As a small business owner, you’re essentially writing your own paycheck. But that doesn’t mean you have an endless supply of funds anytime you need them. Instead, your earnings are dependent on a variety of factors, some of which are outside your direct control. So what can you do if you run into difficult financial circumstances? Here are a few ways to jump money-related hurdles.
Here are 4 ways your small business can remain competitive:
- Get professional help!
Two questions to ask yourself to determine what tasks you need to get help with are:
- What are the things you do that drain you of energy? We all do things we really enjoy and that energize us. We also do things that tend to drain our energy.
- What are the things you do that don’t directly increase your profits? You know—those tasks that have to be done in a business but don’t directly bring in income.
Once you’ve identified the things that drain you of energy and that don’t directly increase your profits, you’re ready to call in professional help. A virtual assistant can take on those tasks, leaving you with the tasks that you feel energized about and that contribute directly to your bottom line.
- Market by providing valuable education
Any business owner can increase their profits by gaining new clients. The key here is to approach this with a new mindset. Instead of focusing on gaining new clients to increase your business, focus on contributing value to others. The increased business and new clients will come.
Think about how you market to your clients. Is your focus on what you do and what your services you provide? The key is to focus on our prospects and clients, on their needs, who they are, what challenges they face, and what benefits they will receive by using your services.
Another way to provide valuable education to prospects and clients is to write articles and reports, such as this one, and distribute them freely. They not only increase your credibility, they give your prospects valuable information and a way for them to learn more about you and your services.
- Build relationships with social networking
Marketing now needs to focus more on building relationships. That’s why we’ve seen an increase in businesses using social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Use these sites to provide resources and referrals. Be involved and participate in a meaningful way. Building relationships at these sites can build trust and at some point you’ll find people asking more about what you can do for them.
- Invest in your business
Sometimes the best way to remain competitive in the small business world is to invest in your business. As a small business owner myself, I know how difficult the first few years were and there were times when there was no way I was going to spend any money until I had earned a certain amount of money. However, I learned an important lesson: investing in my business. Investing in my business allowed me to hire additional help so I could take on more work. In the process my business grew, I was making more money, and actually working less because I had a team of people assisting me.
One way to invest in your business is to utilize the resource Kabbage. Small businesses can use the working capital loan Kabbage offers to invest in their business to grow and thrive.
So what are you waiting for? If you want your small business to remain competitive, then get professional help, market by providing valuable education, build relationships with social networking, and invest in your business!
You want to expand the exposure for your business by adding new connections on a regular basis on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. Choose one each weekday to add five new connections and watch your social media interactions grow. Look for people in your industry you might want to collaborate with. Connect with local small business owners who you may do business with.
You’ll find me on each of the networks below. I invite you to connect with me!
Where are you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+? I want to connect with you!
My 10th book was released July 27th. It’s called You Don’t Want a Job: Why Self-Employment Reduces Your Risks & Increases Your Rewards. If you’re already a self-employed, it contains loads of information from great psychological resources that’ll make you feel good about your choice, and help you make the most of it. Here are a few of the ideas from the book, which you can buy from us right here.
[S]ince no one else is going to take the trouble of making sure that we enjoy our work, it makes sense for each of us to take on this responsibility. — Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, p. 101-2
Self-Employed Doesn’t Always Mean Entrepreneur
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.
Some are cut out to be freelancers.
Entrepreneurs want to create. They want to be in the driver’s seat. They do not fear the fires of risk. They like finding new people, making connections. They want to choose their own deadlines and make their own way.
Some folks don’t fit that description. That doesn’t mean they should get a job. It means freelancing instead of entrepreneurship.
Freelancing is hiring out your talents to a number of different people. It’s like having lots of bosses. Except you get to choose them, not the other way ’round.
Working freelance (the word comes from “free lance,” as in, a mercenary who was good at one thing: fighting wars, whoever was paying for it) means you don’t have to convince clients they need your help. Your clients are entrepreneurs who appreciate the skills you bring to their business. They understand you. Your marketing is simpler because it’s aimed at other business folks, not end users. Your pricing is less subjective. You don’t have to set your own deadlines. You know what needs to be done every day.
Entrepreneurs and freelancers get the same benefits despite their different personalities.
You Have Control
One objection I hear to the concept of entrepreneurship is that “you’re just trading one boss for a whole bunch of bosses: your clients.”
