How to Develop Solid Online Business Foundations to Maximise Profits Today and Tomorrow

Get Skilled Up! When you are learning about how to become successful at something new, whether it is making money online, windsurfing or anything else, you need to learn new skills. You can’t apply your skills in fishing to windsurfing but you could apply some skills learned through skateboarding. In the same way, when you are learning to make money online you can’t necessarily transfer your entire current skill set from your current job into your new online business but you could apply some of your existing web and computer skills to help you get a head start. With that in mind, we need to accept that we are going to need to take the time, with an open and enquiring mind, to learn some new skills and a new body of specialist knowledge.

Einstein said that the definition of insanity is to “do the same thing again and again and expect different results”. So it is when you are starting out. If you are going to be successful online you must not be hostile to the new ideas, techniques and concepts that you will be exposed to.

Are You Ready? Another old saying states that “When the student is ready, the teacher will arrive”. As a newbie you must be ready to seek and accept the wisdom of those that have been there and done it before you. With that said, bear in mind that there are many charlatans out there promoting poor opportunities who just want to take your money and give nothing in return. Choose your mentors and teachers carefully. Are you ready to leave your comfort zone? The comfort zone is where you can quite happily (or miserably) carry on doing what you have always done and get the same results (good or bad) that you always got. In order to develop as a business person and a human being (I hope that you are both) then you need to push yourself to achieve more than you have before. You need to be seeking out new ideas and opportunities and be willing to fail as you learn. Don’t be afraid to fail your way to success.

How To Choose The Right Mentor For You. It should be obvious by now but you may not realise that with such a lot to be learned when you enter any money-making opportunity you have to make sure that you find a great way to learn it quickly and effectively. There are many people out there offering an overnight success scheme but I would recommend that you steer clear of these alleged opportunities which are more likely to be scams than genuine opportunities. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Find an individual or a company that you can trust, who has been there and done it if you want to increase your personal chances of success.

Take A Helping Hand. Almost everyone who is successful online today had to have a helping hand from someone in the very beginning. Every mentor has a mentor. Nobody just instinctively knew the best ways to make money online when they came into the world. These things have been learned and developed over time by many people before you so don’t miss out on the chance to learn the lessons of the past and implement them to ensure your future success. The internet is still relatively young and there are still an incredible number of opportunities out there on the web for people to make money.

In this article you learned about the essential attitudes that you must develop in order to be successful online and how to select a good mentor and training programme.

Getting Back To Basics – 5 Steps To Strengthen Your Business Foundation And Become More Profitable

One of the most important lessons I learned in my business early on, was how important it is to have and maintain a strong foundation in your business. In order to support our growth and efforts to achieve our goals, our business needs a solid infrastructure on which we can build. If this infrastructure is not in place, you could find yourself in a position where you are growing too fast too soon and not serving your clients nearly as well as you should be. This in turn will create unnecessary stress and frustration, which equals a not so happy Virtual Assistant who is working harder and making less money than she should.

So, it’s important to take stock of your business periodically and see how your foundation is holding up and what improvements you need to make. And if you’re just starting out, you’ll do yourself a HUGE favor by setting up a strong business foundation from day one. This is the perfect time of year to consider these points, as we are heading into fall and the final quarter of 2009. If you set aside time now to analyze your business operations and start making adjustments, you’ll be primed and ready to jump into 2010, while most everyone else is still trying to wrap their heads around their New Year’s resolutions!

Following are my top five tips for assessing your business and strengthening your foundation:

1) Review and revise your business plan – Many times business owners create a business plan when they are first starting out, get excited about it, but then file it away and never look at it again. Sometimes new entrepreneurs don’t even take the time to develop a simple business plan. This is a BIG mistake! Going through the steps to create a business plan is a terrific way to get all of your ideas out on paper and to create a roadmap to follow to grow your business. Its easy to think one can keep all of their ideas, goals and strategies locked safely in their memory. But there are two things wrong with that. 1) You absolutely can’t remember all of the details and 2) you’ll have a more difficult time working towards them because you haven’t committed your thoughts to paper. So schedule time on your calendar NOW to review and revise your business plan. (Or if you’re just starting out, to create one – which we will help you with in our “Get A Strong Start” class). Think about all that you’ve accomplished thus far in 2009 and map out your goals for 2010 and then how you’ll achieve them.

