How Can Busy Entrepreneurs Recognize and Solve Business Problems?

What Are You Missing? Start-up executives can become too close to the project, to busy managing the minutia, and stretched too thin due to lack of staff, time and financial resources to notice the flaws in their plans. In most cases, the work is extremely hard and requires numerous, long hours that turn into days and then turn into months. It becomes difficult for the Founders, and executives to stay focused on the critical tactics and strategies necessary to lift their company to the next phase in growth.

Meetings with trouble-shooting Consultants or venture Coaches can help Founders navigate through the challenging times and rough waters of launching a startup. Experienced Consultants know how to walk the fine line between enthusiastically recognizing the business model and market potential while offering critical consulting advice and strategic planning. Founders need to recognize that the Consultant’s analysis and criticism is a strategic necessity for the realization of the company’s short term and long term potential. Moreover, a good Consultant will be able to quickly assess the strengths and weaknesses of the plan and zone in to recognize the problems or blockages – good Consultants are natural trouble shooters and problem solvers. Founders need to recognize when their plans are not being realized and take the risk by hiring and paying for an outsider who can become a part-time addition to the company’s strategic capital.

In a recent meeting with confident and enthusiastic Founders of a promising startup business, let’s call it The Glick Company, and myself (a business venture consultant), it became evident that the Glick’s Founders were overlooking and not performing on several critical issues in their plan.

In this case, the Glick executives had an incomplete product launch and capital strategy. They were busy working on the product refinements and hoping for one large customer that they were not paying attention other critical problems. Collectively, the Founders could not “see” some of the problems that were blocking the progress of their company. One of the two Founders determined outside advice was critical for the company to reach its potential. Many of the strategic pieces were in place, but the firm lacked the cohesive tactical and execution plan in several areas.

After a meeting and several telephone calls, the consultant identified that the Glick Founders had not tested the product in the marketplace, put together any other pricing or marketing strategies (besides the one large deal), did not have a strong capitalization plan in place and were not aware of how to take advantage and re-position their strengths for an upcoming investors meeting. There were workable solutions to their challenges, but it took an outsider to recognize the challenges and provide a vision and a plan for the executive management team to follow.

During the two hour meeting between the Glick Founders and the Consultant, the payoff was recognizing what was not working and how to avoid additional, future problems.

The meeting ended with several new ideas, plans and strategies for the Glick team to implement. The product was to be tested in the market place; the Founders would have very useful and accurate feedback from a qualified focus group. Marketing materials outlining the features and benefits of their product were going to be developed. The Glick sales team was to begin marketing the product to the top 1000 qualified buyers to try to obtain Letters of Intent and fill the manufacturing pipeline. Back up manufacturers in place were to be found and pricing guidelines and models were to be implemented. We determined ways to best present the company, the team strengths and the progress at an upcoming investors meeting to ask for additional capital investments. Each of the solutions became milestones towards the progress of launching the product in the marketplace.

Would this outcome have been the same without hiring a Consultant or a Coach? It is hard to say, but the Glick team was extremely pleased with the time and money spent working through some of their strategic challenges and determining new solutions to existing problems. Within a week after the meeting, I received a email from the Founder stating that the investor meeting went well and additional capital was raised. This was the best news I could hope for….

How to Transition From Freelancer to Successful Lifestyle Business Entrepreneur

As a freelancer, it is easy to get stuck in the rut and believe that you have to be the one who does everything. However, being the one who performs all the work limits the time you can actually spend building a successful business.

Do you want to be successful?

Then you have to understand how to build a business rather than just having a series of projects. To build a business you need systems.

Part of building systems is learning to:

Adopt the right mindset

If you want to grow a business, the very first step is to have the right mindset. If you maintain the mindset of a freelancer which is project based rather than system based, then building a business will be a foreign concept to you. To adopt the right mindset, you need to adopt the business mindset. There are many books published that tells you how to build a successful business using systems. The most important thing you will need to learn here is that building a successful business involves systems.

Plan

You need to have a plan about where you want to go. Do you just want to make few bucks or do you really want to build a successful lifestyle?

With a freelance business, if you stop working, you stop earning. Obviously, if this is as far as you want to go with your consulting projects, then this is fine. But from over ten years of consulting, I have learned most business owners want more. They want success and financial freedom and are always concerned about ways to achieve it.

Financial freedom is not a random act but needs to be planned. Determine where you want your successful business to be in three years. And develop steps to achieve that plan.

