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Business Advisor

Taking Inventory of Your Business

How to Save Your Time, Money, and Sanity

Now is a really good time to take inventory of your businesses. This exercise will enhance your ability to continue to run the race with focus, clarity, and direction. Business owners are always on the lookout for ways to save, especially when it comes to time and money. So here are some tips on how to assess where your business stands right now in order to make some positive changes in your business and personal lives.

1. Reevaluate your business operations and expenses. Consider what other value you can add to enhance your product, or perhaps add complementary services. Take the time to study your business.

Cut expenses to the barest minimum. For example, consider hiring an intern to manage your website instead of a paid consultant or company. An intern would benefit from the opportunity to enhance his/her portfolio, and may charge you a reduced rate for such services. If you pay for a direct fax line, check out eFax (www.efax.com) for free fax services (with limited amount of faxes; but, hey, this won’t matter if all you’ll need it for is within those limitations). Packetel P Fax (www.packetel.com) currently has a special of $3.65 per month for unlimited faxing. How about shaving off costs on your monthly web hosting fees? BlueHost.com is advertising unlimited domains and hosting space for only $6.95 a month.

Anyway, you get the point . . . find ways to do the things you still need to continue doing to operate your business, but for less money!

2. Reevaluate your personal life You should ask yourself some deeper questions during this slow time (assuming you’re still not so crazy busy working 14- to 16-hour days!). Dig deep to find out why you are doing what you’re doing. Is it because you are really passionate about it? Being in business should be an extension of who you are and what you love. What’s the point of giving your precious to something that doesn’t really bring fulfillment? Are there other things you can do in life, is there something more, or some other greater impact you can have on people?

Take advantage of the extra time you currently have to really take stock of your life in general so tha,t when this slow season is over, you come out stronger on the other side and do the things you really love and enjoy, all while making a profit (can’t forget that!)

3. Manage your time. The social media revolution has improved our personal and business lives tremendously. However, learning to manage how much time you spend online is a huge task. We are all bombarded daily with emails, but you can schedule when you write your messages and check your in-box. Maybe once in the morning and once in the afternoon, say at 10 a.m. and at 3 p.m. Create an autorespond message that tells senders that you will respond to emails during these set times only. Do the same with phone calls. Have a set time every day when you make and return phone calls. This structure will help keep people informed but also create a boundary that people will actually respect. In addition, if you blog, tweet, etc., set a day of the week to do it. You can get so wrapped up in Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, among the many other sites, that you get nothing done!

4. Create a plan. Figure out the things you need to do to increase business—bringing in new clients or offering additional valuable services to your existing clients. Work on a simple and consistent marketing plan to stay in touch with the people who have bought from you and trust you. Take a sabbatical for a weekend, a week, or even a month to discover “leaky” areas where you may be losing money, and create ways to boost your bottom line. Write your plan down on paper. Great ideas can emerge during these brainstorming sessions.

5. Take action. Once you’ve created your plan (on paper!), take action. Action is what breathes life into the thoughts you’ve put together in your plan. Sometimes, all you need is a kick in the bottom to take action.

Managing your business requires continuous refinement of processes and activities that produce additional business. This Chinese proverb says it well: One thousand days to learn; ten thousand days to refine.

Let me hear your comments or other thoughts that could be helpful to business owners!

2 Comments

  1. Antonella | | #1

    Activator!
    I found this article quite interesting. In particular I need to concentrate on the "take action".
    many ideas... a lot of enthusiasm to start...lot of planning...but I found somehow to miss an " activator part"... Any suggestion?
    Ciao
    Antonella

  2. User avater
    Dina Lima | | #2

    Activator
    Thank you Antonella for your comments. So, how do you the action going? I would suggest to begin with the end in mind. Paint a picture of the end result you want for your business. Then work your way and create a list of small projects that will eventually lead you to complete your full picture. This could be things such as to improve marketing, to work on a clear marketing message, to outsource tedious tasks, to work on your blog (or start one), to update your website with client testimonails, etc.

    Put in writing or in pictorial format what your final picture is and then concentrate on each small task. When you make a list of all the action items that you know you need to do to accomplish your main goal, it may be VERY overwhelming to the point that you may not even know where to begin. The antidote to this pressure: eat the elephant one bite at a time!

    I would suggest that you CELEBRATE each small milestone that's leading you on the path to your main goal. This will keep you encouraged to continue trucking! The celebration does not need to be something big! Some examples are: treat yourself to that special Starbucks late, or buy a magazine, or get yourself a new pair of shoes or some inexpensive jewelry. The point is to CELEBRATE your accomplishment, kind of like building a "landmarks" of success as you're getting to your final destination. Why do we think we have to wait until the end of something to do this?

    Another recommendation I would make to you is to have a buddy that you can simply share where you want to get and share with him/her the road map (tasks, small projects) that will lead you there. This will not only help you to stay accountable, but will keep the fire burning in your heart as you make progress!

    Does this help you? Have other questions I could help you with?

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