Random Blog Thoughts and Posts

September 5, 2022

Guiding Your Startup Through Sudden Growth

- From guest blogger Derek Goodman of Inbizability

 

While it's always good to plan for failure, unexpected success can bring its own host of stressors. It's therefore vital to know which methods will guarantee your business' continued triumphs rather than overwhelming you and stretching your resources too thin.

 

Identifying the Type of Expansion

A manageable and intentional form of business growth is simply expanding your operating territory. If you realize you have the resources to expand your market, an online store can invite customers from all over the country or world to try your services. Establishing an active and approachable social media presence will encourage people who've heard of you through word of mouth to give you a try next time they need something that you're offering.

 

If the opposite is true, and your foot traffic and demand are outpacing your abilities, expanding to a larger location or opening up a second one might be the solution. This can be as small scale as moving an artist workshop from your dining room to your garage and as massive as turning your single brick-and-mortar store into a franchise.

 

Depending on the age of your business, you may not have even been sufficiently organized before the success and growth began. While considering your business's other needs, also research whether you'd benefit from organizing as a Limited Liability Company. An LLC protects your personal assets from debts and charges the company itself may incur, meaning you only stand to lose whatever money you intentionally invest into the venture. If forming an LLC yourself is too difficult, formation services can be used to incorporate your business without the need to shell out hefty lawyer fees.

 

Showing Your Customers That You Care

Growing your customer base is an important part of the expansion, and it can be accomplished with some less obvious marketing strategies. For instance, a freelance lead generator can track down potential clients and advertise to them directly with cold calls, online targeted ads, and direct emails. The responses they get will provide insights into the demographics your company appeals to and which marketing strategies are most effective for them. Start your search in online job boards to get in touch with a number of lead gen companies.

 

Once you've pulled in a larger clientele, there are a few steps you can take to retain them. Loyalty programs such as discounts for members of the store's program or coupons sent to the emails customers allow you to put on file are a great way to keep the value of your services fresh in the minds of your patrons. Community events like picnics, charity drives, and hyped-up sales events with proceeds going to charity can improve your public image while showing your customers that you're an active and compassionate part of the local environment.

 

As your project gets busier, you should automate as many functions as possible. Generating a reusable invoice template is a great way to streamline your billing processes while also keeping your financial records up to date and organized. In addition to the efficiency and air of professionalism this practice yields, having an eye-catching letterhead with a well-designed logo will help spread brand recognition for your venture using something as simple as a receipt.

 

While all businesses want to be successful, managing that victory can be as stressful as a failure. Consider what needs your business is no longer able to satisfy will direct you toward which steps will support your continued growth, and speak to a professional such as those at The Open Door Group when you're uncertain about your next move.

 

July 14, 2022

 A Guide to Self-Care for the Busy Entrepreneur

- From guest blogger Derek Goodman of Inbizability

 

Entrepreneurs are known for being overworked, especially as they establish their businesses. Though you may have a lot going on, research shows that certain self-care activities are linked to a longer life. Here are a few tips from The Open Door Group to help you carve out a bit of time to do the things that bring you joy.

 

Spend Time Wisely

If you are stretching yourself thin trying to accomplish everything on your own, it may be a good time to start outsourcing certain tasks. For example, you can utilize outside marketing services if you want to reach a new customer base. Rather than using an in-house team, you can hire a company or freelancer to take care of marketing for your business on an as-needed basis. Other services to consider utilizing include web design assistance and accounting help. The Open Door Group calls this True Prioritization—focusing most of your efforts on your identified 2-3 things that will have the most impact on your goals.

 

Stay in Shape

Engaging regularly in moderate physical activity helps to elevate people's level of overall satisfaction with their lives. If you are a workout novice, get started slowly. Even walking for 30 minutes a day can have huge health impacts. Those benefits include weight maintenance, improved cardiovascular function, and augmented blood pressure.

 

If you were a regular at your local gym before becoming inundated with work as a business owner, arrange your schedule so that you can get back to exercising. Whether you work out at a gym or at home, you will reap the rewards of even a short session. Try waking up earlier to squeeze in an early morning run or pack your gym clothes and go for a lunchtime workout. Keeping your body healthy can help entrepreneurs stay focused and feel good enough to maintain their hectic lifestyles.

