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Top 10 Business Plan Myths of Solo Entrepreneurs

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A recent study of 29,000 business startups noted that 26,000 of them failed. Of those failures, 67% had no written business plan. Think that’s a coincidence?

Here’s the top 10 myths Solo Entrepreneurs often have about business plans-usually, the reasons why they don’t have one. De-bunk the myths, and see how having a business plan for your solo business, can actually be easy and fun–and can jumpstart your success!

1. Myth: I don’t need a business plan–it’s just me!

Starting a business without a plan is like taking a trip in a foreign country without a map. You might have a lot of fun along the way, and meet a lot of friends, but you are likely to end up at a very different place than you originally set out for-and you might have to phone home for funds for your return ticket.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Successful Solo Entrepreneurs know that the exercise of creating a plan for their business really helps them think through all the critical aspects of running a business, make better business decisions, and get to profitability sooner.

2. Myth: I have to buy business plan software before I can start.

Business plan software comes in many shapes and sizes, and prices. Many are more geared at small and growing businesses with employees.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Software can be helpful-but it’s not required. Software is more likely to help if you have a more traditional type business, like a restaurant or a typical consulting business.

3. Myth: I need to hire a consultant to write my business plan.

Consultants are expensive and don’t really know as much about your business as you do!

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Your business IS you-and you need to be intimately involved with the creation of your business plan. A better strategy, if you think you need professional help, is to hire a coach or mentor-someone who can guide you in what you need to do, not do it for you.

4. Myth: The business plan templates I’ve seen have all these complex-sounding sections to them-I guess I need all those?

The only time you need to follow a specific outline is if you are looking for funding.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Your business plan needs to answer ten basic questions-that’s it! Don’t make things more complicated than necessary.

5. Myth: My business plan needs to be perfect before I can start my business.

If you wait for everything to be perfectly detailed, you may never start.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: If you have at least a first draft that answers those ten basic questions, you are ready to launch your business! Make your business plan a living, evolving document. In the startup stages, review and update your plan every 2-3 months. As you grow and stabilize, you can slow down the review cycle to every 6-12 months. All business plans should be reviewed and updated at least once a year.

6. Myth: I have to do everything I say I’m going to do in my business plan, or I’m a failure.

Many Solo Entrepreneurs never start because of this myth-which leaves them feeling that the success of their future business suddenly rides on each stroke of the pen or click of the keyboard!

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Think of your business plan as a roadmap for a trip. Expect to take some detours for road construction. Be flexible enough to take some exciting, unplanned side trips. And don’t be surprised if instead of visiting Mount Rushmore, you decide to go to Yellowstone, if that turns out to meet your vacation goals better!

7. Myth: A good business plan has a nice cover, is at least 40 pages long, must be typed and double-spaced…

Business plans intended for investors, such as a bank or venture capitalist, must meet certain requirements that such investors expect.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: As a Solo Entrepreneur, your business plan need only satisfy YOU. It might be scribbled on a napkin, on stickie notes on your wall, or consist of a collage of pictures and captions. It might be all in one document or scattered among several mediums. As long as you know it in your head and heart without having to look at it, and and it is easily accessible to you when you have doubts, that’s all that is necessary.

8. Myth: I don’t need a loan-so I don’t need a business plan.

YOU are the investor in your business-and would you invest in the stock of some company without seeing a prospectus?

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Seeing your plan in black and white (or color, if you prefer!), can give a whole new view on the financial viability of your business. If “doing the numbers” seems overwhelming, remember you don’t need fancy spreadsheets. Just lay out a budget that shows where all the money is coming from (and going), and have an accountant review it for additional perspective.

9. Myth: My business plan is in my head-that’s good enough.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes can’t remember what I planned yesterday to do tomorrow, if I don’t write it down!

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: There is a real power in writing down your plans. Some schools of thought advocate that the act of writing a plan down triggers our subconscious to start working on how to manifest that plan. And, of course, it’s a lot easier to remember when you have it in front of you. And a lot easier to share and get feedback from your non-mind reading supporters.