Well, sure, if you’re doing it wrong.
Control is not a gift you’re given, it’s a power you wield.
When you’re the boss, you have control over the 4 Ts.
You control what tasks you do.
You control the techniques you use.
You control the time you work.
You control the team you work with.
I can hear you yelling about the last two from where I’m sitting. “My buddy is never around because he’s always rushing to meet a deadline.” “My sister’s clients are all jerks, but she needs the money.”
Covered in my other books, I’ll briefly dispel those here:
If you schedule properly and maintain good client relationships, you should rarely, if ever, be forced to work at a time you’d prefer not to. I keep my goal dates (I don’t even call them “deadlines”) flexible enough that if I want a day off, I can take one. What that also means is that if I wake up at 4am and feel like working, I can, because then when I’m tired at 9:30 I can take a nap.
Working for jerks will make you a jerk. It is an immutable law that we become like those we associate with. Choose clients you wish you were more like. It takes guts to turn down money from someone you don’t want to work with, and I’ll admit to making this mistake more than once — and regretting it every single time.
You do not have to work 88 hours a week, nor do you have to work with jerks. You are the boss. If you work too much or with the wrong people, it is because you chose to, not because you had to.
Autonomy Over Balance
Anyone who always chooses the 4 Ts entirely at their own whim is going to struggle. We live in a complex intertwangled society, as gregariously social creatures. It goes against nature to seek total independence.
Another autonomy is over the balance of autonomy we choose.
When the economy shifts, I focus more on one type of project than another.
When I’m partnering with someone I want to build a working relationship with, I’ll use the tools they’re familiar with, at least at the outset.
When a beloved client really truly needs it now, I usually choose to pull out all the stops to deliver for them.
While I won’t work with jerks, either as my client or as a co-worker on a project, I have worked with folks who didn’t light my fire in every interaction. I’ve asked advice from folks who seem incapable of tact. I’ve read great information in deadly dull books and blog posts.
And every one was a choice. My choice. Choice to balance how much autonomy is right for this time, this day.
A Job Is Simpler
Life is complicated and messy. We tell ourselves stories to simplify it, to get a handle on it, to teach our children.
Oversimplification can be a useful teaching tool, a beneficial coping strategy. It can also fool us into believing that simple is better in cases where it’s not.
Having a job is simpler, tidier, than the messiness of creating your own business, whether entrepreneurial or freelancing.
Even though you know who I am, we’ll say it again, a little differently:
After losing two jobs in a row because companies went out of business, Joel D Canfield resurrected Spinhead, the web design company he’d founded in 1998. In the six years since his last job, Joel and his family have traveled full-time throughout the US and Canada for 18 months, created and refined multiple businesses, and spent nearly all their time doing exactly what they wanted to do instead of what they had to do. Read more about his newly released 10th book “You Don’t Want a Job” at http://JoelDCanfield.com
Small businesses are always looking for ways to save time, money, paper, and especially in today’s economy – gas. As a virtual assistant to solo professionals, I’ve come across several resources that have helped me and my clients save time and money.
One task that can take up time and paper is getting a contract or agreement signed. Time and paper can be saved using an online resource called Echo Sign. This service makes getting a document signed by both parties as easy as sending an email – and it can be done in minutes. There’s nothing to install and a free account can get five documents signed a month. It’s been very useful in my business, making the turn around time in getting documents signed almost non-existent. Also, there’s no paper to print. Documents are stored electronically. Visit their website at EchoSign.com.
Are you always jotting yourself a note on a sticky note? Save yourself money and paper by using Jott.com. Jott converts your voice into emails, text messages, reminders, lists and appointments. Just pick up the phone and send yourself a Jott. Your Jott will be in your Inbox when you get back to the office. No more sticky notes!
Would you like to receive all your bills electronically and not deal with the hassle of paper anymore? Of course you want to sign up for any e-statements you can. Another great online resource is PayTrust.com. PayTrust allows you receive, review, pay and organize all your bills online.
Do you like going to seminars to learn more about your industry but find you can’t afford the gas anymore? Teleseminars may be the answer you’re looking for. Save gas by never leaving the comfort of your home or office. Check out Conference Call University at CCULearning.com.
Many solo professionals are saving time and money by using the services of a virtual assistant to help create and implement online marketing for their service businesses. Search for a virtual assistant in your area and see how he or she can help.