What follows began as a collection of a few links to online resources that might help some friends. Then as I did that I recalled more and more resources. This has become an initial draft of an ebook. For a very long time I have planned to make short videos of each such resources with keyword tags.
There is more I will add to this soon. But at this interval I am requesting your assistance. I can use your comments, suggestions and questions. What do you like and dislike? How can it be improved? What price would you suggest?
If you want to share editorial inputs those could help too. Therefore I have offered this as an email as well as an attachment PDF and Word doc.
Please pray for God to grant me His wisdom and guidance in the completion of this project. May God prepare the readers. May this become a growing income stream.
I have much material in my files and mind that could become future ebooks.
What do you think about these possible titles?
Small Business Resources
Small Business Toolbox
Small Business Makeover
I admit that I got wordy in places. I do not know what to leave out or how to say those things more briefly. Pray for me as I make revisions.
Are you full satisfied with your small business?
Do you feel that there might be room for improvement?
Do you wish that you could get some help to take it to the next level?
Have you lost touch with the drive that got you into your business?
Do you want some proven principles and affordable tools to accelerate your progress?
Are you willing to invest some time and energy to learn?
Do you want to continue doing the same things over and over?
Is your vision for the future clear and is your game plan well organized?
You must have been doing many things effectively in order to have survived the odds of small businesses failing.
There is no doubt that you have been doing your best.
You have been serving your customers well and adjusting to the marketplace as needed.
You evidently can do something or know something that others value enough to exchange for their money. So in your own way you are an expert to them. They trust you to bring value for the price you charge.
However it takes more than just being an expert to earn an income. Other experts like you work for companies and get paychecks. They do not need to cope with the entrepreneurial issues that you do.
You take risks with your time and capital. You earn financial rewards.
You do not have the time to go to college, take endless workshops, or read stacks of books. You cannot afford to spend dozens of hours searching online for solutions to the problems you cannot even define well.
You do not have the money to hire costly consultants.
The kinds of problems that clutter your business life have been experienced by tens of thousands of business owners just like you. Some of them found workable solutions but most of them just kept struggling along. Sometimes the solutions they found were in the form of a book or online service. You can use this ebook as a directory to a wide range of solutions that you will never find by yourself.
The links here to resources are offered to make your life easier. When these solutions are understood and applied then you your current problems will be mostly solved. Then new problems you cannot now imagine will emerge. And here in this same ebook you will find those solutions too.
Do not read the following like it is a one size fits all user guide. It is more like a cookbook with lots of recipes. It is like a field guide for dealing with the challenges that come with a small business.
Consider a vegetable garden and a fruit orchard. Both of them yield food. Vegetables grow quickly and fruits grow slowly. Likewise the harvest on some of these resources will happen in a few weeks or months. That is like the vegetable garden. Yet others are like fruit orchards that might take years to fully mature. You are the boss. You are in charge. You make the decisions about how your precious time is used. I suggest that it would be wise to grow both vegetables and fruits.
I understand that your time is valuable. Yet your time can be is effectively invested. Then returns on that investment will continue to pay as long as you are in business.
What follows is a treasure chest of resources that could lead you to gaining functional education, practical skills and proven tools. They can help to make your life much easier and operations much smoother.
As the business owner you have many balls to juggle. When this is done well then there are nice profits. But the customers keep changing and so does the marketplace. The competition does not go away. Plus the technologies keep advancing. So it is wise to take time out from your busy life to consider what proven resources have helped other business owners.
If you are ready and willing to grow and mature your business then let us plunge ahead.
What follows is a list of links with short descriptions. May I suggest that you scan this whole message and note the links that attract you. Somehow bookmark or otherwise save this message for later.
Each link goes to a resource that is worthy of your careful consideration. It will involve time and energy to examine these. Most of these will not appeal to you. But a few of them might. And if you weave those few into your business then you will not regret it. You will have greater productivity, more sales and increased profits.
