bookmark_borderTime Management For Solo Entrepreneurs

  1. Put your to-do list in writing and prioritize it. Studies show that people who write their lists down are 90% more likely to complete their list than those who do not.
  2. Be realistic about how long it takes to get things done. Block out a reasonable amount of time on your planner, especially if it’s an appointment where there’s driving time to consider.
  3. Schedule time with yourself, without interruptions. If that means closing your office door and letting your voicemail take phone messages, then that’s what you need to do. Do this at your most productive time of the day. Are you a morning person? Start your day out with some quiet time by yourself, when you’re the most productive and focused.
  4. Don’t multi-task. That’s right! These days, people have found that they’re much more productive when they’re allowed to focus on one task at a time, rather than constantly juggling a dozen different projects at once. Think about it – don’t you feel like you’ve actually accomplished something when you can cross things off your list?
  5. Are you a “yes” person? Learn to say no. Sometimes adding just one more thing to your to-do list means staying at work an extra hour. Ask yourself if you really have the time and energy to handle one more task. Don’t guilt yourself into it, especially if you’ll feel resentful later, for having done it.
  6. Do you work at home? Don’t let common distractions sidetrack you. That basket of laundry will still be there at the end of the day.
  7. Try to combine like tasks. If you have lots of phone calls to make and emails to respond to, make all of the phone calls first, then tackle the emails.
  8. Keep all your contacts in one place, within easy reach. Do whatever works for you, whether you keep an address book in your day planner, in Outlook, in your PDA, or on your laptop. You need to have fast and easy access to phone numbers and email addresses.
  9. Use waiting time productively. When waiting for an appointment or traveling, catch up on reading trade magazines, writing correspondence, or jotting down creative ideas for marketing your business.
  10. At the end of each day, plan for the next day. Write down tomorrow’s to-do list, prioritize it, and then clean off your desk.

bookmark_borderSmall Business Grants

There are many types of grants offered by the Governments and other financial institutions that include individual grants for personal necessities, business grants for starting new business, education grants for funding education and many more. Grants are always a feasible option to support existing business or financing new business in all fields. While the United States government does not offer direct grants for supporting small business there are many state development agencies, non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions and local government, which offer grants to expand and enhance small businesses.

Small businesses always play a significant role in the economic growth of a country and that is the reason governments are always ready to offer financial resources to facilitate small business. You can receive small business grant to start up any type of business. From carpet cleaning, photocopying, private tutoring services to day care business you name any business and these agencies have the grants for you. All U.S. citizens and residents are eligible to receive U.S. Federal Government, State Government and Private Foundation-funded grants and loans. Apart from this these grant programs do not require credit checks, collateral, security deposits or co-signers. Small business grants are easily available. Anyone who is 18 year old and thinking about going into business for himself or wanting to expand his existing business can apply for the grant. Grants varying between $500.00 to $50,000.00 can be obtained from these agencies. Usually there are larger payments for business start up costs. If you are an entrepreneur than you can use the privileges provided by the government. Small business grants are the ideal way to fulfill your dreams of becoming a business owner.

bookmark_borderEntrepreneurial Inspiration

For four of his teenage years, from 1872 to 1876, Milton Hershey served as an apprentice to a Lancaster, PA candy maker. After his apprenticeship, Hershey decided to start his own candy business. Armed with an in-depth knowledge of the business, he worked on building his business for six years. Unfortunately, despite his hard work, the business failed.

Undeterred, Hershey moved to Denver, CO and found a job with a candy maker who taught him how to make caramels. A year later, he returned to the East Coast and launched a second candy business, focusing on caramels, in New York City. This business also failed.

Despite two failures in the candy business and on the brink of bankruptcy, Hershey was convinced he would eventually succeed. As such, he returned to Lancaster, PA and started another caramel business. This business was successful. But rather than continuing with caramels, Hershey become interested in chocolates and dedicated himself to learning about and inventing ways to manufacture chocolate. As a result, he sold his caramel company and launched Hershey Chocolate Company. Just over a century after launching the company, Hershey’s firm (now called The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY)) generates annual revenues in excess of $4 billion.

Milton S. Hershey was raised in rural central Pennsylvania and lacked a formal education. Despite this, and despite failing twice at the same business, Hershey maintained entrepreneurial passion, drive and perseverance. As history has shown, these factors were enough to transform Hershey from a failure to one of the great entrepreneurs in history.

bookmark_borderSources of Sales Leads

The customer who let your contract lapse or failed to include you in their selection process did so for any number of reasons. Yes, sometimes your company made an unforgivable mistake or did something equally fatal. Often, it’s subtler. Either way, if you give up on them, they’re likely to remain former customers forever.

