Managing the agenda is essential for an entrepreneur because one of the most serious risks is to be overwhelmed. “When you work on your own, you tend not to set schedules and more if you work from your own home. This ultimately leads to stress and exhaustion that affect the quality of the work you develop,” insists Professor Rachida Justo. Some advices:
- Set a schedule. If you work from an office outside your home, this premise is easier. But if you do it from your own home, you need to establish a rigid schedule and try not to skip it, because you tend to be available 24 hours a day. And that is impossible.
- Leave time in your agenda for you. In the case of a lone entrepreneur, the agenda is both personal and professional. It is necessary to carry out a milestone agenda, in which you leave evidence of all the acts that you have to face in the week, but take care to reserve personal issues in that same agenda and preferably reserve a mandatory time to develop some hobby or some task that you find rewarding and stimulating. “The well-being of people is fundamental, so, just as you plan a work meeting, you should organize personal meetings or even meetings with yourself on your agenda to get reacquainted and reflect on your issues,” insists expert Enrique Carvajal.
- Get a homework notebook. In addition to the agenda, where you will indicate the most relevant aspects of the week, make a notebook of tasks, in which consign daily actions that you must perform throughout the day: the calls, the project you must design, email what you should send, etc. At the end of the day, check it to see if you have complied with everything and write a new one for the next day. It can consist of a list on a paper or note it on any device. The important thing is to get used to doing this daily review that, when you meet it, is the most stimulating.
- And a control notebook. Carvajal also recommends a notebook to control all your meetings. “Write on it, date and time, assistants, place, conclusions, specifications … In short, everything related to the meeting in order to avoid further misunderstandings, because normally you are stuck in so many puddles that it is very easy to make mistakes,” he says. .
- Prioritizes activities. Make a quadrant showing the urgent, the non-urgent, the important and the unimportant. And learn to prioritize, dedicating your first efforts to the things that are important so that they do not become urgent: preparation, personal relationships, planning … All this to prevent circumstances from arising in crisis.
- Concentrate your trips and meetings. A good way to take advantage of time is to try to concentrate all the trips or meetings that you have to do in the same day, so that you can take advantage of the synergies and downtime to dedicate them to other tasks.
Have an office at home, in a coworking or in a business center? They’re all good. You choose.
- If you can, go outside. Most entrepreneurs work from home and that is an advantage if you are disciplined enough to have, on the one hand, an area enabled as an office, and, on the other, to be able to disconnect from your business one hour. If it is not your case, our advice is that you resort to renting a space in a coworking or a business center. There are also municipal boards that offer these services to the self-employed of the locality in the centers authorized for this and sometimes they do it for a price that is ridiculous. Of course, if you opt for this option you can not deduct the costs of your home as a regular place of work (water, electricity, gas, insurance and even the assistant).
- Do not neglect technology. New technologies allow you to connect from any point. Therefore, it is important that you have an authentic traveling office and, if you need to hold a meeting, you always have the option of renting a room.
- Extreme caution in cost management. As Justo insists, “to start you always do the paperwork. Take a little time, because even if you consider it a waste of time, you are really interested in knowing what the process is and what this task consists of in order to discern the added value that an agency can provide. ” It is true, the first temptation of the lone entrepreneur is to delegate paperwork and invoices to an external company, but in many cases it is an unnecessary expenditure and especially at the beginning, you will not have much paperwork to do and yet you will have a fixed expense every month. “We, at the beginning, went crazy with the bills and that was a plus of training to be able to understand what all the administrative management was about. Now, being the most complex activity, we have decided to outsource it “, says Sergio Olazábal, founder of 2 architects.
- And if you want to hire, make commercial contracts. If you need to have someone, the experts recommend the formula of collaboration with other entrepreneurs and sign commercial contracts with them. As Carvajal summarizes, “you can save 33% of the costs of a person with a work contract”. That is the formula for which Ricardo Castellanos chose, in some of the financial advisory projects: “I prefer to have prepared and qualified people in my charge, but they are also autonomous. They billed me, but as freelances. What I do is control your work. I can not afford to have a fixed cost structure, “he said.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR CLIENTS
As a solitary entrepreneur, you are your own commercial director, so it is essential that you take care of both your personal image and your public relations work. To attract customers, you must generate trust in them and that is not achieved overnight. For it…
Search for prescribers. “You should look for references among your relatives or among your colleagues. You have to find people who can prescribe or recommend you, “Carvajal insists. Often the first customers come from relatives or close people who know you. Search in your environment to possible prescribers and have them recommend you. Once you have captured a client, worry about finding what value you can bring. The win-win (win-win) is essential when it comes to generating confidence in it. For that it is essential that you bother to empathize with him and discover what expectations he has with you and how to satisfy them. If you manage to give him what he expects from you he will become your best prescriber and in this way he will work mouth to ear. Entrepreneurs there are many in the market, so you should know how to bring that value that no one else can give.
Set a minimum number of contacts. In your agenda you must ask yourself a minimum number of contacts per week. Sometimes it will be simply to remind your clients that you are still there, but at other times you will be interested in creating a database with your possible target audience and make an effort to make a number of calls or contacts every week.
Be careful when choosing them. Better quality than quantity. We discover some that do not interest you:
1) The monopolizer. It starts being a good customer and becomes our main user. Relying on it can lead to ruin. It doses orders and matches them with those of other customers.
