Running a Business on a Shoestring

Shoe Laces...

Shoe Laces… (Photo credit: Heartlover1717)

 

I run my business on a shoestring. Actually, it’s more like half of a shoestring that’s missing an aglet. That is to say, my business budget is very, very small. When it comes to getting the things I need to run my business, I have to get creative. Some of my creative money saving attempts have been successful, and some have bombed horribly. But with the costs of running a business on the rise, I have to keep trying. None of my ideas are what you would call earth shattering, but they may be something you haven’t thought of or they may spark an idea of your own. So, here are some of the things I’ve tried.  Read More…

Advertisements

Stress and the Small Business Owner

Scream Cropped

Scream Cropped (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a small business owner, and I am stressed out. Between keeping up with my work projects, taking care of my family, and trying to stay healthy, my life can be overwhelming. Sure I get to set my own hours and work from home, but that often means I work late into the night and skip meals to run errands. Sometimes I feel like I’m barely staying afloat.

As it turns out, I’m not alone. According to the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report of May 2012, small business owners find managing their business the most stressful thing in their lives, twice as stressful as maintaining a healthy relationship with their significant other and almost three times as stressful as raising their children. The survey also revealed that small business owners make sacrifices in the other areas of their lives to run their companies, regularly giving up free time, exercise, and other personal priorities. So, not only are we stressed, we’re giving up the very things that can help us cope with that stress. Read More…

Low-Cost Business Training Resources

Education

Education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

As a freelancer writer and editor, most of my time is spent working alone. However, when I do find myself in a social setting, inevitably someone in the group starts asking me questions about what it takes to be a freelancer or run a home-based business. It seems to be a hot topic in most circles. Either people want to start a side business or change their careers. My first reaction is surprise, when people ask me for business advice. I’m not a business guru. I don’t have an MBA or any formal training in business management. But after the shock wears off, I realize that I do have a little knowledge to pass on. And if I’ve learned anything from researching business ownership and muddling through the “real-life home-business ownership school of hard knocks,” it’s that you don’t need a business degree to run a successful business.

According to a 2007 report by the United States Census Bureau, 26.4 percent of business owners surveyed had achieved a bachelor’s degree  and 18.5 percent of owners of businesses had earned a master’s, doctorate, or professional degree before starting or acquiring their business. The report doesn’t say how many of those degrees were in business, but even if most of those people had earned a business degree, that leaves an overwhelming number of people who started businesses without obtaining a degree of any kind. Only 36.7 percent of business owners surveyed had previously owned a business or had been self-employed before owning their current business. People start businesses based on a product or service they wish to sell, not on their level of business expertise. This is good news for those of us learning business ownership on the job. But, just as they used to sing in School House Rock, “Knowledge is power.” Business training is still valuable and needed. Fortunately, there are a lot of free and low-cost resources out there for use small business entrepreneurs. Here are a few I’ve found that can help any business owner brush up on the skills needed for overall business success. Read More…

Face-to-Face Networking Still Works

34th Bangalore Wikimeetup, 12 June 2011 images...

I’ve said it many times. Networking is not my favorite thing to do as a small business owner. However, it is necessary to doing business of any kind. Last year I wrote an article on face-to-face networking for Fall 2012 issue of  Annals of Psychotherapy and Integrative Health. While social networking through electronic means such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are still very popular, according to my research, nothing beats a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.

I wasn’t surprised by this. Practically all of the freelance jobs I’ve contracted in the last seven years have been through old-fashioned networking and word of mouth referrals in my community. The old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that makes the difference” holds true even in the digital age. Face-to-face networking can happen at any time. Yes, it happens at social gatherings and business conferences, but it can also happen unexpectedly at the dentist’s office or grocery store. That means we must be ready for those opportunities when they arrive.

Since you probably can’t go out and buy a copy of Annals of Psychotherapy and Integrative Health on your local newsstand (it’s a bit of a niche publication), I’ve summarized the main points of my article below. Read More…

Issues of Style

3rd shelf, left bookcase, writing resources

3rd shelf, left bookcase, writing resources (Photo credit: Yvesanemone)

Grammar and punctuation rules aren’t the only things to consider when writing or editing copy. Style issues also play a major role. Unfortunately, many business and organizations don’t take the time to determine what their editing style will be for their written materials. This can lead to inconsistencies in published works (both print and electronic) that can give readers an impression of unprofessionalism. When creating written materials consistency in style not only gives continuity to products, it shows an attention to detail and gives an overall professional look.

While most my clients adhere to one of the style guides listed below, they usually deviate from these written guides in one area or another. For example, some religious organizations I work with follow the Chicago Style Manual on most issues, but follow their own guidelines when it comes to capitalizations of certain terms and the use of numerals in text. This type of deviation is perfectly acceptable and expected.

You may also choose to create your own “style” for your written communications. Just remember, the key to maintaining an editorial style is consistency. Keep track of the rules that differ from your chosen style guide so that writers and editors know what they are.

Here are just a few of the styles guides available: Read More…

Misused Words

GRAMMAR POLICE ALERT

For many people automatic spell-checkers are a godsend. They catch spelling mistakes and even some errors of grammar, but sadly they don’t catch everything. When it comes to errors in word usage, spell-checkers are often of little help. The English language is full of word pairs that have different but related meanings that are often confused. Spell-checkers also do not catch misused homonyms (words that have the same pronunciation but different spellings, because these words are technically spelled correctly. Here are few of the most common usage errors made by writers. Read More…

Business Ethics

wrong way / right way

wrong way / right way (Photo credit: undergroundbastard)

I’ve been researching a piece on how to run a private investigation agency. That’s one of the things I really like about being a freelancer. I get to work on some very interesting and diverse projects.

In researching the basic practices of running such a business, I discovered that business ethics play an important role in being a private investigator. It occurred to me as I read manuals, websites, and how to books about this particular job, that good ethical practices aren’t just for private investigators they are for all types of businesses. While some entrepreneurs try to get ahead by cutting moral corners, ethical business behavior is still the foundation needed for building a solid business that will stand the test of time. But what is ethical behavior? Read More…