Doing Business in the 21st Century – A Guide For Home Based Business Entrepreneurs

Doing Business in the 21st Century

So, you’ve decided to be an entrepreneur, which probably means it wasn’t a decision at all. You either ARE an entrepreneur or you are NOT.

Entrepreneurs guide their own destiny and build their own businesses using systems to facilitate intentional forward movement.

What entrepreneurs recognize is that they must focus on is continual self improvement and personal development. Just because someone possesses vision and desire does not necessarily mean they know how to manage their time, promote their business or balance their personal and professional lives.

A crucial part of being in business is having the ability to design and implement systems to regulate your business and make it easier to manage.

There are many areas that need to be managed in order to grow a successful business, however, without breaking them down and going into the more specific areas of parties, customer service, bookings, hostess coaching, organization, recruiting and so on, we can very easily break down our business into 3 Major Categories:

1. Managing Your Customers

2. Managing Your Team

3. Managing Management (That would be you!)

In order to be able to continually build and manage your business, you must not only be able to keep up with its growth but also be constantly introducing tools with which to propel it continually forward.

To lay it out in black and white, if you are going to do business in the 21st century, you must have a 21st century business and use 21st century systems and tools. If you do not, you will reach a point where you will fall far behind the more modern, efficient entrepreneurs who truly know how to maximize and capitalize on all resources available to them.

21st Century Toolbox

Now, as far as I am concerned and I think as far as the business world is concerned, the days of recipe card record keeping, birthday and phone directory books and hearing a knock at the door followed by “AVON calling” are gone – and they are not coming back!

If you are living in the stone ages, you will not have a business that thrives or even survives in the 21st century.

So, lets fast forward to where we need to be and get settled right in there.

Managing Your Customers

There are just a ton of different programs that you can use for contact management, time management and maintaining communication. Have a look at programs like Outlook, Oprius, I-Contact, Skype and Maximizer and see if they might work for you.

The advantages of using an electronic system are:

• Breaking down your contacts into endless categories and sub categories such as:

– Previous Hostesses
– Previous Direct Sales
– Catalog Requests
– Team Members
– Head Office Contacts
– Other Consultants
– Exhibit Contacts
– And so on.

• You are able to store a vast amount of information on each of your contacts including both personal information and information on their previous business interactions with you

• You can use the Calendar function to manage your time, schedule appointments and set reminders for yourself for things like:

– Home Parties
– Phone Calls to be made
– Customer Service Calls
– Re-Book a Previous Customer
– Etc.

• You can use the Task List as an ongoing to do list and eliminate all of those post it notes!

• You will be able to do focused marketing directed at specific customers based on who they are and what they are looking for or are interested in.

Find out when your cell phone contract expires and make a Blackberry or similar device your next “Must Have” item.

When you have a Blackberry, you can synchronize your Blackberry to your computer daily to keep on track. This way, you can record information and book appointments from anywhere, any time.

You will never double book and never have to tell ANYONE that you will have to get back to them after you check your calendar.

A key piece of information in the home party business is the directions to your hostess’s house which you can record in your contact file in your Outlook program. Unless they move, you will never have to ask your hostess to repeat the complete directions to their house for you again.

Having your own business website is a given today. If you don’t have a website in today’s society, you will miss a huge, essential piece of the pie.

Another 21st century tool you might find useful is the Tom-Tom, or a similar device. Never again will you be late for an appointment because you’ve gotten lost on the way. When you have one of these in your vehicle, you need only to put in your destination address and your are guided right to where you want to go. A lifesaver for anyone who routinely gets lost or who can’t follow directions – you know who you are!

Managing Your Team

The members of your downline are the most important people you will ever do business with. Recruiting must always be our prime focus in the business.

Training your new recruits and helping them to succeed is the key to succeeding yourself. Once you have developed and implemented systems that work and help build your business, it is essential that you pass these on to your team.

Staying in touch with your team is vital to the success of your business. Following initial training, it is still important to be in contact with the members of your team on an ongoing basis.

Online team meetings are becoming even more important as we build our businesses across the country. Doing individual or group conference audio and video calls can keep you even more in touch than ever before.

A Web Cam is another 21st century tool that should be on your “must have” list. Having the ability to do training, meetings, and even parties via Web Cam has brought our business to a whole new level and you should certainly be taking advantage of this.

Your Business Website is also important in maintaining good communication with your team, just as it is with your customers.

Managing Management

• One of the most commonly asked questions of home based business entrepreneurs, is, how do I get organized. Yikes.

• You absolutely MUST have some form of designated area in which to work your business. Without this, I think it would be next to impossible to function with any degree of efficiency.

• Having an office space is simply not enough, you must organize it.

• What you need to do is think ahead and plan ahead. Figure out when it is you can work on your business and when that time comes – work on your business. Refer to your task list and calendar to tell you what you are supposed to be doing. Do not make excuses to yourself as to why you can not get these things done, when the time comes, JUST DO THEM!

