Organic growth – that sounds like someone growing tomatoes in their backyard. But it also sounds healthy and many people are willing to pay a premium for produce that is grown organically. In reality, there are similarities between organic gardening and organic business growth. Both practices are based on using what is already occurring without adding unnecessary outside influences. READ MORE »
Starting a business is an exciting, exhilarating and yes, scary time. There are so many questions and the first one to ask is “Where do I begin?” Some people take the “swim or sink” approach and dive right off the high tower into the deep end of the pool. Others tip-toe into entrepreneurship, take swimming lessons and gradually reach the deep end of the pool. Both approaches have been successful under certain circumstances but most people would at least like to know how to swim (even if it is just dog paddle) before they jump into the water. In addition to having a great product or idea, you will need to rein in your enthusiasm (don’t jump in yet) and complete some mundane tasks associated with starting a business. READ MORE »
Preparing the financials section of a business plan is often a daunting task. If you have never operated a business before, or taken any accounting classes, even the financial terminology can make it seem as if you have landed in a parallel universe. In order to discuss your needs with bookkeepers, accountants and investors, you will need to have a basic understanding of the terminology and references to specific accounting forms and processes. READ MORE »
When we learn to walk, we don’t start out running. We usually crawl for a while and then toddle around with uncertain steps. Eventually we gain confidence and learn to walk. When you are starting a business, it is a good idea to take the time to learn to take Small Business Baby Steps before you try running (you will have plenty of time and need for running later).
Small Business Baby Steps
Small incremental steps are a good way to proceed with starting your business. Seemingly unimportant tasks, like naming your business or choosing your legal structure, can cause unnecessary difficulties later on if not researched and completed properly at the initial stage. Several businesses have had to undergo the expense of renaming their company due to a competitor already legally owning the name or the name having a poor connotation in the global market. These changes may require refiling tax forms, setting up new bank accounts, printing new business cards, getting websites changed, and many other tasks. This is wasteful of your time and energy plus it creates confusion as you transfer your name or company structure. Right at the beginning of your start up is the best time to take the baby steps – take the time to learn what steps are needed and how to proceed.
In the Rule of Thumb book series, authors Marion Kaiser and Michael Mitilier have some excellent tips in their book, A Guide to Small Business Basics. Your local SCORE chapter is another source of great information and possibly a mentor for your business. Don’t forget to check out the SBA website for help with many of your business questions. Many communities have local organizations, like chambers or professional organizations, which can help you find the right resources and answers to your questions.
Do you find yourself playing “ketchup” as you continually add more items to the “in” box but never seem to diminish the pile? How many times have you said, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day!”? Maybe it is time to stop and consider – time. Time management, that is.
How do you spend your average day? Do you start early and just fight fires all day as you move from one crisis to the next? Does your phone ring constantly (or your email say – you’ve got mail) so that you don’t even have time to pick up your computer mouse to begin working on reports or orders? Everyone wants everything right now in our crazy instant-focused world. The customer wants you to process their order – right now and ship it yesterday, of course. Okay, take a deep breath – and a time out.
Time management is a learned skill for most people.
Which habits do you need to learn and which do you need to “un-learn” so that you can gain control of your work world? The first thing you need to recognize is that you are not alone. In fact, a quick Google search on the topic of time management tips showed 300,000,000 results. That means there are a lot of people concerned with the topic and ways to improve time management skills. One thing is for certain, the tips will only work if you are willing to make that change. It is imperative that you take time to consider some of the options and then find a tip or two that work for you and your business.
I found myself constantly stopping to read email so now I try to only check my email at the beginning of the day, right after lunch and just before the close of day. I still am making responses within a reasonable time but have freed up blocks of time to concentrate on my business concerns. While that may not work for every business, you can find a time management tool that does work for you. Maybe it is an electronic calendar to help you schedule meetings and tasks, maybe it is an app that sends you project specific reminders. Find what works for you so that the next time you are asking for ketchup it is because you want some for your hamburger.