Setting up your own email is easy and makes you look like a professional.
Although there are lots of free email services like Gmail, Windows Live and Yahoo!, setting up a domain name and customised email address is much easier than it sounds and can be done by anyone who has a moderate level of computer literacy. If you can follow instructions, type and use a mouse – you can set up your own email.
Each week, I know I have a set amount of work that needs to get done. Some of it I expect to be ad hoc – clients sometimes call out of the blue with jobs that have a short turnaround – but for the planned work, I need to make sure I hit my deadlines. Here’s how I plan my week.
In the digital age, business cards seem like a product of a bygone era. But great business cards can be an important marketing asset.
Business cards used to be an important symbol of one’s importance. There was a time when only senior execs had cards to give out but, over time, they’ve become less exclusive. However, that doesn’t mean they’re no longer useful.
Despite the multitude of information sharing tools available in the electronic age, business cards remain the easiest way to exchange contact information. In some cultures, particularly throughout Asia, the exchanging of business cards remains an important tradition and show of mutual respect. I remember that on my first trip to Asia, business cards were considered to be an important form of personal identification – almost akin to a driver’s license or other official document.
Great design matters
Choosing a nice design for your business cards that stands out is important. Given that most cards look very similar, having something that stands out can help people remember you and find you later.
My suggestion is to spend a little extra and have your cards printed on high quality stock. Even better, consider alternatives to paper/cardboard such as vinyl or plastic.
Think about colours, typefaces and orientation. This is a chance for you to show the world that you’re creative. There’s no rule that says the card needs to be laid out in landscape orientation using Times New Roman.
If you’re looking for some ideas, take a look at some of these for inspiration.
There are dozens of places both online and in the real world that will hale you design and print business cards.
I’ve used Vitasprint a few times as they allow me to upload my own design, choose the stock and receive delivery promptly. The only thing that I found really annoying was that you’ll be inundated with “special offers” once you’re a customer. However, you can easily unsubscribe from those emails.
Don’t forget your online profile
If you’re not already on LinkedIn, I suggest you really need to be. If nothing else, it’s a great place to retain a live curriculum vitae that can be easily found and shared. I use an app called Evernote Hello on my iPhone that scans business cards, reads the details and sends my details to them.
If you have a blog, make sure that the address is listed as well as your business’ address. If you have a public Facebook presence or Twitter account – put those on as well. In this day and age, communications are multi-channel. Make it easy for your contacts to find you.
Check before printing
Always get your business cards proof-read before sending them to the printer. There’s nothing worse than getting them back from the printers and finding an embarrassing tpyo!
It’s a decision every small business that grows needs to make. Can I keep working from home? Or is it time to rent office space? Is there an alternative? It turns out that there’s a middle ground that is cost effective and helps you put on a more professional, “big end of time’ face for your clients.
It’s a decision every small business that grows needs to make. Can I keep working from home? Or is it time to rent office space? Is there an alternative? A managed office can be the middle ground that is cost effective and helps you put on a more professional, “big end of time’ face for your clients.
I recently spent a week working at The Cluster – a serviced office in Melbourne’s CBD. I wrote a detailed review of working at The Cluster for BIT. My conclusion was
[important]There are many sole traders and small businesses that outgrow working from home. However, they aren’t quite big enough to justify renting an office space and then fitting it out with all the extras that an operating office needs. These are the businesses that The Cluster fits perfectly.[/important]
What I didn’t really cover in that review was about how to decide if it’s right for you.
When a small business starts to grow it goes through a few distinct stages. Note – these aren’t from a book but it’s what I’ve seen in 20 years of working in large and small companies.
Stage 1: The Early Days
When you start out, it’s probably just you. You work from home – if you’re lucky you can set up a great workspace – and work like that for a while. But there comes a point when you need an offsider to help out.
Initially, this might be another freelancer that you send extra work to, as part of a quid pro quo, but eventually you need a more regular offsider and the home office isn’t big enough.
Stage 2: Early Growth
Business is booming and one staff member becomes two, then three and then more. But the work isn’t regular so you actually end up with some part time or casual support.
The home office is too small and renting permanent space is too big a commitment at the moment.
Stage 3: Managed Growth
By the time you get to this stage, you have clients on retainers so the business’ income is less volatile. You need some fixed space where you can have office furniture, printers, servers and all the other bits and pieces you need.
This is when you start looking at renting and fitting out your own space.
When is a Managed Office Right?
If you’re at either Stage 1 or 2 and don’t have the space at home for a well organised workspace it’s well worth looking at managed office spaces. They’re a cheap entry into getting dedicated office space, come with helpful facilities such as reception desks, meeting rooms and tech support, and provide you with a more professional environment for meeting clients.
There’s also the benefit of putting you in close contact with lots of other entrepreneurs so you can share ideas and potentially increase your client base.