While mobile app development is certainly a huge industry right now, that’s actually not what we mean here. In this case, we’re talking about businesses that travel to their customers, offering their products and services wherever the customer happens to be.As we all become more and more used to having everything accessible instantly and at our convenience, businesses on the move have hit the forefront of the most profitable industries in 2016 and beyond. Check out these mobile business ideas to help you take advantage of this emerging trend:
Taking a car to the shop for simple repairs can be a challenge. After all, most of us use our cars to get from place to place! That means taking a car in for repairs often either involves a long wait at the repair shop, renting a vehicle for the day, or coordinating a ride with a friend or spouse. Unless…
While some repair jobs do require the equipment of an auto shop to complete, there are plenty of maintenance and repair services that need just a few simple tools to complete. If you’re skilled as a mechanic, consider going mobile with your services—offering oil changes, fluid refills, battery swaps, headlight repair and more right in your customer’s driveway or office parking lot.
The foodie movement continues to grow in 2016, with more and more styles of cuisine offered in unique venues. But as rent in major cities increases, it’s becoming more difficult for up-and-coming specialty food artisans to finance a brick-and-mortar location in the bustling centers of town—where their customers are most likely to be.
The answer? Food trucks! Hit the road and park yourself at local events, farmer’s markets, the local town square—wherever you’re likely to draw a crowd. The lower overhead and increased geographic versatility of a food truck means you can turn your grandma’s famous dumpling recipe or that off-the-wall dessert idea into its own thriving business.
Keep in mind that bigger, trendier cities like San Francisco, Portland, and Boston already have a pretty saturated food truck market—so you might be more successful in a smaller heartland metropolis. Food trucks also tend to have their own special set of ordinances and safety compliance standards, so contact your local health department to find out what will be required.
CAR WASH SERVICES
Who wants to drive across town to get their car washed when you could be on your couch binge-watching House of Cards? As a mobile car wash and auto detailing service, you wouldn’t only benefit from the unique value proposition of being mobile, but you’d also avoid the significant overhead and startup cost of having a physical location.
Not sure how to start your own mobile car wash service? Don’t panic! There are a variety of online wholesalers that offer auto detailing start-up kits as well as training for those interested in starting their own business in this niche industry.
If you’ve looked up from your own mobile device lately, you’ve probably noticed that most Americans these days are more than a little bit obsessed with our electronics. This widespread tech addiction means that when something goes wrong, people tend to freak out.
Enter… You! The solution for every broken iPhone screen, WiFi card, and laptop battery. And if you’re willing to travel to your customer? You’ve got an instant hit! (Because who really wants to stand around by a kiosk in the mall?)
While a mobile electronics repair business involves some overhead in the form of purchasing supplies, keeping your business mobile saves you from the high overhead cost of a physical location. That means more profit in your pocket!
As you probably know from hours spent with your grandparents, electronics that don’t seem to be working are usually actually not in need of repair. Not everyone in the world is naturally tech savvy, and when things go wrong, often the free customer phone support provided by manufacturers doesn’t exactly feel supportive.
If technology comes easily to you—and you’re a relatively patient person—then consider hitting the road, at least in your neighborhood, with mobile IT support. All you need is time, transportation, and your own know-how—so this low-overhead business model is almost pure profit.
Turning your love of fitness into a career doesn’t have to mean working for a big corporate gym—nor do you need the overhead of have your own location to train clients. Throw a few weights, bands, and yoga mats into the trunk of your car, and take your fitness show on the road!
Offer one-on-one sessions in your clients’ homes or advertise group classes at a local park or community center. Making fitness more available to your clients might just be the ticket to helping both of you achieve your goals.
In today’s ever-changing business climate, keeping your customers is important to your organization’s success. This is especially challenging for small businesses that often lack the staff and resources required to provide necessary support for current and potential customers. One solution is using a CRM system to help automate tasks and streamline sales and marketing efforts. Here we evaluate what small businesses should look for before considering a CRM system.
If you’re a small business owner, one thing is certain: You encounter change and new challenges every day. But through all of the uncertainty, there is one thing that remains consistent—the importance of keeping your customers happy. Study after study shows customers do care about them and show they’re your top priority.
This isn’t the easiest task, because satisfied customers require a lot of attention. As a small business, you may not have the time, staff, or resources to devote this amount of attention to your customer base. Therefore, it makes sense to have a system to help manage those relationships. The obvious solution is to invest in a CRM platform. CRM makes it possible to easily keep track of hundreds of thousands of individual customer preferences and histories, all while coordinating across multiple departments. In essence, CRM means happier customers, and better returns overall.
But even once you’ve decided that you may need a CRM system, you’re still left with the problem of selecting one that has all of the features you need. What should you be looking for? If you’re a small business considering CRM, it’s a good idea to put these seven features on your checklist, even before contacting CRM companies for proposals:
Software or Cloud-based?
