Catch the Spirit of the Entrepreneur

July 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Entrepreneur Info

Grabbing opportunities with open arms is often easier to talk about than to actually do. Most people find themselves dreaming about being rich but never actually doing anything about it. A combination of procrastination and ‘what if’ syndrome can cripple your creative spirit and might mean your idea will never become a reality.

Socrates said “Action equals knowledge’. He was one of the greatest philosophers of our time. What he meant was that it is through action that we achieve results.

For example, you could think about learning Spanish for months, imagining the holidays you will take and the people you will communicate with. You can dream forever but accomplish nothing unless you actually make the effort to start taking lessons.
Much like the martial arts approach – the idea is to take action immediately and avoid over analyzing the situation.

Do you want to start your own business but are afraid of what kinds of things can go wrong? What if your initial investment doesn’t pay off? There are millions of things that could go wrong but likewise there are many things that can go right! Fear can be paralyzing. When thinking about starting a business particularly if you keep waiting for the right time. There will never be a perfect time. It’s now or never when it comes to starting your own business.

Overcoming your fear is a step by step process.

– Do you have a clear idea of what kind of business you want to start? A clear plan will help keep your worries at bay.
– Do you have access to the resources you will need? This includes the necessary start up cash as well as anything else you will need.
– Do you have access to clients or do you know enough about marketing basics to ensure you will have enough interest in what you are offering?

Just like anything – taking action is the most important part. Make an itemized list of what you feel needs to be done in order for you to start that business you always dreamed of.

Prioritizing your list will help too. Don’t wait for all your ducks to be in a proverbial row before you begin but make sure you have all the basics covered. Don’t wait for that ‘perfect someday’. Make an imperfect start.

Don’t over think everything. Sometimes the best approach is to just jump into the deep end.

Don’t wait to start discovering your own entrepreneurial spirit. Take action today!

10 Tips for a Successful Entrepreneurial Pitch

July 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Tips & Tricks

One of the hardest presentations to make is the entrepreneurial pitch. You have a great idea for a business and you want someone to give you money to make it happen. The problem is that venture capitalists, angel investors, and even rich uncles are heavily predisposed against you. Why? Because 99% of the pitches they hear sound like sure-fire prescriptions to lose money!

If you are pitching investors to give you money for a new venture, you should subscribe to the following rules:

1. Explain exactly what your business is within the first thirty seconds. Many entrepreneurs waste valuable time giving loads of data, background and other info—all the while investors are left scratching their heads thinking “What does this business actually DO?”

2. Tell your audience who your customers will be. Paint a vivid, specific picture of these people.

3. Explain why your customers going to give you there hard-earned money.

4. Explain who your competitors are. (And if you say you have no competitors, that is a certain sign you are unsophisticated and deserve no investment money!)

5. Explain why you are the ONE to make this happen.

6. Give your presentation with confidence and enthusiasm. Investors want a founder/CEO to be a chief salesperson; they want to see that you can convince the world of your dream—not just them.

7. Explain what star you can hitch a ride to. Has Best Buy or Radio Shack agreed to distribute your new product? Investors feel much more comfortable knowing you have an established player willing to distribute your wares.

8. Ask for a specific amount of money. If all you do is ask for money, then you can’t complain if an investor gives you $3.25 for a cup of Starbucks coffee.

9. Tell prospects exactly what you are going to spend the money on (hint:a trip to Maui for you and your friends will not impress)

10. Dress well, act confident, and put on the air that you don’t really need their money, but would be willing to accept it if they bring enough to the table to be a strategic partner for you. Sad but true regarding human nature, but people are much more likely to give you money if they feel you don’t really need it.

Finally, make each pitch presentation serve as a focus group for your next presentation. When one group of investors asks you a series of questions after you pitch, write down all of those questions and make sure most of them are answered in your next pitch so that the next group doesn’t have to ask them. Keep pitching and keep improving your pitch and eventually you may get funded.

5 Things to Consider Before You Hire a Virtual Assistant:

May 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Entrepreneur Help

Understanding What a Virtual Assistant Can Do

I hear the term “Virtual Assistant” more and more in business. Did you know that you could possibly hire someone from another continent that works while you sleep and maybe for $8 – $12 Dollars. Mos t of the VA’s I work with have degrees and one an MBA in Business Admin. I pay her a pautry $15.00 per hour and what a bargain that is.