I have been researching these matters for many years. I have sought to both go into business and to launch a nonprofit. Neither of those transitions have happened yet. I know friends and church members like yourself that might benefit from my hundreds of hours of online research. It has been on my To Do list for years to make a short video for each of the following resources. Please pray that will come to pass soon.
I apologize that this message is so wordy. Yet when I have a short video for each resource with suitable keyword tags and arranged on a mind map then it will be easy to navigate to what you want. This might become and ebook and the core of an ecourse.
There are seasons when it is ripe to review and revise key parts of your business.
Such times might include the following.
End of the calendar year
During times of slumps in sales
Grown out of touch with those you seek to serve
Grown out of touch with why you went into business
Times of expansion
Times of contraction
Preparing presentation for
New leaders in organization
If you dare to make use of more than a few of these resources then you just might find yourself with a major small business makeover.
Many sources say that the business owner need to get clear about several factors.
This includes the following.
Your motivation or passion for launching and continuing the business
Your core values that you hold closely and that are expressed in the enterprise
Know your customer well including their pain points, wants, problems and aspirations
Streamline and coordinate your marketing and sales activities
Measure and often modify your key performance indicators called KPIs
Enroll and communicate well with your vendors, contractors, employees and other stakeholders
Optimize the uses of your time, energy, capital, personnel, materials using project management
I understand that life in general is complicated for those unlike you who have a conventional career and that rely on periodic paychecks. And life it far more complicated for those who own businesses. I know that there is never an end to the possible projects and tasks.
But Michael Gerber who has been a consultant to small business owners for decade wrote an amazing book titled E-myth Revisited. It has been super popular. He says most small business owners fail to step back often enough work on the business from a distance because they are too tangled up in the details of operations. I highly recommend for any business owner to read the book or hear it as an audiobook. He offers these short inspirational monologues http://michaelegerbercompanies.com/web/the-dreaming-room-monologues/ that relate mostly to the importance of a business owner being inspired to have a compelling vision.
LIVE YOUR LEGEND
At the end of the day you are your own boss. There is no person on the outside making you do anything. That freedom is wonderful. But how can you keep motivated through the thick and thin? There will be difficulties. So what stops you from quitting? One proven way to keep moving forward is to understand and tap into your passions that propel you to have a business. So here is a great resource to recharge and reorient your internal world is to consider these 27 Questions to Find Your Passion http://liveyourlegend.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/27-Questions-to-Find-Your-Passion_LYL.pdf
If you like those 27 questions then go to the Home page of Lie Your Legend to find more resources http://liveyourlegend.net/email-updates/
START WITH WHY
Another way to get a handle on how your inner world seeks to express itself through your business is to know your why. Simon Sinek wrote a book titled Start with Why. here is the first chapter of the book https://www.startwithwhy.com/Portals/0/Downloads/StartWithWHYChapter.pdf
Here is his TED talk that has had 29 million views https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action
To learn more then consider the Start with Why tools https://www.startwithwhy.com/Tools.aspx Also they have a podcast but new episodes do are not published often. So go to the archives. The links to the archives are on their website and on the podcast platform you use like iTunes, Stitcher or others.
The best use of your time is to learn the basics of strategic planning and apply it to your small business. There are an abundance of books and websites about this subject. But most of those are oriented to those who are executives in huge corporations with lots of staff to manage.
The best resources I have found are these videos by Eric Olsen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isVsG6d9dmw&list=PLF47BA7BC6BDA46B1
If you like those then consider these http://onstrategyhq.com/resources/ and the book she wrote titled Startegic Planning for Dummies.
Let us be realistic. We are in a Digital Age. Before a person goes to an offline place like a restaurant, movie theater or church they most often visit the website. Also there are many methods to entice those who visit your website to provide their email address in exchange for a free PDF that is education centered to help solve their problem. Then there are proven systems for how to use their email gradually get them to know, like, and trust you. That increases the probability that they will purchased the first time. Then as you have systems of follow up you may cultivate a repeat customer. Satisfied customers will gladly provide a testimonial. That testimonial is woven into your overall marketing strategy. If you like I can send you links to online teachers who have helped thousands of others design, launch and improve their marketing funnel.