Or, in other words, on-premise or off-premise? Perhaps the most important thing to contemplate first is exactly how much data you need to manage. Hardware has its own set of hurdles, as does software. Cloud computing eliminates having to deal with software issues, and the shared infrastructure means it works much like a utility — you pay for what you need and get automatic upgrades and more without having to install and test run everything.
Although the basic focus of every CRM is the same, each individual platform is likely to have its own distinct set of features. Much like when shopping for a car, you’ll need to research and compare the specific features of each available CRM. Your CRM should come with certain must-haves on your list. See who delivers on their promises, and what system would fit your needs. Everything from lead management and marketing automation to sales data and mobile access should be key factors at decision time.
You are a business-oriented person, which means that the question that is probably on your mind right now is this: “What’s the CRM going to cost me?” The price range for CRM extends across the entire board, and there are even CRM solutions that can be used free of charge. However, if your business needs additional features, many effective CRM plans start as low as $10 per user, per month. Once you determine your needs, you’ll be able to get a realistic picture of corresponding price points that meet your company’s budget. As with anything else, the “you get what you pay for” rule applies here. So, if you want more support and options, you should be ready to pay for it. Your business is worth it.
Most CRMs are solutions that are customizable to your needs. Customization is simply modifying or expanding the behavior of out-of-the-box functionality. It can be minor, like changing the location of a text screen, or extensive, like creating brand new applications unrelated to sales. When aligning your company with the right CRM, make sure to find out how rich the customization is to meet your needs, both today and down the road.
A CRM is an investment, and is perhaps one of the most important investments your company will make. Therefore, it’s vital to have consistent information and support at your disposal at all times. From online tools and training, to app development and 24/7 support, reliable customer service should be part of your CRM purchase.
As your business grows, the relationships you build with your customers needs to grow right along with it. Your CRM needs to have the capacity to scale to the largest of teams, and the architecture behind the service to be able to handle millions of users. You’ll want something to scale as rapidly as you require, so this is another important feature to look for.
Finally, get real feedback by considering CRM software reviews from vendors, administrators, and industry experts. Today, you’re faced with a lot of CRM options, so a review may help you narrow down your options. After discussing what makes the most sense with your team, dig into online reviews, keeping in mind that not every CRM is equal. See if important questions and concerns are addressed by the sources available.
Congratulations. You’ve considered the prerequisites for what a CRM for your business requires. After satisfying everything on your checklist, it’s time to begin a dialogue and schedule proposals with a CRM provider that can fulfill all your needs, meet your budget, and move with you through all the changes—not just today or for the next few months, but for years to come. Aligning yourself with the right CRM may be the most important business decision you’ll ever make.
All of us have competitors, whether it's someone who is pumping out a similar product, or someone who wants to snag our top job candidate. Whatever the competition, we want to win.
Highlight deficiencies by competitors. Find opportunity where competition fell short. If prospective clients share how they've been burned in the past, show proof of how your company excelled.
Offer a diverse suite of services. Don't make this so extreme to where it's tough for costumers to make an association, but make your company a one-stop shop for customers. For instance, if customers use your product or service as one part of a larger process, consider offering those other points of that process.
Offer insight. Be selfless and offer expert knowledge and suggestions. Building rapport early is key to not only facilitating communication, but building a credible reputation. Give the contact you're calling on suggestions on better options based on market intel, even if that means not taking their business because your company truly isn't the best resource for them. Deflecting that sale and giving up half a million dollars may seem crazy now, but circumstances can change and they could be a $50 million client five years down the road because of that built trust.
Understand your client's industry. Show how you fit into the prospective client's world. If they produce products, take a picture of your staff using them and send it to them. Have you bought their product as a gift for someone? Take a picture of them unwrapping it, sharing how the company is a part of a personal experience. Show them how your company can be an extension of theirs. This is just one creative way of doing that.
Don't be annoying. Picture being in their shoes and develop a sense of empathy. Would you want to receive three calls from the same person in one week? Or would a hand-written letter make more of an impact? Being respectful of a person's time and treating them like an actual human rather than a sale can go a long way. Send them a congratulations banner if they were promoted, a welcome mat if they move. Think of ways to connect past the scheduled phone calls.
Customer Experience: So while the company may be great, the reputation relies on the last transaction or interaction with the company. A reputation can be diminished if the delivery was late, if the employee was rude, or if the order was wrong and the cost wasn't covered. This bad experience can either diminish the possibility of that customer becoming a repeat, or prevent them from referring the company to their network. In the world of word-of-mouth referrals, a bad experience can cause a downward spiral...quickly.
Hire smart, nice people. In order to execute any of the above effectively, this is crucial.Be known in the marketplace as the company with the fun group of professionals who are not only intelligent and hardworking, but who are nice and empathetic...the staff that will hustle and stop at nothing to get something done. Be known as the company whose employees pick up every call, who come up with solutions before there is a problem, and who are honest when things aren't going as planned. Be known as the company with the staff everyone wants.
Did you know that social media marketing has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing? Or that 84% of B2B marketers use social media in some form? No matter what you sell and who you sell it to, using social media as a marketing tool can help you grow your brand and pad your wallet.
