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To ensure that your online business runs smoothly, you need to arm yourself with certain basic resources.
As a solopreneur, I can tell you that the Web is a fun place from which to run a business. But if you’re disorganized, all that fun can turn into stress overnight.
Once the work starts streaming in, it can become difficult to devote your full attention to it, because the administrative tasks begin piling up quickly. This is why you must have at least a few processes in place right from day one of your business.
Your online presence is for the benefit of potential and existing clients. What you need is a sturdy behind-the-scenes setup to manage all your work-related tasks. Christian has already covered the big picture involved in setting up an online business from home. James has even written a detailed guide on starting your online store. In this post, I will take a look at some of the most common resources every solopreneur wanting a thriving online business must have.
A Reliable Tool
A major portion of your work online will require some piece of software. It could be a word processor if you happen to be a writer, a vector program if you’re a designer or an illustrator, a code editor if you’re a developer, etc.
This software is something you’ll be using on a daily basis, so instead of blindly picking one from the popular choices available, put some serious thought into it. For example, if you’re a writer, experiment till you find the perfect writing app.
Of course, based on the nature of your work, you will also need other tools like a blogging platform, an image editor, a ticketing system, or maybe a slideshow creator.
A System To Manage Money
An advantage of being a Web entrepreneur is that you can start your business with zero to low overhead. But as your business expands, it demands more resources. Whether you want to buy a new laptop for your work or get your website fixed from someone, all of it costs money.
Pretty soon, it can become difficult to make sense of where your money’s coming from and where it’s going. For this reason, it’s best to have a system to keep track of your income and expenses, so that you can handle your business-related finances better.
Even if you want to keep things deliberately simple, it’s still wise to have some kind of a stable process to manage the money generated by your business. A bank account for online transactions, a payment service like Paypal or Stripe, a free invoicing app like Invoiceable, and a spreadsheet for bookkeeping should be good enough for a start.
A Networking Setup
No matter what kind of business you’re into, you need an audience/client for your work. It is not enough to put up a website and call it a day. To build your client base, you must to do at least some amount of networking through social media, cold calling, emails, etc. to introduce yourself and your business to people.
The good news is that even if you’re not adept at business interactions or if you’re not a big fan of social media, you can still manage to network fairly well either by gradually learning how to or by choosing methods that appeal to you. For example, if the formality of Linkedin is not your thing, how about choosing an informal network like App.net or Facebook?
A Streamlined Workflow
A well-defined workflow can simplify your business to a huge extent. Spend some time creating a comfortable workspace, sorting out your calendar, and organizing your to-do list. Keep all your files in one place, using apps like Dropbox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive. Back up your data regularly and also schedule a day specifically to take care of administrative tasks.
Maintain a handy record of items such as your ideas, financial transactions, and client details, preferably in the cloud. I personally use a single spreadsheet (named All-in-one tracker) for this task. It has separate sheets for tracking my finances, posts, idea outlines, etc.
Like any other entrepreneurial venture, an online business has its fair share of ups and downs. There will be times when you won’t feel motivated enough to work or when working with a troublesome client gets to you. But as a professional, you’ll have no choice but to keep going. If you have a plan of action ready for such situations, you’ll be able to handle them calmly and rationally when they arise.
An important thing to remember is that Web trends are always in flux. Stay up-to-date on them so that you can do what’s necessary to improve your business and keep it both fresh and in demand. Pick up new skills when you can, interact with your peers, promote your business, and stay open to new opportunities.
A Life Away From Work
Save articles that inspire you and read them when you’re feeling down, take frequent physical and mental breaks, pursue a hobby or two, practice meditation, spend time with friends and family. In short, have a well-rounded life away from work. It can go a long way in rejuvenating your self and your passion for your work.
The income from an online business is not as steady as it is from a 9-to-5 job with a guaranteed paycheck at the end of every month. But the satisfaction you derive from working on the Web can be immense, which is a big reason to keep doing it. By having well-defined processes like the ones listed above, you can free up plenty of mental space to focus on your work. And that’s when the fun begins!
In your experience, what else is a must-have for every solopreneur? Add your thoughts in the comments.