7 Ways to Lead Your Business and Ensure It Succeeds

succeedIf there was ever a time to pay close attention to leaders that are blazing the business trail, it is now. Entrepreneurs who desire to create viable companies will find it easier to learn from the experience of others. Let’s take a look at seven traits of today’s top entrepreneurs inside this article.

  • Enterprising Outlook. High achieving business leaders constantly seek ways to multiply their money. They are in the field making things happen and are not afraid to share their skills with the world. In order to grow they allow themselves to be stretched to do things that are out of the ordinary. Boldness and perseverance are stamps upon their character.
  • Willing to Get Help. An important principle that they embrace early on is partnerships. Successful entrepreneurs learn to build trust and collaborate with others to achieve bigger results in less time. Once the right team is in place, they go the extra mile to foster solid relationships, supporting partner’s success along the way..
  • Delegates to the Pros. Entrepreneurs who run viable companies have the right team members in place. True leaders realize the extent of their capacity and readily release the things that do not desire to do.
  • Always Learning. They are consistently learning, changing, and growing with their company. These individuals want to know “how to” elevate their business. They know that the business world is a constantly changing environment and those that do not change with it will not survive.
  • Self-Motivated. As business leaders look within themselves and connect with their own mission and purpose. This is what causes them to excel at what they do each day. True entrepreneurs will go to their grave having said, “I gave it my all and my all was good enough.”
  • Uses Common Sense. It is often said that entrepreneurs are born, not made. You can see this in the lives of many who may have dropped out of school or never completed a college degree. What makes them successful is their application of practical business principles and life lessons that they combine and turn into financial gain.
  • Never Allow Failures to Determine Success. Instead of quitting when the going gets rough, they are able to take a step back and a break, if necessary, but they do not stay down for long. Any time that you see them reeling from having missed the mark is a period of refocusing and getting their mojo back. You can bet that they are creating a plan of action so don’t let their temporary delay fool you. Be on the lookout because nothing aside from leaving this earth will cause them to lose their way.

 

Which of these qualities do you most relate? Were there any lessons that learned that can make your company more viable? How will you put them in action today?

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How To Pick the Perfect Accounting Tools For Your Small Business

accountingsoftwareThe ever changing landscape of accounting technology runs the gamut. With the number of players in the market increasing by the day, the choices that small business owners can select from more than abound. Now, more than ever, entrepreneurs have a greater selection of accounting tools from which they can choose.  Having a number of  criteria in the purchase process makes the task less daunting. Here are several that can give you a jump start for technology that will make the cut.

  • Simplicity. Let’s face it. No matter how fancy dancy the accounting system is, if it complicates the workflow, no one will ever use it. The  objective of the technology should be to streamline the accounting process not to become burdensome and overloading your current capacity. With every new experience comes a learning curve. One way to shorten it and make things less complicated is by having staff trained in the use of the technology. This way questions are answered and policies for use can be established so that the transition is smooth sailing right from the start.
  • Efficiency. Speaking of smooth sailing… every small business that integrates technology should have a goal prior to purchase of improving the company’s accounting workflow. Technology can help to this end by automating many of the routine bookkeeping tasks that staff handles on a periodic basis. Key activities such as invoicing recurring clients and paying recurring bills are great examples of how accounting technology can help you save both time and money in the accounting process.
  • Productivity. Ever wondered if there was a way to get more done with less effort? The right technology integration in your business will help you do just that. Some programs are better at moving you toward greater levels of output than others. That is because there are resources that boast more advanced features like automated billing, online banking, automated data backup, and the like. So your selection should ultimately depend on the productivity categories your company identifies. There are accounting technology tools on the market that will allow you to start small and then add-on as the need arises. This is especially good to know when you are looking to expand but need to stay within a certain budget to meet the company’s cash flow needs.
  • Profitability. The name of the game in business is profit. I don’t know anyone in business today that invests their hard earned cash to simply break-even, or worse to purposely generate a net loss. With that said, keep in mind that one of the primary reasons to add accounting technology is so that you can increase your company’s profits. One way to do this is by ensuring that the cost of technology is less than what it will help you bring in. This may be seen in how your employees use the program and the type of information it provides. There is a saying in the accounting world, “Garbage in is garbage out.” In other words, make sure that what goes into the system is accurate, reliable, and timely enough to help managers (including you) make the best decisions possible from accounting data.

