It may not have a splashy storefront, an eye-catching neon sign, or a gaggle of go-getting employees, but your home-based business doesn’t need any of those things to thrive. After all, it offers top-notch products and services, provides excellent customer care, and, most importantly, it has you–the most dedicated and hard-working employee your business will ever have. And you will do anything to help your home business–your baby–achieve its full potential.

home business If you are eager to take your home business to the next level, here are a few easy and cost-effective ways to get started.

A Professional Web Site

While bricks and mortar stores have stunning signage and window displays to welcome their customers, you can become equally “present” by creating a professional website. A well-designed site will enable you to develop a brand image, showcase your products and services, make it easy for customers to contact you, and provide links to your blog or social media platforms.

And, as Entrepreneur‘s “10 Ways to Grow Your Home-Based Business” adds, creating a web site no longer involves a huge outlay of cash as do-it-yourself sites are now available for less than $30 per month with no technical knowledge required.

A Social Media Presence

If you wish to build your customer base, you will need to hit the hot spots where the people are hanging out–and, the hottest spots around are popular social media platforms. And, as an added bonus, they are free.

The hottest spot of all is Facebook with Twitter placing second, but depending on the type of business you are in, you may want to tap into some of the other platforms as well. If you offer a professional service or a largely B2B enterprise, you may wish to consider LinkedIn. If your business lends itself to visuals, you will want to operate a Pinterest account. Familiarize yourself with the different social media venues available and choose the ones that suit your business best.

And, remember, as Insightly’s “Like Bears to Honey: Find that Sweet Social Media Spot for Your Audience” warns, “the end game here should not be to make direct sales, but rather to create long time customers who keep coming back for more because they know they can trust you.”

A Platform for your Prowess

One great way to build brand loyalty and win the trust–and business–of your customers is to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. And there are several ways to do this.

One effective method involves creating a blog that is designed to discuss industry matters, educate consumers, and, of course, entertain your audience. WordPress, for example, offers an easy-to-use platform that even the blogging beginner can master without difficulty.

You may wish to conduct a seminar in person or strut your stuff on a YouTube video. And, as “10 Marketing Tools for Home-Based Businesses” suggests, offering to speak for local organizations, trade associations, or other gatherings will help you reach a wider audience.

A Thirst for Knowledge

One great way to grow your business is to grow your mind. The more you learn about your industry and the world of business in general, the better equipped you will be to defeat the competition and take your company to the next level.

Connect with industry experts through LinkedIn. Invite them to compose guest posts for your blog. And join industry organizations. If you’d like to learn business techniques, take a course at your local college, join the Chamber of Commerce to meet other business people, and embrace mastering new technologies.

man-on-laptop

Who needs a splashy storefront to attract customers? Certainly not you. By following a few easy steps, you can transform your humble home-based business into a force to be reckoned with.

If you need help accomplishing the first step–setting up your website– you may want to check out “The Do’s and Don’ts of Launching a Website for Your Home Business.”

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger who operates her own home business. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project.

Images courtesy of Thinkstock.com

You’ve done it! You have officially created the next big item–the greatest thing to hit the marketplace since wheels became round and bread got sliced. Yes, your thingamajig is exactly what the world has been waiting for. The only problem is that you have no idea how to take the next step–turning your brilliant idea into a tangible product available for sale. And making a return on your investment.

invention

There are several paths that you can take in order to bring your new product to the marketplace.

The DIY Path

Before embarking on a quest of this magnitude, it is important to ask yourself some big questions–and answer them honestly and realistically. Do you have the desire and the ability to commit your time and money into manufacturing, marketing, and distributing your thingamajig? Do you possess the knowledge, confidence, and stick-to-itiveness to see this monumental task to fruition? If you can truthfully say “yes,” to these questions, this may be the route for you.

