Be the Lion… Business survival skills

When you are starting a business, any business, it is imperative that you go into the business with the ferociousness of a lion. You have to give it all you have to get your business going, to just get it off the ground. The momentum you have in the beginning will set the tone and really let people know how bad you really want it. It will let them know how passionate you are, and therefore how successful you will be. The two go hand in hand. Without the passion it is just a job. Something for you to do to occupy your time. With the passion it is your creation, your dream. You will work hard and do whatever it takes to make sure you succeed. These are the people whose businesses grow and thrive. These are the people that make it happen!

There are three thoughts that people start a business with. There are the “I really think this will be successful”. If you only “think” it will then it won’t. Then there are the “I am going to do my best to make this business successful” Your best isn’t always good enough. You have to really want it. You have to go the extra mile . Finally there are the ” How soon will I need to start hiring people”. Failure does not even enter their mind. They do not think they will succeed. They know they will. They have no doubt. They start their business like a lion, with spirit, dedication and fervor. That kind of passion will take their business to amazing heights.

The only way to get to this point is to want it…go after it. It’s not going to just happen. When I started my business I had a million ideas before I opened for business. I had researched and studied what others in my industry had done and what tools they used. I studied their websites and blogs. Then I took all of that information, tweaked and improved what I saw, and made my own way of doing things.  I learned how to market my business. I learned how to make people want what services I could give them. I went to networking meetings to make business to business connections. Sometimes 2-3 a day for weeks. Even though I had never done it before, I created my own website and started blogging. Every time I got up and spoke about my business at a meeting I gave the other business owners a new idea or thought that would make them think about their own business and how what I just said could apply to them. I made the wheels turn and start thinking about how my business could benefit them.

After I had started doing work for some of them I began to earn their respect. A person can talk all they want but if they do not have the actions to back up what they are saying it doesn’t mean anything. After I had gained respect I started talking to them individually, suggesting creative ways I could help them with different aspect of their business. If I was hired to do one particular task, after completing it I was always able to suggest some other service that I believe they would benefit from. If I just did what I was paid to do and told them thank you for your business I wouldn’t get their repeat business. I got repeat business from these companies because I made it happen. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. That statement is true with just about anything you want in life. If you want more work then go ask for it.  If you want more people to buy your merchandise then ask them what they want.

The moral of this story of this story is be the lion. Have the passion, the fury, and the spirit to get what you need to survive…for your business to survive.

Organize and Grow your Business… in 4 easy steps

Have you ever felt like your time was being squeezed so tight that it felt like you couldn’t catch your breath? Have you felt like time with your family is being compromised just so you can keep up with the day-to-day tasks that keeping your business going? Business owners, especially the ones that try to do everything themselves, feel like this time and time again. Once they realize that something needs to change, and they have to take the steps necessary to make that happen, their business will start improving. It is the difference between a disaster waiting to happen and a well oiled machine. You see, the “one day” day doesn’t magically just happen.  People say “one day I will have time to communicate better with my customers”, or “one day I will get my business on social media so I can increase my sales”, or “one day I will find a way to organize my business records so that I can see how my business is doing”.  You have to make it happen, and if you follow these 4 easy steps you will be on the road to getting the organization you must have to get the peace of mind that you so desperately need.

1.) Get your business records organized. You need to have a program, I recommend QuickBooks, that can organize your business expenses and income into one place where you can look and see how your business is doing. It has lots of reports that you can utilize that will tell you exactly how your business is doing in terms of profit and loss. At tax time your accountant will love you. They can just log into your QuickBooks after you have given them access, and download all the reports they need to be able to fill out your tax return. No more paying accountant rates to go through your receipts, bank records, and credit card statements and organize them into a general ledger that they can then convert into the figures they need for your business tax return. This will save you a lot of time and money. It is cost efficient and easy to learn.

2.) Social Media. Create social media accounts that will increase your exposure to your target demographic and increase your sales. Certain social media platforms are better than others for different types of businesses. Choosing the right platform and engaging not only your existing customers but your target demographic for future business and sales could grow your business more than you ever thought. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest are some of the top rated platforms. You can give your customers tips, show pictures of your products, set up a click to buy, or promote your posts that will not only increase your likes, but your sales or services too! The statistics don’t lie. These social media platforms can help grow your business!