Delegate

If you are stuck in the routine of accepting, completing and then moving on the next project, there is good news for you. Delegation is a very effective way of assigning routine tasks while you focus on the tasks that only you can do to build your freelance business. In the beginning delegation seems to cost more money. But the key is to focus on the long term goal which is your success and financial independence. When you delegate, you always have something going on as you are already looking for the next client while your employee/ contractor is working on your current project.

You can also delegate your client acquisition system by using referrals to build your client base. Of course you will need to provide exceptional service for this to be successful.

Moreover, you can delegate your customer service/ follow-up process to an online administration service. You can even delegate your blogging to guest bloggers.

When you delegate the essential parts of your business system, you can take extended vacations and still bring in income. When you can walk away from your business from a period of time you are beginning to achieve success and financial freedom,

Delegation is a necessary pre-requisite to growth. You risks becoming irrelevant if you do not delegate. We all know technology changes and if you are too busy working on projects, you have less time to work on your skills and stay relevant in your field.

Automate:

Nowadays, there are so many technologies out there than can help automate parts of your successful business.

You can use auto responders to improve your customer service. Auto responders can be your first course of response to let your client know you received their request and will get to them within 24 hours.

Another useful automation tool is project management software called basecamp. We all know that sometimes the meaning of a word is sometimes lost in the translation when communicated through email.

With basecamp every aspect of your project is kept on one page: All correspondence, to do list, revision drafts, etc. are all kept in the same place. At any time, any team member or client can see what is going on with the project. I think this is cool as it is such a big time saver. It cuts down the amount of time you spend on emails by half.

Using basecamp increases business success with your client management system.

Build passive income:

In honesty, I hate this term passive income as there is a lot of confusion as to what passive income really is. Some people see passive income as a lazy way of building successful businesses on the internet. However, there is no lazy way out. What most people call passive income is really hours of upstart sweat equity which finally produces cash flow over an extended period of time? We do not see behind the curtains of most successful entrepreneurs hence we do not see all the hard work that went on behind the scenes. Most people want the results without the sacrifice.

With that said, using passive income sources like affiliate marketing, product sales or digital products, can boost your income by providing a consistent stream of income. This in turn contributes to your success and financial independence.

In this way your income is not tied strictly to your clients. This gives you more choice as to what type of clients you will like to work with.

Understand your numbers:

This is the topic no one likes to talk about. Most freelancers believe that as long as you are making enough money, the financial details are not relevant to your successful business. Think of your car, and think how long it will actually run if no maintenance was ever done. Your car will not run very long. A business is the same way; you need to perform regular checks to make sure all parts are still functioning efficiently.

Until you learn to look under the hood of your business, you cannot really succeed. It is when you begin to understand how the numbers work in your business that you begin to see patterns that can propel you to the next level. Understanding your financial statements and knowing how to use it to project into the future is paramount to business success.

Are you a freelancer, website designer or consultant? Do you want to build a successful business? Then take the time and read this information and respond to this post with one action you will take to move from being a freelancer to actually owning a successful business.

Tip #2 – Home Business Entrepreneurs Have an Office

Hoping you are enjoying our home business tips series for individuals looking at starting a home business or the entrepreneurs actively operating one. In the first article, it was mentioned how we can use hardware that enables us to work our business from anywhere in the house and even tools that allow us to work when we’re away, but by no means should that undermine the importance of having an office (or work designated space) in our home. A home based business does imply having a home office. To the same extent we have specific rooms in our homes for eating, cooking and sleeping, a space does need to be delimited for working. Even if we may not choose to work from there all the time, it’s important to have an anchor point for your business; you may want to view it as “Corporate Head Office”. You may decide to work from remote offices such as the patio, the hammock, the gazebo, the hotel room or the pool chair at your favorite Waikiki beach resort but in the end you will always need to come back and re-group in the home office – Corporate Headquarters.

While it is quite possible to have a paperless home office should you choose to, there’s always going to be some sort of paper even if you’re not the one generating it. You will have to start maintaining a filing system so piles of notes, advertising sketches, financial statements and the likes do not start piling on your desk.

The home office is also the area you can revert to when you need peace and quiet when other areas of your home are busy with sounds of playful youngsters, teen music, TV sports games or barking dogs. While those sounds are very natural to the home environment, they are also distracting to the work at hand. There are times when you need to focus your attention on a specific matter, think strategically or carry out a phone conversation and you need a place that will allow you to do so.