With the growth of virtual assistants has also been a change in what it means to be a virtual assistant. The leaders and founders of this particular entrepreneurial job have made distinctions between what it means to be a virtual assistant, and what it doesn’t mean. When you are explaining your business to others, you want to make sure to keep this standard.

Being a virtual assistant is becoming a distinct definition of a specific home owned business. It is expected that the standards will be upheld of a virtual assistant for all others who are working in this profession. This means that a virtual assistant is someone who provides a variety of services to businesses and individuals following the standard that has become formalized in the past decade.

The first angle that is taken towards approaching what a virtual assistant is includes the idea of being virtual. If you are not working out of your home, or remotely, then you are not considered a virtual assistant. Instead, it is considered to be a temporary job or a telecommuting job. One of the standards for being a virtual assistant is having the freedom to work where you want.

The second part to being a virtual assistant is the distinction that is made in the job description. Most virtual assistants will cringe at the idea of being called a secretary or freelance worker. Technically, a freelance worker is one who only does the job for extra income. At the same time, a secretary is one who doesn’t do the work continuously with only one client. A virtual assistant is provided in order to create a substantial and long term relationship with a business.

Here are 5 things you should consider in a Virtual Assistant?

1. Professionalism. Does the VA answer her or his emails, voicemails and other correspondence in a timely and professional manner? It is important if this person is to work for you has the right skills to not keep you or a deadline waitng. Make sure you give a covert task to her or him to pass that shows comittment to deadlines.

2. Project Management. Juggling tasks nowadays is vital. We now tap out feet in front of the microwave so things need to get done. If a person cannot work with a few projects on the go you might want to move on. I guarantee you will only find out that they have a project management problem when you lose “the big deal”.

3. Availability. Many of these people work for several people at the same time. It is not uncommon for you as an employer to be in a funnel system for the VA. You slowly move down the funnel as they take on better contracts from new virtual employers. Be aware that you and your project will get dropped at the most time you least need it. You also need to be lining up new VA’s. Try to split your work between 2 or more VA’s to combat this problem.

4. Test. Give the VA a mini project before going ahead with a contract. I also give a minimum of 2 tasks that cost no more than $30 -$40 to complete. I need them done correctly and to my total satisfaction before I even consider this person. It is simple to hire one of the first few people to come along but please shortlist at least 10 and give the tasks to 2 of the 10 you shortlisted. Obviously make sure these tasks are something you actually want doe, dont waste any money.

5. Get References. Can the VA give you a list of people whom you can contact who will tell you about working with her or him?

The main distinction that most virtual assistants will work towards creating is the idea of being in a relationship with a business, and making this their business. This goes beyond the Expectations of any temporary work or telecommuting job. It also means that the services a virtual assistant can provide will go outside of job descriptions that are made in the office. By understanding the standards for being a virtual assistant, you can best approach this in your own relationships with businesses.

Business Systems – Not Just For Big Business

April 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Entrepreneur Info

When I mention business systems to you, what comes to mind? Do you think of an IBM mainframe computer sitting in a big room in the middle of your building? Do you think of expensive, highly specialized software? That’s what many small business owners imagine. And they think it’s not for them. If that’s what you think, you’re only half right.

Half right because expensive, highly specialized software is probably not for you. Half wrong because good business systems most definitely are. A business system isn’t hardware or software. It’s the way that you do any part of your business. It’s how you do things. You are using systems all the time, you just may not be using them efficiently.

I regularly urge business owners to get everything they know about their business out of their head and onto paper. I’m urging you now to do the same with your systems. Start writing out how you do things in your business. At a minimum, write out how you treat your customers or clients, how your paperwork for each sale flows, how your production systems work, how you market to clients, and how you do your bookkeeping.

Do this in detail. For each area, make a very detailed description of every step in the process. Include what you do and why you do it. Include the subtle parts that make your company uniquely you. Include the parts that you are proud of. Include the tricks that make it efficient. Include what you tried that didn’t work and explain why. Each system should become a very rich, highly detailed system. Why so much detail?

Because this is the beginning of being able to consistently deliver results. And the beginning of being able to consistently deliver results even when you aren’t around. Documented (written) systems make delegating much more manageable. Delegating is one of the keys to success in growing your business while still having a life.

Maybe you don’t want a bigger business. Maybe you want to keep yours small. Still, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go on a long vacation and turn the keys over to someone else to run and make money for you while you are gone? Without systems, that wouldn’t be remotely possible. With systems almost anything is. Now, does that sound like something that should only be for big business? I think not.