3.) Email Marketing. If you have a list of customers you have sold a product or a service to and you have their email information you can communicate with them on a consistent basis. Don’t bombard them with meaningless email that will make them hit delete every time they see your name. Send them information on a special you are having, or a newsletter with DIY tips or videos. Most people don’t mind getting emails if it is a way to save them money or help them in some way. Video is very popular right now. People don’t read plain text as much as text with pictures or video. Short 1-2 minute video’s are easy to make from just pictures and text. You could also make it a DIY tip video on a particular topic. Whatever you choose to send them, as long as it is engaging, will keep your name in front of them and they will be more likely to remember your company when they need something. There are both free and paid accounts you can set up in Constant Contact or Mailchimp that will let you upload your entire email contact list and create beautiful email campaigns with pictures and lots of color that will catch your customer’s attention.  Staying connected with your customers will keep them coming back!

4.) Hire a virtual assistant. You can’t do it all… you need help sometimes. Learn to delegate. Learning this will improve several aspects of your business and personal life. The more organized your business is the more time you have to enjoy your personal life. The things I mentioned in this blog are all things that take time. They will definitely improve the way your business flows and help you get on track, but you might not have the time, or the understanding of how they work to get them all accomplished. You might find that you need some help in just certain areas. By hiring a virtual office assistant you don’t have to pay a full-time or even permanent part-time employee to do the things you need done. A virtual assistant works only when you need something done. If you need help getting your QuickBooks set up or even someone to help maintain the invoicing, receiving of payments, and recording of expenses, they can help. If you need someone to help come up with creative content ideas for your social media platforms, they can help. If you need someone to create email marketing campaigns and videos to promote your business, they can help. Virtual assistants can simply help you set these programs up so that you can do the work yourself each month, or they can keep up with them when you don’t have the time. Most of them charge by the hour or by the project.  They are very fast at what they do because that’s all they do. It is their specialty. Some people who have used them don’t know how they ran their business without them.

Making your life easier is simple. Don’t let the business you started and love drive you crazy and keep you from doing the things you enjoy. There are ways to organize, grow, and get help managing your business that will make “one day”.. this day. You just need to quit thinking about it and make it happen.

How much is your time worth?

How much is your time worth? It’s hard to put a dollar figure on it. If you’re a parent every minute you can spend with your kids is priceless. Some severely lack in having that luxury. They might have to travel a lot, have a work schedule that is very demanding, or have too many responsibilities. Sadly this makes seeing your family a rare occasion.

If you are a business owner your time is usually best spent growing your business. You might be the one that does the work yourself, such as a handyman. You might have employees to do the work but you are the one that goes out and gets all the new business. Without that you have no future business growth. Most business owners are also responsible for making sure their existing customers stay happy. Keeping a customer is just as important as getting new ones. All of these things are critical in keeping you in business.

With that being said it is obvious that your time is invaluable. If you sat down and made  a list of everything you had to do to keep it all going, then prioritized it, you would see that there are certain things only you can do and those things are usually at the top of the list. Then there are the things that are further down the list. Things you could delegate or maybe hire someone else to do. Things that still have to get done but not things that you have to do. This is where a virtual assistant comes in handy.

A virtual assistant can do all of the administrative work your business needs. They can provide the much-needed assistance you need to keep your business running smoothly so you can keep going. You might not need a full-time or even part-time employee to take care of things. They will cost a guaranteed amount every week and possibly even more if you have a full-time employee entitled to company benefits, vacation pay, sick pay, etc… You might not even have an actual office for someone to work out of. A virtual assistant can take care of what you need done, as you need it done, saving you both time and money. You might need some invoicing done, someone to make sure your customers are paying. You might just be crazy busy one day and need someone to return some phone calls or emails for you. Maybe you want to keep in touch with your existing customers and want some email marketing blasts to go out. There is no job too small… or to big when properly managed… that a virtual assistant can’t help with.

With the right person helping, you might just find the time to make that little league game, dance recital, or just plain sit down and realize how good that feels. So how much is your time worth? Hire a virtual assistant, focus on the important things, and your will see just how valuable their time is to you, and how invaluable yours is.