Entrepreneurship

Macbook in the dark

Why You Should Outsource (And When You Shouldn’t)!

Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Small Business Tips | No Comments

Money spent on outsourcing in all business activities has continued to climb between 10-20% over the last decade. An estimated $6 trillion dollars globally as a matter of fact!

Running a small business can be rewarding and overwhelming all at the same time. You have a vision of what you want your business to look like, but you may not have all the resources and know how to make it happen. This makes outsourcing an essential component to grow your business.

“If you deprive yourself of outsourcing and your competitors do not, you’re putting yourself out of business.” ~Lee Kuan Yew

In our digital age, outsourcing and virtual assistants have become the norm of online business. It can be challenging to give up the control to aspects of your business, but let’s face it, you just cannot do it all yourself. If you try, you’ll end up frustrated and burned out in no time. And, that will not do you or your business any good.

One of the best small business tips you can follow is to keep as much cash flow coming in and as little going out as possible in the beginning. This may sound simplistic, but as we all know, money can disappear quickly. By hiring a virtual assistant online, you can keep expenses low and re-invest back into your business.

Chris Ducker is a virtual staffing expert and recently wrote a book titled ‘Virtual Freedom‘. The book is great resource if you want to get in-dept with this subject. Meanwhile we’ve given you a few main reasons you should outsource work to a virtual assistant and some reasons not to…

When Hiring a Virtual Assistant is a Great Idea:

  • When you have something you just cannot do.

There may be something you need to get completed for your business that you just have no clue as to how to accomplish it. Hiring someone to help is a great idea when this is the case. If the job is something that you cannot teach yourself how to do in a short period of time, help is worth the cost. It can save you a lot of time and headaches in the long run to go ahead and get the assistance you need.

  • When you have massively time-consuming tasks.

There are some things that need to be done for your small business, but take up so much time and effort. That is time you could be focusing on something more important to grow and expand. By outsourcing tasks like these, you can free yourself up to get your business making more money. Can I get a “Cha-Ching!”? 🙂

And Here are Some Circumstances When it May Be Best NOT to Outsource:

  • When you need to learn.

If you have a task that you are going to need to be doing a lot of for your business, it may be time to learn. Is there an online class you can take, an article you can read, or a YouTube video you can watch to learn how? Some tasks that you may not be able to do now, you could learn quickly with a little effort. Putting some time into your self-education could keep you from having to hire out small tasks often. Learning and being deeply involved in your business can make it so much more rewarding.

  • When your reputation is on the line.

You must remember that your brand is a reflection of you. You are using your voice to get your products, messages, and services out into the world. It is important to monitor and stay involved with your business to make sure you are being represented the way you desire. Outsourcing tasks like social media sharing is fine, but make sure your assistant can stay true to your brand’s voice. Otherwise, you may find yourself in need of some serious reputation recovery.

  • When you love what you do.

If there are things that you enjoy doing for your business, then go ahead and do them! Why outsource the things you love! Your involvement in the tasks that make you happy is essential to business growth. If you love writing blog posts, but hate social media, write the posts and outsource the latter.

The point of outsourcing is to make sure every aspect of your business is handled the best way possible. Sometimes this will mean letting go complete control of some tasks to bring greater focus to others.

Outsourcing part of your business to virtual assistants can give you the relief you need to enjoy your business and life!

 

Reference if needed: International Association of Outsourcing Professionals http://www.iaop.org/content/23/196/1683/

Businessmen in a boardroom

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Personal Brand Online

Posted by | Digital Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Public relations | No Comments

As a professional business person we all know how to be successful at our companies. Whether it’s arriving to work on time, or managing employee expectations properly, these are all workplace cultural norms at which we thrive. However, business itself is changing in light of new technological advances in today’s era of digital marketing. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms like Instagram are revolutionizing the way we present ourselves, and communicate with others.

You probably already manage your personal brand at in-person meetings, and in the way you conduct yourself in the workplace. Though, nowadays having an online presence is essential to your success. Social media, and blogging play a large role in your online exposure, and in this article we’ll give you 5 easy tips to cultivate your personal brand online.

Start a blog

Starting a blog isn’t as difficult as it seems. A blog is a great way to get your message out to the world, and share your expertise and experiences on various topics. WordPress and Tumblr are easy ways to create blogs based on pre-designed templates. Tagging is very important in blogging, as it helps users to find your content. Therefore, don’t forget to add a large number of appropriate tags to each of your blog posts. Tumblr uses tags extensively, and you won’t want to forget them. Let’s say you’re writing a piece on personal branding, and you want to post your article to your Tumblr blog. You’d probably want to include tags such as marketing, PR, branding, personal branding, digital marketing, and online content. This will help users searching for these terms on Tumblr to find your article. If you’re wondering if blogging is for you, reading our article on the reasons you should be blogging might help you make a decision.

Use Twitter every day

Many active Twitter users agree: it does take some time to fall in love with Twitter. However, it is well worth the investment. Sign up for an account, and design your page to mimic your blog (if you already have one). Then, start searching for thought leaders in industries that you’re passionate about. Follow these thought leaders, and consider adding them to specific lists based on their industry. In time, you’ll develop relationships with other Twitter users, and you’ll be able to share relevant content using various related hashtags. Don’t forget to tweet regularly, though, as after you’ve built up a follower count, you’ll want to push your content their way. The more followers you amass, the more your brand recognition.

Connect with others

Cultivating your personal brand for digital marketing is also about connecting others. Networking events pale in comparison to the types of networking goals that can be achieved through digital marketing. Networking can also be easily conducted online via Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social media sites. Guest blogging is one way to invite thought leaders to sound off on your blog, or you can even request to write guest blogs for other sites. You might also want to consider getting connected with digital events like webinars. Many marketing professionals offer webinars on topics ranging from social media to SEO. This is a great way to stay up to date on digital marketing trends, and continuously improve your online personal brand image. Even better, after you develop your online brand, you can even offer your own webinars in your own areas of expertise.

Develop a content calendar

Developing a content calendar can help you to stay organized, and on track. The more often people see your content, the more recognition you gain. Consistency is key! You don’t have to invest on expensive software simply use Google Docs, or even a paper calendar to plan your blog posts in advance. You can also pencil in guest blogging opportunities, as well as events you’ll be attending. Jamie Griffiths has written a post on Convince & Convert about content calendar ans shared a free template as well. Remember, events are a great reason to share tweets, or Instagram photos! However, don’t forget to check your content calendar a few times each week to ensure that you’re up to date. If you do miss a scheduled post you can push all your content forward a bit, but it is best to stay on track to manage your follower’s expectations.

Promote your content

Now that you’re blogging, and promoting your posts via Twitter, and other social media sites, you’ll want to ensure that you coordinate the logistics of your posts to manage follower expectations. If you usually post every day, or week, your followers will come to expect that. Once you have a large, and dedicated fan base, steering off your usual course could incite frustration amongst your audience. To manage your posting schedule, try a service like Sprout Social or Buffer. These services will allow you to create your posting schedule in advance. All the professional bloggers use tools of this nature, and plan their content calendars months in advance.

Another creative way to promote your content is through your email signature. All digital marketing professionals know this trick. Simply edit your email signature in your email client’s settings to include your various social media profiles. If you’re running a special campaign, or want to drive traffic to a specific post, you can even include a one liner like “Check out my most recent blog post on Online Marketing & Networking Tips to Help You Grow Your Business!”

Email Signature Template

Pic: Inspired Designs

Open for Business

7 Reasons Why Building Your Own Business is Fun

Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Small Business Tips | 3 Comments

“Never start a business just to make money. Start a business to make a difference.” – Marie Forleo

Building your own business can be powerful in a life alternating way. With the right attitude and purpose you can also have a great deal of fun with the process.

Being an entrepreneur or business owner has its own unique challenges and it’s far from easy. But, the rewards go above and beyond the alternatives out there. With some wise small business tips, creative scheduling, and persistence, you can enjoy great freedom!

Here are just a few of the reasons building your own business and brand can be so much fun…

You Are Your Own Boss

Being your own boss comes with more responsibility sure, but it trumps sitting in a cubicle being told what to do any day! Want to make more money? You can scale up your business. Want to contract with your best friend? Go ahead. Sink or swim, at least you are in control.

You take the risk, but you are also the one who reaps the reward, not someone else.

You can control your destiny. You can build your dreams rather than making someone else’s dreams come true.

You Get to Figure Out Stuff

Marie Forleo is also famous for saying “Everything is figureoutable.”

Figuring out the process is part of the fun!
Running and growing your own business expands your knowledge base and personal self exponentially. I know of no greater way to learn than getting in there and doing.

Like a child building with blocks creating bigger and greater structures all the time, you can watch the process of your business grow!

Thrive on challenges rather than getting stuck in a rut. A good challenge is the fuel success needs!

You Can Change if You Want To

Do, test, adjust, and repeat. If something isn’t working in your business, you have the authority to change it. No red tape or bureaucracy to cut through. Want to give your website a makeover, hire different employees, or adjust your products and services, you can do so. You choose whom you work with and what you work on.

Again, it’s all about controlling your destiny and that of your business. Are you seeing the pattern here?

 Work and Then Live Life

Since you don’t have to ask permission to change your schedule, you can adjust your work to your life. Want to meet your partner for lunch in the afternoon, feel free to do so. Need to work at six in the morning so you can make it to your kid’s game or dance recital? Go ahead. No longer are you stuck in someone else’s nine to five.

You may have more to do, but you choose when to do it.

Work life balance? You’ve totally got that!

Follow Your Passions 

You want to start a business, making clothes for rubber duckies, hey I’m not judging, then be my guest. If there doesn’t seem to be a market for your passion, you can create one. If that doesn’t work, remember you control your schedule. You can always pursue those passions in your free time.

Entrepreneurs put so much into their businesses and often work long hours because they want to. It is a passion, a pursuit that they love. 

 Follow Your Passions 

Look what you did there, you amazing person you!

Your boss didn’t do it, not your colleague, you! It may have been a collaborative effort. I’m sure your received help and advice along the way. But, at the end of the day, your business is your creation.

That is certainly something to be PROUD of!

Likely you will find many people who are interested in your story. How you work and what you do. You can make connections, uplift others, and bask in the knowledge that you gave something back to the world.

Which brings us to reason #7,

 The Connections and Relationships 

Are you actually counting the number of reasons or are you just taking my word that this is the 7th reason?

Being able to choose whom you work with, makes life so much more pleasant. You can connect with your clients and customers on a deeper level when you build your own business.

You also have a greater opportunity to connect with people who are doing the same. Entrepreneurs are some of the most passionate people and sharers of information I know. Build relationships that last and benefit all.

You now have seven reasons that make building your own business fun! There are many more. It takes work and dedication, but is lovely, oh so lovely…

If you like the article, do not share it on Facebook, don’t tweet about it, or don’t even re-blog it! Stop whatever you’re doing and get busy building your business.

Okay, I was kidding about the not sharing part. Please share the post with your friends, I’d appreciate it 🙂

Tips On Making Extra Money On The Side While You’re Growing Your Business

Posted by | Entrepreneurship | No Comments

If you’re spending all your energy on your growing baby business, how do you make more money to live and fund your dream project? Keeping your bills paid while you’re taking classes to bolster your business savvy, or still in the planning stages of growing your business can be a drag. But we all have to eat, right? So what’s the solution?

It’s not easy, it’s exhaustive. But it’s doable, and once your business takes off, you’ll look back on your hard work and perseverance with pride. And keeping your phone turned on will be reward in of itself!

Balance your budget:

The first step to surviving this difficult time is to make a thorough budget. Examine your monthly expenses, such as rent, phone, internet and transportation. Try to round things like food, clothing and entertainment expenses up, but don’t go too crazy. Spend some time to figure out how much you need to be comfortable day to day. Is a latte at the local coffee joint something that is essential to your happiness? If so, you should include that in your budget. And finally, don’t forget to budget for any related business expenses you might encounter – for networking events, for example.

Once you have your personal budget wrangled, look at any income streams you already have coming in from your business and see how much you’re in the red. Once you know the number you need to catch up, you’ll have a much easier time gauging how to best invest your time and energy in work.

Get busy:

That’s right, it’s time to get to work. You have two options for making extra money on the side while you’re still in the early phases of entrepreneurship: get a part-time (or full-time, if necessary) job, or leverage your skills and offer your services as a freelancer or consultant.

Finding outside employment may be difficult – practically and emotionally. You’ll need to consider what kind of time you’re able to sacrifice for your new job. In order to make ends meet, will you be able to work part-time? Or will you require full-time employment? How will that affect your business goals? Do you need flexibility in your schedule for classes and client work? What kind of work will you be able to find – and how physically or mentally demanding will that work be?

You’ll also need to consider how you’ll navigate a job search and interviews. Many employers want to hire people who are going to work out in the long-term. Look for seasonal or part-time work to pick up, that way you won’t have to lie to your new boss about your future plans for having your own business.

If going back to the world of punch clocks and pay stubs isn’t for you, it’s time to think about how you can leverage your skills to freelance, work odd-jobs and consult for other businesses.

Cash in your talents:

Begin by making a list of all your particular talents—and then, think about all the ways those talents and skills can be applied.

For example, if you’re a graphic designer, how might you be able to sell your skills? You could design banner ads, blog banners, business cards and stationary, signage, invitations and greeting cards, band posters, and the list goes on and on. Can you think of fifty ways to sell your particular skill?

Passive income streams require a lot of up-front effort, but can pay off in the long run as they continue to earn you royalties far into the future.

Let’s say you’re a decent, but amateur photographer or painter. Sell prints, iPhone cases, t-shirts and more on sites. Use Pinterest and other social media platforms to push your products.

If you have a concrete skill like knitting or playing the guitar, think about how you might offer workshops or lessons in your community. Print up flyers with tear tags and post advertisements on craigslist and in the free section of the newspaper classifieds. Post information in places where your potential students would gather, yarn shops and music stores, for example.

Start creating an identity:

Make up simple business cards, print them yourself or purchase them through a local printing service provider (they are really cheap to get done). Give them to everyone you know who might have need for whatever your particular skill set is. Chances are you know at least one person who would happily pay for what you can do—leverage that connection and offer them a discount or freebie for every several referrals they throw your way.

Get a website, it costs next to nothing to set one up and can vastly improve your image. It also makes people easy to find you and see all the work you do in one single place.

Use the power of the internet:

Some people might have no talents or have talents and interests that require a lot of work to be monetized. You still need to make some extra money on the side right? Of course, there are other ways you can earn extra money on your own time. If you’re tech savvy and have reliable access to the internet, perhaps you could be a virtual assistant. Lots of busy solopreneurs hire virtual assistants to help with things like email, scheduling, research, and simple data entry. Often these jobs are contractual and require few hard skills beyond a good grasp of the internet. Find virtual assistant jobs on freelance boards and forums. The pay can be dismal, but you can work in your pajamas. Grab a few testimonials and references from your first few jobs, so you can up your rates for future clients.

If you look hard enough you will find a way to make that extra buck!

The take away? Do everything you can. Diversify and branch out. Think small jobs with little or no long-term commitment, just to tide you over until your start-up is off the ground. Try to find work that won’t exhaust you, physically or mentally, so you can still put in a few hours each day on growing your business.

Yes, you’ll be worn out by the end of the day after doing so much multitasking. But the reward will be surviving the initial stages of setting up your successful business without debt or sacrificing the quality of life you’re used to. And hey, when you make it big, the ‘win’ will be a lot more gratifying and you will have a great success story.

I close these blog with 2 simple and sincere words… ‘Good luck :)’

Image Credit: Images Money

Are you a freelancer or an entrepreneur-Thinking Man

Are You A Freelancer or An Entrepreneur?

Posted by | Entrepreneurship | 2 Comments

Freelancers and entrepreneurs are both in business to make money, but there’s a difference between working as a freelancer and running a business as an entrepreneur. The easiest way to tell which camp you’re in is to examine the kind of work you do and see how you bring the money.

Freelancers typically have skills such as writing, illustrating, digital marketing, and coding. They may work hourly or on a project-by-project basis. Freelancers don’t think about the future of the business in terms of scale and growth, they instead work to perfect their skills in their specific niche. And without putting in the work himself, a freelancer does not get paid. The most marked difference between a freelancer and an entrepreneur is a freelancer cannot sell her business because it has no value without her involvement.

An entrepreneur, on the other hand, has a plan in place for scale and may work off a business model. They are interested in growing their business and have to constantly innovate to keep up with their goals. The ultimate achievement of an entrepreneur is a business that can make money without the direct involvement of the entrepreneur, which they may eventually sell off for more than their original investment.

A successful entrepreneur makes money even while he is asleep. He can automate his revenue pipeline. A freelancer gets paid only for the time he puts his. His revenue is as scalable as the time he can put in.

When should a freelancer consider becoming an entrepreneur?

Eventually, the only way for a freelancer to earn more is to charge more per hour or project. To do this, they must continue to hone their skill set to perfection. If you’re a freelancer interested in growing your business, and this isn’t a viable option for you, you might consider becoming an entrepreneur instead.

Let’s say you’ve been chasing design jobs as a freelancer, and you’ve run up against the limits of the time you can put in (and thus the money you’re earning). You will either have to position yourself as the premier marketing specialist in your field and raise your rates, or you might come up with a plan to grow an entire marketing firm, that includes your specialties, but that might also offer your clients more. Of course, you may have to consider things like hiring, firing, renting office space and business development, but your end result may be a business that has a net value that’s worth something when you’re ready for retirement.

Yes, it’s risky to diversify your business and think long-term. But if your brain is already bursting with ideas that don’t quite fit into the “provide service in exchange for money” model, you will find entrepreneurship rewarding as well as challenging. And if it doesn’t work out, you can always fall back on your skills as a freelancer for support.

Let us know, are you an entrepreneur or a freelancer? What services do you provide?