3 Essential Boundaries for Mom Entrepreneurs and Their Husbands

March 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Entrepreneur Help

In the beginning, I thought it was going to be a breeze when my husband, Terry, joined me working full-time in my business. If anyone could do it, we could! We already had a healthy relationship built on trust and respect. We communicated well. We both strongly believed in what we were doing. We understood the need to help each other with the children, keeping the house, and with the business. We planned to allow for fluctuations in income to keep stresses over money to a minimum. Yet I still wasn’t prepared.

For anyone considering working with your spouse, here are 3 Essential Boundaries for Entrepreneurial Couples to help to ease your transition:

1. Clarify expectations for work/home.
Nothing can prepare you for the blurring of boundaries and turf that occur as you transition into working together. When you join together with your spouse, most likely, both of you have experienced success throughout your careers, and have developed your own working style. Suddenly you have a whole new dynamic in your relationship with your spouse you must learn to work through. I always knew that we had different gifts and talents: Terry is very techie and he loves to write, and I am a people person who is an administrative whiz. Even though I should have probably seen it coming, I was still surprised at the difference in our work styles. I multi-task all day long, and he prefers to work on one project at a time. Just like being newlyweds all over again, we had to put some effort into getting to know each other on a whole new level to be able to work well together.

Beth Butler, creator of the Boca Beth Program has some helpful tips for clarifying expectations with your spouse. “I make us lunch each day and we try to talk about BOCA BETH items that are pressing. It’s our time to reconnect – he works from home for the wine company he represents and I work from home sharing my passion for second language learning with young children. A funny mix, but it works! We talk about what each of us has planned the next day so there are no surprises – and I use that time to ask for his help. I can’t expect him to guess what I need so I have learned to be very specific.”

2. Schedule time for love.
Most entrepreneurial couples complain they have less time together than before. It is possible to work beside your spouse in the same office all day long and barely speak on a personal level. How difficult is it to turn off your cell phone and talk a walk with your love? It is imperative to make it a point to schedule time for your relationship so that the business does not overtake it. Terry and I plan ahead to sneak away for lunch or to take a break at Starbucks. We have found if we don’t take the time to schedule in these lunch or coffee dates, then they are less likely to happen as we work to meet deadlines or get a project done. We haven’t yet been able to master scheduling “regular dates”, but its next on our list of priorities in order to help keep our close relationship.

3. Schedule time for yourself.
It can be a shock when you suddenly have so much time with your spouse. In your previous life, they left at 7 AM and came home at 6 PM, and then you discussed your day during dinner. Now you spend most (if not all) of the day with them, and during dinner, there is nothing new to discuss. Where is the time for you? Karyn Fagan, Founder of Team Women, tells “We both have hobbies that we love outside of the house so we have that important away time.”

Terry and I certainly have a long way to go as an Entrepreneurial Couple, but we have made it through our entrepreneurial “honeymoon” period. Each day, we work together to reach our goals and dreams. We understand when we help each other we will reach our dreams sooner, so we help each wherever its needed!

Career Freedom With Franchises

March 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Entrepreneur Info

Franchises – a French word meaning “freedom from servitude” – implies that the dream of being financially independent can come true. Just pay a fee and sign the papers and you become the proud owner of your very own business. Yes, you are the boss, you make the decisions, and you get the earnings. Someone else has done all the ground work, solved the anticipated problems, and is sharing their knowledge and experience with you.

However, thousands of franchisees have lost their life savings and their companies. The innocent purchaser realizes after-the-fact that he has no real choices about how the business will be run.

The rules and procedures that go with the “Name Brand” dictates every tiny aspect of how the business is to be run – color schemes, what is sold and who you buy it from, hours to be open, type of employees to hire and exactly how to train the employees. The innocent purchaser now has a new boss who is a hard task-master. This new boss comes in the form of detailed manuals that must be followed.

Do franchises ever provide true success? Of course they do! There are thousands of happy, successful franchise owners. However, if they are happy it is because they ‘did their homework’ before signing on the dotted line or putting money out. During the 1980s there were hundreds of fraudulent get- rich-quick franchise dreams available, which, because they weren’t all legitimate, gave franchises a bad name. By 1979 the Federal Trade Commission began requiring complete disclosure of all pertinent information pertaining to a franchise business.

Then the public began to have confidence once again in acquiring a dream business which could not fail. Observing McDonald stores opening up around the globe is proof that, even though the product isn’t the healthiest in the world, it still sells and people still head for the golden arches. And someone is making money!