At this point in the game, not having an active social media presence is kind of like pulling out a flip phone at a business meeting and then not understanding why your boss keeps giving Brad all the new accounts.
But some people still own flip phones, and some people dig in their heels and say, what is social media marketing going to do for me? Do I really need it? Yes. Yes you do — and here are some of the most compelling reasons why:
The Importance of Social Media for Web Traffic
Social media posts can be used to drive targeted traffic. Creating a new page on your site is like taking a really great selfie. You want the world to see it and bask in its brilliance, but you don’t want to beg for attention (or worse, pay for it). That’s why for selfies and landing pages, well-placed social media posts can make all the difference. We’ve seen a single link on Reddit drive over 20,000 visitors in one weekend and links submitted to StumbleUpon can take a page that was consistently earning a handful of visitors a day and increase that number to hundreds. Who wouldn’t want to capitalize on that?
Using social media for business boosts your site’s SEO. Search engine crawlers know which pages are consistently earning traffic and which are just floating out there, forgotten and ignored. A killer content strategy for SEO is the most important part of earning top spots in search engine rankings, but driving traffic to your optimized pages will cause them to climb much faster in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Quick case study: Astroglide is one of TCF’s clients, and in less than a year we got the website to rank in the top 100 SERPs for 15,000 new keywords – as a result, traffic to the website has increased dramatically. A solid and consistent presence on Facebook, Twitter and other social channels was a BIG part of that success.
If you’re doing it right, social media will lead to real relationship building. Part of what makes things like Twitter and Instagram marketing so cool is the interaction you get to have with your customer base — you can read their tweets and status updates to get insights into their daily lives (and maybe adjust your marketing strategy as a result). What products are they buying and why? What are they doing on the weekend? What kind of posts do they love to share, and from what websites?
You can also use social media as a tool for connecting with complementary, non-competing businesses, thought leaders and tastemakers in your space, as well as journalists who cover your industry. Sometimes, becoming besties starts with a simple retweet.
Users are receptive to your messages. People view Twitter and Facebook as social networks, not marketing machines. As a result, they’re less likely to see what you post as an advertisement and will be more likely to hear what you have to say. This translates to serious web traffic when you link to your site and posts that market themselves as your friends and followers share what you’ve posted.
Social media ads allow targeting and retargeting. One of the reasons social media is important is because of the highly customizable nature of social media ads. Facebook ads, for example, allow you to target users by things like location, education level, industry and even purchase history and the pages they’ve liked. You also have to the option to install a Facebook pixel on your site and use it to retarget the users who visit you — these people are far more likely to convert into solid leads and sales!
Social media can help you get noticed at events, and even generate earned media coverage. Whether your business is sponsoring a charity fundraiser or attending a major trade show, there’s no better way to leverage your presence than with the help of social media.
You can respond to problems immediately. If there’s a problem with your product or service, you want to know about it right away. With the feedback you get in the process of social media marketing, you’ll be the first to know when there are issues – and you can take steps to resolve them right away. Studyafter study has shown that consumers appreciate companies that respond to customer complaints (and don’t hesitate to rant online to anyone who will listen when companies don’t take the time to make things right).
A strong social media presence builds brand loyalty. A report published by Texas Tech University found that brands with active social media profiles have more loyal customers. It’s easy to imagine why: when you’re engaging and interacting on social media (not just tossing your posts out onto the web hoping someone will stumble upon them) you become less like a corporation and more like what you truly are — a unified group of people who share a vision.
The Right Social Media Marketing Strategy Can Help You Slay the Competition
Your competition is getting social, so you should too. Did you know that 91% of brands are using more than one social media platform? This isn’t something you want to fall behind the competition on, because it’s much harder (and more expensive) to play catch up than it is to get in on the game early. If your competitors get to your potential customers first, they’ll earn their loyalty and you’ll have a hard time winning them over. If you’re active and engaging on a variety of networks, you can gain those friends and followers first and your competition will be playing catch up instead of the other way around.
The social media marketing arena is a (fairly) level playing field. Some brands may have bigger ad budgets than others, but all companies start off on pretty equal footing when it comes to social media marketing. The people and brands who thrive and go viral in are those with the most clever, attention grabbing tactics (and the most ridiculous gifs) and the most useful, link worthy content. In short, they’re providing value to their target audience while also showing personality and being entertaining. If you want to get lots of traffic and really increase your sales online, you’re going to have to outwit, outnetwork and outwrite your competition while offering superior products and customer service. Isn’t that what business is all about, anyway?
When it comes to newsjacking, social media is king. Sometimes your brand is mentioned on a cable TV show. Sometimes it’s not, but you know just how to slide your product into the story to aim the spotlight in your direction. Facebook, Twitter and even Reddit marketing give you a front row seat to the news that’s becoming viral right as it’s happening. Jump in at just the right time and you’ll earn some major media attention — and that’s something you just can’t do with a traditional ad campaign.
The Importance of Social Media Marketing for Sales and ROI
Social media marketing will get you more sales. Did you know that 70% of business-to-consumer marketers have acquired customers through Facebook? Or that 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions?
