10 Business and Productivity Tips for New Entrepreneurs + a Great Bonus List
You’ve launched; you’re ready to “rock ‘n roll.” Having never been totally on your own and responsible for every aspect of a business can be scary but also exhilarating. There are great rewards if your business thrives and grows and also pitfalls that you want to avoid. Hopefully, this list of 10 tips will be helpful from a business/marketing and from a productivity standpoint.
1. Your Business Plan
You probably have a plan that is working for you. It may be informal, and that is fine. There are two things you probably need to consider. First, your plan should be fluid. Review it and evaluate it every few months or so, just to be certain you are on track or do not need to change some things. The reason for this first suggestion is the second thing. At some point you may be looking for investors. And when you do, you will have to have a polished business plan. If you have maintained your informal plan well, it will be so much easier to craft.
You know that this is absolutely the most important part of your business activity. Unless potential customers know you exist and feel comfortable purchasing a product/service from you, things will go badly. You need a carefully planned and comprehensive marketing strategy. If you are not a marketer, and you really need to be spending time on other facets of your business, you need to find the right person to do this for you. As a small business owner you don’t have buckets of money. Fortunately, today you don’t need those buckets. But you need a very strong internet- based content marketing campaign as well as a local one if you have a brick and mortar presence too.
3. Do Not Neglect Finances
It’s easy when you’re small and just starting out. Any piece of accounting software can provide you with a spreadsheet, and you can keep track of your capital investment, your sales, your expenses, and your net profits. Most of them will also figure your taxes. As you grow, you may outgrow both your software and the amount of time you have to spend on accounting. When you find yourself at this point, when you are neglecting the accounting stuff because you are too busy, it’s time to make some changes.
4. Those Pesky Legal Things
Undoubtedly, you had the assistance of an attorney when you set your business model up. Keep his/her phone number. You don’t need an attorney on retainer, but legal issues and questions will pop up. Don’t play lawyer yourself. Get the right advice and pay for it.
5. On-the-Ground Appointments and Presentations
When you have a meeting with a potential client or customer, make sure that you know all that you can about him/her. Your presentation should be as short as possible, because most of the time should be spent asking questions of your target and listening. People who come on too strong sound desperate. Even if you are desperate, you have to be relaxed and you have to keep it short. If individuals say “no” or “I need to think about it,” shake their hands, tell them you are available if they have any questions or would like more information in the future. A “no” today can turn into a “yes” down the road if you handle it well.
6. Be Certain to Network
Join networking groups locally and online. Participate in discussions and develop relationships. Once you are established as professional and trustworthy, then you can ask for intros to others who might be interested in your product or service. Having that intro is like gold.
7. Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
You will be out socially in any number of places. When you meet strangers, inevitably you will be asked what you do. This is why you need a 30-second pitch and why you should have it fully practiced. You give it and then continue the conversation so the individual sees what a great person you really are. At the end of the conversation, hand off your business card.
8. Time Management
If ever an entrepreneur has one big complaint, it is this. There are two things you must do every day. Plan that day in the morning, hopefully according to a pre-calculated master schedule with blocks of time for the major functions you must perform. Stick to that schedule as much as possible. The other thing you must do at the beginning of each is prioritize all of the tasks for each block of time on your schedule. If you do this and stick to it, your productivity will shoot out the roof. Will crises arise? Yes. And you may have to veer from your schedule, but get back on track as quickly as possible.
9. Team Meetings
Even if you only have a partner, the two of you must schedule a meeting at least once a week to assess where you are, what is working, what needs to be improved and how, and plan for the near and long-term future. These meetings should be brief and to the point. You can talk about your families, friends and vacations at another time. The meeting is only for business.
10. Take Care of Yourself
A new business demands more time than you will ever spend on anything in your life. You will get run-down, frazzled, and stressed. Physical and emotional well-being can suffer. Be certain that you eat right, make the time for a social/family life, catch sleep whenever you can, and get physical exercise.
You may have additional critical tips to add to this list, but for the entrepreneur who is in the early stages of his/her startup, following these 10 will keep you organized, manage your time and finances better, and improve relationships with customers and potential customers.
Now the Bonus List, as Promised
You are living in a great time to start a business. Why? Because technology has given you so many tools to ease your tasks. What would have taken someone hours to accomplish in 1960 can now be accomplished with a few keystrokes. Lucky you. Here’s a list of 10 great tools/apps that will make your life so much more pleasant
This is a topic research tool, primarily for content marketing. Even if you are not doing your own content marketing, however, it is important to know what’s new in your niche and what customers are talking about. This app lets you do that by just plugging in a few keywords. You can see where conversations are taking place; you can also hook into content that others are writing and then curate that content for your own business blog or social media page.
This is a content marketing tool that encourages readers of your blog to sign up for things such as your email newsletter. You want those email addresses to keep flowing in so that you continually add to your target audience.
This is an entire suite of tools that can be used to increase traffic to your website as well as conversions, such as providing an email address. It will assist people to find your business blog, to read your articles and to easily share them on social media. They will be able to easily subscribe to your email list as well. This app will also help you find those who would be interested in learning more about your product/service and getting them to register for your newsletter.
If you really want a great email campaign, this is the app for you. You can manage your email lists by dividing them into categories and personalizing what you send out. You will also be able to generate reports on how an email campaign did. How many opened your emails? Now you’ll know and you’ll know exactly who did. It’s free to use, up to 12,000 emails/month to 2000 recipients.
If you have a team and need to process payroll, this is a great little tool. The entire system is paperless, calculates all taxes and other deductions, and allows employees to access their payroll stubs and their tax information at any time with password-protected access. The monthly fee is $25 plus $4.00 per employee
Sometimes you find articles, blog posts and other items that you really want to read but don’t have the time to do that right now. Pocket lets you save anything, including videos, so that you can access them later when you have the time. It is not cloud-based, and you do not need to have an Internet connection to pull up what you have saved. And it’s free. People who find Evernote challenging will love the ease of this tool.
This is an online writing service that has highly creative and professional content writers. If you want to maintain a business blog and a social media presence, then this company is perfect for your needs.
This is a comprehensive, free accounting software tool that is cloud-based – perfect, because you will never lose any information. You just enter the information, and Wave does the rest, allowing you to pull up reports at any time. Keep in mind that it is perfect for small businesses with up to 10 employees. It’s really easy to use for business owners who lack accounting skills, has a really simple dashboard. You just click the proper link (invoice, bills, receipts, reports, etc.) and enter the information. You can also set automatic billing for clients who are invoice monthly. If you expand, you will ultimately outgrow Wave. Another great and easy accounting software tool is Zoho Books, for medium-sized businesses.
The simple explanation of this tool is a to-do list, but it does far more than that. It’s great when you need to make task lists, delegate them to others, and share them to anyone. When tasks are complete they are so noted and everyone involved can see the progress. There is a free version and one for business use at $4.99/month. Well worth it if you have team members who are busy and need to coordinate task completion online.
If you have more than one phone and/or device (tablet, laptop, PC). You can save messages you send out, and all messages that have come in will be categorized, organized and saved as well. You can send out 7,500 messages a month for free and access them on any of your devices. There is a $4.99 set-up fee, and that’s it. It’s good on any iPhone, android, iPad or other tablet, all desktops, and even the Apple Watch.
Questions or Comments?
Is there anything you’d add to these lists? Are any of them lifesavers for you? Leave your thoughts below!