is also the asset that is the most likely to slip in between your fingers. Indeed, you can’t afford to waste your time. However, the resource is limited. You need to prioritize income-generating operations over other time-demanding tasks. As a result, you are likely to fall into the habit of working long hours to catch up with your to-do list. Working against deadlines is stressful, but it’s a lot worse when you try to do everything simultaneously. Outsourcing is the best solution to maintain your sanity: You can’t keep your productivity and concentration for an extended period. More importantly, you are not a superhero. Your days have only 24 hours, and no, regardless of how hard you try, you can’t do everything. Accept your limitations and find an outsourced partner for support.

You wish you were more creative
Bringing a new brand to the market is demanding. Getting noticed doesn’t happen overnight. More importantly, unless you are a professional marketer who understands the challenges of creative visibility strategies, you’re unlikely to make it work. Indeed, as an entrepreneur, you can feel you have to be the creative force within your business. However, unless you are specially trained, you are likely to build unimaginative campaigns that won’t appeal to your audience. There’s an essential question about in-house vs. agency: When should you outsource your marketing? As a rule of thumb, outsourcing is the best solution for companies that struggle to attract their audience.

You wish you knew what to do next
Things change all the time. The market is a moving force that doesn’t stay still for long. In other words, the observations that have driven your strategy may not be accurate anymore. Entrepreneurs need to inject flexibility and adaptability in their day-to-day routines. However, when you’re new to the business world, making sense of a constantly evolving environment is not easy. But don’t let your fear of the unknown handicap your movements. When planning doesn’t show the way forward, knowing, and understanding your audience offers support. You can keep in touch with industry data through Google stats and Census data information to figure out your next move. Additionally, a supportive network of contacts can prove helpful in times of doubt!

Anxiety and stress can drive you to extreme mood swings when you’re launching your company. Nothing can preserve your sanity more than surrounding yourself with dedicated professional support on your way to success.

This is a contributed post

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Hidden Costs of Running Your Own Business

Hidden Costs of Running Your Own Business

If the thought of being your own boss is something that’s always excited you, why not take the leap and start your own business? It’s easier than ever to do and if you understand the costs involved then there’s no reason why you can’t go on to be a huge success.

Permits, Licenses and Dues

Everything starts with paper. You need to make sure that you get all of the permits and licenses you need to operate legally. This can be expensive, but when you’ve covered the initial cost, you’ll soon find that everything becomes way easier. You also need to set some money aside so you can cover your membership to any organisations you might need to sign up for. By participating in groups like this, you can then be kept up to date with the latest changes in your industry and you can also network much more efficiently. Another bonus of signing up to an organisation is that you’ll get member-only discounts on insurance, credit cards or even supplies, so this is well worth keeping in consideration.

Office Space

Do you really need a commercial space? Before you go ahead and rent, think about what you actually need to operate your company. It may be worth renting a temporary space, or even working from home. This will make running your business way cheaper and it will also free up more room in your budget.

A lot of business owners make a list of all the equipment they need to operate their business before launch. This is great, but you may end up forgetting about the smaller expenses. This can include basic equipment like paper, pens, scanners, desks and even chairs. If you want to save money here, then you should certainly think about buying products second-hand. There are so many websites which give you the chance to do this and sometimes you may even get a warranty with them too. You should also avoid jumping to the latest model if you don’t actually need it. For example, if you need a mobile phone then choose one that’s able to hold its charge and get a good signal. You probably don’t need all of the additional high-tech extras, and there’s a high chance that you won’t use them even if you did. When purchasing items that are imperative to your business operation, it does help to spend a bit extra to ensure a quality product. This is especially the case if you need the equipment to serve your customers. So if you need a 3D printer, opt for the Creality CR-10 Max, or if you need a laptop so you can provide your customers with updates regarding their order, then shop for a new model that focuses on reliability.

Employees

Your employees are the backbone of your company. Salaries, medical leave, health insurance and even training costs are all factors that you need to consider. If you don’t invest in your team by providing them with a good wage or even a clean working environment, this could mean that you have a high turnover, and this will cost you even more in the future. If you want to get around this then it helps to offer your team perks. These don’t have to be pricey, and sometimes benefits such as having a flexible schedule can go a long way. If you’re providing your team with health insurance then negotiate with your provider annually, so you can budget for other fees more efficiently.

Insurance

It’s mentioned above that you probably need to obtain some sort of health insurance for your team. That being said, you also need to try and pay for your own business insurance too. At a minimum, you need to have public liability and employer liability cover. Having insurance for negligence, illness and injury will help you out as well. Saving money here isn’t difficult, and sometimes all you need to do is negotiate with your insurance provider. If you have a good record and have gone a long time without making a claim, then try and ask them for a lower rate. Your business is important to them, and if they think that you’re planning on leaving then there’s a high chance that they’ll try and give you a better rate. You also need to review your coverage annually so you can see if you still need the policies you’ve chosen.