2) Take stock of your financial situation – For some this can be the least “exciting” part of running a business. That is having to deal with all of the “number stuff”. But, most of us start our companies to make a profit and support our families – not to unintentionally be running a non-profit organization where we work for free. You won’t know which category you fall into if you aren’t clear on the financial state of your business. If you are not already doing so, ask your accountant or bookkeeper to start running monthly reports of your expenses and income so you can see how profitable you REALLY are. You may be surprised to find out which of your services is actually most profitable and then start focusing more attention on those. Also, you’ll see clearly how your expenses are affecting your bottom line and what adjustments need to be made.

3) Review your business standards to see if they are still working for you – One of the things my coach helped me to do when I was first starting out was to create a set of standards for my business. This included the hours I would work, my fee structure, how I would handle different clients situations, illness/vacation, etc. – basically ALL of the details of how I would run my business. I highly recommend that you take the time to outline your standards as well. It’s your business, so the way you work and operate your business should be reflective of and work for you. After doing this you’ll be clear about your boundaries and can then easily (and tactfully) share them with your clients to ensure that you are supported and protected to do your best work.

4) Fine tune your marketing systems – Some Virtual Assistants have a bad habit of only marketing their business when they need a new client. That is a big no-no! As a business owner, you should only be spending your time on two things – 1) serving your clients and 2) marketing your business. If you don’t have a marketing system in place – meaning a strategic plan for how to consistently present your services/solutions to your ideal clients and enroll them in your practice, then now is the time to implement one. You should be regularly attending networking events where your ideal clients hang out, following up on leads, engaging in social media and pursuing other effective marketing strategies. Map out a plan of how you will market your business for the remainder of 2009 and then commit blocks of time on your calendar to work on your marketing efforts. Marketing your business will be a lot easier (and much more effective) if you consistently and comfortable share what you have to offer instead of operating from panic mode because you need a new client.

5) Start implementing systems in your business – You likely do some of the same tasks over and over again in serving your clients. At the very least, each week/month you’re doing bookkeeping, marketing, reporting to your clients on project progress, etc. As such you should be developing systems for every aspect of your business. A system is simple a list of guidelines or instructions about how to handle a particular task or project. It’s way for you to implement quality control into your Virtual Assistant practice so that you consistently deliver high quality results for yourself and your clients. It’s a way to save time, because you won’t have to think about or try and remember how to handle a particular project. And it’s a way to make more money. “How so?”, you may ask. Because you can easily delegate certain tasks to someone else, freeing up your time and mental energy to pursue your high-payoff activities. The more you systematize your business the more organized and profitable you will be. So, start today in outlining the steps you take to operate your business and serve your clients. Compile the instructions into one central document or binder and create your own operations manual. As you continue to grow you’ll have all of the information you need to run your business right at your fingertips.

Likely, you set out to be a Virtual Assistant because you wanted to pursue a career that would give you more control over your schedule and earning potential. So make it easier on yourself to achieve your goals, by taking steps to tighten up your foundation and get clear on your goals. Running a successful business obviously takes effort and dedication. And having a strong infrastructure and a solid plan to follow will ensure that you are spending your time and energy on the activities that will get you the results you want!

Your action plan for this week:

1) Pull out your business plan and schedule time to review and revise it by October 31st. (If you’re just starting out, set aside time to create your plan by the same date).
2) Pull year-to-date reports on your financial situation and review them with your bookkeeper or accountant to see what adjustments may need to be made.
3) Outline the details of how you will run your business so that it is working for YOU, not the other way around.
4) Review the strategies that have been most effective in marketing your business and then create a plan around how you will consistently implement these tactics to attract new business.
5) Start creating systems for EVERYTHING you do in your business and compile the information in one central location.