But in this context I mention the pervious to underscore the importance of always improving your online marketing. And many of the following resources assume that is part of your thinking.
I listen to many podcasts each week and in this message I will recommend a few that could greatly assist you in making improvements in your business that are sustainable and scalable. Note that podcasts and audio book can be become your way to redeem unproductive times and make them your personal learning times. You can hear valuable messages during your commute, while exercising, while doing household chores, doing yard work, when on a road trip including waiting in an airport, inflight and in a hotel room plus at other times.
As I mention these podcast notice that while it is useful to subscribe to get new episodes, it is also very valuable to dig into the archived for gems.
According to their testimonials Story Brand has been able to greatly help all kinds of businesses by helping them to rethink their marketing. They use the framework of the journey of a hero
The Story Brand company that uses the theme of the story of a hero’s journey as a template guide for marketing.
Summary of their process
5 minute marketing makeover
Here is a podcast episode and a link to a related graphic that will surely cause you to think outside the box.
The graphic is related to an article titled 30 Ways to Better Reach New People and Engage Your Audience.
This podcast by Story Brand http://buildingastorybrand.com/minisode-4/ gives an overview of an abundance of options you can use to improve your story telling that will improve the connections and interactions with your audience.
Just hear the podcast and read the summary notes on the show notes. Also this is based on an article from Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2016/09/the-elements-of-value that has a great summary infographic you can print out. You could print just page 4 for the graphic or the whole story to get all the details.
The greatest challenge for any business owner is to have an effective marketing and sales plan. Surely what you offer is valuable. But how will others come to find out about your business and become loyal customers? Effective marketing contains the simple summaries of all the critical lessons and insights you learned in the previous sources.
Biz Gym https://bizgym.com/ is an interactive site packed with interactive templates to weave together the management, marketing and financial facets.
Just answer their provocative questions that will use your answers to give you the short, medium and long version of your marketing messages.
When you have explored the previous resources then it will require an orderly system of time management to put all those useful ideas into practical actions. There are an abundance of books about the theories of time management. And the one that a great many people have used for many years is Getting Things Done by David Allen. This infographic is the guts of his teachings http://gettingthingsdone.com/pdfs/tt_workflow_chart.pdf and here is the advanced version http://gettingthingsdone.com/pdfs/gtd_workflow_advanced.pdf That is very concentrated summary. This is a long slideshow with the lessons presented in a orderly way. http://ais.informatik.uni-freiburg.de/teaching/ws10/praktikum/gtd-basics.pdf And of course he has a website with lots of related materials http://gettingthingsdone.com/get-started/ I have studied his system several times over the decades. But I was never able to implement all or most of his guidelines. However it is packed with general guidelines and specific techniques that I have adapted to my time management processes.
What I have found most useful over the decades is to put my ideas on a mind map. Then I will move them around as needed to get better organized and more focused. I have used various software and online mind maps. Yet the one I like best is Comapping https://www.comapping.com/ You can make a seperate mind map for each major goal, project or other subject.
There is always a tension between getting the long term big picture and then slicing it up into the suitable goals, projects and tasks. Then it all boils down to how to track this on a daily basis. I have used many tools and the one that works best for me is Kanbanflow https://kanbanflow.com/features I use the built in timer to set apart 25 minutes units as I apply the Pomodoro Technique https://kanbanflow.com/pomodoro-technique You can find lots of tutorials for Kanbanflow on Youtube. And you can learn more about the Pomodoro Technique here http://cirillocompany.de/pages/pomodoro-technique/
To track my notes and website bookmarks for the very long term I use Workflowy https://workflowy.com/ That is where I keep an orderly collection of my the ideas related to my dreams of success. It can be used in many other ways too. But that is how it works best for me.
