4 Killer Tips to Optimise Your Entrepreneurial Efforts
Being in charge of your own business is arguably one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can have. Knowing that you are in complete control of the direction the business takes, and that you are beholden to no boss, can be an incredibly liberating thing.
On top of all that, there are the more practical benefits. If your company thrives, you will accrue vastly more of the overall earnings than you would if you were a standard office worker, working for a much larger corporation.
Of course, running your own business is by no means all sunshine and rainbows; there are inevitable setbacks and failures to contend with, and the flipside of being in control of a business is that you are also responsible for handling and addressing all of the mishaps that occur with that business.
For that reason — as well as for your overall sanity and happiness — it’s essential that you learn to take whatever steps possible to organise your business and streamline its operations.
Here are a few tips for doing just that.
Outsource where possible
Once upon a time, having a receptionist, or personal assistant for your business would mean that you had to hire a staff member to sit at a desk in your office building and attend to their obligations on something like a 9-5 schedule.
In the weird and wonderful digital world of the 21st Century, however, it is possible to “employ” people to perform tasks such as these for you, on a freelance basis, and without ever having to meet them in person. In fact, a large industry has grown up around virtual assistants of various kinds.
Tim Ferriss, the author of the much acclaimed business-hacking book, “The 4-Hour Workweek”, describes various strategies he uses in order to work as little as possible, while enjoying as much profit and free time as possible.
Among his myriad personal business experiments, Ferriss favourably recounts his experience of using a virtual assistant to attend to a diverse range of jobs for him. Among other things, this virtual assistant prepared in-depth research files, and even researched and made bookings for his next holiday.
A subsection of virtual assistants — virtual receptionists — will answer your business phone calls for you while you’re busy attending to the pressing day-to-day operations of your business, and will then helpfully relay messages to you.
When you’re working as an entrepreneur, time and attention are incredibly valuable resources that you must safeguard at just about all costs.
You will only have the standard 24 hours in the day that everyone else does, while not only trying to deal with your personal obligations and a 9-5 day-job, but with the obligations that come from running an entire business.
A large part of the key to making this work, is outsourcing wherever possible.
Hire professionals to assist in areas you’re not proficient in
Maybe you’re an expert in web development, but maybe you’re not. Maybe your area of speciality is sales, or instructing clients on the intricacies of stock trading, or construction, or anything else. Nonetheless, you’re going to need a polished and professional website to show to people if you’re going to have any hope of outperforming your competition to the extent that you can make a living.
If you’re not an expert in eBay store template design and development and don’t have the time or inclination to become one, but still need to set up your digital shopfront, it’s time to call in the professionals.
Hiring professionals to handle parts of your business or presentation that you’re not proficient in is not only a wise investment of money, it’s often absolutely essential to keeping things in your business ticking along smoothly, while you direct your attention to those things which actually are your area of speciality, and which people will pay you for attending to.
It may be that the only professional help you need is the one-off intervention of a website designer, or it could be that it would be expedient of you to involve yourself in an ongoing professional relationship with someone whose services complement your own. Only you can figure out what your business requires, but don’t be afraid of seeking out professional assistance when you need it.
Use software and apps to streamline planning and organisation
Often, assorted apps, software programs, and online services can augment your own abilities to the extent where the need for another person’s help is minimised if not done away with altogether.
This is true for many different things, ranging from your own ability to manage projects and tasks efficiently, to your ability to handle your finances, structure your days and schedule in your meetings, and so on.
Investing in a subscription to a good project management app is perhaps the best place to begin here. Numerous services exist for this purpose. Some such as Remember the Milk function primarily as checklists with a series of useful reminder features, while others such as Asana are focused specifically around optimising team-based project work. Others still, such as Nozbe, are based around the principles of task organisation into contextually arranged projects.
Once basic task management apps have been brought on board, the next priority should perhaps be to investigate financial management apps. In this category, there are services such as Quickbooks which are centred entirely around helping you to track your business expenses, keep your books in good order, and effortlessly deal with tax.
The similarly titled “Freshbooks” provides an easy way of sending and tracking invoices.
Other apps and tools such as Google Calendar can help you structure your workday and schedule in appointments, while those such as Time Doctor can help you keep your nose to the grindstone when you should.
Focus on your USPs and let the rest fall by the wayside
To differentiate themselves from the competition, every savvy business will identify and emphasise their USPs — or “Unique Selling Proposition(s)” — when marketing themselves to their prospective clients.
A USP is, essentially, the area that you are most specialised in within the broader context of your professional field. A USP is a thing that makes you different to the competition, and preferable to them.
Often, new entrepreneurs are obsessed with the idea of doing it all. They will work themselves to the bone trying to be all things to all people, and will rely on their monumental work-effort to try and outdo their competitors.
While working is, of course, an obligatory part of success, it is nonetheless an unattainable and impossible approach to try and “do it all”.
To ensure that your effort and resources are being directed in the best and most productive possible way, you must learn to focus on your USPs, and to work within your particular niche, and to let the rest fall by the wayside.
Your marketing materials must be focused specifically on your USP. They must address the particular problem you — rather than the next guy — can solve for your client.
Generality in business tends to mean the same thing as “vagueness” and “lack of focus”. You are not a writer; you are a writer focusing on a particular niche, with a particular area of expertise. You are not a marketing expert, you are a marketing expert with a particular knowledge of a particular area of marketing, and a specific portfolio that demonstrated this.