As you can see some accounting technology will have more bells and whistles than others. It goes without saying that buyer should beware before making the leap into the accounting tech and software world. What criteria do you use when select the right accounting technology for your small business? Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Seven Strategies That Enterprising Women Use To Create a Thriving Business

womenentrepreneurIt’s safe to say that no two women-owned businesses are exactly alike. Yet, even in our differences, the way that we run our companies have many things in common. Here are seven secrets to female business success that stands out for me:

  1. The first thing I notice among female entrepreneurs is our goal to consistently reach new markets. We build companies with staying power. That means we are conscious of not putting all of our eggs in one basket. We add diversity in our companies by adding new products, services and market segments. We also consider new ways  to fill a different need by focusing on our core strengths.
  2. Women in business seek better ways to get goods and services to their customers. We run our companies like lean organizations because we want them to be efficient. Keeping our eyes on logistics is key as we look for ideas to streamline our processes. We are careful to control costs while doing our best to meet high standards of quality.
  3. Female CEO’s realize that a successful enterprise is a growing enterprise. Women in business know the difference between being thirsty and being hungry for success. That’s why we set the bar high. For us, the focus is two-fold: Give extremely high value to customers and add extremely high value to the companies we own.
  4. We are also interested in building relationships. In business the adage, “Time is money” is true. That’s why it is key to build strong business relationships.  Industrious women know that the investment of time is the seed that produces long-term growth.
  5. Women business owners build companies with strong teams. No woman is an island. So women achieve their goals in business by delegating where they are weak and building teams to complement their strengths.
  6. We look for ways to reduce costs without sacrificing quality. When it comes to saving money, enterprising women are careful of where and when to cut expenses. We also look at costs as investments when they make our brands and market positions stronger.
  7. Enterprising women are interested in managing money well. This is a strategy that most women business owners do not take lightly. We start with the end in mind picturing where in retirement we want to financially be. Then with the help of financial professionals, we create our companies around our goals.

As an entrepreneur of over a decade I have personally used these in my business but can always improve (especially in number 5 — getting better at delegating roles).

So tell me in the comments below, did any of these tips strike a chord?

Follow-Up Friday: The Most Wonderful Tools for Managing Action Items

You need to have all the pieces in your workflow to follow-through completely. Here’s how to do it by reducing bottlenecks in your business.

The success of your company hinges upon doing the right things in the most productive way. It requires knowing what resources are available and how to effectively use them. This is going to force you to assess your business routine and pinpoint the steps that are involved.

Create a Paperwork Flow With Multiple Access Points 

Now we all have to process paperwork for one reason or another. The goal is to spend the least amount of time doing it. Saving time is a factor of productivity that you can improve by making documents simple to access and find. Not every document that crosses your desk is going to be important but many of them are. Examples include banking, credit card, insurance, loans, and legal information. Online storage resources like Dropbox makes it extremely convenient to access files while at your desk and when you are on the road. Another time saving resource is Myfax.com which frees you up to send and receive faxes by email and on your cellphone.

Stock Up on Supplies

Nothing says, “stop the presses” like running out of supplies. Stay productive by being prepared with what you need on hand. For example, keeping an adequate supply of checks, stamps, and envelopes can help you stay on top of managing finances. Be sure to check your stock on a regular basis. Know how much time you need to allow for re-orders so that you are always well stocked with supplies.  Rather than making the trip in person consider saving time and money by ordering online and by phone.

Simplify Contact Management

Stay in touch with contacts by keeping your list up-to-date. A simple way to do this is by adding contact information in one place and syncing to a shared platform. Services such as Plaxo, for example allows you to duplicate contact information between on and offline software so that you can access contacts on your computers, tablets, and cell phones. Check out Plaxo’s video below.

Backup to Reduce Loss and Downtime

Now after doing the prep work and completing the tasks the final step is to have a way to protect and store your files. Believe me as someone who has seen hard drive failure on more occasions than I care to count, I realize how important this is to keeping your business running. One of my favorite tools is Carbonite  because it automates the process. Simply set the location for backup along with the date and voila! Like magic, it does the work for you.