Shrinkage

Shrinkage is when you lose inventory between purchasing it from the supplier and delivering it to your customer. Issues like this can happen for a huge number of reasons. You may find that you end up short on a shipment from a vendor, or that your team make picking errors. Theft and damaged goods are also another reason why shrinkage happens. If you need to safeguard yourself against issues like this then it helps to have an inventory management system. Barcodes and scanners are the way forward, as they can help you to maintain real-time data. They can also help you to pinpoint the exact moment an item goes missing so you can protect yourself against it happening again.

Payment Delays

If a customer forgets to pay, or if the bank chooses to hold your transaction then this can cause you major issues. Payment delays can hurt your bottom line, and this is especially the case when payments are necessary to cover the cost. Overdraft charges can also eat away at your credit rating too, and this can cause you even more issues in the future. To stop things like this from happening, you need to set some payment terms with your customers. You also need to try and hold them accountable for not paying too. 30 day-terms can work for bigger businesses, but when you’re a smaller business you can’t be waiting a month to get paid. If a customer does happen to pay late then don’t be afraid to pursue them. It may also be worth chatting with your bank about getting some kind of overdraft protection too. This may involve a fee, but it will be way less expensive than having to deal with bounced checks all the time.

Time

Your time is a very valuable resource. You cannot afford to waste it at all, so think about it, are you spending too much time on tasks that could be outsourced? If so, then explore this as an option. Freelancers are very reliable, and they often have favourable payment terms. Another benefit of hiring a freelancer is that you won’t have to insure them, and they’ll pay for their own tax too. If you aren’t quite sure how to hire a freelancer then there are tons of sites available that are designed to help, and some of them even come with payment protection too. This ultimately means that if they don’t deliver, then you will be completely covered.

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Professional Services

As mentioned above, sometimes you may need to outsource your staff. This is especially the case when it comes to professional services. Sometimes accounting and even legal fees can run into the thousands, but they are worth their weight in gold. Legal professionals are able to untangle any red tape that you may come across when running your business and they may even be able to translate tax codes too. This will make it much easier for you to navigate the process and it will also help you to maintain a much more accurate payment inventory. If you need to save money here, then try and negotiate with the professionals who you work with to try and keep your fees as low as possible. It may also help to have your professional lawyer handle the more difficult legal tasks, and then hire someone with less experience to take care of everything else. This will save you money and it will also make it way easier for you to stay on top financially.

Credit Card Fees

If you run a small business, then you have to be so careful about using a credit card. If you cannot pay your balance in full every single month, you may end up with debt that is completely unmanageable. You may even find that you experience high-interest rates and even reliance too. It’s safe to say that this is a position that you don’t want to be in. If you need to get around this then it helps to do your research so you can find the best rates right now. You also need to find companies who can offer you the best rates too. Some may give you discounts if you make cash payments, and others may give you travel incentives. Either way, the type of business you own will ultimately decide which terms you should be looking for. If you are reluctant to take out a credit card, then consider looking into other forms of business financing. Loans tend to have much lower interest rates and you may even find that they’re easier to obtain too.

**This is a Contributed Post

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How To Promote Your Business With Webinars

How To Promote Your Business With Webinars

If you’re seeking a way to promote your business and reach bigger and better goals, then look no further… Webinars might be exactly what you need! 

Many different companies boast of the great effects that webinars have had in helping their business grow to new heights, so what’s stopping a great webinar from doing the exact same thing for your business? With some dedication, determination, education, and a bit of effort, you can create a brilliant webinar that will work wonders for your business.

Here are 6 ways a webinar can help you build your business and reach your 2019 goals. 

Build Your Lists

If you host a free webinar, one with valuable information that is easy for your desired audience to attend, then you will easily be able to build a fresh list of warm to hot leads! Always remember that your database of emails and other contacts is perhaps your most valuable business possession (besides yourself and your team) and a great webinar can help you multiply that list. This not only helps you to network, but also remember that if you can get your product or service in front of your desired audience, then you’re that much closer to making sales!

Find A New Audience 

Your current audience is an important thing to protect and serve dutifully. However, in order to grow your business, you must also grow your audience and customer base! Webinars can help you do exactly that. Attempting to create webinars in various industries or in front of various audiences can help you tap into new opportunities for business growth, all while keeping your current audience or customers satisfied with valuable information and their desired products or services.

Spread Brand Awareness 

It’s obviously important to build your lists and find your desired audience, but there might be a time where instead of hosting the actual webinar, you’re a guest speaker invited to bring additional value. Perhaps you’re a social media guru asked to speak at a marketing company’s telesummit. In that case, you want to present a lot of valuable information while also portraying what is unique and valuable about your specific brand in order to pique interest in what makes you special. Making sure your audience understands your uniqueness is important in growing your business and spreading your brand.

