Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Random thoughts for Entrepreneurs

I am sitting here at my desk looking at the sunny skies (a change for us with all the rain here in Southeast Missouri) and thinking of the recent increase in entrepreneurial traffic I am experiencing in my center. It is like someone left the tap on and the drain is clogged with the increased traffic via phone, email and in person.

As I think about the time when I had my own business - yes I got bit by the bug and became an entrepreneur out of necessity. The advertising agency I was working for had closed down, I had no job but thought staying in advertising was what I wanted to do. So I opened shop and went after it. I can honestly say, I wish I knew then what I know now because I would have been successful maybe.

I got out there and talked to previous clients and the media about me buying their media for them. I knocked on a lot of doors, had several hours of meetings and very little results. As I look back, I chuckle at myself and think "how stupid I was."

I did not consider registering with the state, buying insurance, writing a business plan - I did not know anything other than I wanted to open my own media buying shop.

Well I did and in 6 months, I closed shop and went job hunting. Does not sound like a good example for a small business development counselor to admit to in public. It is kinda like admitting I imbibe in adult beverages in front of my mother at her Southern Baptist church.

But I learned from that experience and it provides rich examples for my clients when we talk about are you ready to be an entrepreneur, is your house in order and the many other necessary actions you have to take and consider as you start up a business. I often think back to my personal experiences when I am working with a beginning client and relate my story and question them. Sometimes we uncover decisions that need to be made and other times, we move forward because they have done their homework.

Needless to say, as a entrepreneur, you need to be prepared to face challenges, surprises and take the turns with a roll. I know I did when I decided to close down the advertising firm because I really wanted to do it but I did not have enough business sense to do it. If I had sought out the help of a local counselor or mentor, who knows.

Now when I got involved in the bar business...well that is another story for a later blog. Send me your examples of entrepreneurial turns and let's talk and share. Until next time...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Small Business Organization - Are you ready for a system?

Gotcha - you thought this was going to be about LLC, corporations, partnerships etc didn't you!

Well it is not. In fact I won't even touch on the LLC, corporations and partnership topic at all. How is that for you?

Actually I was reading the other day in one of my magazines and came across an article that I would really sink my teeth into - office clutter and how to get rid of it. Now I am not the neatest person and any visit to my office will attest to that but I tend to be a systems person. One of my co-workers finds my system approach to be way overboard and I fine with that because I am a "let live" person. But I know my system works for me.

Well let's on with the topic of this blog - office clutter.

I firmly believe that an organized workspace helps small business owners stay on top of their business. You always know where the project is, the invoices are or the next to do list. You are organized and the clean work environment helps you stay that way. The staying that way is probably the hardest trick.

The tips the article gave were pretty good. I will list them here and hope for some discussion from the readers out there in internet world. I will of course provide my opinion also.

Tip #1 - Clean out/Straighten up - Here I am talking about keeping your workspace free. I find I can always work more efficiently if my desk is clear of unnecessary papers, files even pens/pencils. I can get frustrated with the lack of space when working if I have an over crowded desktop. I often do that with my PC desktop also. I decide that needs to go into the trash, be filed, or created a file for it and then file it away. To make sure I don't forget about it, I have a task listing I use daily to help plan my work. Each project I am working on is put into file and on that task list. Some days that task list has saved my behind and other days it only made for a frustrating day of never getting to the to do list.

Tip #2 - Once you find a home, make it a home - Everything on your desk, office or work environment is searching for its home. You should decide what goes here and work hard to keep it there when not in use. I find this tip to be the hardest. I am so bad for getting something out, using it and then laying it down. Only to have to hunt for it later when I need it again. How frustrating is that I tell you? Some suggestions here are lateral files, wall hanging file keepers, desk top file keepers etc. It depends on your personality but if you have to keep in the projects out front, then make it happen. Or if you are like me and prefer to do lists, keep the to do list up to date and use it.

Tip #3 - Plan for your work flow when organizing - I learned a long time ago to keep my phone on the left and my paper and pens on the right. I am right handed and when I am on the phone, I take notes. So that set up keeps me from switching hands in mid-stream each time I am on the phone. I also keep the most used office supplies close to the top of my desk so they are handy. The office items I use the least are located in the bottom desk drawer or on the left side of the desk. Just me but it works for me.

Tip #4 - PC clean up - If you keep a junky office, chances are you keep a junky PC. Clean it up. Run file clean up software to take care of the debugging, cache, formatting, etc. Each time I do it, I am always surprised at the junk I have accumulated on my PC (Yes I am a PC guy.) This also goes for security/virus updates. Nothing is more frustrating then when you are working and the computer shuts down and the circle of death appears. A tip the article mentioned that I just did recently, is bundle your power cords together. I was so surprised when I did this and my physical desktop and floor all looked so much cleaner.

Tip #5 - Consistency - Once you got it all planned out, then keep it that way. How hard is that to do? Believe me it is hard but once you get into the habit, then you start to see the improvements in your work and you keep doing it.

So tell me what your "system" is for reducing office clutter. Share some tips and what works and what does not work.

Until next time.....