10. Myth: Friends and family are the best sources of feedback and advice on my business plan.

If your brother is an accountant and your best friend is a market research expert, then this might be true.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: As well meaning as our friends and family can often be, they just aren’t the best way to get honest, objective guidance. Instead, seek out folks that have specific knowledge that will help you, are willing to be candid with you, and that have a genuine interest in helping you succeed. A business coach is one resource to consider!

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Smooth Operator: 5 Simple Ways To Help Your Business Run Smoothly

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If you run a business, you will appreciate how many protocols and processes must be overseen on a daily basis. You may have automated where possible, and delegated what remained. But it is still likely that there are some areas of your business that could run more smoothly.

While running a business is a process of continual refinement and improvement, some areas are regularly identified as requiring attention. These areas are vital for the overall functionality and effectiveness of your business. Supporting them in running smoothly will allow the business to run smoothly overall – allowing for the inevitable road bumps and adjustments along the way!

Read on to discover these five simple, but highly effective, ways to help your business run more smoothly.

1. Review Regularly

Reviews and assessments may only seem valuable once a year – or even only when something goes wrong – but the reverse is true. Reviews and evaluations should be undertaken well in advance of anything going wrong or getting severely off-track.

You can help facilitate this by scheduling regular reviews in your calendar, and especially the key areas that should be assessed such as budget, processes, and deadlines.

By incorporating regular reviews, audits, and assessments into the overall day-to-day running of your business, you will always have a clear overview of your operations and be able to stay in control. Reviews are especially effective in spotting small problems before they have a chance to develop into big ones.

Don’t forget that you can also hire professionals or those with an objective ‘outsider’ perspective to assist with this, such as auditors and accountants.

2. Use Professional Couriers

Many businesses report that one of their biggest areas of stress and disruption is in mail and deliveries.

Using the conventional postal service often simply is not good enough for a business. It can risk losing supplies, being unable to track the package or contact the driver, and leaving customers disappointed as a result. They may also be waiting on supplies and equipment of their own.

Using professional, reliable couriers may involve an initial outlay, but it can be an investment overall. There are many reasons why businesses are choosing to use professional couriers, but some of the most common are speed, reliability, and price.

If this is an area that your business relies on – or even struggles with – consider consulting with a professional courier service.

3. Hire Experts

Know when someone else knows better! Many businesses waste countless hours trying to figure something out that an expert could have solved in minutes. This may be true of budgets, business plans, logistics, social media, Search Engine Optimisation, and more.

Expand your network by bringing in experts and professionals. Have them assess your processes and offer ideas for improvement. Consider hiring experts regularly to oversee the most crucial aspects of your business too.

While it is important to understand and appreciate your own processes, it is still likely that an expert could offer more than you have had time to learn.

4. Update Key Equipment

It can be helpful to identify key pieces of equipment that help keep your business running smoothly – and ensuring they are always in excellent working order.

This might include computers and electronics, machinery, software, or even a car that you use for business. Ensure that you get things serviced regularly, such as taking your car to a reputable garage and driving in the most fuel-efficient way between visits.

Upgrade your equipment where necessary as a legitimate business expense, and continually assess whether your processes are as streamlined as they could be.

It is not just about accumulating or upgrading equipment for your business. These assessments could also show if there are things you are hanging onto needlessly that are not vital for your business. You could declutter and save money as a result!

5. Take Breaks

One of the most vital aspects of the smooth running of your business is you. Invest in your health and wellbeing, being especially conscious of stress or circumstances that may harm your mental health.

Mental and physical health concerns in the workplace are on the rise, so it is important to be vigilant. Take scheduled and effective rest breaks – throughout the day, but also throughout the year where possible.

Prioritise your health and wellbeing, as well as that of your team, and your business will stand the very best chance of thriving!

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Copywriter Jobs for the Talented Wordsmith – A Satisfying and Well-Paying Career Option

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“All the news that is fit to print” and all the other catchy slogans you hear from time to time that you either find impossible to forget or that become a part of the popular culture, come from the pens of copywriters. If it weren’t for those clever word artists who work endlessly behind some of the most well-known catch phrases, slogans, tag lines and popular rhymes, businesses would probably have no way to sell their products. Copywriter jobs aren’t just for the creation of advertising catchphrases though, of course. Copywriters design brochures, they design the websites of companies, and almost anything written that can affect sales, almost anywhere where using the right words can attract better business.

