People start businesses because they want to have a better life. But often times the business ends up ruling their entire life and things get even more frenzied than when they just had a regular job. Then unhappiness and frustration set in, and the small business owner starts fantasizing about having a job again, “Because at least when I’m off, I’m off.”
The problem isn’t the business; the problem is you. You can build a better, stronger, and more enjoyable business if you want to. You just need to know where to start.
Today there are so many wonderful tools to help you run your business efficiently, manage your time better, and use your creativity to innovate new products and services. Tools that will bring not only passion back into your life for your business, but also profits. After all, you own your business for a variety of reasons, right? Freedom, passion and profits are the three most often stated reasons for starting a business. If you find that you’re starting to lose your passion, read on – you can get it back and build a better, stronger and more enjoyable business starting today.
Learn exactly what motivates you and brings out your passion. Understand why you do what you do, how you do what you do, and the steps that all come together to make your business successful and strong for years to come.
Understand What Motivates You and Brings Out Your Passion
Each of us is motivated by very different forces. There really is no right or wrong reason to be passionate and motivated but sometimes, some of the reasons will bring along with them guilt. It’s time to understand what motivates you and brings out your passion while letting go of any guilt associated with those reasons.
If you have not taken the time to understand your motivation behind why you want to start a business, and why you want to do whatever it is that you do, you risk being unfocused, and becoming frustrated with the challenges that come with running your own small business. You need to understand exactly why you are doing this, and what is motivating you to continue. Knowing what it is will give you the drive to keep going.
Know Why You Do What You Do
Look back and remember why you wanted to start a business. Make a list of the reasons. They might be factors such as:
- More freedom – When you work for yourself you usually envision being able to work when you are most ready to work, taking breaks when you need them, and not having to answer to someone else’s timetable.
- To fill a need – You’ve created something that fills a need for a specific market and you feel you must get the information out there to your market.
- Job security – In the old days, a job was “job security.” Today, there is no such thing as job security working for someone else. Running your own business is the most secure job you can get.
- Make more money – Most of the time, if you have a good idea and follow through you will make more money working for yourself than working for other people. It depends on your goals, but when you consider the various costs of working at a job, you’re going to make more money working from home in your own business.
- Work/life balance – The ability to see children growing up is a huge incentive to starting your own business. You don’t answer to someone else’s timetable or schedule, and you can go to Billy’s play and Sally’s game without a boss breathing down your neck.
- You lost your job – Some people start their own business out of desperation. They’re hungry. They lost their job. Even if that is you, you can love your business.
- You’re an expert – If you have expertise in some area, having your own business can finally allow you to express that expertise in new ways.
- Have more control – In a job there is often a lot of red tape. People who own small businesses usually get a lot more done without the red tape, and are able to keep control over how they do things.
- More choice – You can do the things you love, and outsource the things you don’t love to someone else. So, if you really hate data entry, you never have to do it again if you have your own business.
- The challenge – Many people just love the excitement and passion of starting a business, but they might not realize that the real challenge is in keeping it running long term in a profitable way that doesn’t take over their life.
- Following your passion – Maybe you’re just following your passion and it accidentally turned into an income-producing business. Hey, that’s absolutely fabulous! Nothing could be better.
You can probably add a few more points to this list. Write down your own list of reasons that you wanted to or want to start your own business. Understanding why you are starting the business, and why you keep running the business will go a long way to making your business more enjoyable.
Know Exactly What You Do and Be Able to Express It
That may sound strange to say. Of course you know what you do. Well, do you? If someone asks you what you do, are you ready with a 2- or 3-minute explanation of what you do? Many people will answer the question in terms of describing the actual actions they do, but you should be able to answer the question with a list of problems that you solve. You don’t, “do data entry,” you, “organize data for authors in a meaningful way so that they can analyze sales numbers easier”.
Define whatever it is you do in terms of the problems you solve and the benefits it gives your target audience and you’ll be ahead of the game. You’ll automatically release the passion of what it is that you do and why you do it. You can use this to fill in the blanks to help you.
At ________________ we ___________________for__________________ so (your target audience) can ___________________.
It’s all about them and what you do to make their lives easier and solve their problems. When you take the focus off the features of your product or service and place it on the client and the benefits you offer, it will actually make your business more enjoyable. It’ll become better because you’ll have a much better definition of what you’re doing and a better place to focus all your marketing.