While a patent is not a must-have in order to do this, “The Three Most Common Ways to Make Money from Your Invention” warns that if you “start selling your invention, or otherwise disclose it, and one year passes, you can kiss any hope of getting a patent goodbye.” It is also important to be realistic about the capital required for such a massive undertaking. Depending on the type of product, the manufacturing process, and the raw materials required, you may need to partner with investors. You will also need to become well-versed on how to start and operate a business and create a solid business plan.

If you are new to the world of entrepreneurialism, you may wish to start small by selling your thingamajig in your local market. This enables you to iron out any wrinkles in your supply chain, develop a small-scale marketing campaign, and test your product before making a sizeable investment. Selling at local stores, trade shows, fairs, and other public venues will enable you to generate some income while learning the ropes. Other options you could explore include setting up an online store or selling your product on a home shopping channel.

The License Path

This is a viable option for anyone who wishes to retain some control over their brainchild, but does not want to bite off the huge time and financial commitment involved in the DIY option. In this scenario, you will require a patent. You then license the rights to manufacture, market, distribute, and sell your thingamajig to another party. In return you will receive a set fee, a royalty on each unit sold, or a combination of both. According to “How to Make Money from Your Inventions,” these royalties vary from less than once percent of net sales up to about eight percent, but the majority range from three to six percent. While this may seem like a small return, it is important to note that the licensee is the one assuming all of the business risks.

The Sale Path

If you would simply like to sell your patent for a profit and move on to your next big invention, this option may appeal to you. You will have to secure a patent as no one will actually pay money for an “idea.” It is also important to remember that as “Turning an Invention Idea into Money” states, once you sell your patent, you have permanently transferred ownership and that any future financial gains such as royalties will no longer be yours. You will be kissing your brainchild goodbye.

Selecting a path is a life-changing decision. If you are unsure of what route is best for you, “How to Become a Successful Inventor” recommends seeking the help of professionals who are experts in the field of making your inventions materialize.

There you have it. You are one giant step closer to unveiling your thingamajig to an eager public. And seriously fattening up your wallet. So go ahead and do your happy jig.

What advice can you offer a budding inventor?

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer, avid blogger, and lover of thingamajigs. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

Many entrepreneurs are just looking for the inspiration to get out there and do it — to develop that idea, to prototype that product or start that blog. For many of us, shows like “Shark Tank” really get the blood boiling, get the creative juices flowing and convince us to put our ideas into play.

If you haven’t been watching “Shark Tank,” you may want to give it a shot. On the show, entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to potential investors (Sharks). If an investor is interested, they may wind up with backing for their ideas. Other than the inspiration that an entrepreneur can draw, the show also contains some life lessons…

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photo US Fish & Wildlife Service Headquarters

1. Emotional Selling

One of the most important things to learn about marketing is that you can’t sell on numbers alone. Investors, customers, and clients are not looking to spend two percent less on their budget or looking for moderate improvements: they’re looking for adventure, for a dream, for something that will enrich their lives or their businesses. Sell on that.

2. The Deal Doesn’t Close at the End of the Pitch

In some episodes, a pitch actually falls through after already being picked up. Don’t assume that you’ve crossed the finish line just because the pitch session has ended and hands have been shaken. Make sure that the money is in your account before you take the next step.

3. Leave a Spot Open for an Obvious Suggestion

A lot of the pitches on “Shark Tank” aren’t quite perfect until the investors offer some advice of their own to improve the pitch. Investors don’t just want to put in the money and get their returns, they often want to be a part of the whole process. By leaving them an opening, you can win them over.

4. Play to Your Strengths

If you want to pitch an idea that relies on a strength that you don’t have, then you’ll need to bring on a partner or an employee who does. If you want to sell exercise equipment but you don’t have an impressive physique, then you hire an athlete as a spokesperson. The same goes for any sort of pitch. As you pitch your social media management business, for example, show potential investors your social media history.

