10 Steps to turn your Layoff into a Payoff

by techenet on September 7, 2009

toughtimes

Everyone dreams of being their own boss and with the economy’s current woes and downturn, more and more people are doing just that, looking to go freelance and start a Small Business.  It’s a trend, and right now it’s THE trend.  For some it will work out, for some it won’t, but for all of them it will be work – it always is.
Let’s not fool ourselves.  The longing to do what WE want is intoxicating.  It’s that dream of dreams of the entrepreneurial spirit that fuels us into these fantasies.  And often we jump right in without thinking, or think so much we never get our feet wet.
So take a seat, lean back and let’s look at some steps to turning your lay off into a better and brighter day.cashandcheck

  1. Plan.  Did you hear me?  I said plan.  Yes I know you’ve got the perfect product that everyone needs and they don’t have time to wait.  But if you don’t plan, and plan sufficiently enough that someone else would actually think of giving you money based on that plan, then that product everyone needs will never arrive into their proverbially needy hands.
  2. Incorporate.  A little tip: No matter what you incorporate your business as, you can always either change the name, or use a DBA.  So don’t wait until you’ve picked the perfect name before you get incorporated.  Choose something generic if you must, like “Bob’s Holdings” or whatever, but talk to your accountant and get your business incorporated so you can start saving on all those business write off goodies.
  3. Get an Accountant.  This should probably have been before the last one, but better late than never.  You don’t need an expensive one, you just need ONE.  A friend, and online resource, or whatever.  But find someone in the know and do it right.  Get your financial application, whether Quickbooks or other, and get it setup the right way from the beginning.  You’ll be glad you did in two years time when the bucks start rolling in.
  4. Leverage Small Business Technology. Get a Financial Application.  Speaking of Quickbooks, it’s not the only one, nor is it really the best, but it is the most common financial application out there, and one of the easiest to use.   Most small business accountants use or are familiar with Quickbooks and can help you there, so I highly recommend this as your financial application, but if nothing else get something and USE IT! The sooner you start, the sooner you can track things and keep it straight for tax time.  Beyond that, get a Customer management system.  I recommend SalesForce.com, they have packages as low as $9/month and the services available are amazing.  Plus, since it is a SaaS platform, you get all updates for free (so to speak, being that you’re paying a monthly fee).
  5. A Productive Workspace.  I mean a workspace tailored to how you work and feel.  Your workspace should keep you focused enough that you’re not surfing the net all day because your desk is piled high, but also serene enough that you actually want to be there.  File drawers, in-baskets, and garbage cans should all be within reach.  Your Next Actions on things you come into contact with should be near enough that to simply “throw that paper away” doesn’t become an exercise in accomplishment in and of itself.
  6. Website. There was a time when this was a luxury.  That time is not now.  A website is many things, but first and foremost it is your business card.  It is where people will go to find out more about you.  It is where they’ll end up when they forget your phone number and Google what they thing was your business name.  Get a website and DON’T DO IT YOURSELF (unless you are actually capable).  There’s nothing worse than an amateur website promoting what “must therefore be” an amateur company.
  7. Social Networking. Social what?  Yes, Social Networking.  That online cumulus nimbus of a cloud that everyone is talking about these days.  Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, all of it.  Find out what it is, find out how it can help you, and start using it.
  8. Research. You will never know everything about your industry, but if you don’t even try, then the next guy IS learning everything about YOUR industry.  Do your homework, Google around, find out what’s new.  TIP: Get a Google account and use Google Reader in conjunction with Google Alerts.  You can setup Google Alerts to find information on the topics you want automatically.  This information can then show up in Google Reader where you just pop in from time to time and check out what’s new.  Check these products out, they’re FREE!
  9. Marketing – I believe this is almost more important than the actual services or products you provide.  Without this there will be no new work and therefore no cash flow.  You need to find out how your business should be marketed.  Look for books or websites in your industry.  Research how others, again in your industry, are doing things.  How do they market, what tips and ideas can you implement?  Determine by whom your products and services are desired?  How will you reach them?  By mail, by phone, by visit, by referral?  Figure this out and start working on it from Day 1.  There’s no sense in getting your whole infrastructure up and running if you have no one to sell to.
  10. Get Out There. Do NOT, I repeat do NOT, sit at home or in your office.  Get out of your workplace and start working.  Visit with prospects, visit with existing clients, visit the bookstore even; but do not sit around thinking about how cool it will be when business is rolling.  If you’re not DOING, your business isn’t SELLING.  Sometimes the simple act of moving and doing, as long as it’s business  related and semi-productive, will get the creative and motivational juices flowing enough to get you over the current hump or lull that has manifested.
There are many other things to get a handle on.  But if you focus, keep moving, and also (don’t forget this one) take time to enjoy those things that are important to you (you know, the things/ones you’re trying to make time and money for in the first place); you WILL be successful.
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