Not surprisingly, when you stay in front of your customer base, they’re more likely to buy from you when they need the products you sell. Social media marketing doesn’t just keep your company’s name in front of potential buyers, but it also gives you the opportunity to constantly give them incentives to buy. Try sharing coupon codes, with a unique code for each social channel – you may be surprised at which social network drives the most sales.
You’ll find customers you didn’t know existed. If you set up streams to follow keywords in Twitter (Hootsuite makes this simple), you can find people who are looking for the products you sell and direct them to your site. Using Twitter for marketing is great that way – telling people who want your products how to get them from your company is just an @ away.
Customers you didn’t know existed will find (and buy from) you. In the process of marketing with Facebook, you’ll probably join a ton of groups related to your products, industry and customer base. By posting links in these groups, you’ll help influence customers to check out your site. Answering questions on Quora is another option. Post a link today, and two weeks/months/years later you might see a sale from it.
You Can't Beat the Price (or ROI) of Social Media
You heard that right — it’s free. How can you argue with that? If you handle your own social media management, running a social networking campaign is as cheap as it gets. If you hire a social media management or online PR agency, it will cost around $3,000-$7,000 per month, but it’ll be an investment that you’ll be likely to see a return on. If you’re intimidated by interacting with people online or your writing skills leave something to be desired, hiring an online PR agency is definitely the way to go. Posting poorly written content or conveying the wrong kind of messages on social networking sites can seriously affect your digital PR presence.
The ROI on social media ads is unbeatable. The average cost per click on Google Adwords is between $1 and $2 and depending on the keyword targeted, you can end up paying $50 or more for a single click. Through targeted boosted post, we’ve been able to send traffic via Facebook and Pinterest for as little as $0.12 per click. Why pay ten or twenty times as much for each visit when social media ads make earning that traffic quick and easy?
Simply put, social media marketing is part of doing business in the new millennium. If your business isn’t already active on social networking sites, now is the time to start.
Why is Social Media Important?Why is social media important to businesses? Because your brand doesn’t really exist online if you’re not represented across all social channels – and regularly interacting with your followers, journalists who cover your industry, thought leaders and tastemakers, etc.
Here’s one very important reason you may not have considered — it’s fun! Hosting a Twitter chat to celebrate a new product launch, getting your geek on while you A/B test Facebook ads, or sharing pop-culture polls for your followers to weigh in on — these are all activities that build brand awareness, boost web traffic and lead to loyal customers. But unlike many traditional marketing tactics with the same goals, these tasks are actually fun in addition to driving real value for your company.
Dream, but be motivated
It's OK to dream and have big goals. But if you're actually going to accomplish them, you have to DO something about them, and that takes motivation.
The very first thing you need to achieve a goal is a reason and deep desire to achieve it. The path to achieving goals is fraught with boredom, excuses and difficulty. You will have a lot of opportunities to talk yourself out of the goal. But if you can keep going back to the reason and your desire for the goal, those will help you stay on track.
Break it down into 24-hour bites
The brain has a built in B.S. monitor that rings out when all you do is set an enormous goal but then don't manage it to 24-hour cycles--daily mini goals. If your goal is to shed 50 pounds, your brain doesn't see you 50 pounds lighter in 24 hours, but it can see you five ounces lighter in that time.
Set your goals so that your B.S. alarm doesn't go off. To prevent that alarm bell, the mini goal must be reasonable and sustainable. Losing one pound in a day is doable, but it's not reasonable or sustainable, so the B.S. sentinel will scream its head off, and you'll eventually stop going after your big goal.
Do something daily
Nothing replaces repetition and creating momentum like doing something to get you closer to your goal every day. You will naturally take some time off, but if you don't take seriously the first 30 days of work on the goal and use them to create momentum, it's almost guaranteed you won't get there.The first 30 days are critical to convincing your B.S. monitor that you're serious. Organizationally, it convinces colleagues you're serious.
Adapt and adjust
As you work on your daily mini goals and toward the bigger goal, be willing to adapt. Make the mini goals more difficult if they seem too easy. Make them easier if they become too taxing.The main thing is that if your brain deems the mini goal to be too difficult, you'll quit. If it's too easy, you're running in place. Find the middle so you have advancement each day.
Feedback and reward
The human brain responds to two things to learn and attain new behaviors and knowledge: feedback and reward. As you go about your goal-getting, be brave enough to request feedback from others, and then reward yourself each day for accomplishing your little goals.Research has shown that even keeping a calendar where you put a little gold star on the days you are successful (a la kindergarten) can be effective positive reinforcement. The visual is enough reward for the brain to know it's doing something right.
Know you're going to get bored
Doing something in small pieces each day can lead to boredom. Do it anyway.Achieving goals isn't always about a daily cork-popping ceremony to celebrate something sensational you did. It's usually about sticking to the daily, boring small stuff. Get that right, make it slightly more difficult each day, and do it again and again.