If you’ve lost some of the initial passion that came with your business in the early days or you are just now getting started, it’s important to know what goes into making a business that is enjoyable yet also strong – while tapping into your passions. It’s not a sin to enjoy what you do either. Work doesn’t have to be a bad word. Work can be fun, fabulous, passionate, and profitable.
Understand How You Do What You Do
Sometimes when people start a business they forget to create systems. There are actually some good things about jobs. Most jobs that a person goes into already have systems in place that help you manage projects and your time. When you start your own business you need to understand how you will do what you do. What processes will you use to get done each day the things that need to be done to keep your business profitable?
There are many online systems that you can use to help you with project and time management. Systems like Basecamp.com are very helpful in creating a to-do list for each project, as well as keeping track of your time on projects. Basecamp also works if you want to use contractors and assign various tasks to others.
You can also use the old-fashioned calendar. Google Calendar is a great tool to use to keep track of what you need to accomplish each and every single day to stay on track, manage your time, and make a profit. Passion is all well and good, but you need a system in place to keep you on track for making a profit so you can keep your passion level high.
Create a Plan
In order to master project and time management you need to create a plan. Follow these steps:
1. Define each project
Write down every detail about each project you are working on. Do this whether the project is something you are doing on your own for your business such as product creation, or whether you’re working on a client’s project. Treat all projects with the same details. Don’t work harder for your clients than you do for your own business.
2. Determine the requirements
Every project has ultimate deliverables. Write down the deliverables and choose dates when these particular deliverables are due. In addition, write what is required of each to be considered complete and finished. Use your project definition to help you come up with all the project requirements. Be very specific and detailed for the best results. Make sure whoever you must ultimately answer to agrees to these requirements.
3. Develop project milestones
It helps if you have chosen some project milestones where you will personally check to be sure that you (or anyone working with you) is where they are supposed to be. If you’re doing the project for a client, let them help choose project milestones.
A milestone can also be a good billing point when dealing with client work. It’s also a good time to test whether the project is coming along as you planned it. Each milestone is an opportunity for you or your client to note where the project is succeeding or missing the mark if appropriate. Once a milestone is approved and payment is made, no more changes should be made without consideration being made to time and resources.
4. Communicate with the clients and workers
If this is client work, it is imperative that you create a way to have open communication with your client so that you can be assured that the work you are doing for them and with them is top-notch. If there is any confusion due to poor communication techniques, problems can develop.
If this is a project that you are working on for your own business and you are dealing with contractors, being able to communicate with them efficiently is imperative. Using a good system like Basecamp or other online project management system will go far in helping keep the lines of communication open with everyone.
5. Document everything
If you make it a habit to document everything that you do for your clients and that you do for your business over the days, weeks, months and years, you’ll be able to improve upon your systems over time. Each new project gives you an opportunity to make the next project even better if you’re paying attention and documenting as you go. Using your project management system to have discussions which are stored and kept on record for each project is very useful in this regard.
6. Manage risks and avoid scope creep
Two of the biggest robbers of business joy are risks and scope creep. There are many risks you can foresee and eliminate with good documentation, good contracts, and a good project management system.
However, one of the hardest issues to avoid is scope creep. This happens when someone adds milestones and new elements to a project without consideration of time, billing, or resources. You can avoid this problem with solid contracts, good communication, and being a stickler for details. When someone adds to a project, always respond to the affirmative and add the time and resources to your contract and bid, giving the client a chance to change their mind or agree.
7. Always evaluate every project after completion
When a project is finished, payments have been made, and you consider yourself done, it’s time to take a look at what you can learn from the project that will help you with other projects.
Was the work profitable? How much did you think you would earn compared to what you did earn? What went wrong during the project and how can you avoid that from happening next time? What went right with the project? How can you incorporate the things that went right into more projects in the future? Every lesson you learn from a project, successes or failures, will help you do better in the future.
Having systems in place to help you with time and project management will go far in making sure that you are doing everything you can to keep your business in order. An orderly business will be the way in which you can reach your dreams and fulfill your passions. If you’re just working willy-nilly here and there, it’s not really a business, and you will lose your passion. Work your business like a business, and watch yourself shine with pride, success, joy, and your bank swell with profits.
Note that you won’t have success on any of these ideas if you don’t move from planning to implementation. Sometimes implementation is the hardest part of owning your own business. But without forward action, you really don’t have a business yet. You just have an idea. Find a way to move forward once you’ve made your plans.