5. Things Aren’t Always as They Seem

Remember that “Shark Tank” is not the unvarnished reality of the business world. It is a television show, and it must be more dramatic than the reality if they’re going to keep people watching. The investors aren’t as successful as they are presented as being, so bear that in mind when making your own pitches: we all like to pretend to be more important and more successful than we really are. The series stands as an interesting example of crowdsourcing, and an inspiration for entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs alike.

If you haven’t watched it yet, see if you can get hooked at www.directtvdeal.com.

Entrepreneur working from home looking very relaxed in his sofa browsing the web in his laptop computerTo some, working from home is a blessing. With working a full-time job, taking care of your three children and keeping your household in tact, it can be difficult commuting to the office every day. More and more people are taking advantage of working from home.

In 2010, about 4.3 percent of the American workforce spent the majority of the week at home; 9.5 percent worked at home at least one day per week, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

For most people, it’s all too easy to become distracted when working from home. The average person can focus on work for 11 minutes before becoming distracted, according to a study conducted at the University of California, Irvine, that was recently featured in the Dallas Morning News. And once distracted, it takes 25 minutes to return to the original task according to the study.

So how can you keep yourself from becoming distracted while working from home? Here are some simple tips to follow:

The Home Office is Crucial

Think of your home office just like you would your work office — don’t slack off on the necessities. To be productive you need a professional quality workspace. You won’t be productive if you have your home office in the corner of the kitchen, with a make shift table and sorry excuse for a computer monitor. At the very least, you need somewhere that’s quiet with the ability to shut the door. Make sure you have these things:

  • Computer monitor
  • High-speed internet
  • Good lighting (large windows, desk lamps or overhead lighting)
  • Work desk and comfortable chair
  • Pens, paper, stapler, binder clips, etc.

Don’t be afraid to add some fun, personal touches to your workspace too: pictures, framed artwork, anything that gets your creative juices flowing.

Keep Bills Separate

When running a small business don’t want to mix personal purchases with business purchases. Get separate bank accounts, one for the business and another for personal use, to keep your finances in check. If you need to get a new work chair or your desk is falling apart, make sure to charge the purchase to your small business cards so that you can keep track of all the money coming in and out of the business account.

Check Your Email. . . But Not Frequently

When working from home it’s easy to become little paranoid that you’re missing important office discussions. You find yourself checking your email more frequently than you would at the office. To keep yourself from checking your email nonstop, keep these tips in mind:

  • Schedule specific times to check and respond to emails. A good schedule to keep is to check when you first start your work day, before lunch, after lunch, and at the end of the day. Include a phone number where you can be reached in your email signature, so people can get in touch with you about urgent matters.
  • When there’s a lull in your work day, go ahead and check your email. It’s best to check your email at times when you’re least productive.
  • When you’re not using your email, turn off the visual or audible alerts, which will only distract you.

Create a Routine

When working from home start each day like you would going into work. Take your shower, get dressed and eat breakfast in the same time period you do on a traditional work day. Make a set schedule and keep it: by setting up regular work hours, break times and meetings, it will keep you consistent and efficient. If you need help staying focused and organized, create a to-do list detailing your daily tasks.

In a world where job security is no longer guaranteed, setting up your own business is looking more and more like a viable option. Indeed, for some, it is perhaps the only option. So what makes someone a success in business, where others fail?

Whilst there’s no golden formula, there are a few ways you can help yourself be the success you want to be.

1. Money

Your business is built on money, and any good entrepreneur needs to be able to handle the cash. From what comes into the business from sales to what goes out on operating costs, as a business owner you need to control and know about your finances.

Get organized and make spreadsheets which detail your expenses. If it’s needed, contact an accountant to help. This might not be an option at the beginning, but get an idea of what sort of cost could be involved. And as your business grows, this could be something you hand over to someone to do.