People who achieve their goals usually do it because they kept going when it gets tough and boring.
There is no secret formula to success. Sure, luck comes into play, but it's foolhardy to count on that. Mostly, it's having a direction and place you want to get to and then showing up for the daily grind. Go get 'em.
It’s not long before 2016 comes to a close and although there is still much work to be done it’s in your interest to begin planning for success in 2017.
Business is volatile so even with the best intentions you may be caught by surprise on some of the hurdles and challenges you’ll face in the coming year. Equally so, you may be surprised and absolutely thrilled at the accomplishments and barriers that are overcome once the new year takes shape.
Here are some of the things you, the business owner, should begin considering, in 2016, so that your business will have breakout success in 2017.
A) Dig into the Analytics
Crunch the numbers you’ve collected throughout the year such as conversion rate, traffic generation, social sharing, marketing expenses, promotional costs, feedback, and any other data points that give you a scientific look at how well your business performed in 2016.
Analytics will reveal all you need to know in order to grow in the new year.
The big data points, in the easiest of sense of doing this task, should be the number of customers you’ve brought in (and retained), how much you earn on each sale, how much you’re spending to operate, and what you can do to cut costs while keeping quality and satisfaction.
B) Personalization, Customization, and Employee Empowerment
Every year it’s important that you take a look at your competition and see what they are doing to attract their customers (because those customers could be yours).
Things you’ll notice if you deep research the competition (and even use social engineering to have them reveal their techniques) will allow your business to begin personalizing the marketing & sales message to reach your target audience and expand into theirs with ease. By taking this action you may also find ways to customize your products & services to give greater appeal and a modern look, feel, and value in the new year (all-the-while the competition continue to look dated).
Because of this drive to keep one step ahead of the competition you will also find the weak points of your business and the appropriate tools to empower your employees to deliver customer service exceptionally well. A combination of providing educational programs and new systems at work will give the employees an edge. This upgrade can be as simple as upgrading your office telephone systems to give employees modern VoIP capabilities and integration into CRM systems.
C) Audit your Social Media
Gone are the days when you could simply schedule a post to Facebook, sit back, and watch the community interact. Social media is in a constant state of evolution and this means your social media strategy needs to adapt and change for where it may be going in 2017.
The staples of social media will remain the same such as great content creation in the form of blog posts, podcasts, and videos, but the many messenger services have already shown they are major platforms in how your audience wants to interact with your brand – and it’s only going to become more commonplace as the younger audience gains additional purchasing power (along with older generations finally coming on board with the technology).
Take some time before the start of the new year to completely update any outdated information in your social media profiles. Also, take time to plan new content strategies, promotional ideas, email sequences, and other social campaigns you’d like to attempt in the new year by learning what has worked in the past and being playful with the platforms when it comes to the future.
There are big changes coming to how consumer and brands interact on social media.
The last and shortest section says it all: you must be willing to adapt. Each day new businesses are making their way into your industry; they are after your customers and fighting for dominance. These new businesses have fresh ideas and a lot of energy. It’s your duty to stay ahead of the curve, learn as much as you can from trends, take chances, and adapt to the way your industry changes whether that means small changes to the tools you use to big changes to the business culture. You must be willing else you’ll fade out like so many before.
Are you ready to take on 2017?
Start Planning Early
Let’s start with your staff. Depending on your business, the holiday season can be a particularly busy and stressful time for them as well as you. Consider their needs, and make sure that your holiday prep list includes ways to help them better serve your customers. For example, come up with lists of gift recommendations for different people, and share them with your staff. If you need to hire temporary holiday staff an early start will ensure that you have enough time to get them fully trained BEFORE the rush starts.
Revisit The Ghost Of Holidays Past
It can seem counterintuitive, but examining past years’ performance will help you better judge if you’ll need extra help and how many seasonal workers to hire this year. Beyond this, you can take this time to reevaluate who your holiday customers really are and plan your marketing strategy around them.
For example, if your business involves a lot of gift orders for companies, take a look at the volume you’ve done in the past two years, and see if there’s a trend. Plan ahead now to make sure you’ve ordered enough packaging, raw materials, or inventory. While you can’t anticipate every gift order ahead of time, knowing the general volume to look out for will help you keep your footing when things come in without advance notice.
Be Aware Of Trends – And Take Part in Shop Local Campaigns Last year we noticed a rise in “shop local” events across the country, and that trend was confirmed by the consulting firm Deloitte: Two-thirds of the folks they surveyed plan to shop locally this year – i.e. at small businesses which are not part of national chains. Some of the reasons they give are a desire to support the local economy, to find one-of-a-kind gifts, and because it’s just more convenient.
We’re talking to you! These trends are all in your favor as a small business owner, and by planning ahead now you can take advantage of them. Is your city or town running a “shop local” holiday campaign? A quick internet search or a call to your local Chamber of Commerce can help you find out. Taking the time now to make sure your business is on flyers and promotional websites will pay off once the holiday season rolls around.
A Little Marketing Goes A Long Way A good marketing campaign takes weeks of planning – make sure you give yourself plenty of lead time, since you’re also juggling all of your small businesses’ priorities. Some things to try?
The Good Of Being Your Own Boss
You’re at the wheel. You make the decisions yourself.
There’s great satisfaction in being able to act on hunches, make guesses, and just do it. Take the risk, spend the money. We often talk about owning the job as a key to job satisfaction; and when you’re the boss, you own it. Not having to ask anybody can mean a great deal. This is a big deal to me. I’m one of those people (are you also?) who feels safer when I’m driving than when I’m a passenger. Especially in business.
You set your own hours.
Maybe you’re an early riser, or you don’t want to work certain afternoon hours to do kids’ activities instead, or your own activities. Maybe you like to work in spurts.
When you are your own boss, you eliminate the old-fashioned need to warm a chair for specific hours. You become responsible for your output, not your hours (unless, of course, you are a service business with clients—that’s in the cons, below).
You set your own work style, workplace environment, and (to the extent that you can afford it) workplace equipment.
Some bosses are better than others at upgrading the technology, choosing the location, arranging for parking, and so on. How fast is your internet? When you’re the boss, that’s up to you. Do you like a stand-up desk, or any desk? Up to you. A good view? Good coffee in the kitchen? That’s all up to you.
You set your own location.
Don’t stay in Cleveland if you prefer Klamath Falls. Don’t take that frustrating subway commute to Manhattan, stay in Brooklyn. Meet people in Starbucks, or spend every day in Starbucks—why not? You’re the boss. You decide.
The Not So Good Of Being Your Own Boss
Your customers are your boss. Your clients are your boss.
Over and over, during the decade and a half that I was a sole proprietor consulting on business planning with clients, I ended up late at night, tired, stuck with finishing up a presentation due the next day. I was never able to go the normal worker’s route, in which you either get it done or have a reason for not having done it. I needed the business, I needed the money, so I wasn’t in charge. My clients were in charge. Even later in my career, after I’d built a business selling to thousands of customers every month, the customers were in charge. We need to get the software finished, tested, and published. We needed to keep our website up to date. We needed to meet marketing deadlines, product development, finances, the whole thing. In a business, the health of the business is your boss.
Your commitments—to vendors, to allies, to business activities--are your boss.
You can’t miss commitments very often and still be successful. Your word is your most powerful asset. Meetings, deadlines, and promises are commitments. You can’t really run a business without them.
If you have employees, there are some ways in which your employees are your boss.
You lead, and—whether you like it or not—leadership is as leadership does. Meaning that your employees are watching you. You can’t do less than you ask of them. You as boss is probably the most important factor in so-called corporate (or company) culture.
If you leave early, everybody leaves early.
You spend your own money.
Do you see point three in the pros, about you making decisions on equipment,
technology, bandwidth, and so on? Great—but then you have to pay for everything you decide you need. It comes out of your budget, not your employer’s budget.
When times are tough you may need that upgrade; but can you pay for it?
You earn what you earn.
You have no assurance of salary and compensation. It all depends on you, your business, your clients, your market, and your business offering. The sole proprietor, startup founder, or small business owner doesn’t have an employer setting a stable compensation plan. There is no real assurance of how much you’ll have next month.
Between commuting to office, catching up with your inbox, to rushing for review meetings, it’s a hard life, as any entrepreneur will know. They are always on the lookout for ways to get the most out of their day. Running a startup is a daily challenge, but there exist tools out there to simplify almost all aspects of a business, enabling entrepreneurs to minimize distractions and focus on their ‘core business’.
From naming and registering a business, to managing teams, to handling marketing and customer relations, these tools can help you ease up the process of running your business.
Asana: Asana is a Project Management and Collaboration Tool which helps keep teams organised, connected and focused. It is one of the most popular project management tools and offers convenient integrations.
99designs: 99Designs is the world’s most popular marketplace for graphic design. It is a great platform to find able freelancer designers, especially for logo and web designing.
AngelList: AngelList is a website for startups, angel investors, and job-seekers. Its goal is to introduce entrepreneurs to sophisticated investors, and simplify the process of early stage business. An AngelList profile is also an important visibility platform, practically synonymous with a birth certificate in the startup world!
Animoto: Animoto makes it easy to create professional-quality videos. Animoto automatically produces beautifully orchestrated, completely unique video pieces from photos, video clips and music.
BetaList: BetaList provides pre-launch startups with their first hundred users. It lets them understand the market and enable them to reach the product-market fit.
Brand24: Brand24 is a tool which allows one to monitor one’s brand, product and services online. It is also a great method of measuring the buzz around a brand, product or keyword.
Bunchball: Bunchball is the market leader and visionary in gamification. Bunchball provides cloud-based software as a service gamification product intended to help companies improve customer loyalty and online engagement using game mechanics.
Codecademy: Codecademy is an online interactive platform that offers free coding classes in eight different programming languages. Codecademy also provides a forum where enthusiasts, beginners, and advanced coders can come together and help each other.
CoFoundersLab: CoFoundersLab offers an online matchmaking service that connects entrepreneurs with compatible co-founders looking to join a startup. It helps aspiring entrepreneurs connect through their online platform and in-person events.
Doorbell: Customer Feedback is probably the most crucial aspect of an early-stage business. Doorbell helps gather in-app user feedback for free. It is available for websites, iOS and Android.
Dropbox: Dropbox is the premier file backup, sync and sharing solution beloved by more than 4 million businesses. It lets you store and share huge chunks of data through the cloud.
Evernote: Evernote is a closed based freemium suite of software and services, designed for note taking and archiving. It is a modern workspace that syncs between all of your devices.
Expensify: Expensify provides an online expense management service for customers worldwide. It eases the process of tracking expenses and is one of the most popular expense reporting apps for phone & web.
Fontello: Fontello is a tool to build custom fonts with icons and helps you easily create a unique text branding for your business. It packs vector images into webfonts.
Free Invoice Generator: Free Invoice Generator provides for an easy to use free invoice template to create invoices in PDF. It ensures a standard and convenient form for invoicing every order.
Germ.io: Germ.io is a project management tool centred around ideas. It lets you get from ideas to execution by helping you capture every eureka moment.
Get Satisfaction: Get Satisfaction is an online customer engagement community platform connecting businesses with their customers to foster better relationships. Companies of all sizes use Get Satisfaction's platform to modernize customer support, accelerate sales and differentiate their brand.
GitHub: GitHub is a web-based Git repository hosting service offering distributed revision control and source code management functionality of Git as well as adding its own features. Over 4 million people use it to share code.
Google AdWords: Google AdWords is Google's advertising system in which advertisers bid on certain keywords in order for their clickable ads to appear in Google's search results. It is definitely one of the most important tools to advertise online.
Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. It shows you the full customer picture across ads, videos, websites, social tools, tablets and smartphones.
Google Trends: Google Trends is a public web facility of Google that shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages. It can be quite useful for targeting the right customers online.
Google Web StarterKit: Web Starter Kit is boilerplate and tooling for multi-device development. It is a front-end template that helps one build fast, modern mobile web apps.
FullContact for Gmail: FullContact for Gmail supercharges your Google Contacts and lets you know everything about your Gmail contacts, right from your inbox. You can see the name, photos, social profiles, company info just by hovering over an email address.
Homerun: Homerun is a lightweight tool that makes recruitment personal and effective. Homerun enables businesses to create authentic job openings, receive richer applications and review applicants faster and more effectively.
HootSuite: Hootsuite is the world’s most widely used social relationship platform. It is a social relationship platform that empowers users to execute social media strategies across their organizations.
How Much To Make An App: How Much to Make an App lets one calculate the cost of a building a mobile application. You just need to choose the desired features, and it estimates the cost of those features within seconds.
HubSpot: HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps businesses attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. It includes tools for social media marketing, email marketing, content management, analytics, landing pages and search engine optimization, among others.
intercom.io: Intercom shows you who is using your product and makes it easy to personally communicate with them . It provides for live conversations and allows sending targeted email and in-app messages, triggered by time or behavior.
Kickstarter: Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. It is especially useful for film, music, art, theatre, games, comics, design, photography, and more.
LaunchRock: LaunchRock is a platform that enables its users to create viral "Launching Soon" pages with built in sharing tools and analytics. It help its clients incentivize and reward users for telling others about their projects through email and social networks
MailChimp: MailChimp is a popular online email marketing solution which lets one manage contacts and send emails. It helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results.
Meetup: Meetup is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. It can help you meet your fellow entrepreneurs in your region/industry and get a better understanding of the market.
Meldium: Meldium is the simplest way for teams to access the cloud tools they need. By aggregating and monitoring accounts across any web service, it frees one from tedious account management.
MobileDevHQ: MobileDevHQ is an enterprise organic app marketing platform that offers mobile marketers with app store optimization (ASO) solutions. The platform enables app marketers to analyze and optimize the app store presence of an app, track an app’s relevant search ranking queries in an app store, discover top chart rankings, analyze keywords etc.
Moqups: Moqups is a stunning HTML5 App for creating high fidelity SVG mockups, wireframes and clickable prototypes. It lets you create website and app prototypes without any technical knowledge.
Moz: Moz is an industry leader in building tools to facilitate inbound marketing easy. It provides automated research and analytics tools which lets you focus on strategy and insights and allows you to gain a quick understanding of the competitive landscape in any given search result.
Go Daddy: GoDaddy is the world's largest web host and domain name registrar. It offers dependable and stable services to ensure smooth online presence.
Naminum: Naminum is the leading free startup name, company name, business name and website name generator on the web. It helps you find a suitable name for your business.
Near Me: Near Me is a peer-to-peer commerce solution enabling anyone to setup their own branded marketplace. Users can create peer-to-peer marketplaces to share, trade, swap or rent anything all over the world.
Upwork: Previosuly called Elance-oDesk, Upwork is the world's largest online workplace where savvy businesses and professional freelancers meet. It is an effective platform to get quality output at affordable costs.
