The ability to maximize the productivity of your day is one of the greatest abilities of the successful business owner. While some who find themselves challenged in this area may think that there must be some great secret to being able to accomplish this, there are many simple concepts that can be implemented that will allow you to make the very most of every day.
1.) Make a to-do list. Even if you think you have a terrific memory, you will forget something. WRITE IT DOWN. Plus, there is something cathartic about being able to cross an accomplished item off of a list. This will help to keep you motivated.
2.) Schedule your time and do your utmost to keep to the schedule. This includes responding to phone calls, answering emails, even breaks.
3.) Sleep. Without a good night’s sleep your ability to focus will be severely affected. Lack of sleep is one of productivity’s greatest enemies.
4.) Organize. Know where everything is. Take the time to find a place for everything and then put everything in its place. It is a simple concept, but it is an important one.
5.) Delegate. If you are fortunate to have a capable assistant, ask yourself if this is something that MUST be done by you or if you can hand it off. Even if you delegate them personal items—such as scheduling doctors’ appointments and keeping your calendar you will find that it frees up valuable time in your day to do your most important tasks.
6.) Minimize distractions. This includes background noise such as televisions and radios. If possible, shut your door. Anything that competes for your attention can be detrimental to your productivity.
7.) Break complicated tasks into steps. It will provide you with a better way to measure your progress toward its completion and will make it seem less overwhelming.
There are only so many hours in a day. In order to have your business grow and thrive you have to make the most out of each day. Taking the time to put a few good practices into place will ensure that every day is as productive as possible and that you have the ability to get to the most important tasks—thereby ensuring the continued success of your business.
Nerd and techie alert! Micropreneurs who are creating strategies for their online advertising spend should really take a look over here at Google ThinkInsights. It’s a FREE tool that lets you determine how you enter new markets, determine optimal times to create advertisements and the search terms you should be using to correlate with your particular brand. As I write this note to you, I am reminded of my colleague Peter Marino over at Reel Web Design who has been testing Google algorithms for a while to see how to optimize his SEO/SEM results – and it seems Google has become a bit trickier to set up your website to send you free traffic based on your keywords. I can’t help but think Google is making it that much more difficult because they want to capture more revenue.
Maybe it is, or maybe it isn’t time for us to forget the hunt for the elusive optimization and focus on smart advertising spend. But in the meantime, check out what this free tool offers to micropreneurs – a great deal of data to use as you search for the answer to your search and advertising solutions.
Traditionally, one of the most common questions a potential business owner had when contemplating the founding of their business was “How do I estimate the startup costs for my business?” But how has this process changed for a modern-day micropreneur? Well, actually, a lot.
Let’s say I wanted to open a dress store in 1989. I would have estimated my startup costs based on things like insurance, rent, product inventory, marketing expenses, print advertising, wages, printing, utilities, shipping, office supplies, business cards and other items. At the end of this estimation process, if I needed financial assistance from a bank or an investor their involvement may have meant that my little boutique may have never made it off the ground.
Fast forward to today. For a modern-day micropreneur and virtual company owner many of the considerations have either been displaced or the costs greatly lowered by technology. For example, my new online dress boutique requires an investment in design of the platform, online PR strategies, social media outreach and such. But I no longer have to consider things like:
- · exorbitant costs for printing that has been largely replaced by low cost email
- · rent that is replaced by drastically lower site hosting fees
- · utilities for anything other than my living space, and
- · office supplies for yourself – not a staff of five.
Today, a virtual business owner starts their company while still employed. Her paycheck funds much of her startup costs. A 2 – 5 year transition plan is very common for many micropreneurs who never have to rely on their business to be the sole source of income to pay living expenses for any matter of time. After a few years, many business owners replace their existing salary and some surpass it.
And if they start more than one company the financial barriers to entry for micropreneurs shrink even further. Once a true micropreneur understands the power of process automation – starting another company is as easy as registering a new domain name and employing the same skills and freelancers to get things done. Costs are saved by reusing equipment, software, freelancers etc.
I am not suggesting that virtual company ownership is a $5 venture by any means. The costs are real, and need to be calculated. But the modern day micropreneur costs are happily much lower.
When you want to estimate your micropreneur venture costs create a list or a spreadsheet and itemize the equipment, other items that you will need to open for business and list the cost of these items as well as any startup capital that you will require for each line item. A few such items would include computers, tablets, phones, virtual assistants, strategic consulting, software, hosting, design and development, telecommunications, business cards and others.
Price these items and be realistic about it. The more detailed and complete your list and prices, the more accurate your estimate will be. Once you believe you have everything listed, then it is just a matter of totaling the prices and costs of everything you need to acquire and pay for to launch your new virtual business.
Recurring revenue allows you to secure a client once and bill them for value-added services over a specified amount of time. It’s an ideal model for creating reliable and sustainable income while you focus on securing new customers. Plus, when your company has profit centers that generate income in a number of different ways, the risk that your revenue is negatively affected by an economic downturn or market change is significantly reduced.
The idea of creating recurring revenue streams is not new at all. As an example, think about your last mobile phone purchase. Most likely you signed on for about 2 years of service in exchange for paying a lower price for your phone. That’s just one example of how to incorporate a recurring revenue stream into your business model.
