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With every business venture there a significant ups and significant lows but this doesn’t mean that the business is not worth the effort. Most failing or failed business people tell me that it was down to a lack of cash flow. This may have been the case prior to the internet explosion but now days it is just an excuse for not being business savvy. Why do I say this? I say this because nearly everything that you need software or tool wise can be found on the internet for free. ‘What about services I here you say, they’re not free’! No they are not but for this aspect of business you have two choices. You can learn to do it yourself for nothing by researching on the internet or by taking online ‘free’ courses in your chosen subject or by using such sites as www.fiverr.com, www.e-lance.com, www.freelancer.com, and www.o-desk.com.
The number one business tip that all new businesses need to adhere to is:
Put your money where it will be productive.
Below you can find a few money saving tips on how to start and develop an effective and efficient business on a small budget
- Don’t hire staff, outsource.
There are plenty of places that you can outsource your jobs to from virtual assistants to video editing firms. Now days anything can be undertaken cheaply and to be honest from my experience the quality of work is to a high standard because people are using these sites to gain experience, build international portfolios and in most cases to supplement their incomes. Try Fiverr.com for any business related task. If you want a more office based task try o-desk.com, freelancer.com or e-lance.com. We are on all four and do very nicely from these sites. Administration tasks can also be outsourced through a number of sites including www.e-lance.com www.freelancer.com, www.fiverr.com, and www.o-desk.com.
- Don’t layout £$000’s on software packages
Don’t spend huge amounts of money on software that you can get for next to nothing each month. We are not talking about free illegal downloads from share sites. We are talking about gaining the best business software that you need to run your business effectively and efficiently at the least cost possible. We’ll explain what we mean in a moment. But before we go on to explain, we want to point out that large multi-conglomerate organisations are also in a position where they can’t afford to waste money. That’s what makes them successful: they make sure that the right staff, business model and leadership are in place to deal with a growing customer base, product development and international relations, marketing and production. Take a look at why google are so successful:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20130628195308-4802093-google-s-strategy-explained Small businesses need to apply the rules that large businesses do but on a smaller basis to succeed. Don’t go out and buy the best of the best when you are just starting out. You just don’t need it and if you do need it we’ll show you how to get it on a shoestring or for FREE. We like FREE!
So Here we go:
- Bookkeeping: Most small businesses need their bookkeeping doing for them as this is the most time consuming task that the business demands and let’s face it most people run in the other direction or have panic attacks when numbers come in to the frame. You can outsource this to a company like ours that will do all of the hard work and give it back to you in a format you understand or you could outsource it on e-lance. Either way, you don’t have to worry about your books or the cost of employing consultants or staff to take care of it. A one off fee leaves you knowing where you stand. If you decide that you still want to take care of your own books you can find free bookkeeping software from Turbo Cash called Turbocash 5, this appears to be the best free tool available. You can find the free download here: http://www.turbocash.net/
- General Software: Let’s use Adobe Photoshop as an example. It’s a lot of Money and it’s just another software package that you need but can’t afford. You have two options. You can use Irfanview, downloadable for free from a number of sites or you can continue to use Photoshop, but pay monthly by creating an account with Creative Cloud. We spend $8 a month on our subscription and that gives us access to adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Lightroom. This comes to $96 per year and you can cancel at any time. If you are unable to create your own marketing, promotional material you can hire a good graphic designer for all of your needs from here: www.fiverr.com. I have used Fiverr on a personal basis with success for nearly two years now. They have created, movies, flyers, digital artwork, book covers, you name it they’ve created it and I haven’t been unhappy about the work delivered once.
- Customer Relationship Management: ‘What’? I hear you shout. Don’t worry it’s a fancy name for saying: ‘This is how I am going to look after my customers and manage my affairs’. There are so many cheap, value for money CRM packages out there now that you can pay for on a monthly basis. Insightly have a free package which will be good enough for a start-up or newly developing business or you can opt for their $7 a month package which will provide you with everything you need. You can find them here: https://www.insightly.com.
- What about business cards and Flyers: Always have a business card at the ready. Give it to everyone you come in contact with after building rapport with them. Don’t just hand them out or they will go in the bin or wallet never to be used. Most people now do not use business cards they use mobile contacts. So always have your contact details set up in a text so you can text them to potential customers following your rapport building session. Look at every conversation as a potential sale and you won’t go far wrong. If you still want to use business cards then the cheapest place to get them is www.vistaprint.com. They have just about everything you could want for marketing and advertising at a reasonable cost and the quality isn’t bad either.
