Posted tagged ‘business solutions’

Doing It Your Way – Starting a Business, That Is

November 17, 2016

image-vision-planetc-1616237_1280Starting your own business especially after you have already been in a job or career, can be daunting, but if you have the irresistible pull in the direction of entrepreneurship, don’t squash it. You are not alone. For many it is just not enough to work for someone else, build someone else’s dream.  If you continue to feel you have a product or service to provide, you should answer the call by becoming an entrepreneur – starting your own business.

What does it take to start and sustain your own business? There are many directions this answer could take, with just as many opinions about it, but in my opinion, there is a core to what it takes:

Start with acknowledging what excites you and where you excel. Often the two are the same. If you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, look at where you put your energy in your current job. For example, do you spend a lot of your time volunteering to plan company events and get-togethers? Explore what it takes to be an event planner. Are you especially adept at organizing?Individuals and companies need this type of expertise to organize their space. Do you have ideas, can spot trends? You may have the next hot product. The point is, you should exploit what you love to do and are good at. Remember, when you start a business you are going to be the only one that prods you to get up each day.

Do your research to determine the demand for your business and where it will be sustainable enough to provide the lifestyle you want for you and your family. After all, having a business, even one that you love, won’t keep the lights on or a roof over your head if it’s not something others want to buy over the long term. Just because you love it, doesn’t mean others will.

Develop a vision followed by a plan. Your new business may need to start off as a side hustle and that’s ok. In addition to helping you gain experience and customers, a side hustle can help you determine if what you offer really is a product or service that is in demand. You can’t rely on your gut instinct alone nor can you rely on the hope that it “happens” when you are starting your own business.

Seek help; look for others who are already successful. Learn from their experiences. Join a Mastermind group or seek a mentor. Don’t overlook joining associations that are related to your new business.

Be very focused on doing what it takes to grow your business. Invest the time. Invest in education. Invest in networking. Success will not happen overnight, without effort.

Explore funding options for your new business. There are many ways to fund a business today, including crowdfunding. This is where your use of social media will come in handy as well.

Be cognizant of when you need to increase your staff and then do it. Stretch when it’s needed. You want continued growth and sometimes that means strategically increasing your staff, even if only on a contractual basis.

Outsource projects; don’t hesitate to use outside resources as you need them. Companies like Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions exist to help you with activities you don’t have the time or the expertise to complete. As a new entrepreneur, you can’t do it all.

We would love to hear about your experiences as an entrepreneur or new business owner. Fell free to leave a comment.

Audrey Dixon is the Founder and CEO of Exceptional Transcriptions and Business Solutions and has been helping new and existing businesses succeed for over 20 years.

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Success Tools of the Small Business Owner and Entrepreneur

March 30, 2015

assorted_toolsWhen you decide to become an entrepreneur, you have taken an important step in bringing a product or service that you are passionate about to others. When take the leap and start your business, there are a few tools that are important for the small business and the entrepreneur to succeed. Many of these tools come in the form of apps or software that makes being in business, even as a solo entrepreneur, so much more feasible and definitely easier than ever before. I’ve listed a few must haves. Take a look and see if you are missing any of the essential tools for your business.

Smartphone. Okay, I know what you are saying, “Who doesn’t have a Smartphone?” You would be surprised at comments I’ve heard from those who are resistant to buying a smartphone. If they are in business, working away from their desks and desktop computer is that much more difficult when they don’t have a smartphone. If travel is a part of your business, the smartphone is an essential must have. Whether they choose android or a OS device, in truth, I wonder how much they are willing to really invest in the success of their business if they opt not to own a smartphone.

An email marketing provider. Marketing is at the heart of any successful business and email marketing is practically a must. At Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions we uses Constant Contact to build out and send wonderful emails and email newsletters to keep my customers informed. Another is Canva which allows you to create personalized emails or marketing materials, even personalized cards to stay in touch with your customers. There are others. Explore the best for your business.

Cloud storage. It is essential for you to find a safe and efficient means of storing your data. Gone are the days when you are held hostage by crashed computers and software meltdowns. Cloud storage is data storage spanning multiple servers which are typically managed and hosted by a hosting company. There are many different hosting companies for your business and personal cloud storage. There is going to be one for your business.

Accounting/payroll software. This needs no explanation. There are many different types of software available, some free. It is best to find the one works for your business.