Perfect Your Craft 

Something you’ll quickly learn (if you start presenting yourself and your business more) is that each time you present, you will learn how to make the next presentation even better. Hosting a great, well-thought-out webinar will not only immediately help grow your business (new lists, new audience, new brand awareness), but it will also help you in future endeavors to reach new business goals since you’ll be far more confident in what you do and know.

Network Like A Boss 

A good webinar will also help you make connections with real people looking to make real improvements or changes in their own lives or trade (depending on your business and your audience). By creating an excellent webinar with valuable information, you’ll make it easy for people who are serious to reach out to you, make a connection, and keep that connection going. Since networking is such a crucial part to business, this point shouldn’t go unnoticed!

Save Time 

As a business owner, you have to be able to make the absolute most of your time if you’re going to be able to handle substantial growth. While speaking at live events definitely has its pros, webinars save the time of booking, travel, and are easily repeatable if needed. Additionally, you can create them within the comfort of your home without the pressure of a live audience. Perfecting your speech is easily done, even for those of us who are more shy or even terrified of presenting.

Ready to host a webinar? I can help! My team and I have been running successful webinars and telesummits for years and I am passionate about helping business owners reach their goals.

I’ve opened a few spots on my calendar this week for free, no-obligation consultations. Spaces fill quickly so claim your spot now!

Have a great week.
Robyn Bennett

 

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Tech Tools for Freelancers

Tech Tools for Freelancers

***Contributed Post***

It will come as no surprise that to make it in the freelance world, you have to rely on yourself. However, there are a few pieces of tech that can help you on your way. Running a small business isn’t an easy feat by any means. You are responsible for finding work in the early days, invoicing, taxes, websites, and many other facets of running a successful business. There is somewhere in the region of 54 million freelancers in America at any one time, in a few key areas. Writing, consulting, photography and design tend to be the top choices. 

It doesn’t matter if you are just dipping your toe into the freelance pool, or you’ve been at it for years. Here are some tech tools that will help you manage your business that much better.

Money Matters 

When it comes to managing your money, you have to be smart. Having a card swiper handy when you go to meetings, or you are wrapping things up with the client is always a good idea. Not everyone wants to pay the fees for online transfers like PayPal. There are also a couple of very popular choices if you are doing your own accounting (and you probably are for the most part). 

Wave. This is a free service that helps you generate a dashboard configured to the needs of your business. You can put in information like transactions, receipts, invoices, and other information. It will help you keep everything in order without much fuss. This is suited to smaller businesses or freelancers who aren’t planning on huge growth. 

FreshBooks. This cloud-based accounting software system is excellent for tracking things like billable hours, invoices and will even calculate taxes for you. This is a step up from Wave and is suited to businesses that make a decent turnover but need to keep track of their billable hours. This nifty kit can also work out your profit, losses, and provide you with quarterly analysis.

 

Time 

When it comes to freelancing, your time is literally money. If you start a project but waste too much time procrastinating, you are wasting perfectly good billable hours. One of the most popular ways of breaking down a working day is by using a Pomodoro, time tracker. This will improve your productivity and give you a way to track your working hours. 

Pomodoro Timer for Trello. If you like to have your projects neatly organized, they chances are you use Trello already. The Pomodoro Timer for Trello allows you to implement this productivity tool in your cards. 

Self-control. If you find yourself floating between a research website and Facebook, you can curb that nasty habit quickly with this app. You can block specific sites for set periods of time. So, if you like to work from 10-4 every day, then you can block that period of time each day. Just set the time, click start and work away. 

Getting in Order 

When it comes to making the most of your time you need to make sure that you have some organizational tech in place. These might be simple checklists, or you might like more comprehensive options. 

Wunderlist is a super simple to-do list app. You can access it on your mobile or desktop so you can work easier on the go. You can set your to-dos up by client or project and then break it down into tasks. The extra added bonus for this app is that you can add photos, files, and notes as you go. Plus, you can set yourself deadlines and reminders that will sync across all of your devices. Handy. 

Google Drive. This is used by freelancers and businesses the world over, and it’s probably not a surprise to see it made the list of tech that can make your life easier. Some people are terrible at keeping track of their files and can never produce what they are asked for on a whim. Google Drive has options like Sheets which is similar to excel, and Docs which works like any other word processor. You can share things quickly with a link, and you can protect your work with a view only option. You can export into .doc or PDF and a few other file types so you won’t run into compatibility issues. And, you’ll never lose your work as it is all stored safely in the Google Cloud. If you travel a lot, and many of us do, the Dos app is available on your phone if you should need to edit anything on the go or share the files. 

For other great gadgertry check out this post - The Essential Gadgetry That Every Business Needs.

 

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