- Marketing: Yes marketing! It is a major part of your business and if you neglect it you won’t have a business. You can have the best product or service in the world but if no one knows about it, you fail! Marketing can be done in many different ways. Currently social media is the way to go but be sure not to put all of your eggs in one basket. There are many social media platforms out there and whilst it’s important to be on as many as possible the main forums are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Pinterest, Tumblr and Stumble are also good platforms to be seen on.
- Don’t forget about e-mail marketing. Grow your list and send out promotional items, useful free information and value to your customers. You can use mailchimp for this process or through an autoresponder attached to your website. Awebber is by far the best tool for achieving this task and comes at a fee of £19 per month. Mail chimp however, is FREE. If you want to take a look at a review for both tools check here: http://mywifequitherjob.com/mailchimp-vs-aweber-a-comparison-of-two-email-marketing-providers/
- Website: You do not need to hire someone to build a website for you. You do not need to spend £$000’s on website maintenance. If you are a technophobe then use Godaddy. It’s simple and easy to use and they even do the hosting for you. You will need to purchase a domain name which you can do with them too. If you are better able to use computer based programmes WordPress is the best you can get. Be careful though. If you buy from wordpress.com you cannot install plug-ins which you will need to develop your site. Buy from wordpress.org and then download plug-in’s from WordPress. You can take a look here: www.Wordpress.org.
- SEO for your website: ‘What’s that’! Don’t worry it’s just a fancy name to say. This is how google, Bing and other search engines find, track and see your website. It’s one of the ways that you will drive traffic to your website. WordPress provide a free all incorporated plug-in for SEO you do not need to buy one or even download one from any other source. Take a look here to see how google sees your site: http://www.browseo.net/how-google-sees-your-website. Type in a URL at the top and take a look.
- Do not spend hours and hours of your time on the phone looking for customers, it doesn’t work it just drives up your costs and deflates your motivation. The best way of getting local customers is by networking. Join your local business forums or associated forums and mingle, don’t be shy. Rehearse your patter and stick to it. Remembering that people aren’t interested in your product or service they are interested in how it will improve their situation or life experiences. Don’t sell them your product or service; sell them a solution to their problems. The main thing to remember here is that you are an expert whether you think you are or not and people want to listen to your solution for their problem. So give them what they want in a humble way.
- Social media is the next best thing for local and global customers. Make sure you have a positive and ongoing presence and that you provide valuable content on a regular basis. If you can’t figure out what you should be writing about, nip over to www.feebly.com or www.Buzzsumo.com and post other people posts to your site. This is not illegal; you are not steeling anyone else’s work you are helping them to get out there. In helping them you help yourself, and Google will pick up that you have great content on your site. This helps to raise your rankings. We’ll discuss this in a future blog.
Hopefully you’re not feeling too overwhelmed with the information provided and we have done our best to explain the basics of business to you. We have designed a series of blogs to help you get up and running on a shoestring. Each blog is a bite sized chunk to help you get where you want to go.
After reading this blog you should be able to go away and implement it for yourself before you move on to reading stage two of the process. Let’s recap what we’ve covered below:
- Bookkeeping and administration
- Software packages
- Social Media
- Website SEO
Your Business Should Hire a Virtual Assistant (VA)
It’s not rocket science, to grow a business in this economy you have to cut costs and the easiest way to cut costs or to keep your costs down is to hire a virtual assistant rather than a full or part time member of staff. With a VA there are no hidden costs to consider such as payroll costs, sick pay, NI or pension contributions to pay. In fact there aren’t any associated costs attached to a VA apart from the initial cost per project or payment plan.
Most VA’s are their own bosses and work to their own timescales so achieving demanding, out of hours deadlines are not an issue. In most cases they are welcomed. They tend to work around your calendar to give you the benefit of their skills, experience and timescales. VA’s are a value added bonus to any business that is trying to grow.
Below are just some of the reasons why you should hire a virtual assistant to complete your tasks.
- A VA consistently undertaking work that you don’t have time to do.
- There’s no requirement for a physical office.
- There are no organisation expenses as with permanent workers.
- You don’t have to use any cash on representative preparing.
- You won’t pay for any additional time incurred once the price has ben agreed.
- A VA may have aptitudes that you don’t have but require ‘to get the job done’
- A VA thinks about your business as their business
There is so much to do when trying to establish or grow a business, and you the business owner can fast become burnt out and run out of steam. As VA’s we’d love to help you grow your business the easy way and there’s nothing that we can’t do – because there is a team of us just waiting for you to give us the go ahead to work on developing your business.
If you’re interested in the skills and jobs available to you please check out our website: www.hunterhawke.com for details and pricing plans.