How to Improve Your Creativity and Innovation Quotient
One way a business stays in the game for the long haul is that smart business owners always devote a certain percentage of their working time to innovation and creativity. At many well-known companies such as Facebook and Google, workers are allowed to spend a percentage of their time on their own projects. This is a way to foster creativity, innovation, and passion in the workers.
You can do the same with your business. Whether you are at it all alone, or whether you have people who work for you, it is important to devote some time to coming up with new products and/or services or even delving into something outside of your comfort zone to take your business to a whole new level.
Dedicate time for innovation and creation
Just like you mark on your calendar the things you will do today, mark on your calendar time out for creation and innovation. You can do an hour a day, or 1/2 a day a week, or some other schedule that works for you. But, it’s important that it’s an actual calendar item and that you know how you’re going to devote that time to creative pursuits. This item on your calendar should be just as important as any other to-do item on your calendar.
Let go of negative self-talk
Before any type of innovation and creation can take place, it’s imperative that you get over your negative self-talk. You know it’s there. It’s that inner voice that asks you why you think you’re so special? Who are you to think you are good enough to do this? Turn all those words around to positive self-talk and banish any negativity from your mind. You would not let anyone talk to your best friend like that, so why allow it to happen to you? Be your own best friend.
Bring in a partner
Sometimes fresh blood can open up doors you never before thought were possible to get through. You don’t have to bring in a permanent partner, you can work on joint ventures with different people on just one project at a time. Start with something small and work your way up to larger ventures. Bringing in a partner will not only spark your creative side, but it will also make you feel challenged and maybe a little obligated to be a good partner.
Change your location
One way to open the creative floodgates is to get out of your office. Go to the coffee house down the street; go to the park. Get unplugged and use paper and pen instead of technology. Turn off the music, turn off the TV, turn off the noise, and get out of your comfort zone. Even a nice walk in the park with a way to record your thoughts can go far in helping you unleash your innovative and creative side.
Let go of your fears
You might think you’re the only person with fears, but you’re not. Every business owner has expressed fear or felt fear. Even very famous people have had fear about doing something new or different. The only difference between them and you is they did it. You can be just like them by just changing that one thing and just going for it. Just do it. Work through the fear. Channel that fear into motivation to succeed.
Research your competition
A really good way to get the creative juices flowing is to study your competition. You don’t want to steal from them (no plagiarism, please), but if they’re doing things that have gaps in them, you can probably find a gap to fill – something you do better than them. If you can take what your competition does, change it to make it better, and tweak it to make it completely your own, you’re a winner. Maybe something they are doing will spark your creative energy in a new way outside of anything you’ve ever considered previously.
Read industry news
Every smart business person keeps abreast of the top industry news. You can use the alerts in your Google account to search for keywords and alert you when there is news about that keyword. Subscribe to industry newsletters, magazines and even consider joining an association or two. Being up to date on the industry can keep you from falling behind in terms of technology. Remember, people aren’t still making VHS tapes. What you are doing today might not be around tomorrow. But your business can be if you stay informed and change with the times.
By taking out time from your busy work schedule to be innovative and creative, you will create a long-term business that will fill your life with passion and profits while never becoming mundane and boring.
How to Do Less Work and Make More Profits
Almost as sure as rain in the spring is the fact that most people start a business to make more money, and to have more freedom. But, often times it doesn’t turn out that way. They are either making great money and have no time off, or they are not making much money and are taking all the time off they want. Well, it doesn’t have to be either/or. You can take time for yourself and your family, and make the profits you need to make in order to consider your business a success.
Figure out how much you want to earn
Everyone has a figure that they want or need to earn in order to consider their business successful. It’s different for everyone. Some people want a very small business that buys groceries or pays for vacations for their family. Others want multiple six-figure businesses that covers every need and want they could ever have. Neither is right or wrong. Neither is impossible. Figure out that number, whatever it is.
Create a workable schedule to ensure that you earn
In order to explain this more fully, let’s take Susan, a 32-year-old stay-at-home mother of two. Susan wants to eventually build a six-figure business, but to start she wants to just make an additional $3000 dollars each month. She decides to create information products that she will sell for $30 each. This means in order to make $3000 a month she will need to sell approximately 100 products each month.
This is very simplified because in reality she’d have to sell more to cater for expenses such as credit card and PayPal fees, outsourcing costs if she doesn’t create the product herself, as well as technology costs. But for this example we’ll simplify it to make the point. (Figures are rounded for mathematical ease.)