Laying Your Business Foundation – Part One

The current economy is driving more people to start their own business and rightfully so. Business ownership signifies that you have taken the reins of your own destiny. The unfortunate aspect of this decision is that many people are not prepared for what it takes to be a business owner. You’ve read the articles through media blasts and other sound bits. Start your business in as little as three days. Earn more by working for yourself. Take control of your life by working for yourself. Spend more time with your family and friends. The list goes on and on and on. Although there is a great deal of truth to this but let’s be honest. Business ownership is not as glamorous as the media portray it to be. If you decide to take the plunge into business ownership I personally guarantee you the rewards far outweigh the temporary setbacks, delays and pitfalls. I’ve been a successful business owner since 1987 and believe me if I would have known about “how to” do anything in business Warren Buffet and I would be entrepreneurs co-mingling. I learned through “trial and error” which is very time-consuming and incredibly expensive. Thankfully, your business will not start out dysfunctional. Listen, learn and duplicate what is already established and functioning properly.

In this article I will show you “how to” Lay Your Business Foundation.

  1. Decide if you want to be in business. This will shave off 10 seconds of your precious time within a 24-hour window. This is very important because most people in business missed this point. They started doing something without thinking or planning and one day all the pieces did not fit into the puzzle. And those missing pieces goes back to the drawing board called decision. Our thoughts dictate the outcome. Think about it, did you start reading this article out of boredom your where you thinking about starting a business? I think the latter answer is correct or you will probably be somewhere else.
  2. What type of business? You know what enjoy doing so why not turn it into a profitable business. Now before you take the bull by the horns make sure this business is something other people need and want. Never assume what you like is something other people will pay their money for. Always see from the prospects lenses. If they like your product or service duplicate and legally protect it as quickly and accurately as possible. What you have done is taken a hobby, thought or idea turned into a profitable business.
  3. Location. Do you want a home-based business, store front or virtual business? See why I started off with question #1 and you thought I was being a smarty. These are the kind of decisions only you can answer. Although each of these businesses are somewhat similar each one functions differently. Here’s what I mean. Home-based businesses is operated from your personal dwelling; therefore, no overhead costs unless you build onto the existing structure. Let’s keep this simple! Either location will require some type of license to operate your business. a.) For home-based businesses check with your municipality for city or county business license requirements; b.) Store front locations will definitely be required to have a business license among other permits, etc. Again, check with your city or county municipality for requirements and; c.) Virtual business licenses can be tricky. Since you are not physically operating from a physical location or home-based a license is probably not required; however, whenever filing taxes you will either use your social security number or obtain an employer identification number (EIN). If you choose the later and use a company name then you must obtain the proper licenses and or permits to operate your virtual business. Note: An occupational license may or may not suffice to operate your business. Again, check with the municipality in your locale for business license and or permits.
  4. Financial Resources. Regardless of the size, location or dimension of your business, having MONEY is essential. I know you’ve heard that it doesn’t take money to start a business. Whomever or wherever you heard this is emphatically wrong. Look at it this way. Can you go into a store and make a purchase without funds? The answer is NO you cannot; regardless if you used a credit or debit card, cash and another acceptable method once it arrives at the financial institution it is converted into CASH. Make sure you, an accountant or someone you trust that is money savvy to look over your finances before you take the plunge. If the funds are not there WAIT until you can afford to go into business. Trust me I started my first business with $75 I borrowed from a bill I owed to a debtor. This made me very ill because I did not have enough cash to float me from one crisis to another. Note: Being strategic about starting a business is imperative to your life long plans. If you do not have enough cash I strongly advise that you wait until you do. Another option is to start with a small investment from the dollars you loosely spend on things that do not yield you a return on investment.
  5. Supplies and Equipment. Make not mistake you will need both. For a small home-based business your office supplies/equipment yearly average is about $2500+. Keep in mind costs vary according to the type and size of your business. Your supplies/equipment list can be placed on an excel spreadsheet or another suitable software that is comfortable for you. Here is an example of each heading: Description, Amount, Costs, Frequency, Vendor, etc. This will get you started then incorporate other headings as you grow.