 

Take Care of Your Mental Well-Being

In addition to maintaining your physical health, it is also wise to take care of your mental well-being. Some physical activities, such as walking and yoga, can help you calm your mind and work your body simultaneously. However, if you feel that talking to someone is the best option for handling your mental well-being, there are many options you can explore. In addition to contacting someone locally, you should also look up information about online counseling. Not only can these services provide you with therapy and medication (if needed), but they can also help you save money — online visits are often more affordable than in-person appointments.

 

Delegate Effectively

Many business owners take on too much. If you have more on your plate than you can handle, begin delegating some of your work to others. The employees you should hire first depend on the type of company you run. Some options that could work for many businesses include an assistant, accountant, or sales consultant. Here again, True Prioritization comes into play, if you work that concept. It is okay to let things fall off your plate, so long as those things are not your true priorities. Later, you can always pick up those things that did fall off, but you haven’t really lost anything because you got your true priorities completed. With delegating, things don’t fall all the way to the floor, but can be worked in the background by others until they make their way to the top of the list.

 

Find New Ways to Generate Interest

If finding more customers has been proving difficult, seek new ways to generate interest. Many SBOs have realized the benefits of starting YouTube and TikTok channels. This offers a way for you to stay engaged and to show off new products or services. If you regularly post on your channel, add a banner to highlight your latest episodes to make the post stand out.

 

Make Your Business Financially Sound

Financial worries are a leading cause of stress, and businesspeople experience these concerns as well. If you have been struggling to fund your company's operations, grants may be able to assist with getting your finances back on track. Finding a grant that will work for your needs can be challenging, so it is important to be mindful of the process. Get started by creating a business plan, researching availability, searching grants earmarked for your industry, and preparing a solid grant application. You should also examine your business structure.

 

Though running a business is no easy task, creating a healthy balance between your work life and personal life is possible. In addition to looking after your mental well-being, try carving out a few minutes to engage in activities that bring you joy on a regular basis and build your self-care regiment from there.

 

The Open Door Group can help you identify the problems that are slowly eating away at your business — and your profits. To learn more about what we can do for you, please give us a call at 206-973-6586 or send an email to contact@TheOpenDoorGroup.com.

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July 12, 2022

A Striving Entrepreneur's Guide to Choosing a Fitting Business Model

 - From guest blogger Dean Burgess, Freelance Writer  -  db@excitepreneur.net

 

If you've always dreamed of becoming your own boss, entrepreneurship is a logical step. The question is, what kind of business should you start? There are many possibilities to choose from, which can be great—but also make it a tough decision! The key to success is taking a strategic approach, so you can choose the right model for your passions and skills. This will ensure you choose a business type that matches your personal strengths. This guide provides some steps to help you find a fitting business model.

 

Consider your skills and experience

Ideally, you will choose a business that allows you to make the most of the skills you already have. This could include soft skills like writing and communications or hard skills, like preparing budget statements or creating social media campaigns. Monster has a self-skills assessment guide you can use to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. Another way to assess yourself honestly is by surveying other people. Ask for honest feedback using open-ended questions instead of yes/no questions to get the best results.

 

Assess your credentials

When deciding what business to start, your skills are just one consideration. You also want to consider your credentials. If you already have certain educational degrees, like a bachelor's, think about how you might leverage them. You also might discover that you could further your credentials—for example, by getting an MBA. This can be a savvy move if you aren't sure what entrepreneurial path to follow yet. Online programs make it easy to get a degree while you continue working and maintaining social and family obligations. Plus, it's generally more affordable. Make sure any online program you explore is fully accredited.

 

Tally up your time and resources

Resources are another point to consider when brainstorming business options. For example, if you dream of starting an ecommerce store, you'll need storage space to keep inventory. If you have an unused garage or space in your home, this is an untapped resource you can readily access. This list of common small business startup costs from Oracle NetSuite can help give you a sense of the types of resources you may need as an entrepreneur. Examples range from licenses and permits to equipment and supplies.

 

Educate yourself about the start-up process

Starting a business will require some admin. For instance, you should legally register your business entity. When picking a business structure, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is probably the most commonly used for small businesses. An S-corporation or S-corp is another option. Both protect your liability, offer pass-through taxation, and are easy to transfer ownership of. Plus, it makes your business look more reputable and reliable. You can minimize attorney's fees by filing yourself or using a business formation service. The Small Business Administration (SBA) may be able to help you with this, also, but with the right online research you can do it yourself. According to Business News Daily, other startup steps include opening a business bank account, writing a business plan, and raising capital.