She knows she needs to sell 100 products each month, which if broken down is 25 products each week, or five products a day if she works five days a week. She’ll also need to break down how many actual hours of work she can get in each day. If her children are school age, she can realistically work during the 7 to 9 hours they are in school each day, minus time for housework and other chores – probably bringing her actual work hours down to about five each day. That means she’d have to sell one product per each hour that she is working to meet her goals.
Thankfully, the internet doesn’t actually work that way, and you can sell products even while you’re sleeping, but you get the idea. Break down your big goal into very small bites that don’t seem impossible or overwhelming. Whether you have an online business, a bricks and mortar business, or another type of business, the idea is the same. Since Susan has decided to work five hours per day, five days per week while the kids are in school, she needs to plan out every one of those five hours in order to make the very best of each hour she has available to work.
Her work schedule might look like this:
9:00 am – 9:30 am: Promote content on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
9:31am – 10:00 am: Answer questions on forums and blog posts.
10:01am – 12 Noon: Outline new information product, send to writer
12 Noon – 12:59 pm: LUNCH
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Write two blog posts, and an email teasing list about new product, schedule
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm: Record a Podcast promoting new product, send to editor
Each day’s schedule might have some items the same, and some will be different. Perhaps you only write blog posts on Monday to schedule for the week; maybe you only do your social media three days a week. Whatever you need to do to be successful, schedule it in. If you don’t schedule it and have a “to-do” list to look at, you risk misusing your time which could really downgrade your profit ability.
Let’s talk a bit about working longer than you thought you would. There are times when that may be necessary. A new product launch, a webinar you planned, and other plans that you have may require you to burn the midnight oil sometimes. However, if you mostly create a plan that you can truly stick to and that is realistic, your nights of burning the midnight oil will be completely optional and done out of a burst of creative energy and not a “have to”. It’ll be a real choice that you can make if you want to.
Schedules sometimes also get messed up. A child might get sick and your day is blown. That’s okay because you can rearrange the work times to suit your day when you need to. If your child is sick, he will likely spend some time sleeping. Still go through the list of things to do and try to accomplish what you can around your child’s schedule. Don’t give up just because one thing goes wrong. Find a way to accomplish your daily goals. If you can’t, really can’t, it’s okay – tomorrow is another day.
This schedule can be turned into a service-based business goal too. Just change the work hours to billable hours that you actually work for your clients. To make $3000 a month you’ll need to charge 30 dollars an hour if you can only work five hours a day five days per week. If you break down the numbers – whether products or services – to the minute increments needed to be successful, it will make it a lot easier for you to plan each day in a realistic manner.
Double your income by duplicating yourself
Once you’ve maxed out what you can accomplish on your own, it’s time to consider outsourcing or starting an affiliate program or both. If you sell products, starting an affiliate program will be the way to create that six-figure business you want. If you are a service provider it will be a little harder because you will need to take on more work, and manage a team of service providers to create that six-figure business. It’s very possible, and very doable since you’ve created systems for your business. These systems that you created anyone can follow.
Start an affiliate program
An affiliate program is simply allowing other people to promote your products and/or services. When someone clicks through their promotion and buys your products or services, the affiliate gets a percentage of sales. To start an affiliate program you’ll need to invest in some affiliate technology.
Many shopping carts have affiliate programs built in such as 1shoppingcart. You can also use ClickBank, E-junkie and even some WordPress plug-ins to help you create your affiliate program if you don’t want to pay for an entire shopping cart yet. There are plusses and minuses about each way to start an affiliate program, but you’ll need to test them out for yourself to see which one you prefer.
Tips to run a successful affiliate program
- Provide a fair commission – Most affiliates aren’t going to mess around with the programs that don’t pay very well. A good affiliate program should offer at least 50 percent of the purchase price to make it worthwhile for the affiliate to do the work of attracting sales. This works best for digital products which don’t cost more to distribute. It can be more difficult with physical products and services.
- Create awesome affiliate tools – Affiliates will work harder to promote your products and/or services if you provide the tools they need to succeed such as art work, private label rights articles, blog posts, and easy to copy and paste code. If you have the type of advertising and marketing collateral affiliates want to use, they’ll be more likely to promote you.
- Pay affiliates in a timely manner – Affiliate programs that hold on to the money until the affiliate makes a minimum of 100 dollars and then start subtracting money for inactive accounts just aren’t fair (yes, ClickBank does this). Try to pay people within a reasonable amount of time. Take into consideration chargebacks and returns, but if they earned the money, even if it’s just a buck, pay them.
