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Starting a business is a bigger undertaking than most people think. It is great when you can find something you truly enjoy doing and can even make money from it. What happens though is that once the business gets rolling the actual running-a-business-like-a-business takes a back seat to the product or service. In the beginning I was even guilty of this – running from client to client and only doing enough of the “work” to be prepared for my next meeting. It burns you out and then you get to a point where it’s either stop having a business or run yourself so ragged that you hate what you once loved doing. You can avoid that with the implementation of good systems in the beginning though. I’ve listed a few tips below to help you keep doing what you love and not burn yourself out.
Automate your accounts receivable and payables as much as possible. Whether you are invoicing for services rendered or are charging for products sold having a repeatable process is important. What kind of accounts are you using to receive funds? If you are selling online, are you using an e-commerce credit card processing provider such as North American Bancard? How do you make payments and are they divided between personal and professional accounts? It’s important to shop around but make sure you have a plan. Try to map out all the ways possible revenues could come in and make sure there is a place for them. Same goes for expenses. The more organized you are in mapping cash flows at the start the better off you will be down the line – come taxes or time to bring your business to the next level. The most important is to find companies you feel you can work well with.
Clear role descriptions. It’s important from the outset that you aren’t just making jobs up for people. Don’t create responsibilities around personalities. Having clear roles outlined is important so that anyone can come in, pick up your operations manual, and be able to perform tasks with reasonable expectations. When you create jobs and manage around personalities a few things are bound to happen: people get hurt, you are worse off when they leave, accountability is shuffled around. Avoid all that from the outset by doing the best you can to predict what jobs have to be done, balancing them, and assigning them based on your system.
Filling perceived needs. Regardless of how good your market research is and how good your marketing is you will probably never know what people really need and when they need it. To avoid the bruises to your forehead later as you are pounding it against the wall in disdain you should work on filling perceived needs. What are you offering or selling that fills needs people are told they have by popular media. How are you offering a unique twist on filling the needs? It’s ok to look to what larger companies are doing for inspiration – heck they have the budget for it so let them show you their research. Sometimes it’s not about being the newest or the best – it’s being able to connect with people based on what they are already seeing every day. So, in a very Machiavellian way I’m saying find some weaknesses (perceived needs) and start exploiting as only you can.
Again, nothing new here. No magic formula to being successful. It’s important that we revisit conversations like this from time to time to keep these topics at the top of our consciousness. It’s important that you are always tweaking responsibilities and the way your business runs so you can get it running at its best. Finances are another big one – all too often we put off the “numbers” until you can’t avoid them anymore. So pick a company you like and trust and let them take the heavy lifting, that’s what merchant accounts are for.