For that reason, you are best advised to tailor that area so it reflects your personality. You want to feel comfortable, well equipped and productive. Keep an organized and clean desk. Have all your office supplies placed for quick access. A desk can clutter easily so always remind yourself frequently that a desk is not a storage area but a work area. Your work area should feel spacious and not cramped. When you sit at your desk you should not have to move or remove piles of paper in order to find a place to work. Do not allow piles to form and when the day is over, clean up your desk so it’s ready and fresh for the next use.

If at all possible, choose a room that has a window so you can have daylight and fresh air come into your office. Fresh air will oxygenate your office so your brain can think clearly and you don’t feel sluggish. The sunlight brings you vitamins, brightens your day and makes the room alive. Add to that some favorite colors to accent your room and you’re set. While some may go as far as painting the walls to their liking, there are other alternatives. Put up colorful pictures on the walls, post your life vision, print your favorite quotes on colored paper and stick them to the walls at random angles, post your life goals and you might also want to frame some pictures of the important people in your life. All these will quickly fill up your wall space and pretty soon the color of your walls won’t even matter. It will make your work environment vibrant, warm, comfortable and conducive to the empowering thoughts you need when you revert to your work alcove.

Plants and animal life are also a good idea. Plants will create oxygen during daytime while their color and appearance will make the place alive. A fish tank is another source of light, it brings busy aquatic life to your room and creates a soothing effect.

Another area of your office should be devoted to your personal and business development library. A considerable amount of time need to be devoted to your development and if you do not have a library in the works already, it’s time you start one. But that will be for another article. In the mean time, put your construction hat and work boots on, you have an office to design; an anchor to set, a Corporate Headquarters to establish. See you in the boardroom!

Top Time Management Tips For Busy Entrepreneurs

I don’t think I’ve ever met a business owner who wasn’t busy. Managing your time is one of the hardest things you’ll need to do as an entrepreneur. There’s always too much to do, so you’ll need to manage your time well in order to get everything done. Here are my top time management tips:

1. Find out what you’re doing with your time.

One of the first things to do is to actually find out what you are doing with your time. Try monitoring your time for a week and see what’s going on. Use colour coding if it makes things easier i.e. yellow for administrative tasks; blue for marketing; green for client work and so on. At the end of the week, you’ll be able to see what you’re spending too much time on and adjust your time accordingly.

2. Get organised

The more organised you get yourself, the more you’ll be able to handle all the tasks you need to do. Tidy your desk; set up filing systems; and have procedures to deal with the work that comes in. I know it’s hard, but try to deal with each thing only once so that you get it out of the way.

3. Practise the “Do it now” philosophy

As soon as a new task comes in, try to “do it now”. You’ll be amazed at how many tasks you can get rid of. Things very rarely take as long as you think they will once you get cracking.

4. Do things in short bursts

If you’re really not looking forward to doing a task, make yourself do it for 5 minutes only. If you know you’re only going to be doing it for 5 minutes, it doesn’t look as daunting. And once you’ve got started on the task, you’ll probably find you’ll continue on it once the 5 minutes is up.

5. Ask yourself “what’s stopping you?”

Lack of time is often used as an excuse for not doing something. If you find yourself putting something off because you “don’t have the time”, ask yourself what’s going on. Questioning what’s stopping you completing tasks can often really help you decide whether or not to do them.

6. Don’t be afraid to drop a task

Look, if you haven’t completed a task; you’ve asked yourself “what’s stopping you”; and you’ve reached the conclusion that you really don’t want to do it, don’t be afraid to drop the task altogether. We often agree to things that don’t actually benefit us and if a task falls into this category, make the decision that you have the choice to drop the task.

7. You have a choice

As entrepreneurs, we start each day with a blank piece of paper and choose how to fill our time. You don’t have to agree to everything unless you want to do it or it helps you to achieve your goals.

8. Set goals

Setting goals will help keep you motivated and focused. Decide on three personal goals that you’d love to complete over the next year and three business ones. The goals must be things that you really want to do. Your time should then be spent on tasks and activities that help you complete these goals.

9. Accept that it’s impossible to get everything done

There’s only so much time in a day. Even if you’re the most efficient person ever, if you have too many tasks you won’t get them all completed. Accept this and don’t feel too guilty if you miss out on a few.

10. Have fun

Finally, remember as an entrepreneur to have some fun. Running a business isn’t all about working – take some time off too. If you develop a hobby or an interest that takes your mind off the business, you’ll be much more productive as a result.

There’s no one solution to managing your time. The trick is to find things that work for you, Try different things, have fun and do the things that help you to achieve your goals for what you want from your business.