Pixlr: Pixlr is a cloud-based set of image tools and utilities, including a number of photo editors, a screen grabber browser extension, and a photo sharing service. The apps range from simple to advanced photo editing and can be used on PCs, and smartphones or tablets.
PostMark: PostMark is a web app which removes the headaches of delivering and parsing transactional email for web apps, all with minimal setup time and zero maintenance. It lets you see who opened your emails, where they opened it, what clients and platforms they used, and even how long they read the email.
Prezi: Prezi is a popular cloud-based presentation software and storytelling tool for presenting ideas on a virtual canvas. The product employs a zooming user interface (ZUI) and lets you create striking presentations.
QuickMVP: QuickMVP is a tool that helps entrepreneurs test a new business with a Landing Page Builder and Google Ad Creator. It is one of the easiest ways to test your ideas, without wasting time or money.
Recruiterbox: Recruiterbox is the easiest way to receive and manage job applications to one’s business. It is more efficient than email and simpler than any other recruitment software.
Rewardstream: Rewardstream lets one create engagement and lead generation through well-designed, best-practice-driven, and highly tailored referral marketing plans tuned to meet one’s business’ changing needs. It makes it quick and easy for marketers to incorporate digital, mobile, and word-of-mouth referrals into their customer acquisition and brand awareness mix.
Scoop.it: With a focus on content marketing, Scoop.it helps professionals and businesses publish content online in a meaningful, easy and rewarding way. It is a convenient form of finding and creating content for social media marketing.
Shopify: Shopify is a powerful ecommerce website solution that allows one to sell online by providing everything needed to create an online store. Shopify offers a professional online storefront, a payment solution to accept credit cards, and the Shopify POS application to power retail sales.
Sidekick: Sidekick lets you see Who Opens and Clicks Your Email. With Sidekick email tracking, one can get live notifications when someone opens or clicks on one’s emails.
Slack: Slack is a team communication tool that allows for real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams. It is an advanced messenger and can help ensure smooth team co-ordination.
SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey is the world's most popular online survey software. It lets you create and publish online surveys in minutes, and view results graphically in real time.
TinyJPG: TinyJPG helps make websites faster by compressing JPEG images by 40-60%. It analyses images and chooses an optimal strategy to apply the best possible JPEG encoding, keeping the quality impact but reducing the size at the same time.
UICloud: UI plays an important part in defining customer experience for any app. UICloud collects the best user interface designs and provides a search engine to find the best UI elements for one’s need.
WordPress: WordPress is the most popular web platform to create beautiful websites and blogs. It provides for hundreds of free, customizable, mobile-ready designs and themes.
Whether it’s January 1st or June 1st if you’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or not getting the results you want in your business (or in your life) it’s worthwhile revisiting the goals you set for the year ahead. January often brings lofty ambitions and expectations when our energies and motivation are running high, but did you really put the plans and structures in place to achieve what you set out to do and manifest your desires?
Entrepreneurs are fantastic at getting a lot of things done quickly, but in the rush of enthusiasm, often shy away from specific, impactful goals and targets. To help you move through this year powerfully and productively I’m sharing with you my favorite goal setting secrets.
Stop the Internal negotiations.
You know this is happening when you find yourself thinking of a goal, then immediately shrinking it down as fear and uncertainty creep in. Instead, map out just the next 2 or 3 steps forward and get moving. Action educates you. If it’s not working, assess, correct and move forward, but be unwavering in your commitment to see this through.
Set Annual, Quarterly and Even Monthly Income Targets – and Keep Track.
While it’s crucial to write down your one year income goal, it can seem unmanageable and even unattainable. Breaking it down into small chunks makes it completely do-able and gives you something realistic to work towards. Be sure to track your income at least weekly, and if you’re not hitting your targets reassess and move forward with new action steps.
Make One Goal Entirely Self-Improvement Focused.
This step is often overlooked in our quest to do more and have more. But I firmly believe that you don’t make the money, the money makes you. Businesses aren’t built in isolation; it’s really a personal and spiritual game, challenging you to break free of past habits and beliefs and ways of “being” in the world. Every year set a self-improvement goal that helps you breakthrough some of this old patterning and conditioning. Take a training course or workshop, invest in a mentor, or even commit to regularly reading specific blogs that are going to help you expand personally, create a new mindset and further your business growth.
Think Long Term and Short Term.
Focusing only on short term goals keeps you in a perpetual cycle of chasing “bright shiny objects” and also chasing cash. Focusing only on long term goals can create extended periods of little to no revenue while you wait for the big pay-off or recognition ahead. Balance your goals with immediate income and long term growth; profitability and recognition, wild success and personal satisfaction. This is a healthy diet for optimal business performance and personal well-being.Goals are not meant to be task-masters or slave drivers.They’re not something we do to ourselves, but for ourselves. They should inspire you, light you up, stretch you and scare you just a tiny bit. But ultimately they are the gift we give ourselves that pulls us forward into the next expression of who we want to be.
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