- Provide training to your affiliates – If you provide training about your products and/or services and how to best promote them and to whom, your affiliates will work very hard for you. Eventually, even though you’ll be giving some of your profit to your affiliates, they could be your main source of income.
You can also encourage affiliates to sell more with contests, webinars, and other creative additions to your affiliate program. Most of all, make them feel important and as part of your team, and they’ll be raving fans for you.
Choosing to outsource
The other way to earn more income for less work is to start outsourcing. This works very well no matter which kind of business you’re in – product based or service based. Outsourcing involves working with a contractor to provide services on an as-needed basis. You will pay the service provider an hourly rate agreed upon by you and the contractor for services rendered based on your contract.
There are many people who specialize in different areas. You can find someone to actually write all your blog posts, articles, eBooks, eReports, and more. You can outsource all graphics to a graphic artist. You can hire someone to edit all your manuscripts and format them to be sales ready. It’s up to you what parts you want to outsource.
Tips to outsource successfully
- Outsource non-money-making tasks first – Believe it or not, you can outsource things around your house that will give you more time to devote to your business. You can hire someone to clean your home, take your kids to the park, and even cook dinner. You can choose a service provider who does bookkeeping, data entry, uploading files, and other non-money-making tasks that you might consider busy work, but that have to be done.
- If someone can do it less expensively – If someone can do what you’re doing less expensively, as good or better than you can, it’s time to outsource it. For instance, you might want to outsource all your social media promotions. You’ve got a system in place; it should be easy to turn over to a social media expert. If you make 30 dollars an hour, and you can give someone the task for $20 an hour, and they’re faster and better than you, you’ll end up ahead.
- Use a project management system – If you’re going to outsource, it’s important to keep everything super organized so that you can get the most out of your additional help. The best way to do that is to use a project management system like Basecamp, and/or a file sharing system like Dropbox or Google Drive. There needs to be a simple way to assign tasks, and mark completed tasks outside of trading a lot of emails. Email is very inefficient in terms of project management.
- Create solid contracts – Many administrative service providers charge an ongoing monthly rate that does not roll over to the next month. You pay a set dollar amount each month for a set number of hours each month, and it’s up to you to remember to use those hours. Make sure you have a good contract that protects you both and helps you maximize the hours you purchase. Ensure that you create a good system to assign all tasks for the month and can check to see progress so you know if you need to assign more tasks or if you need to purchase more hours.
However you choose to do it, getting help with your business (or in your home) for tasks you don’t like to do can help you duplicate yourself so that you can double your money faster. Every time you find ways to add hours to your day, people to your team, and affiliates to your program, you’ll build momentum that will soon build that six-figure plus business you’ve been dreaming about without killing yourself in the process.
Running a better, stronger and more enjoyable business is within your power if you systemize, prioritize, plan, and act. Systemize the work you do until someone else can do it for you, especially if they can do it less expensively and more efficiently. Plan every day out to the letter so that you know what to expect and know what constitutes a successful day. Evaluate your schedule and check the numbers to ensure that you’re getting results.
1. Systemize – Creating systems for how you go about your work day is a very important part of running a business. Having the system in place will also signal to your brain to begin the work process. Use software such as Basecamp, Dropbox, and Google+ to help you stay organized and on top of every aspect of your business.
2. Prioritize – Your first priority might be different for you than someone else. But, when it comes to your business your first order of business every single day is to make money. Without earning money you don’t even have a business; you have a hobby. When you create your priorities, remember that.
3. Plan – When you make plans for what needs to be done, look at your system and your priorities and plan the money-making tasks first. Leave non-money-making tasks for after you’ve reached your goal for the day. You may need to tweak your plan on occasion to ensure that you’re working at full capacity. Check yourself often to be sure you’re not wasting time pretending to work.
4. Act – Don’t just talk about it and plan it out; actually act on what you’ve planned. The only thing that can get you from the dream to the reality is actually taking action forward each day and doing it. Having your own business so that you can live your passion is a dream that a lot of people share. Actually doing it, and making a success of it are for the few who know how to turn a plan into action.
They say no job is done until the paperwork is finished. That is true, but it’s also true that no business is made until a realistic plan is created, systems are put in place, priorities are created and action is taken. If you truly want a business that is better, stronger, more enjoyable and successful, the power is in your hands. Since you’ve taken the time to read this guide, you’re likely the type to make your dreams reality. What are you waiting for?