Scheduling and calendar management. There are a variety of apps that are available for managing your calendar. Google calendar integrates with emails and texts. There are other calendars, such as iCalendar, that work just as well. It’s a matter of what fits your business best.

While we’re talking Google, some of the products Google offers can enhance your business. Google+ is a social community that is a very effective marketing tool that can be used to let the world know about your products and services. Google Drive is also a cloud storage and document sharing product. We’ve already mentioned Google calendars, but Google also has a blog site where, again, you can market your business and help you attract more clients and customers.

Paid or free, there is a host of products and options for tools to grow your business. Get in front of your computer and search out other tools that have been tried and recommended as business tools.

What tools, including apps, do you typically use for your business? Leave a comment about what works for you.

In Emergencies, Operation Plans Can Mean Business Survival

November 14, 2014
Your business should have operations plans when the journey is not a straight path.

Your business should have operations plans when the journey is not a straight path.

Sometimes the business that we have nurtured so determinedly has to take a backseat to other events taking place in our lives. At those times, it is so important to have a safety net(s) – to have systems in place – to keep your business running. Viable, replicable operations plans are crucial to that business survival.

Your business must continue, even in a crisis, because it is your passion and, quite frankly, it is how you keep the lights on. If you are a solo entrepreneur or small business owner, life’s detours can threaten to cripple or even topple what you have so diligently worked to build.

One of the strongest pulls of an entrepreneur is to determine your fate. Unfortunately, you can only carry that control so far. I have reached a point where my journey has diverted from the path I so carefully set for myself, my family and my business.

My most precious loved one discovered she has cancer. The discovery came on the heels of another of life’s major challenges that she had faced. There was barely time for her to breathe.

My beautiful daughter and I have literally journeyed from my comfortable home – the home where she grew up – to a city far away. The city is full of sparkling lights that act like beacons of hope to so many, on so many levels, for so many years. I am no different. The lights are my beacon, too. They give me hope and comfort and I know she will beat this thing. This awful, draining, undignified thing called cancer, will be beaten. It’s defeat is inevitable, as it should be.

As CEO and Founder of Exceptional Transcriptions and Business Solutions, for the second time I am living the dilemma of keeping my business alive while I contend with other challenges. Admittedly, I can run the core of my business from anywhere in the world. So, even while we contend with rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, doctor visits and all of the challenges that come with the cure, I can still process transcriptions and assist customers with solutions.PicNewYorkSkylineDSC_5413

My advice to you: Have a contingency plan(s). Think strategically about what you will need in place should you have to take one of life’s detours. After all, paying the bills and maintaining your lifestyle is one of the reasons for having a business.

I have systems in place, I have backup, but do you? Have you seriously considered what would happen if you cannot be there to devote your customary “hands on” to your business? Would you have to shut down or does your business plan include operation plans that would allow someone to come in and pick up your customer’s orders? Would you be able to continue to reach out to new customers? These and more, are legitimate questions that should be answered at the onset of your new enterprise and each year during your annual business planning. But it’s not too late to do so now if you didn’t previously.

In truth, some businesses may lend themselves to survival mode easier than others. Operation plans may be easier to develop and implement.  But it is important to develop those systems, no matter how difficult the process. It could possibly save your business.

Life’s journeys are rarely along the straight and narrow, even when we have great plans and visions for ourselves, our business and for our children. It is up to us to decide which, if any at all, beacons of light we follow. Mine will always be that beacon of hope and just as my business won’t fail, my beacons of light won’t fail me.

Until next time…

Be Exceptional

Audrey

Is There Value in the Business Card?

August 26, 2014

PicBowlof Business cardsIMG_9565

 

One of your most powerful and valuable business tools can fit in the palm of your hand and can easily go where you go. That tool would be your business card.

The business card has a few functions that all add up to growing your business. When used correctly and methodically, while low cost to design and print, the value and the impact on your business can be high and the results can be phenomenal.

 

At first glance, here is what that small, 3.5” x 2” card can do for you:

1. It helps people remember you, especially if you have a design that is  eye-catching, matches the tone of your business or simply an unusual color. But beware,  while odd shapes may seem like a great idea, they may be hard for your contacts to store in their business card holder, so think strategically before you decide to use an unusual shape. Additionally, some schools of thought encourage you to add your picture to your business card. This seems to be a common practice among real estate professionals. Look at a few examples, then decide.