If you take the initiative and reintroduce yourself, you might find out-

  • Your company was perceived to be unsuitable for a reason that is not currently valid. (Your prices weren’t competitive; now they are. You didn’t offer a one-stop-shop experience; now you do. The salesperson who used to cover that territory was abrasive; his/her replacement is well-liked.)
  • Or the decision-maker who blackballed you or was unshakably loyal to your competitor is no longer there.
  • Or the person who used to routinely include you in the company’s selection process has moved up or moved on, and the new person doesn’t know you to include you.

Possible outcomes: a renewed relationship, news that you truly aren’t a match anymore, or a frosty shoulder.

Similarly with failed sales, they may not have chosen you when a particular decision was made. That doesn’t mean they’d never consider you again, but it’s your responsibility to stay on their radar. If they are marketed to by a sufficient number of companies in your category, they might not include you the next time they open their selection process. By writing them off, you turn “no” into “never.”

Some companies are very good about asking departing customers for an exit interview and asking failed sales for a post-selection debriefing. Unfortunately, many of these companies assign this task to the salesperson or account manager the customer or prospect just rejected. That’s cruel! Think about it:

  • It’s very difficult for one adult to say directly to another, “This is how you disappointed me,” or “This is where you fell short.”
  • If a former customer or failed sale is willing to be candid, the average salesperson or account manager is likely to get defensive in response. In other words, they reward candor with an argument.

Instead, feedback from lost customers and failed sales is better solicited from the VP of Sales or Account Management (or Operations). What at first blush sounds like an unwise use of very valuable time turns out to be the best way to isolate root causes and reduce the number of future lost customers and failed sales.

You may ask why a former customer or failed sale would cooperate and offer honest responses to these questions. The answer is simple:

Companies need vendors.

If you lost the customer or the sale for reasons that can be addressed to their satisfaction, you might be the vendor that offers the best deal the next time they need your product or service.

Once your team members get past the understandable discomfort of asking for candid feedback and guidance, you might win (or win back) relationships you thought were lost forever.

Ann Amati, Principal, Deliberate Strategies Consulting, helps companies use guidance from their current and past customers to grow future sales. She has a 20-year track record of using deep-dive interviews to create positive turning points in her clients’ relationships with their customers.

bookmark_borderPlans For Business Venture

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Present the business mission statement here. Include as well the date the business was formed; the leadership team and other key management personnel; the credentials or experience that make you and the leadership team uniquely qualified to launch and successfully run the venture; the business legal structure (LLC, Sole Proprietor, or Corporation); the products and services; one or two key competitive advantages; a concise overview of sales projections; and the amount of capital needed if recruiting investors or obtaining bank financing is a goal.

BUSINESS DESCRIPTION

It’s traditional to present a brief description of your industry and its outlook, nationally and regionally. Give the details of your products and services and briefly discuss how they’ll be used by target customers. Identify whether the venture is B2B, B2C, or B2G. If the organization holds a patent, review the competitive advantages that it will convey. Have there been any technological advances that will help or hinder the enterprise? Divulge the details here.

MARKETING

This element is a big tent that encompasses sales, product or service distribution, competitors, advertising, social media, PR, networking, branding, customer acquisition and pricing. Plans written for a small organization will spotlight the role of marketing because for Solopreneurs, success hinges on identifying and reaching paying clients, as well as pricing the services advantageously.

FINANCE

Whether you’re wealthy enough to self-finance or the venture is small and not especially demanding of capital investment, the leadership team nevertheless needs to know with a reasonable degree of certainty how much money will be required to achieve important goals.

The plan might be written to support financing for the acquisition of new office space, additional staffing, or manufacturing equipment. Bank loans typically require a business plan to demonstrate how the investment money would be used and how the organization will generate funds for loan repayment.

If the goal is to attract investors, they’ll need to be convinced by the projected sales revenue figures (as will the bank), so they’ll know when their investment will be repaid and when to expect profits if they are made co-owners of the business. A break-even analysis, projected income statement, projected cash-flow statement and projected balance sheet are required by those who will need significant money.

OPERATIONS

How will day-to-day business processes function? Tell it here, along with providing the organizational chart, the business location, the method of producing that which you sell (if you are, for example, a freelance book editor or graphic designer, you produce the service yourself), your usual sub-contractors (if you are a special events organizer, who are your preferred caterer, florist and limo service?) and quality control methods. This element is about logistics.