So as you go through your action items today consider how to be more productive and efficient.

Remember that a little planning now saves a lot of time later.

I’d love to hear what tools make your workflow smoother. Share your tips with other readers by leaving a comment below.

Entrepreneurs Ask : How To Spend Less Time On Invoicing

timesaverecordkeepingQ: I am a licensed builder who has been in business over fifteen years. What is the easiest way to make the switch from pen and paper invoices to computerized books? I find it easier to do estimates by hand and simply write customers a receipt but it makes financial reporting and tax time a mess. Not to mention that it drives my partner nuts.

A: First of all, kudos to you for considering change. I know how much courage it takes to try something different especially after running a business the same way for years. The good news is going from paper-based to computerized accounting is much less intimidating as it seems. You just need to know what options works best for you. Not every program is going to be the right fit so here are some tips to consider before buying:

  • Meet with the people on your team to review the financial activities that you do on a daily basis. Use this input to create a checklist of the features that you need.  The goal is to streamline the process. Look for software that lets you automate as much of the routine as possible so that it saves you time. Compare your checklist to the features each program offers as you consider choices.
  • Do a test run to see how the program works before investing money and time. Many software providers offer trial periods to first-time users that allows you to either download a past version or sign-up for the current one with limited functionality online.
  • Consider asking for expert assistance. An accountant, for example, may be able to assist in your selection and helping with set-up, training and support.

Let me know when you make the switch and how everything goes with the accounting program!

Dream Team Pick of the Week: “Mommy Millionaire” Kim Lavine

Here is Kim Lavine on the Today Show

Kim is an author, mentor, mother, and industrious woman who has gained recognition in the business world as a thought leader on international business. Talking about big thinking, then you would do well to follow the path that Kim is laying. She is blazing the trail for women all around the globe to succeed as business owners.

In this interview Kim shares valuable advice for female entrepreneurs who want to turn their big idea into the next big thing. In my weekly Follow-Up Friday posts, I discuss ways to create a thriving business. I recommend building a team of business advisers even if it means following the wisdom of the major players who advise through blog posts and videos online. Kim’s practical, no-nonsense business savvy places her at the top of my list of credible business models. Also being a Michigander myself places her on the radar as an entrepreneur that I would like to meet.

 

Five Business Blogs Written By Women For Women

womenbusinessownerThe more we learn, the more we grow.

As more and more women start businesses today it is essential that they have the resources to help them succeed. The internet is a good place to start. If you want to stay on top of what is happening in the business world, you will find these blogs helpful.

eWomen Network Blog

I give kudos to this site because the founders have discovered how to make business networking online work.  No man or woman is an island and the eWomenNetwork.com has truly figured that out. One key to succeed in business is synergistic relationships and this blog encourages this. Here entrepreneurs connect with peers who have complimentary skills and through a growing community they are helping one another build their business.

Women on Business

Another one of my favorite stops is womenonbusiness.com. They are doing a fantastic job of bringing a variety of relevant topics for femalepreneurs to the desktop.  The blog also gets my vote because the information is written to women business owners by women in the business world. This site is a great resource especially if you are operating a business alone and have yet to assemble your dream team of business advisers.

Women’s Leadership Exchange

No where on the web have I been able to find anything comparable to this site. Its niche specific brand focuses on building leadership skills of women who run small businesses. You will find womensleadershipexchange.com valuable because of its roundup of information, business insights, professional development opportunities and first-hand lessons from top women in the business world.

Mom Invented

We can all use a boost to the imagination for new ideas at times, right? Another blog for women, but especially for moms who invent, is mominvented.com. This witty mother writes regular posts that is the dream blog for people who want to inspire their creative side. With a very fun approach and from the view of a mom, you will learn from her everything you need to know about product creation, product development, product launch, and marketing.

Corporate Fashionista

Here’s where we shake things up a bit. Most of the female business owners that I know enjoy a little fashion sense. So when you are taking a break from marketing, personnel matters, and running the numbers stop by corporatefashionista.com. There are tons of ideas there for everything fashion that range from what you wear for networking to how you outfit your office.

I had fun on my tour of blogs for business women business. There are still many more excellent blogs to share and I’d like to hear from you. What business blogs do you enjoy that are by and for women?