Many entrepreneurs start out as a one-man (or woman) show. While this can be challenging, exhausting and incredibly rewarding, ultimate success may not be determined by your business idea, but by how organised you are.
Experienced freelancers and small businesses that are single person operations need to be ultra-organised. Whether you are flying solo for the first time or well established, technology can improve your efficiency and performance. Here are some pointers based on my own experience running a one-man show.
Software and apps
A mobile app runs on smartphones and tablets and is great for working on the go. Don’t let travel or other down times get in the way of staying on top of things.
1. Get in the cloud
Move appropriate information to a secure, cloud based solution. A cloud drive or app keeps your data stored on someone else’s servers and is accessible through the app or from an Internet browser.
* Get organized with cloud apps and software: Google is a great example of an integrated cloud based solution. Download the app to your mobile device and access your email, calendar, contacts and more — anywhere you have connectivity. Cloud solutions will update automatically on all your devices so you never have to worry about syncing up or working on an old version of something.
2. Financials on the go
Inevitably, you will need a decent accounting system — just prepare your first Business Activity Statement (BAS) and you will find out why. You can review or update financials on the go by choosing cloud solutions.
* Accounting: Access your accounts in the cloud from your mobile devices. Ensure you can bill customers by email on the go and record those pesky petty cash expenses as you incur them. Cloud accounting also makes it easy to collaborate with your accountant.
* Banking: Download your bank’s mobile app so that you can pay bills on the run with direct transfers or verify clients have really banked that cheque!
3. Social media
Organize a social media calendar as part of your overall business or marketing plan. Then, get started on your chosen social media platforms sooner rather than later.
* Get social: Get the apps for your chosen social media platforms and spread the word about you and your brand. It may be Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn, but I do most of my social media on the go. This includes responding to incoming client leads and global networking.
* Collaborate and network: Save time and use technology to establish new relationships with people locally (for example with the Business Victoria Facebook Group) and globally (via Twitter).
4. Test and learn
There are many amazing cloud based applications that can revolutionise your small business, and some are free. Try these for starters: MailChimp, SurveyMonkey, Elance, Evernote or Eventbrite.
Keeping up to date with hardware is incredibly important, and with prices plummeting, good hardware is becoming more and more affordable.
1. Mobile phones: Update often and get on a good network. If you are active on social media, you will love the new high quality photos, brighter screens and higher speeds.
2. Tablets: Consider using a wireless mobile tablet for one-on-one interactions. Photos look amazing, and you can work directly through the cloud or update a presentation as you flick through it.
3. Laptops: Update, back up and maintain yours regularly. Turning up to a meeting with a battered old laptop creates a bad impression.
4. Connectivity: This is important. Make sure you have reliable Wi-Fi, mobile phone coverage and Internet connectivity, both at your home base and on the road.
5. Printers and scanners: You probably should be scanning most of your documents and emailing them by now, but upgrade if you haven’t already.
Other things to keep in mind
As a one-man or woman business you still have many of the same obligations a bigger business has with regard to being organised. You need to make decisions on tax, superannuation, insurance, possible incorporation and other registrations, just to name a few. Fortunately, you don’t need to do it all alone. Get good advice: you will need a proactive accountant, a lawyer and possibly a business coach to help you get started or grow! Do your research. See what assistance the local, state or federal small business departments can offer, and start planning for success.