2. Build An Expert Reputation

Know that expert that appears on TV or writes a weekly column in your local paper? They’ve established themselves as an expert. What goes along with this is the perception that an expert knows what they’re talking about. They understand their field inside and out. And it’s who people go to when they want advice, help or have work that needs done.

So if your business is property, then why not try to pitch for a breakfast time TV slot talking about property prices in your area? Maybe you’re starting a child care service? Then write for a publication on your child discipline tips.

What this brings back are opportunities, and more specifically, business contacts and prospects. And when people find someone whose work they like, they go back to them. They also recommend that person to others . And so your reputation and business perpetuates.

3. Make Yourself An Expert

Following on from the idea of creating a reputation as an expert, this has to be the reality. If you’re serious about what you do, you need to aim to be the best. Understand your niche. Get a grasp of who is doing what and who is important in your field. This doesn’t have to be on a national level, concentrating on a local level is just as effective to begin with, and then build on this. Network and make contacts. People need to know who you are and what you do.

And read. Just because you went to a University and studied this subject or got an MBA (or maybe you don’t have any formal schooling) doesn’t mean that you know it all. Newspapers, online content, social media and industry bibles are all packed with articles and ideas. Get out and about and go to trade shows and business events. Not only will this bulk up your knowledge on your subject, but it will also get your face and name out there.

4. Work, Work, Work

Working for yourself or from home requires discipline. Whether it be the TV that’s within arm’s reach or the Facebook black hole that you could plunge into, you need to be focused. However, the flip side of this is working too much. Because this can be just as useless. Spending too much time working can lead to health problems, like stress and being burnt out. It could also lead to mistakes. So having time off is just as important.

To combat both of these, begin with making a work schedule. This ought to build in what needs done on certain days if, for instance, it’s deadline dependent. That’s not to say your schedule has to be rigid. Try to allow for things to move; nothing is ever set in stone and people have a habit of changing their minds.

5. Do What You Love

If you enjoy what you do, it’s reflected in the amount of work you put in. Driven by passion or personal goals is likely to rub off on your business. It will show in what you produce and the smile on your face as you meet or communicate with clients. And at the end of the day, life is short, so if you can, why not spend it doing something you actually enjoy?

And when it comes to working for yourself, the world is your oyster. Because there’s never been a better time to be self-employed. The field you go into will depend on what suits you and the skills you have.

For those creative minds out there, writing can be a source of revenue. Or indeed, those looking for careers in marketing, too. Craftsmen and tradesmen also offer decent self-employment opportunities, as do those who work in the leisure or hospitality industries. But whatever your chosen field, try to stay positive, work hard and enjoy yourself.

About the Author:

Sarah MacLennan opted to become self employed a year ago and would recommend it to anyone. She freelances for different websites and often writes for Academic Knowledge, a firm that offers essay writing help for students.

Client feedback, responses, testimonials, and reviews are the best friend of just about any businessman and/or entrepreneur. Especially if you own your own company or operate on a freelance basis, the feedback and responses you get from your clients can serve a wide variety of purposes.

Of course, it can be tough to make sense of all the things your clients have to say, and it can be tough to figure out the best way to capture and then utilize this information. We’ll talk about some of the best ways to make sure that your clients know how to respond to the work you did, and when you get that response, we’ll discuss the best ways that you can respond to it so that your business grows and ultimately makes you more money.

Your clients should have clear and direct channels for feedback so that anyone who has anything to say knows exactly where they can go to say it. If you’ve ever heard the expression that a satisfied customer tells one friend about his or her experience while a dissatisfied customer tells ten, that’s because it’s true. And while making it clear that your customers have a place to make their voices heard, if they don’t like your services (or, of course, if they do) then you can project some serious confidence in your abilities and the level of work that you can offer. Knowing that there’s a specific place to leave feedback also makes your clients feel well-taken-care-of and understand that you’re concerned primarily with their satisfaction.

