Great article for solopreneurs like us!
Branding 101: Five Tips for Solopreneurs
Just because you’re a solopreneur doesn’t mean you can’t have snappy branding. Here are some tips and examples of one-person businesses with… http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/223070
With the new year already in progress, many colleagues and clients are going crazy developing new ideas, services, branding and rebranding, as they say, ”THE WORKS’! In my case, before going crazy moving forward, I’ve really done a bit of research to make sure that anything new I do (which I’ve already started with my WordPress site) is really something that fits my business, my personality and my goals.
For some time I’ve been reading about all the new tips and ideas coming out for this year from all angles, small business, entrepreneurs, social media, and more. Most of them are great, lots of insight, new techniques, organizational skills, but, with lengthy ‘To Do Lists’ which in most cases is overwhelming when you want to manage them. I’ve decided to create my own “To Do Lists” in small but attainable tasks and divide them in quarters throughout the year. This will provide the time, learning skills (if necessary), and implementation of any new ideas and tasks I may develop.
With all the new and improved technology available today such as the smartphones, tablets, file sharing in the ’cloud’, remote communication, enhanced wireless services and hardware more small business owners and entrepreneurs are looking for virtual management options. This provides the opportunity for my business to continue developing new and enhanced virtual services, creating alliances and teams of experts that will utilize all this avaliable technology to help prospect clients and newcomer Virtual Assistants that want to start their new business in this field. So here is a glance of what I organize for my first quarter of this year:
1. My Target Market
As a Virtual Professional, my market is any small business owner or entrepreneur in the development phase of their business. By identifying more closely where my opportunities may be NOW, I decided to facilitate the online communication by creating my blog and redesign my page where I can receive some input from new sources. My specialty throughout my professional career, and as a business owner, has been helping to create new things. While in the corporate world, I was mostly hired as a manager/supervisor to startup a new department, from hiring personnel, developing policies and procedures, buying equipment, training, organizing and building a team of successful professionals. Later, as a business owner I had to do much of the same, develop my business, organize it and build teams. For any new or even savvy business entrepreneur I can analyze their current business setup and offer a strategic layout to help them become more streamline, virtually managed, more organized so they reach their goals faster. So, my best target would be the new business owner, or business entrepreneur considering starting a new business, therefore I need to concentrate in identifying these prospect group. (January – February timeframe)
2. How To Reach My Market
Working as a business owner, from home, facilitates lots of online interaction, virtual communications around the globe with clients, colleagues, online trainging and live interaction with your team members. Nevertheless, one of the best ways to connect is that personal touch, looking at your potential client’s eyes, getting to know your peers and team members personally, although not always possible. For 2012 I’ve decided to concentrate in live networking events in my area (get out of my office and socialize), and I consider myself extremely lucky for I share my time between Puerto Rico and Florida, which allows me an enourmous advantage to meet new people, different countries, languages, and needs. With this in mind, I’ve already scheduled several large meeting events between both places where I have exchanged services with some of the sponsors so that I may be part of the event’s main presenters. With my English and Spanish skills I plan on delivering presentations in both languages that will help me attract a bigger market in both places. (January – March)
3. How to Manage this Growth
With all the new and improved approach for this first quarter of 2012 I know I’ll be getting lots of inquiries and requests for proposals for services. This is a good “stressful” thing to happen to any business owner , so we need to have a contingent plan to handle all this growth while you are still out there networking and ‘selling’ your services. My personal plan is to have identified outsource team members that can handle any new client with the same professional and quality standards that you want your business to represent. When you want to work with someone else, you need to know them, have done work with them and make sure they understand your code of ethics when working with your clients. This is very important as they will represent your company at all times. I feel great that I’ve already worked with great people in some projects and we are ready to embrace the growth that will surely be coming this new year. (January – Febraury)
This is all for this first quarter, as I continue to evolve and develop new goals and resolutions through the year, rather than all at once at the beginning.
Great Success to all,
Sometimes our business grows ‘out of our hands’ and managing everything ourselves is counterproductive, just consider these conditions….
When to Hire a Bookkeeper or Accountant
When QuickBooks takes you only so far, it’s time to bring in a financial pro.
Entrepreneurs thrive on a DIY mentality: Do everything you can yourself and don’t pay for anything new until you have absolutely have to. It’s especially difficult to justify hiring financial help like a bookkeeper.
With user-friendly software such as QuickBooks available, many business owners feel they should be able to do keep their records on their own, even as they wrestle with finding the time and wonder if they’re doing things correctly.
Deciding about “hiring a bookkeeper is something I struggle with all the time,” says Randy Mitchelson, owner of National Web Leads, an Internet marketing company in Estero, Fla. While he finds basic accounting easy to do, it takes him away from working on his business. Meanwhile, his accounting and tax planning have become only more complicated in the six years since he founded his business.
Entrepreneurs who hire accounting help usually discover they weren’t doing nearly as well on their own as they thought they were.
Zalmi Duchman, chief executive of The Fresh Diet, a meal-delivery company based in Miami, lasted five years without a bookkeeper then hired one three months ago. The new employee cleaned up records that incorrectly mingled expenses and assets, reviewed employee purchases for duplications, and took over the mundane but critical task of paying bills. Duchman estimates his company is saving $500 to $1,000 in late fees every quarter. “I definitely have been able to make better and more educated decisions,” he says.