2. It gives potential customers a way to contact you. Your card should include your name, the name of your business, along with your phone number, web address and any social media information you would like to share. If you have a brick and mortar business, the physical address is crucial. If you don’t, the physical address may not be as needed. Don’t forget the back of the card. You may find it useful for additional design element or additional information about your business.

3. The business card promotes your business. Be creative with them, but be sure your business style and your business cards are a match. For example, if you are a lawyer, you wouldn’t choose a frivolous and funny card design, not even if you only represented comediennes. Also, it is important that your business card match any other promotional material that you have.

4. Business cards are easily transferrable to your digital database, either using apps such as Evernote which allow you to almost instantly download information from the card to your contacts or by hiring a virtual assist or student to transfer your information. At the very least, set aside some time each week to manage your list.

5. When you are networking,  bring added value to your own business by also sharing the business cards of noncompeting, but comparable businesses. For example, I can share the business information of some of my vendors, such as lawyers, that I would readily recommend to the business owner. You can encourage others to do the same for you by giving them additional business cards.

6. Businesses with a scannable QR code  links back to your website, making it easier for your potential customer to learn more about your business.

7. Use you business card as a print ad when you eliminate additional design efforts by  choosing a card design that can easily convert to an ad.

8. Your business card is a portable, versatile part of the brand of your business. I can’t stress enough that you should not skimp on the quality of your paper or your design.

I want to note here that you can use a digital form of business card, but nothing beats the printed card for versatility and use as a potential conversation piece.

Your business card is part of your overall business solution. Without them, it can prove difficult to expediently pass along pertinent, identifying information to potential customers. Just remember that unless you follow-up, your business card will not be quite as valuable and certainly not as effective as it could be. The fact is, there is a good chance you and your business will be forgotten and that card end up in the trash. So, get the most value by putting in the time to make the followup contact.

Please don’t forget to add the new contact to your data base. The card you receive from them will be useless unless you have added them to your contact list.

Business cards are a tool, but you must do the work for that tool to be of any benefit or any value to your business. After all, a hammer is a great tool, too, but only if you pick it up and drive the nail in the wall. Don’t underestimate the value of your business card.

Please share with me  how your business card is helpful to you.

‘Til the next time –

Be Exceptional!

 

Why You Need a Business Checkup

March 25, 2014

file000600920260Business checkups are an essential part of any business, whether you are a solo entrepreneur or a  small, medium or large business owner. A business checkup is similar to a health checkup because it takes the temperature and pulse of your business; it let’s you know whether you are doing well or if there is some problem that is looming and needs attention now rather than later.

If you prepared your strategic plan for the year in January, or even if you are just getting to it now, including timelines for doing a thorough check of the important aspects of your business is crucial. It is good business practice. As a business owner, and as someone who offers solutions to businesses, I suggest that quarterly is the opportune time to take a look at the goals you have set for your business and for looking at any obstacles that may be in the way of success. You do not want to reach the end of the year and find that you have not even come close to what you expected to accomplish.

I have provided a checklist to make it easy for you to perform that business checkup. The checklist is not in any particular order. If not all applies to your business each quarter, that’s ok, but I suggest you look at what does apply and schedule your checkup on a regular basis, starting now:

  1. Examine the number of customers and orders. Do you show an increase or decrease in the request for your product or services? What is your conversion rate of prospects who become customers purchasing your services or product?
  2. What is the sales trend? Is there a lot of activity in one particular aspect of your business over another? Can you tell why that is?
  3. Analyze your prices compared to that the prices of your competitors. Are you still in line with industry standards?
  4. Are your quarterly goals in line with expectations?
  5. Have you aggressively implemented your marketing  goals? Have your correctly identified your target market and are you reaching them?
  6. Have you conducted or scheduled a client satisfaction survey?
  7. Take a look at the health of your website. Search engines love relevance and activity. Schedule that activity quarterly, if not more often.
  8. Take a hard look at cash flow and your projections.
  9. Inventory your marketing materials. Replace and update as needed.
  10. Consult your tax accountant to be sure you are taking advantage of being a business owner.

The bottom line is that your business must be profitable and growing. You can not know this if you are not keeping your eyes on the health of your business. Don’t wait to conduct that business checkup at the end of the year. By then, it is too late to make any adjustments to your business strategy.

Here’s to the health of your business!

Be Exceptional!

Audrey

CEO, Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions