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The Small Business 7 

Sometimes you get caught up in being the greatest plumber, or personal trainer, or IT consultant, or bookkeeper, or carpenter that you forget that you are actually running a business.  It even happens to me from time to time and I coach about this stuff.  So here are seven quick points to keep posted somewhere so you you don't forget to, not only be the best specialist, but to grow your business everyday. 

1.) It's ok to have fun and to be funny! We all take what our specialties are very seriously.  It's what helps define us and brings in an income to support us.  It's easy to lose sight of the fact that what you're doing for a living, you have fun with.  People do business with you because you do good work and they like your attitude so there's no reason why you shouldn't be having fun.  If you're not then you probably aren't doing what you are passionate about and that's a whole other article. 

2.) Tangible and measureable goals.  Having a goal is great but if you aren't measuring and keeping score, how do you know what you are doing is the best way to get you to your end result.  Especially in small start-ups there is very little room for wasted time, energy and resources so having concrete goals and working towards them is important.  Use Post-it® Notes, Original Cube, 2 Inches x 2 Inches, Assorted Neon and Ultra Colors, One Pad per Pack or tape note cards on mirrors and surfaces you see everyday to keep them fresh and some kind of system to measure your success. 

3.) Questions.  It's important to ask great questions regardless of your field.  A handyman can't fix a problem he can't find and a financial planner can't plan for the client's goals unless the right questions are asked.  The other half of this equation is listening.  You're probably thinking this is pretty mundane or you might even be insulted to read this.  It's not my intention, but sometimes myself included, we get so caught up in knowing what's best for our clients and customers that we act without asking the right questions. 

4.) If I asked you what you did for a living or to tell me about your business could you do it in 30 seconds or less and keep me entertained.  Would your 30 second commercial create value and interest or would you just be word-vomiting your resume or latest brochure.  When you're growing your business its important to grow this little elevator speech too so that the next time you talk about it the commercial sends the best possible message.  Trust me I know for a fact that I am my biggest fan and I'm always telling people what I do so I need to be very aware of how it comes word-vomiting.

5.) Do your homework. Being prepared means not rushing through your prep work. It means knowing all about what you offer and as much as possible about how its best suited for your customer or client.  If I don't need something it doesn't matter how good you are at it, I won't buy.

6.) Organize.  This is one of my favorites.  The first hour of everyday I sit at my desk and return emails, go through the mail and get myself ready to take on the day.  When you're running around all day working and putting out fires its tough to keep things neat.  It's a simple fact that organization helps you stay on task and saves you energy because you won't be back peddling. 

7.) Buckets. For each financial task there should be different bank accounts. I've seen a lot of start-ups run everything out of one account, usually their personal checking.  This is dangerous and can cause a lot of monetary dripage - again shooting for efficiency.  You should have accounts for cash inflows, expenses and payrolls and even a savings for the business if that's feasible. The same thing goes for email accounts. Break them out so if you have a website, a support line, and your actual work they all aren't going to one place.

The idea here is to just keep this stuff in mind.  I know it sounds old and regurgitated but if these 7 little things are overlooked it causes lots of unwanted headaches later.  Think of it as an attempt to keep you from burning out and the quickest way to burn out, besides working 100 hours a week, is information overload.  Happy hunting.


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