Your client feedback is, of course, important for you and your business. It’s foolish to operate from a place of superiority and assume that there’s little you might need to adjust or change about your business and the way you run it. If you get negative feedback try and make sure that you respond in kind and offer your unhappy client with the proper restitution or a solution for how you intend to solve that problem in the future. (Even if this isn’t offered to the client, it should be thought of on your end.)

Positive feedback, however, is the best thing you can possibly ask for. Not only does it make you feel great about the job you’re doing, but it’s marketing gold. Recorded videos or statements are great ways to build your social proof and show to other potential clients that they have nothing to worry about. Few things set a potential customer’s mind at ease by seeing direct evidence that other customers have been made very happy, and you can give yourself multiple ways to do that by making sure you get customers to leave recorded feedback.

No matter how you obtain or use them, business reviews are important to just about any business. Especially if you’re a freelance worker, it’s important that you monitor and interact with your client feedback so you can accurately judge how well you’re meeting the needs of your clients on a regular basis.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Many people dream of opening their own stay-at-home business. But creating a successful business at home isn’t as fun or as easy as you might think. Just like any job, it requires hard work, dedication, and a little bit of luck.

Today, I’m going to teach you the 5 steps on how to run a successful business from your own home.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Business

There are thousands of different businesses you can start from home. Some people create websites, while others sell crafts at farmer’s markets. No matter what kind of home business you choose, make sure you actually enjoy doing it. As fun as working from home may seem, it gets old fast if you don’t like your job.

Choosing which business to get into can be the hardest step for any aspiring entrepreneur. Brainstorm some business ideas by thinking of things you’re good at.

Do you have a particular hobby that you’re interested in? What do you like to do in your spare time? What kind of products do you buy? Is there anything unique about you that could differentiate your business?

Some work-from-home entrepreneurs choose a niche that they are particularly skilled at. Other people find a niche that has potential in their local area. Once you’ve found a niche that works for you, move on to the next step.

Step 2: Research Your Niche

Once you’ve written down a few different business ideas, start researching your niche to see what your competition is doing. Find out how people are making money in the line of work you’ve chosen. Search Google for your business idea to discover what a stay-at-home business in that industry is like.

Try to find blogs written by people who work in that industry. Does your niche have a bright future? Or is it in decline? What do people who work in your niche think about your business idea?

If you want to sell beaded necklaces, for example, a quick Google search will turn up thousands of entries. How will you make your beaded necklaces different from everybody else’s? What are your competitors doing in order to generate sales?

Of course, you don’t have to sell your beaded necklaces online. Look in your local newspaper or phone book to find out if people are offering a similar product in your area. If you don’t see any competition, then you may be able to capitalize on that market.

Whether you’re selling crafts or working in online advertising, there are thousands of stay-at-home business ideas out there. Spend some time researching your ideas before moving on to the next step. If you jump into a niche before researching it properly, you’re just going to end up back at Step 1.

Step 3: Design a Business Plan

Not all work-from-home jobs require you to make a formal business plan. However, you should have some idea of where your business is going. How much will you have to spend in start-up costs? How much money will you make per sale?

Will you operate your work-at-home business full-time? Or will you continue to support yourself with another job? Remember, your business may not make money for the first few months (or years) of operation. How long can you afford to support yourself?

You should also think about work load. Will you need to hire employees? Or can you manage the entire business yourself? Operating a business requires a lot of work, and you’re bound to fail if you take on more work than you can handle.

Step 4: Work Hard, Stay Motivated, and Advertise

You’ve chosen your niche, researched the competition, and designed a business plan. The next step is to devote your time, energy, and money to your business idea. Think of this step as starting a fire: you’re going to need a lot of resources to start off with, but once you’ve created a spark, your business will start to take off.

Creating the first spark can be tough. Try giving away discounted review copies of your product. Ask people what they think. Take out ads in your local newspaper or start up a website to generate online sales. In the age of social media, a single Twitter account can change the entire face of your business. Use social media to your advantage. After all, it’s free!