So what are a small-business owner’s options for professional help with financial tasks? Here is a primer:
Do I Need a Bookkeeper or an Accountant?
Actually it’s a trick question. You may need both.
Aaron Sylvan, a serial entrepreneur who lives in New York, compares the situation to needing to hire both a carpenter and an architect when building a house.
An accountant can analyze the big picture of your financial situation and offer strategic advice. He or she produces key financial documents, such as a profit-and-loss statement, if needed, and files a company’s taxes.
After tax season is over, an accountant can also act as an outsourced chief financial officer, advising an entrepreneur on financial strategies, such as whether to secure a line of credit against receivables when introducing new products.
In contrast, a bookkeeper does the day-to-day hands-on tasks: making sure new employees file all the right paperwork for the company’s payroll, submitting invoices (promptly) and following up on them, and paying the bills. The bookkeeper also tracks company expenses and can assure that every cost has been entered — and recorded correctly — into software like QuickBooks so that the business is ready for tax time along with filing any other reporting to, say, creditors or investors.
“I don’t keep receipts; they’re a pain,” says Sylvan, who runs Sylvan Social Technology, an ecommerce-services company. “Every month I get a bank statement with a gazillion transactions,” such as taxi rides, meals, conferences and other expenses he has placed on his company’s debit card.
His bookkeeper spends a few hours a week sorting it all out. As a result, Sylvan has a better idea about how his expenditures stack up against his budget. He knows he won’t bill clients incorrectly or miss important payments.
“Knowledge is power,” even when it comes to the small details, Sylvan says. “If you don’t have a bookkeeper, you’re probably not being as strategic as you could be in how you spend your money.”
When to Bring in a Bookkeeper
In his running a half-dozen businesses the past 15 years, Sylvan has typically hired a bookkeeper for a few hours a week within a few months after starting a new venture. For the first six to nine months, he’s usually too busy to focus much on recordkeeping, then “things begin to stabilize,” he says. “Then you can see trends and you can start to think strategically about where your money is going and where you can save.” And this is when a bookkeeper becomes valuable. Since Sylvan has fewer than a dozen employees at each new company, the bookkeeping takes about one day a month, he says.
The rates for hiring a bookkeeper on a part-time basis in the U.S. can range from $15 to $60 an hour, depending on location, the workload and whether work is done at the company’s office or from home.
Sylvan typically sees his accountant once a year, at tax time. But business owners requiring capital or frequently negotiating credit with a bank are likely to contact their accountants more often.
When to Hire a Staff Accountant or Bookkeeper
Many small entrepreneurs can probably stick to outsourcing accounting or bookkeeping services for quite some time. The typical service business can often outsource its chief financial officer tasks and bookkeeping until its revenues rises well above the $1 million mark — or until it has about 30 employees. Until then, most businesses usually don’t have enough work to keep a full-timer busy every day.
It’s time to hire full-time help, though, when you’re calling your accountant often enough that you wish he or she were in the office all the time. Bring in a full-time bookkeeper when your part-timer is spending two or three full days in the office and still falling behind.
Most new business owners find a staffing solution somewhere along the continuum that ranges from trying to go it alone and paying for full-time help.
Through the years, as a small business owner in a very demanded, growing and trendy field, Virtual Assistance, I find myself in need of ‘re-inventing’ myself, learning new and more advance skills, technology, trends. All this creates an awarenes of what our potential clients are looking for an assistant, whether is virtual or at their onsite offices.
As Virtual Assistants our services are provided utilizing the most advanced and latest technology which creates a limitelss array of opportunities in ‘services’ to be provided. Now we say, “…oh, I know how to do that..”; “…yes, I’ve done this a couple of times and with some practice, I can be an expert..”; “…I definitely like doing this task also…”. Then we become “jack of all trades and master of none.”
At this point we find ourselves looking at a necessary definition of our services, our niche, our expertise. We need to reasses our goals, strategies, objectives and allign our services accordingly.
Some questions to ask ourselves in order to assess our direction:
1. What is it that I love the most of all the tasks and services I provide? Do I have the expertise to handle this task, or should I take additional training? Would this be my niche?
2. What is in demand from my clients/prospects that I would need (or like) to provide as a service that is not currently in my service portfolio? Do I learn this new task/trade or do I subcontract the expert to add into my company’s portfolio?
3. Do I stay as an individual (solo) business provider or create a team to enhance my company’s service portfolio? Which services to add to my current portfolio?
With some of these questions answered you may be able to define your future goals, plans, and strategies to determine the restructuring of your small business, as a Virtual Assistant, or any other service provider. In doing so, you can focus in the specifics of your ‘niche’ or ‘business portfolio’ without being troubled with so many new things in the market, things you may not know, and concentrate in being the best at what you decide to do.
Create associations with other experts in the fields/trade that you choose to set as your business service portfolio, they can always provide support, ideas, and even help when you need additional assistance. I’ve decided this is the best route for my small business, by creating alliances with experts in other fields and services that my clients request and we provide them as a team which enhances both of our businesses, creates happy and satisfied customers that provide testimonials for both companies and gives us an opportunity of growth with a minimal of investment, as we are both providing our expert services