I listen to hundreds of hours of podcasts each year. The podcasts related to business and success often refer to the importance of health habits. Sometimes these are called routines or rituals. At the first of the year and any other time it is easy to make big plans to accomplish great things. Every goal needs to be broken down into milestones. And each milestone requires suitable tasks. All of the previous resources relate to such matters. But what remains essential is to also take great care of the ordinary repeated matters. These could relate to fitness, diet, spiritual practices, or any other thing you need to track. This has helped me to notice how well and poorly I was doing in areas that mattered to me. As a business owner you do not have a superviser. But this can serve to give you needed data to make improvements. Joes Goals http://www.joesgoals.com/
After you have done a careful reevaluation of your business and you have a general sketch of where you want to go and how you will get there, then you need ongoing inputs to keep you fueled. So in that case it is time to embrace the helps of Fizzle, Seth Godin and Fresh Books.
Books about business theories and online tools are a big part of learning the science and art of juggling small business matters. But at the end of the day what can help most is a well designed roadmap to business success by a group of small business owners who have both been there and done that as well as coached thousands of others in all kinds of industries. I refer you to this podcast and the graphic there
There are an abundance of online lessons about small businesses. Typically those are scattered all over the web. They range from free to very expensive. But the great value of Fizzle is that they offer plenty of practical lessons for a modest monthly fee. All their lessons are referred to the roadmap mentioned previously. You can follow their map or jump to the lessons related to your current needs. You can try them out for 5 week for free by going to this link https://fizzle.co/try5
Also they have an online community that are small business owners and are going through this together. It can be very lonely to be a business owner. Sometimes you just need a little encouragement or critique. The price of membership could be well worth being in such a community of like minded people.
Maybe you already know about Seth Godin. If you do not then get ready to have your thinking about marketing transformed. His work has impacted millions of people.
He has many videos on Youtube and here are his 3 TED Talks https://www.ted.com/speakers/seth_godin
Here is his free stuff http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/free_stuff.asp
Seth offers a daily email that has a very short message http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/subscribe.aspx
and he archives in his blog http://sethgodin.typepad.com/
His books are very short and easy to read. I suggest that the wisest investment in the marketing of your business is to buy his books. http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/books.asp
If you are ready to upgrade your accounting related actions then consider Fresh Books https://www.freshbooks.com/self-employed
If you have read to the end of this then give yourself a big gold star. You have demonstrated a willingness to invest some time to make meaningful improvements.
Much more time will be needed to explore these options.
It takes discipline and humility to consider your business from new perspectives. You must make time to investigate some of these resources and then implement them. So where will that time come from your already crowded schedule? May I suggest that you might wake up earlier or go to bed later. You can watch less TV or surf the Internet less.
Imagine how it might be worthwhile as you leverage this special time to gain fresh viewpoints and harness new tools for your enterprise.
You can see these links like a free college course on the proven ways small business owners have improved their bottom line. You can follow them or remain the same.
The time, energy and even money you put into these could be the wisest investments you have ever made. They will bring returns on your investments for many years to come.
I care about business owners. They are on the front lines of innovation, and targeted customer care. Our huge economy needs many giant corporations to keep the wheels turning. But my heart has always been with the small business owner.
I genuinely wish you well. I hope that you prosper in your finances as well as all other areas of your life. May what has been shared here make your journey a little easier.
Here is the final resource for you. This is a collection of more than a dozen short videos to exhort you to practice gratitude daily https://www.pinterest.com/teachinglearner/practice-gratitude-daily/ No matter how your day is unfolding or has past, it is alway a healthy habit to practice gratitude. That will help to refresh your inner life and improve your spiritual practices.
I invite your feedback in the form of comments, suggestions and questions.
I will reply as soon as I can and your feedback will be kept confidential.
Your inputs will help me make improvements to the next edition. I have plenty of more material that I plan to work into both an ebook and a set of short videos with one for each resource. There are ways I might make this into a product that earns me an income.
I request your best prayers that God will grant me wisdom. May the next edition unfold smoothly and quickly.
John S. Oliver
Equipping Leaders (at) gmail dot com