Even people who love their job need to take a break from it occasionally. Don’t be afraid to take a few days off of work and come back with a refreshed outlook. This keeps your motivation high and can give you some new ideas on how to improve your business.

Step 5: Tweak and Optimize Your Business

Once you’ve started generating sales, it’s time to tweak and optimize your system. Bad business owners sit back and watch the profits roll in. Good business owners critique their work to see where they can improve.
If your work-at-home business is really starting to take off, think of hiring some extra help.

Many people who work-at-home will hire a spouse or child to work for them – even if it’s just on a part-time basis. Would that help you generate more sales? Make your business as efficient as possible. Make sure there are no barriers between your customers and a sale.

Conclusion

If operating a business from home was easy, everybody would be doing it. Some days, you’re going to wake up and feel unmotivated. Other days, you may feel like your business isn’t going anywhere.
However, if you keep your final goal in mind and work hard at every step of the way, your work-from-home business is bound to be successful. Good luck!

About the Author

Theresa Moyer has a passion for writing and loves to make diaper cakes at ediapercakes.com.

Since February of this year (2012), there’s been a dramatic shift in the business world’s perception of online fundraising platform Kickstarter and its ability to be a game-changer in the world of venture capital.

Just three months ago, an iPhone dock called the Evolution Dock became the first Kickstarter campaign to reach $1 million in pledges, after setting a goal of just $75,000. In March, an adventure video game by Double Fine Productions reached $3 million. That figure was then vastly surpassed in May by the Pebble watch, a device that syncs iPhone and Android phones with a wristwatch controller (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/597507018/pebble-e-paper-watch-for-iphone-and-android).

With a week left on its campaign, the Pebble had topped a whopping $10 million. Over 67,000 people committed to backing the watch before it had ever even reached production.

What does this mean for you and your home business?

Rethinking Capital Investments

Until recently, starting a new business often involved a bank loan. In time, the business owner would pay this off, with interest, hoping that their enterprise would catch on and pay itself off quickly.

Kickstarter removes that risk. The website takes a relatively modest 5 percent of your earnings as a fee, but they also offer an invaluable marketing portal that attracts potential backers to your page who you might never find through traditional social networking.

Ideas are presented through a video. Make sure this is a high-quality portrayal of your concept or product. People bought the Pebble before they’d ever held one in their hand because its video convinced them that they needed it.

Without Kickstarter, the creators of Pebble never would have ordered as many watches as they’ll now be shipping out — the risks would have been far too high. They asked for $100,000 because they knew there was a market, but they couldn’t guess it would be as far-reaching as it turned out to be.

Their risk was removed, and they now have the capital and the crucial market information to proceed with mass production.

How Does This Apply to Your Business?

You don’t need to have a million-dollar idea to use Kickstarter. The example set by products with worldwide appeal has relevance at a local level as well. Whether you do freelance accounting work or help authors to proofread their manuscripts, you can use Kickstarter within your existing network.

Let’s say you need a new computer and printer for your home office, but you’re short on the funds to make an outright purchase. Why not offer your clients the chance to ‘pay it forward?’ Launch a Kickstarter campaign, even if it’s only for $1,000. Make a fun video explaining how the money will help you do your job better (improving the work you do for them), and ask them to support it.

The success of this boils down to your rewards. 54 percent of Kickstarter campaigns fail, and that’s often the result of poorly compensating backers. No one wants to give money away for free, so unless you’re a charitable non-profit, don’t use Kickstarter to ask for handouts.

Similarly, if people are paying in advance on good faith that you’ll deliver a product or service, you need to give them a deal.

Charge Less Than They’d Pay By Waiting

The Pebble, for example, sold to 40,800 people for $115 on Kickstarter. They recognized the value in buying early, before it hit retail shelves at $150.