So while recurring revenue is not new, what is particularly exciting today is the ability to use technology to automate and deliver a number of recurring revenue programs in a digital format using your website, QR codes, smart phone, mobile apps, in-app purchases, or through an eLearning platform. Technology gives even the tiniest of companies an opportunity to automatically deliver quality services and make money while you sleep.
Today’s most nimble businesses are re-thinking how they make their money and how they structure and automate their company’s profit centers using technology to control things like:
° Automating everything from your Lead Generation and Sales to Content and Product Fulfillment
° Service, Maintenance and Customer Support
° Booking & Direct Payment
° Subscriptions to Members Only Website
° Product Training and Certification
The sooner you get started building recurring revenue streams, the better. Build them once and capitalize on repeat sales which grow exponentially over time.
Now go out there and get paid for your knowledge and your content!
My father is joining the ranks of retirees starting online business ventures and he’s in his 70’s. When you think about it, being a micropreneur is a perfect way to share his many years of business knowledge without having to leave the comfort of his home office – if he so chooses. And it’s a perfect way to create additional revenue to supplement his retirement.
At his age, though he has seen and done a great deal and if you’re in the same boat – it may be hard for you to pin down a particular area on which to focus your new company. I believe it is a waste of time to write out an entire business plan if you’re still not sure about your business concept – instead try what I call the Affinity Marketing Proof of Concept Phase.
This Phase occurs before you write a business plan. You start with an idea and the goal is simply to test your market and prove or disprove and refine your marketing message and concept.
To launch a business you need to determine if you can make any money at it. Otherwise it’s simply a hobby or pastime. If you want to see if your business has merit with a Proof of Concept Phase, you’ll need a:
- Fuzzy idea of what you want to offer (product or service)
- 1 or more Facebook pages
- Twitter account
- Custom Logo files which can be used on all the social media platforms
- Identity – enough about your concept to fill out the basic information on Facebook and Twitter
- Placeholder URL is optional – but I like to have it just in case the idea takes hold. If you don’t end up using this particular URL – you can redirect it to the site you develop later or resell it.
You then simply set up your accounts and begin talking about your concept about 2 – 3 times per week and do a bit of announcing and cross posting on all your social media platforms. Watch to see the audience that shows up to hear what you have to say. Tweak your content every once in a while to see what people respond to. (Hint: People hate the oversell, so make the Identity all about them – NOT YOU)
At first things will likely be slow to take off – with Facebook, there is a tipping point at around 200 people or so. If your idea resonates, this is when the page “Likes” will take on a life of their own – even if you’re not posting new content very often. At this point, you’re simply collecting names and analyzing the common threads amongst who shows up.
I recommend spending a bit more time on Facebook than on Twitter because Facebook “Likes” have more long-term value. Just follow these ideas for engaging your audience and if you find your page taking off – and reaching in the 3, 4 or (*gasp*) 5 digit Number of “Likes” – begin working on your business plan and main site. You may just have something there worth pursuing.
Keep in mind, you can launch multiple Proof of Concept Facebook pages to test your market, but the key is to listen to what people begin to talk about around your particular concept and to capture the characteristics about your perfect customer. Not everyone who presses “Like” will be a perfect customer to you.
This is one of the fastest ways to:
- determine if you have a market at all
- mine that market for their needs; and then
- fulfill the needs of that market.
Technology and the ease of social media make the Proof of Concept Phase one of the fastest ways to the money, and one of the smartest ways to find the details you need when you write out your full blown business, sales, PR and marketing plan.
At the end of the Proof of Concept Phase you’ll know what the market pain points are, what skills you need to have (or hire) to help your target market and the price they’d be willing to pay. And depending on your skill set, YOU can do all of this with less than $100.
One of our most recent projects reminded me about the never-ending layers of bureaucracy and the slug-like speed at which things are sometimes accomplished (if that truly ever happens) in large corporations. This sort of thing can be somewhat frustrating for a virtual company proponent. Nevertheless, it has inspired me to keep a running list in my mind (and now here) on the slow & stodgy traits of the big boys vs. those of the small and nimble. Which list describes your business?
Does your business have these Slow & Stodgy Traits?
- Unnecessary people, doing unnecessary tasks, collecting unnecessary paychecks
- Very little ability to innovate because of past decisions and investments in software technology that limit growth potential
- Old, outdated processes created for reasons no one can now recall
- Invested in equipment that now sits in a storage room instead of selling it to create a profit
- Never questions the status quo or comparing your company to the best in class
- Employs those who prefer to impress the boss instead of doing what’s right
- Discounts the inherent wealth of knowledge buried within the company
- Builds silos, management layers and territories who operate independent of the larger organization and cannot share resources easily or effectively
Or are you one of the Small & Nimble who:
- Have the ability to turn on a dime – creating quick, workable solutions which solve client’s challenges
- Opt for the best in class which is not always the most expensive option
- Decide at the outset to build a company which will remain virtual and profitable
- Allow for smart and calculated growth
- Automate 90% of what they do
- Limit the number of full-time employees – as they consider this model to be outdated
- Are never afraid to toss out something that’s not working
- Constantly ask whether they can do better and improve the process and returns
- Run a company with a skeleton crew
- Plan, automate, improve, repeat.
Growth and profitability does not always mean that a company becomes weighted down and ineffective. Start now to build your company so that it stays lean and smart.