How can one best analyze a potential franchise business? How can people know it’s right for them, even if the paperwork and finances appear intellectually perfect? After asking every conceivable question, and getting the answers that sound right, here’s the best way to really, really know if that business is for you. Go sit in an identical franchise business that is already in operation.

Sit there and watch and listen — from early morning till they close at night. Learn all you can by watching every aspect. Do this for at least ten days straight. If, at the end of ten days you still ‘feel’ excited and ‘really like being there’ then that particular franchise just might be perfect for you.

If by the tenth day you are making excuses for not going that day,or begin showing up later and later, or just downright begrudge being there, then that is a good indication of how you might feel if you own it. If that’s the case, find a different franchise product to invest in.

5 Tips for Mom Entrepreneurs: How to Make and Take Time for You

March 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Tips & Tricks

You are busy at both work and at home. Some days it may seem impossible to find time for YOU. You may wonder how other busy Mom Entrepreneurs make time for themselves, but you don’t have time to stop and ask. Here are four quick tips:

If it’s too late and you are already stressed…

1. Take a break.
Have you ever been overwhelmed and feel you can’t stop for fear you will fall further behind? When you’re in a high-stress situation, your thinking is often cluttered making you less productive. Michele Dortch, The Integrated Mother, suggests that you take a break when you become stressed. Whether you choose a 15-minute nature walk or a full day doing activities you love, stopping can actually provide amazing clarity and help you complete your tasks on time. This may seem counterproductive, but it really works!

To prevent going on overload, try the following tips on a regular basis…

2. Take time out to socialize each week.
Alice Seba of Mom Masterminds advises taking time out is invaluable to the Mom Entrepreneur. Alice makes a point to have a few opportunities to socialize each week—with girlfriends, her partner, or to just have some time alone. It revives her and makes her more focused when she comes back to being a mom or a businessperson. Alice says, “All work and no play not only makes you a dull mama, but it makes you a stressed out and ineffective one, too!”

3. Take a few “Mommy Minutes” as often as possible.
Ponn Sabra, author of Empowering Women to Power Network, puts herself on “time out” and takes “Mommy Minutes” as often as possible. Ponn sits in a self-made sauna in the bathroom with the hot shower running or enjoys a favorite goodie (she sometimes hides special ice cream sandwiches in back corner of her freezer where no one, even her husband, can find them.)

Ponn also insists that “adults need naps, too!” Whether for ten minutes or forty-five, it is important just to take a nap. The revitalization you receive from a catnap is very powerful. If you are unable to nap in the middle of a chaotic day, it is important to take yourself out of the situation to regain focus. You will have more energy if you meditate and clear your head.

4. Go “off duty” regularly.
In Linda Goodman Pillsbury’s Survival Tips for Working Moms, she recommends choosing a regular time when you are “off duty.” For example, you might say that after 8:30 every night, the kids cannot bother you with “Where are my blue jeans?” “I need cookies for a school party tomorrow,” etc. (Of course, you are there for emergencies.) Children will soon learn to ask for what they need before you go off duty or wait until the morning. This works on very young children up to teenagers–but you should make exceptions for talking to the kids when they come in from a date!

4 Rules For New Entrepreneurs – Practical Tips For Starting Right

March 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Tips & Tricks

It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur—in the last decade, technology has leveled the playing field and propelled an entrepreneurial revolution. As an entrepreneur, you now have more access to information that enables you to make more intelligent choices more quickly. You have an advantage over big businesses in that you’re lighter, more flexible, and faster on your feet. You can target new markets more quickly, and you can turn on a dime.

But being a successful entrepreneur requires that you look at the big picture and follow a plan through from beginning to end. Rieva Lesonsky, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine gives some practical guidelines that can help you when beginning your own enterprise:

1.Don’t Quit Your Day Job.
Consider starting your business part-time, especially if it’s online, while you’re working and have a steady income. It usually takes six months to a year to get a business going and you don’t want your ability to make your house payment to hinge upon your company being an overnight success. Start with what you can manage, financially and time-wise, and scale up as your business grows.

2.Find Your Niche.
The days of general stores are over. Particularly online, consumers are looking for stores that specialize. You have to find a need—something a specific group of people want, but can’t get at the big chain stores—and fill it. Advises Lesonsky, “You can’t compete with the big guys, so you have to find where the big guys aren’t and go into your niches.”