Kickstarter’s 5 percent fee includes feedback and help from their staff. The company wants to make money on your project, too, so they’ve got a vested interest in helping to make sure that your concept is successful. If you don’t meet your goal, the backers’ credit cards aren’t charged and you receive nothing.

Once you’ve put together your video and rewards, don’t just trust your campaign to sell itself. Kickstarter’s portal will bring people to your page, but the more people that visit, the higher it will rank. When you launch, email the link to everyone you know and post it on Facebook and Twitter. The first step is for people to find your page — once they’re at it, you need to hook them with a video and secure the sale with a good deal on your product or service.

Oftentimes, what seems like just a hobby can turn lucrative. One of the most successful campaigns yet is for a set of lock-picking tools. A competitive lock-picker designed his own tools for breaking into padlocks, and then decided that he’d like to share his skill with others. Schuyler Towne asked for just $6,000. The $87,407 he raised is the start of a new career for him (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/schuyler/lockpicks-by-open-locksport/posts).

Working from home is more attractive than ever, and there’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. In just four years, 20,000 projects have been successfully funded on the site. Can yours be next?

What ideas do you have that might work as a Kickstarter campaign?

Entrepreneurs live a little differently from everyone else.

If you are trying to grow or start up a business, you will spend most of your day juggling essential everyday tasks, business-growth initiatives, and keeping up with changes in your industry. Oh, and you need to find time for family and/or a life outside of work.

So how can you best manage your time and get your to-do lists completed each week?

Well, it mostly comes down to structure and organization. I know, boring, right? However, as lame as being structured and organized sounds, you can rest assured that once you get a couple of simple strategies in place, the results you will achieve are far from lame!

Here are my top 5 tips for managing your time and achieving results.

1. Don’t Fill Up Your Diary

If your schedule is often left so tight that there is little room for any flexibility, you need to cut back on your meetings and appointments. While meetings with staff, partners or industry associates fuel business growth, they don’t allow you to actually get any work done.

Additionally, if you have a day full of appointments, the day will be stressful and you will end up worrying more about the time involved with getting to each appointment on time, and less time on essential pre-meeting preparation.

2. Schedule Time for the Tasks You Hate Doing

If you hate doing your monthly accounts, writing blog posts, sending out invoices or other dull tasks that are essential for keeping your business going, set times to complete them. For example, make a Thursday morning your scheduled time to do your monthly accounts and bookkeeping.

Don’t be like some entrepreneurs and think you’re too talented or brilliant for mundane tasks; unless you can afford to pay someone else to do it, suck it up and get to work!

3.Understand Your Goals and Prioritize Your Tasks

Prioritizing your tasks is crucial, but you won’t know what your priorities are if you don’t understand your goals. Entrepreneurs are renowned for coming up with fantastic ideas, but not always following through with those ideas in a practical sense.

With this in mind, you need to separate your tasks into either proactive tasks (ones that keep the business running and make you money now) and reactive tasks (tasks that will make you money in future). Aim to spend 70% of your time on proactive tasks and dedicate the remaining time to reactive tasks.

4. Block Out Time-Sucking Websites

Everyone is guilty of procrastinating online at some point, and websites like Facebook and Twitter only fuel the fire. Thankfully, there are software options and browser plug-ins that allow you to limit your time spend on websites that aren’t necessary for work purposes.

Here are a few to check out:

SelfControl for Mac
Leechblock for Firefox
StayFocused for Chrome

5.Take Regular Breaks During Work Sessions

Not only is it going to make you more productive and help you manage your time better, but getting away from your computer is also important for your eye and skeletal health. Taking a 10 minute break twice per day to walk out of the office and give some thought to the tasks you have at hand is 10 minutes well spent!

This is often overlooked by some entrepreneurs who get stuck into a task and don’t want to end their work session prematurely. However, if you implement this technique for as little as one week, I guarantee you will achieve a clearer mind and be able to tackle tasks with greater focus.