As with any position that involves creativity in a business setting, copywriter jobs work best for people who do well in a team – a team of project managers, editors, developers, graphics designers and accountants – all these people focused narrowly on getting someone to buy a product. That doesn’t mean that all copywriter jobs exist in large corporations or advertising agencies though. While those do make up the bulk of the copywriter’s employment market, freelance opportunities success as well.

When copywriters come to be employed by a large company, they work on the company’s internal creative team. The copywriter in such a job needs to have a great understanding of the business of the company, and needs to accept responsibility for the company’s performance. He can be asked to come up with materials to serve almost any marketing need at the company – the production of a brochure, a press release, material for a tradeshow, anything. And advertising agencies that provide corporations with all the advertising solutions they need in multimedia, social media and all kinds of marketing, are all about narrower specialization. Since an advertising agency constantly receives work from clients, it can afford to keep specialists on the payroll for each specific job. A press release writer in such a position would probably get to constantly write press releases for all of the company’s clients. A copywriter who writes advertising scripts would probably gain such expertise doing his job repeatedly, that they wouldn’t let him write anything else. Now a copywriter working in these kinds of organizations is spared the trouble of finding new clients when a job is done. That’s what the business he works for is there for. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works for a freelance copywriter.

A freelance copywriter needs to be completely competent not only in the writing of great slogans and arresting copy, but also in the talking up of a strong game. He needs to be able to network, to find clients, maintain business relationships. Still, creative types like copywriters do tend to gravitate in any direction that offers them more freedom. Copywriters make a pretty decent living – about $50,000 a year on average. It’s rewarding work, and if you a have degree in communications, journalism, advertising or language, and if you have a great way with words, you’ll probably find the hiring managers coming after you.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing Business Card Printing Services

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In any business setting, business cards are important and this is because they make it possible for customers to learn more about the company. In addition to this, when used appropriately, they also come in handy for the purposes of branding. In order to enjoy the benefits that come with this, it is therefore advisable to hire business card printing services. There are hundreds of service providers to choose from and while this is supposed to make things easier, it can only complicate them. For this reason, there are a couple of things you need to consider in order to make an informed choice.

Excellence

Regardless of what you buy or sell, quality is the first thing you look at and it also plays a major role when choosing a service provider. Quality shows that you care about you’re the image you project to your customers and as such, this draws them closer. Unless the service provider can assure you of meeting this end, you are better of not hiring the services at all.

Price

Price plays a crucial role when choose business card printing services. In this case, you don’t want to settle for extremely cheap prices that comprise on the quality and at the same time, you should not settle for high prices that do not measure up to the desired expectations. It is therefore advisable to weigh your options carefully and carry out thorough research and comparisons in order to make the most informed and appropriate decision. Set a budget and work within its confined to see whether you can afford the services.

References and Reputation

These aspects work hand in hand and as such, they cannot be overlooked when making your pick. Talk to people who have used the services offered by the company before you and make enquiries about the quality of service offered. This will also go a long way to determine the type of reputation they have built. Make sure that the business card printing service provider is well known for following the agreed timeline and meeting the customer’s needs. This is the only way to increase the probability of getting the most out of the services.

While at it, it is also advisable to research and have a clear picture of what your competitors are doing and the type of services they are using. There is no doubt that competition has become rife in the industry and for this reason, it is important to find out the type of printing they are using. This will is important as it gives you an idea of what you ought to settle down for and as such, increases the possibility of getting the most out of the cards.

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Steps to Starting An Internet Business

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1. Decide on your niche. What methods will you use to generate income? Basically, what do you want to sell? Here are few ideas of what you can do to generate income with a home based internet business.

Information – Create an information product or e-book.

Services – Perform a service for others.

Products – Sell products wholesale or using dropshipping.

AdSense Websites – Create a content website and earn income with Google Adsense.

Affiliate Programs – Promote other people’s products for a commission.

Find other websites that are already doing what you want to do. Make notes regarding what they do that you like and what they do that you don’t like. Strive to address what you don’t like about your competitor’s website in your own website. This will help you set yourself apart from everyone else.

