Welcome to the world of small business ownership. Lovely, isn’t it?
Of course, the rewards of small business ownership are quite high. Your focus determines your reality and your success, you never have to answer to an angry boss, and (for most owners) you get to work in an industry of your choice. There’s an obvious trade-off with the long hours, multiple responsibilities, and occasional panic attacks of “how am I going to get this done?”
Not to worry. You’re not alone. In fact, almost all small business owners face the same issues you do. And many have survived and lived on to tell the tale (in small business seminars, in fact!), so don’t get discouraged. Here are several easy tips to get your business head out of the clouds.
Become an expert at time management: If you went to college, chances are you learned how to balance midterm studying, paper writing, socializing, and plain old partying into a somewhat successful formula. Dust off those time management skills, because they’ll get your small business running in an efficient fashion. A great way to do this is to use the tools that come with modern office software. Any sort of email program that features a calendar, such as Outlook, will allow you to track appointments, follow-up emails/phone calls, and important dates. It will also allow you to create daily to-do lists while maintaining an organized list of your contacts. You can also use spreadsheet software, such as Excel, to keep track of the progress of multiple tasks, calculate and crunch numbers, and store tables upon tables of information. Get this software, load it on to your office computer or laptop and use it religiously. It will organize your life and allow you to attend to the important things for your business.
Contracts are good things: Here’s a hint – if you’re not an expert at something, don’t do it yourself. Your budgets are stretched and your time and sanity are running low. How about a hired hand? From virtual administrative assistants to business planners to copywriters, hiring out help on a contract basis can free you from the logistics of running a business and allow you to stay focused on what your business really does. Obviously, hiring a professional costs money, but it also means a separate set of eyes specializing in something that you’re not the most adept at. The process could even pay for itself. If the quality of work these contract professionals bring in generate revenue by allowing you to work harder at what you do best.
Seize every opportunity: When you’re a small business, you’ve got to get creative with your marketing. Fortunately, every single moment and action presents itself as a time to sell your business. Writing an email? Then attach your business description to your signature and casually mention your business. Going to the library? Bring some flyers and tack them on the bulletin board. Going to get office supplies? Ask the supply store manager how you can place your business cards on the counter. Every scenario grants you the opportunity to reach another person. And even if its just one person, that someone can tell a friend, who may tell two friends, and so on. Word-of-mouth and grass-roots marketing can be a powerful tool, and it’s cheap – so use it!
Keep your chin up: It might be a cliché, but it’s true – the best way to have run a successful business is to stay positive. Keeping a positive mindset affects you, the ones you work with, and your customers. No one likes to work when they’re down in the dumps. But if you’re chipper, motivated, and ready to go, you’ll inspire yourself and the ones around you. It may sound trite, but it’s the truth. Maintain a positive attitude and work hard and the results will present themselves!
While running a small business is consuming and exhausting, don’t forget that you also need to stay mentally and physically healthy. These tricks will help you run your business more efficiently, but it doesn’t excuse you from running yourself into the ground. Remember to find an outlet for the physical and emotional stress that come with running a small business. You’ll feel refreshed and energized and ready to work hard and efficiently – and that means more business and more profits!
Copyright © 2005 by Mike Chen. Author grants permission to reprint this article as long as the complete Bio and author’s information including website and contact information remains intact. If you would like to receive additional articles, contact Mike Chen
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About the author: Mike Chen is a San Francisco Bay Area-based freelance writer and consultant with diverse experience in copywriting, technical writing, and journalism. His articles on business, music, and sports have been regularly published for years and he is the author of 6 Methods For Marketing Your Small Business Online (available at http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com). His writing portfolio can be viewed at http://www.mikechenwriting.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions, comments, or copywriting estimates.