Hot tip: Set an alarm on your phone for 11am and 3pm, or whenever it is that you choose to take your 10 minute breaks. This will prompt you to take your break. Additionally, it will also provide a signal to anyone around you, such as staff or family members (if you work from home) that it is time for you to take your break from your work.

How do you manage your time on a day-to-day basis? Share your tips and struggles by leaving a comment below.

About the Author:

Alice is an education specialist for SaleHoo.com. SaleHoo connects over 92,000 eBay sellers and online retailers with suppliers all over the world. Their product range includes a wholesale supplier directory, and eCommerce software

As a new business owner or entrepreneur, you take all the wisdom you can get, and you look for it everywhere. While a business mentor, friends in a similar situation, or old colleagues are all wonderful resources, there is an abundance of information in places that you may have overlooked.

LinkedIn

When it comes to churning out fresh ideas, you can become burnt out after a few short months. Whether you need creative capital raising ideas or new customer generation tips, you’ll find it on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is unique in that you’ll find all professionals – experts in their fields – looking to chat or connect.

There are a variety of ways to utilize this tool.

  • Groups: This is one of the best ways to get professional opinions. Join an existing group, or create your own. Put one question out and get dozens of answers.
  • Connections: Is there someone in your field whom you admire? Connect with or message them. Put your question out there. As a fellow entrepreneur, it is likely that they will be happy to oblige with an answer or opinion.

Blogs

With an estimated over 1 billion blogs across the world, according to hattrickassociates.com, it’s safe to assume you can find a blog on any topic you’re looking for. Blogs are a great resource for easy to digest information that can be used right away. As an entrepreneur, you have much to learn from the successful blogpreneurs out there.

Here’s what you can expect to find…

  • General: Articles on topics such as best marketing practices for the small business owner can be a source of new ideas or a way to spot weaknesses in your current plan.
  • Specifics: If your strength is not the finance or investor aspect of business, search for blogs that deal entirely with that. Most blogs are written in an informative and easy to understand style that can help with otherwise difficult subjects.
  • Tutorials: Building a website or pricing your product isn’t something that comes as inherent knowledge. Step by step tutorials can get you through without spending cash on hiring a professional.
  • Your Niche: See what other people in your niche are talking about in their blogs. This can help you discover holes in your business plan or social media marketing efforts.

Google Alerts

When you start a business, it’s important that you are in tune with the current events that could have an effect on you. While there are a variety of sources you can visit, Google Alerts allows you to specify what you want to know about, and then scours the web for the most recent content on that topic. Delivered to your inbox, it couldn’t be easier to stay in the know.

Here’s how to use it:

  • Time: Decide how frequently you want your news rounded up; once a day, once a week, or as it happens.
  • Subject: Put in literally any subject; cars, computer software, website design, French cooking. It’s completely customizable to what you want.
  • Type: You can choose what form of information you want them to look for. Decide between news, blogs, discussion, video or books.

Friends

It seems trivial, but simply being in tune with different aspects of conversation between friends can be helpful. There are a variety of ways your friends can be a useful resource for you, without even knowing it.

  • Customer relations: What do your friends complain about when they leave a store? Crabby cashiers, poor return policies, incompetent staff. If your friends represent any portion of the average consumer, you can be sure their complaint isn’t the first of its kind. Ensure that you don’t make those mistakes in your business.
  • Fresh content: If you are blogging or freelancing for a living, look beyond the surface of your conversations. What do they have questions or concerns about? If you have answers for them, they are likely useful for others as well. Use those questions or answers for new articles, posts, etc.

Being an entrepreneur means that you are resourceful by nature. Take advantage of that innate instinct, and make the most of everything and everyone around you. From blogs to the friends you see every day, there are ideas and inspiration everywhere; you just have to know where to find it.

Jessica Sanders is an avid small business writer touching on topics from social media to telemarketing. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including medical billing software for lead generation resource, Resource Nation.