3.Have an Online Presence.
Even if you’re not planning to start an online retail business, consider that the internet can still play a valuable role in your company. Having an online presence eliminates the limitations of physical location and broadens your customer base by, literally, millions. It’s also a great tool for promoting yourself and letting people, even in your own area, know that you’re there, and what you’re doing.

4.Refuse to Quit.
Successful entrepreneurship requires creativity, energy, and a drive to keep going when you fail. Few people realize that before Bill Gates created the extremely successful Microsoft 3.0, he created a Microsoft 1.0 and 2.0, both of which flopped—but he kept at it. And that determination and refusal to give up is what will separate successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful ones. Says Lesonsky, “Arm yourself with optimism to get beyond the ‘No’ or the trouble. There’s nothing wrong in failure—just don’t repeat the same mistake!”

Business Name – How To Pick One From A Legal Perspective

February 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Entrepreneur Help

A business name can be a huge factor in the ultimate success or failure of the entity. Unfortunately, many people fail to give a lot of thought to it prior to moving forward. There are many factors to consider including something memorable, a name related to your area of work and, potentially, the availability of the domain name.

Married?

Picking a business name is like getting married. You are going to have to stick with it till the bitter end. It is estimated a prospect will need to see your advertisement and business name at least 22 times prior to doing business with you. Once they associate your business with a certain name, making a change will be disastrous. Once you pick something, stick with it.

Naming Your Business

If you are going to be married to your business name, you need to make sure the bride isn’t already married to another suitor. There are four significant issues to consider.

Initially, you must determine whether the name is already being used in your state. The Secretary of State controls the names of all corporations, LLCs and partnerships. Most also have a web site where you can conduct name searches. Even if you are a sole proprietor, you should check the name against those already registered in the state database. If the name is being used, you will need to consider an alternative.

Assuming the name passed must with the Secretary of State, you should check it against existing trademarks file with the Patent and Trademark Office. The “PTO” maintains an online database. As with the Secretary of State, you can conduct an online search to make sure no other business is using it.

In this day and age, many businesses incorporate a web site as part of their business model. If you are in this boat, you need to check to see if the business name is available as a domain. If it is, you should register it immediately. If not, you can either change your business name again or focus on a domain name incorporating your service or product instead of the business name.

Avoiding Problems

You business could be devastated if you do not take these precautionary steps. Imagine the negative impact on your business if the name has to be changed three years down the line. Take a breath before you select a business name. Like a spouse, it can be either a good or bad choice.

Business Startup Funding – Are You Ready?

January 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Entrepreneur Help

Business startup funding is always a worry. Do I have enough money to start? Can I quit my job to concentrate full time? Will I be able to cover my monthly expenses?

When the time comes to actually launch your business you must have done your homework regarding your business startup funding needs. You need to be prepared so that if the opportunity to accelerate your launch presents itself, you’re ready.

Assess Your Personal Finances

Take out your checkbook and credit card statements and review all of your personal expenses. Find all the frills and eliminate them. It’s tough to do, but if you’re really committed to getting this business of the ground you need to reduce your personal expenses.

Taking control of your business startup funding doesn’t mean you have to quit enjoying life. You just have to prioritize for now. Skip the night show and catch a matinee instead. If you’re going out for dinner, clip a 2 for 1 coupon or go to the early bird. Hold off on that tropical vacation for one year.

Evaluate Your Business Expenses

Another element of business startup funding is your minimum business expenses. Luckily, computer consulting is not a capital intense venture. You will have business expenses to cover though, so you must analyze what those are and figure them into your business startup funding needs.

Do the Math

Total up your personal and business monthly expenses. To launch a successful business you need to have at least six months of cash in the bank OR an alternative source of affordable capital. Many people won’t have 6 months cash to cover their business startup funding needs. If this is you, you will need to find, or keep, a job.

Limit the job to 15 – 20 hours per week so you leave enough time to concentrate on building your business. Whether it’s teaching some computer courses at the college or working at an electronics store, you have to be bringing is some reliable income. This reliable income will give you the cushion you need to spend time building your client base.

Securing adequate business startup funding is one of the most challenging aspects of launching a small business. You don’t want to minimize its importance though. Inadequate business startup funding is at the root of many business failures.

The Bottom Line on Business Startup Funding

Do what you need to do now, in order to do what you want to do in the future. Having enough business startup funding means conserving your cash mercilessly. You have to know where your money is going and have enough to cover 6 months of expenses. If your business startup funding is a little short, a part time job is often the most practical means of securing the funding you need.

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