 

Don't be afraid to ask for help

Many basic startup tasks can be outsourced. For example, pros like accountants and administrative assistants can help you keep running smoothly. Meanwhile, web and graphic designers can help with creating websites and other marketing materials. If you're communicating with a graphic designer, sending them business photos or visuals to use can be helpful. For larger PDF files with lots of pics, use a free PDF editor tool to add notes, highlight key points, add drawings, and more. You can then collaborate directly on the PDF instead of sending emails back and forth.

 

Becoming a business owner is an exciting step. However, it can also be nerve-wracking. Follow the tips above to make sure you're starting a business that meshes with your personal skills and passions. This will set you up for success.

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June 15, 2022

5 Out-of-the-Box Digital Innovation Tips for Entrepreneurs

 - From guest blogger Dean Burgess, Freelance Writer  -  db@excitepreneur.net

 

Today, businesses cannot compete without leveraging digital technology. Maybe you’ve been hesitant to adopt certain forms of tech because you’re worried about the cost or complexity, but you might be sacrificing potential gains for your business. If you’re  concerned  that your company is losing out on profits, working with The Open Door Group can help you establish a sustainable cash flow. In the meantime, these digital solutions might be a good fit for your business!

 

Accounting Software

Maybe you began tracking your company’s budget on pencil and paper when you initially launched your business and your cash flow was low. Or perhaps you’ve been using a free accounting software demo with limited features because you weren’t sure whether the premium version was worth the investment.

 

But if you truly want to grow your business beyond what you’ve achieved so far, you’ll need appropriate accounting software. Cloud accounting software can be a convenient, flexible option! With this type of accounting software, you can quickly and easily send customers electronic invoices, enabling on-time payments. Plus, you can store all of your receipts and invoices in an organized fashion, which simplifies compliance and filing for tax deductions.

 

Leverage Business Process Management

You might not be familiar with the principles of business process management, but this framework can truly revolutionize your business. Business process management & intelligent automation can streamline processes that used to take up a significant amount of time. By explaining the perks to your employees, you’ll be able to achieve team buy-in!

 

Naturally, developing an accurate BPM framework is key. As you start implementing process improvements, you’ll need to monitor your model to ensure that you’re getting the results you wanted. You can take action to improve the input and output if you notice issues.

 

Employee Engagement Tools

You appreciate your team and all that they do - but you feel like your internal culture lacks employee engagement. How can you help your team become closer and encourage your employees to share their ideas more often? The right software can help. Centrical recommends seeking out employee engagement software that enables performance monitoring, rewards goal achievements, and surveying your staff.

 

Time Management System

Improving your team’s time management can be a tricky task for business owners. You want to give your employees the independence and autonomy that they deserve, but you also want to ensure that your team is not wasting significant amounts of time and getting distracted during the workday. With time tracking software, you can keep an eye on your employees’ productivity.

 

Remote Onboarding and Training

Are you about to start bringing remote team members on board at your company? If so, you’ll need a remote onboarding system, as well as a training program that they can complete virtually.

 

While your human resources department might already have a basic remote onboarding pathway set up, choosing a learning management system can take more time. Omniplex Learning recommends picking a system that can scale as you add more employees. You’ll also want to look for a program that automates lots of key administrative tasks, which will help you save time. Finally, make sure the system you choose is user-friendly for your new and existing employees - otherwise, you might get bogged down by the need to provide additional support for confused team members.

 

You might be worried that you’re just not tech-savvy enough to implement or benefit from digital innovation within your business. But you don’t need to be an IT expert in order to reap the advantages of digital innovation. By testing out some of these basic suggestions, you’ll be able to break down barriers to business growth.

 

Worried that your company is losing profits? Find the solution with The Open Door Group. Schedule a free consultation through the calendar on our website today.

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May 5, 2022

Is Now the Time to Hire That Business Coach? Keep Reading to Find Out!

 - From guest blogger Dean Burgess, Freelance Writer  -  db@excitepreneur.net

 

     You don’t have to be an entrepreneur for long before people start asking, “Are you working with a coach?” Truly, hiring a business coach is one of the best decisions some business owners make. At its core, coaching means unlocking someone’s potential so they perform at full capacity and get the most from their endeavors. Here's some practical insight to help you identify when hiring a business coach is the right move!

 

You Need a Plan        

     If you don’t see a clear path forward for your business, you could likely benefit from working with a business coach. Maybe your company’s direction has shifted several times in the last few months or years, or perhaps you no longer know what your leadership role entails. Maybe you have not written down clearly defined plans or priorities or don’t know how to organize your daily tasks.