2) The stringer. Never specify the delivery time or conditions. It can be a serious problem to force you to give the order a lot of laps until you like it.
3) The advised. The one who hires something because they have told him that it is good for him, but he does not know the advantages. Be very verbose in the details and the items you will include and give a detailed budget. If possible, sign it to avoid problem.
For a freelancer who works on his own, marketing and personal branding are very important. We give you some keys.
- The mood always up. You must always have a positive attitude. It costs a lot to adapt to work alone and it is necessary to take some time and not get carried away by the possible swings of the day to day. The client likes more to hire someone who enjoys what he does, and who reflects it, than someone who is taciturn.
- Become visible. If you do not know you do not exist, but, be careful, this visibility must be moderate and in line with your projects. It is not about making yourself known, but looking for the forums where you may be most interested: associations, professional associations, expert forums …
- Internet, blessed treasure. Take advantage of the Network to create an image as an opinion expert: you can do it through your blog or personal web and you can also introduce yourself in professional social networks.
- Congresses, conferences… Oblige to attend conferences and conferences that are related to your activity. It is a good way to let you know, but it can also allow you to take the step of being the next to give the conference.
APPEARS TO BE GREAT
Who said that by being alone you should be small? You are in infrastructure and resources, but that does not mean you can not undertake big projects. And how? Well, if you just can not, join others like you. This will allow you to share risks and costs, you can get new customers and reach markets that you would not have accessed before.
If necessary, join. “The big mistake of the person who decides to undertake alone is to believe that he can do everything that comes his way. Sometimes the fear of losing the client does not let him see the reality and it is necessary to be very cautious when embarking on projects that exceed him, “says Ceferí Soler, a professor at the ESADE school. At this point, the experts are unanimous and resounding: do not be afraid to ask for help when a project is too big and important. And in that sense, it’s better to share income than not being able to cover something because it surpasses you. When you work as a team with professionals who complement you, extraordinary possibilities open up.
Request feedback When you work in an office you have at your disposal other people with whom to share your doubts or your fears or to ask their opinion on a specific aspect of the project. This advantage disappears when you work on your own.
In that sense, you should try to keep in touch with other colleagues or with experts to whom you can request feedback that will allow you to enrich yourself and enrich the business proposals that you offer to your clients. You must find someone you trust you can do at any given time as your supervisor.
- Be prepared continuously. The lone entrepreneur can not neglect his training and is often one of the mistakes he usually falls into due to lack of time. That is why it is important that you find holes to read the last book about your specialty, attend that conference that can give you other points of view, attend courses, improvement classes, etc.
- Focus. In a competitive market, it is best to look for what you can differentiate yourself from and give a unique service. Look for that gap where there is little specialization and go deeper into it. After nine years as an external auditor, financial controller and financial director for other companies, Ricardo Castellanos decided to work on his own. He started part time with a businessman taking his estate and the time he had left was looking for financing or placing stock values, but little by little, as the situation changed, he specialized in consulting and financial consulting to become a freelance financial director. for several companies: “It’s about taking advantage of your know-how and adapting to the circumstances”.
- Diversify. Although it may seem the opposite of the above, it is about looking for the opportunities offered by the crisis and your training. On the one hand, it can allow you to give more added value to the client, by expanding the portfolio of products you offer or take advantage of your knowledge or contacts to explore new lines of business.
PRECAUTIONS IF YOU ASSOCIATE
One of the best savings strategies for solitary entrepreneurs is to seek support, but not at any price.
- Before looking for partners, analyze if your help is really necessary or if you can replace this work with an external professional.
- When you establish alliances, it is very clear in writing who does what, how much each contributes to the project and how the benefits of collaboration are shared. You will avoid taking surprises.
- It is also important to agree on the responsibilities that each party will assume in the face of possible unforeseen events.
- Do not forget to make clear what the outcome or the end of the agreement will be. In that sense, you must previously negotiate how the parties will use the results of the common project. For example, if it is a new product and / or service, how will each one use it independently.
- In the event that your new partner is a foreigner, carefully study what legislation will mediate between the parties, as well as in the markets -distinct yours- in which you will operate.
In principle, it is advisable to undertake ideas that require moderate investments. If possible, plan your business with your own resources, avoiding getting into debt with external investors. Calculate what you need and reserve a financial cushion.
The keys are the liquidity and the formulas to finance you, so take note of the following tips on financing:
- Generally, people who have decided to start their own business usually pay a lot of attention to calculating the financing they need. And it is true that it is an important issue, but it is also important to decide the formulas under which it will be financed.
- One of the first aspects to take into account to decide is the profitability that will provide us. For this, it will be necessary to calculate what total amount will cost us to finance the object object and to deduct the tax relief to which the chosen formula entitles us (amortization, deduction of interest, etc.).
- On the other hand, it is also important to calculate the amount of the fees, and confirm that these can be paid without problems by the money flows generated by the business. For this, it is interesting to assess amortization periods, lack of interest, among others.
- Analyze that liquidity, the treasury, is another key for the new company to survive. The financing formulas of the currency (policies, lines or credit accounts …), are difficult to negotiate and expensive.
- It is interesting to assess if the own capital with which we have can reserve it for this purpose. Investments can be financed with alternative formulas that are also more profitable and the company will be better capitalized.