2. Choose your domain name. Make is short and easy to remember. You want people to be able to easily type your domain name into their web browsers without misspelling it. You should also make your domain name descriptive of your business in some way, but this is not an absolute requirement. Many companies have successfully chosen a domain name that has no reference to the business at all. Take Google and eBay for example.

3. Choose a reliable and high performance host for your website. Your website should be available at all times and should be able to handle any load of traffic demand on the servers that you need. Imagine how mad you would be if you were spending money on advertising only to find out that your website is intermittently unavailable because your hosting company is frequently down. Choose a reputable hosting company that provides a responsive and helpful 24-hour customer support. The website host should offer all the functionality that you need so that you don’t have to waste time looking around for additional services that you have to figure out how to install yourself.

4. Build your website. Create an attractive and professional website that is easy for your visitors to navigate. Don’t go overboard with flashy animation or colors because this can cause your web pages to load slowly and can distract your visitors away from your content. Focus on adding high quality content to draw visitors in. Product reviews work well with if you are selling products. Choose the methods in which you will accept payment. You can incorporate shopping cart functionality into your website and accept credit cards through your own merchant account or you can use a third party to process your payments such as PayPal. If you are promoting affiliate products payment processing is handled for you.

5. Get the word out about what you have to offer. You will spend the rest of your time promoting your website with internet marketing techniques. You can choose from pay per click, article marketing, e-mail marketing, and search engine submission and optimization techniques as a start. And there are plenty of other things that you can do. You must plan on how you will attract traffic because without traffic your business will inevitably fail.

6. And finally, never stop improving. Use ad-tracking software to manage your advertising effectiveness. Take the time to periodically review your website to see where improvements can be made.

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How To Choose The Right Website Designing Company

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Websites play a very important role in the success of every business. They are the ones representing your business in the ever growing online world. A well designed and visually appealing website not only helps in attracting customers, but also builds good brand value for your business.

Every business understands the importance of a good website to deliver the company’s message to potential and existing customers. It is the basis to succeed in a competitive market. You can hire a professional website designing company for your website design project. There are thousands of designing and development companies, ranging from large corporate companies to small companies with very few professionals. Choosing the right website designing company can be difficult if you don’t know what you should look for. Here are a few steps that can help you choose the right company for your business needs.

  • Find Companies – The easiest way to look for website designing companies is to search online. You can also find companies listed in the yellow pages or phone directories. Shortlist a few companies to have a personal discussion with them.
  • Check portfolio – You can get an idea about the skill and expertise of a company by having a look at their portfolio. It is always good to hire a company with an impressive portfolio and a good track record. A company’s portfolio should speak for itself. A good company should offer quality of design, ease of navigation and consistent look throughout each site.
  • Experience and Skills – Hiring an experienced company will be less troublesome. The company should have skilled, qualified and experienced professionals who know their job well. You should also ask a few questions to check their technical expertise.
  • Testimonials and Reviews – To check the reliability and trustworthiness of a company, read online reviews on various forums. Also ask the company for the references of past clients. Don’t feel hesitant to contact them and ask about the type of services provided by the company. This will help you in making a right and informed decision.
  • Get Quotes – You should contact a few website designing companies and ask them for free quotes. Compare the prices and services offered by different companies and choose the best one which suits your requirements.

The website designing company you hire should pay attention to details as sometimes even the smallest things can make all the difference. It is important to choose a professional company that not only understands your business goals, but also offers you the best services within your budget.

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Does Your Social Network Really Determine Your Financial Net Worth?

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In the affairs of men, nothing matters more in building wealth, influence and leverage than the friends you keep. In short, your network! As Brian Tracy once quipped, “you can’t fly with the eagles if you keep scratching with the turkeys.” Chinua Achebe captured it succinctly in Things Fall Apart, where he popularized the African proverb, “if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings.” An English cliché says, “birds of the same feather flock together”, and another says, “tell me your friend and I’ll tell you who you are.” Though the last saying is commonly associated with character issues, it can equally be applied to the subject of our discussion, networking as it relates to net worth.