     The truth is, you are responsible all parts of your company, and business owners are often expected to be adept at a wide range of tasks. But, it can be challenging to fulfill your role without a clear plan for how to proceed. Not only do you need to understand your role, but you also need to effectively delegate responsibilities to your team members and help everyone stay on the same page toward your business goals.

     If you have yet to write an official business plan, that should be a top priority and a coach can help you do it. A good business plan will thoroughly describe your company and include any relevant details about who you will target your sales and marketing toward and how you will sell your products or services, structure the company, and reach your financial goals. If you are in the process of launching a startup, look to online resources to learn how to set up a new company.

 

You Can’t Take on Anymore      

     You’ve been sleeping in the office occasionally and can’t remember the last time you took a vacation. If this describes your situation, you are probably overwhelmed and need to hire a business coach. Business ownership can leave you emotionally drained and stressed out. If you fail to establish boundaries, you will eventually burn out.

     Take time to analyze your weekly to-do list to determine which tasks do and do not help move your company in the right direction. If a particular project or job that you are responsible for does not get you closer to an overarching business goal, then it should not be consuming a lot of your time and energy. Time is money, which means that every minute you spend should be productive, whether in your work or personal life.

     If there is no one to turn to in your company for help, keeping in mind that everyone in the company owes their job to you and may not be the most objective source, hire a coach to help you strategize and escape the state of being constantly overwhelmed. Coaches are able to provide a truly objective perspective and show you how to effectively perform and delegate individual tasks so that your company and your work-life balance benefit.

 

You Need to Be Accountable     

     Maybe you have written down all of your goals and the strategies to get you there, but you simply are not achieving those goals. If that’s the case, you could use some accountability from outside of your company.

     A good coach can come in and help you determine which goals are and are not realistic and help you develop methods for achieving them. They will also stay in contact with you regularly to help you monitor your progress, applying a healthy pressure to help you stay on task and hit your milestones.

     By the way, accountability is also an essential characteristic of your personal life. A coach can help ensure you are distributing the appropriate amount of time and energy across all aspects of your life. Some entrepreneurs ask friends or family members to hold them accountable for their professional and business goals. While this works for some, the people closest to you may not know how precisely to keep you accountable. Asking you to do so can negatively impact the relationship.

     Business coaches know that accountability is part of the job. They won’t think twice about calling you out for mistakes or providing the necessary fire for you to make critical decisions. A good coach will keep you from making poor excuses and come up with strategies that have proven to help others in the industry succeed.

 

You Want More Skills     

     Being a business owner means that you need a broad skill set because you will be responsible for many different tasks. No matter how talented or skilled you are, there is always room for improvement. Whether you lack confidence in your leadership skills or are generally seen as an expert business owner, chances are there are new skills for you to discover.

     Besides the typical leadership skills, you may need to cultivate skills in money management, marketing, mechanical operations, or any number of other specialties within your company. The more skills you possess, the more effectively you can lead and the quicker you can step in when your team needs help with a project.

     The key is to find a business coach who can help you develop the specific skills you are after. If you need to improve your soft skills, look for a coach with experience in that area. If you need to brush up on the financial side of things, find a coach with experience in finances.

 

Finding the Right Business Coach   

     Finding a good business coach is just as important as recognizing that you need a coach. But, most of the time, a simple web search is not enough to connect with the perfect coach. You must consider many factors and potentially speak with many candidates if you are to find a coach that can mesh with your personality and provide the services you need.

     As you look for a coach, analyze each candidate's expertise, such as their background, skills, and knowledge. Also, make sure any coach you are considering hiring has the experience that aligns with the issues you are trying to address.

     Furthermore, what kind of connections does the coach offer? The best coaches work with a network of professionals who they can connect you with to solve any problems the coach themselves cannot solve.

     You will also need a coach with a good attitude. After all, business situations can be extremely stressful. The last thing you need is for an impatient and irritable coach to make matters worse. Once you think you have found the right coach, make sure their availability and expectations will meet your needs.

 

Conclusion

     Business ownership is one of the hardest career paths you can take, but it also happens to be among the most fulfilling. With that said, you shouldn’t expect yourself to get through the challenges all by yourself.

     Working with a business coach could do wonders for relieving your stress, helping you make critical business decisions, and helping you develop a work-life balance. If your professional and personal life needs guidance, start looking for a coach today!