• Jillian Middleton speaks about setting Store Hours and this is one of the best systems you could possibly implement. You set the hours in advance that you will work in any given week, (they can change each week) and then, You Stick To Them.

• Learning to work with children around is unavoidable.

Long distance communications – making the connection

Let’s face it. There is just absolutely no reason in the world why any of us can not effectively communicate with anyone long distance. We can run our businesses entirely from our computers if we have to using tools already available to us.

So, the only thing to think about is improving our skills in delivering our message, training or any other form of communication so that it gets across to the person on the other end. This is important.

How often has someone left a message on your answering machine and rattled off their phone number so fast, you had to play back the message 4 or 5 times to get the number down? Now this is crazy. How long have we had voice mail? You would think people would clue in that they have to think about the person listening to the message and give the number slowly so the person can write it down.

This is key. Focus on what the person on the other end has to do to receive your message, whether by phone, email or online video conference. Without considering this, communication will break down.

Social Networking

Social Networking Sites:

• Direct Matches – Business

Direct Matches is my most recent discovery. You probably thought the same thing I did, that it was simply a dating site. I have recently discovered that there is an entirely separate division for business that has been used for years and has a HUGE following. I recently registered and was flooded with contacts of all kinds with resources to follow up on.

• Facebook

For anyone who hasn’t figured this out yet, Facebook is a great way to connect and stay connected with people both personally and professionally. Using the photo album functions, video links, and business pages etc. You can effectively market your business. Being that Facebook now gets more traffic than Google, you will probably find that you will start getting people contacting you and even finding you through searches within Facebook on a regular basis.

• MySpace

MySpace seems to be used more and more for music related type profiles and connections, however, it is still another place to plunk yourself online to be found! Facebook, LinkedIn and Direct Matches probably offer more to us now.

• Twitter

Today, Twitter, is the hottest social networking site on the internet. You can expand your reach to potential clients by following people with common interests; in turn, they will often follow your posts on Twitter. In this instance, more is better-more contact equals more business!

• Orkut

Orkut is Google’s version of Facebook. Use it!

• Ning.com

Ning let’s anybody set up their own social networking site for free. Many of the Ning sites appeal to narrow niches, but others are more general. Within Ning you have the ability to share content with all Ning friends across all networks simultaneously. You can write a blog post and share it easily with thousands of friends.

• YouTube

YouTube offers us the opportunity to broadcast ourselves or our products live, or, create a nice slide show presentation to be posted. Visual presentations are great, give it a whirl!

• Blogspot.com

Blogging is a very powerful tool available to us. Blog posts are picked up very well online and by running your own blog, or simply posting in the blogs of others and leaving your website address, you will generate targeted traffic to your site and business.

• Linked In

LinkedIn is a great business-only social networking site. LinkedIn’s potential lies in it’s many diverse and successful groups and their ongoing discussions. What better way to network than to participate in the discussions of groups that attract the types of people you want to meet? You can also build up a very large network on LinkedIn which will enable you to communicate directly with the people you want without having to get past the usual gatekeepers. Members will also be able to search for and find you.

Online Advertising & Promotion

• Submit Your Site to Search Engines
• Submit Your Site to Directories
• Priority Business Listings With Product Stores
• Online FREE Classifieds
• Social Networking
• Backlinks
• Blogging

Avoiding Online Time Wasters

Let’s face it, surfing the net can eat up more precious time than you can spare. Focusing on what you need to do and working through your days task list without wandering off in other directions can be very difficult. It will take some practice and determination to tell yourself to finish the things you NEED to get done before “playing”.

Secondly, and I think we have all seen this, using sites that can be good resources for us can also tempt us to fiddle more than we should. This is particularly evident on sites like Facebook. I hear way to often how people honestly think they are “So Busy”, however, they are not using their time wisely a good portion of the time. If someone has time to update their Facebook status hourly, they have time to get some work done! Seriously, if anyone has the time and the desire to get hourly updates on what you are doing, wearing or thinking about, they have too much time on their hands, sign them up!

Technology Etiquette

Common sense. That’s all it takes. Each site has rules and regulations for what you can and can’t do on that particular site.

The point that I really want to get across is this. The phone is still the most personal way to connect with someone so don’t fall back on technology entirely or try to hide behind it to avoid personal contact.

Know when it is the right and wrong time to use technology. Again, avoid hiding behind your computer to avoid confronting something you do not want to face or deal with. This will be recognized.

And, what may be the most obvious point when it comes to technology is this, know when to put it away!

We are not brain surgeons, therefore, life will go on if we don’t immediately returns calls and texts.

As leaders, investigating and introducing new technology to our teams is part of our responsibility. By leading our teams using modern technology, we will encourage all of the members of our downlines to do the same, thus setting them up to be successful with managing their business in the 21st century.