Key Question: What is the best and greatest use of my time?
The Online Workshop - Case Studies
1. Donna Baase, Cowgirl Enterprises: Donna Baase is not interested in running a manufacturing plant. She wants to give her customers unique, botanical based skin products.
7. Sohrab Vossoughi, Ziba Design: Sohrab says that we all need to put in writing your values, vision, philosophy and methodologies because they aren't real until you write them down. And after you write them down, put them up on the wall so everyone can see them.
A few key questions for Step 4
You are now a sole proprietor. You have taken another Flying Leap! You are on your own!
Most of us who own a small business are driven by freedom, by choice, by ownership.
As Hattie says in the opening of each episode of the show, "Small business people are optimistic — the kind of optimism that is rooted in a great idea. We can create jobs. We can create wealth. We can make the world a better place."
Check your financing. Are you staying on top of your financials? Do you understand your P&L? Are you hitting your projections? Have you set new goals for next quarter?
If you grow quickly, you may feel a need to hire some help. Once you do, you will have gone on to Step 5, an Employer.
1. The Basics - Understanding oneself
There is no more corporate safety net. You know how to sell to survive. And you may be discovering how quickly you can replace your old income while you enjoy the process of building your business.
If you have completed a quarter (13 weeks), have you calculated any of your critical ratios? Review our show all about money. If you are coming into these Steps here on Step 4, we recommend that you actually work through Steps 1, 2 and 3.
Of course, you have no employees, but look at the coterie of people around you. Ask them for ideas and insights. All of them.
2. Your community - Working and growing together as a team
Have you developed relatively easy access to some of your local bankers, accountants, and lawyers? Are you supplier, vendors and customers becoming some of your friends? Are you developing a network of solid business advisers within your community?
So now, before you start thinking about hiring, let's stop and examine where you are:
Check efficiencies. Where can you save time? In how many ways can you save money? How can you make your next sale in a shorter period of time? What about part-time employees? sub-contractors? If you haven't already, please look at how Donna Baase is doing it! And look at how the SoHo folks are doing it.
Check your customers. Customer satisfaction will be one of the cornerstones of your business. If you believe you have delivered on your promises and your product has performed well, ask for a letter of recommendation. Of course, it would be ideal if you could nurture each customer until they volunteer such a letter. But you will know when the time is right to ask your customer for their evaluation.
Case Studies. Though every episode of the show could be a valuable resource for you, there are several stories in the series that demonstrate that efficiencies can make a difference. The most efficient company in the USA is among them.
Look at the study guide about Boardroom and consider their I-power methodology to create efficiencies that can help more dollars drop to your bottom line. Consider subscribing to their magazine, BottomLine.
3. Structuring your time - dealing with today.
Time management is one of Hattie's areas of expertise. As you read through the study guides, you will be constantly asked to examine ways to be more focused and efficient with your time.
4. Projecting the day you hire an employee or "full-time" sub-contractor
Think long and hard about hiring people. Employees are a difficult and time-consuming transition for most entrepreneurs. Being a sole proprietor is no longer a limitation to growth. Being a virtual corporation with a web of subcontractors and other types of business partnerships is a 21st century concept.