Dennis P. Kimbro, the co-author of Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice, once asked Don King, the boxing promoter and showman, “what are your goals?”, and he fired back, “to become America’s first black billionaire.” When Kimbro queried, “how are you going to do that?” he retorted, “I just told you, by hanging around billionaires, learning all they know.” T. Harv Eker, the author of Think Rich to Get Rich: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, describes a simple test he says he administers to attendees of his Million Mind Intensive seminar. He says he asks them to write down the names of the top seven friends they spend most of their time with (excluding spouses and their kids), and says the average income of every attendee always reflect the average income of their top seven friends. Are you surprised? We conducted a similar exercise in our Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty (title borrowed from Harvey Mackay) seminar and attendees were dumbfounded by the result and all vowed to rethink the friends and network they keep. Still doubting?

Whenever you attend a social function, whether it’s a society wedding, a big red-carpet reception, or a presidential ball, just watch closely who hangs around with whom. You’ll soon discover that after the initial greetings and exchange of pleasantries, the people will imperceptibly drift into the groups they belong: the poor will gather together to moan the bad economy, the middle class will be back slapping their group members and boasting about the next big toy they are planning to acquire, while the rich will be talking in hush tones in their own circle where the next big investment is likely to come from. Generally, you won’t see the super rich in these social events. They meet on secretive islands to plot the next mega deals.

Networking right is so crucial for success in life and in business that you ignore or neglect this discipline at your own peril. If you observe, the poorest people have the shallowest networks or no network at all to talk about. When the poor is in a bind, he has no friend to turn to. The opposite is true of the rich and super rich. They all have well oiled networks that enable them have advance information about new government policies before they become public knowledge; they are always the first to hear about new high yielding private placements, and they use their networks to literally safe their life. When a close mentor suffered a life threatening brain clot that made him pass out suddenly, it was the network he had built over the years that saved the situation. One, two, three telephone calls, and he was flown to London and within hours a simple but delicate procedure that drained fluid from his skull was carried out and he came back to life.

In her 2008 presentation at the then ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) International Conference, entitled Mastering Professional Networking: Turning Relationships into Lifelong Assets, Neusa Hirota, an American of Japanese descent, who was brought up in Brazil, and speaking little English, told the awesome story how she used the power of networks to change jobs four times within six years, and secure jobs in some of the most powerful establishments on earth, including the World Bank. It was from her presentation that I first heard about the theory of “Six Degrees of Separation.” Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called “Chains.” We will not join the debate whether this theory has been proven or remains unproven, all you need to know is that you can become insanely successful if you use the power of networks to your advantage.

Like every other game, networking has its own rules. Don’t go about thumping your complimentary card into the hand of every person you meet because I can assure you your card will end up in a dustbin. If you want to join a network, have something to offer, be selfless, and join gracefully, preferably from the bottom. If you do a good home work, you will be able to join the strongest battalions. The best place to start is through seminars, workshops, and conferences. Join clubs and associations like Lions, Toastmasters, Rotary, Optimists, ATD, and SHRM, to mention but a few. Don’t forget your old school alumni association, and PTA (parents and teachers association). Remember, the devil you know is better than the one you do not know. Seek out people with similar passion or interest as you do. Share your thoughts, ideas, and the portfolio of what you’re currently working on. Indeed, take advantage of every networking opportunity that suits your passion and temperament. Building a network is a marathon and not a hundred meters dash, so be prepared to toil for years.

Like any other discipline in life, learn to understand the concept of networking. What I mean is, education is important. Be a guru in your little field. Who would like to do business with you if you have nothing to offer? Read the best books on networking. Keith Ferazzi, the author of two best-selling books on networking, Who’s Got Your Back, and Never Eat Alone, has taken the discipline of networking to a whole new level. From your network, you may find people who could turn out to be your mentor or mentors. Never underrate what the right mentor can do for you. Remember, Isaac Newton once said, “if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”, and Napoleon Bonaparte said, “God is always on the side of the strongest battalions.” Your mentor, you and your network can form the strongest battalion and you can see far into the horizon when you take networking seriously. Rich Schefren had Jay Abraham as his mentor, Bob Dylan was mentored by Woody Guthrie, Richard Branson had Freddie Laker, Jeff Bezos had David Shaw, and Warren Buffett was mentored by the economist Benjamin Graham. So, who is your mentor? In summary, does network really determine net worth? Yes indeed, nothing is as invincible as a powerful network. Start building yours today!

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