Essential Tips for the COVID-preneur

Essential Tips for the COVID-preneur

Guest Blog Post by Amy Collett

In 2020, there was an average of 84,253 new business applications filed each week in the United States. The rise of COVID-preneurs was almost as difficult to predict as the pandemic itself. And so far, the trend remains unshaken this year.

The truth is, there’s no such thing as the perfect time to launch a startup. It’s always going to be challenging, and it’s always going to require you to work a little harder than the rest.

But there are some significant advantages to starting a business at the moment. For example, new consumer needs provide a wide-open door to entrepreneurs everywhere. The pool of talenthas never been broader or of higher quality. And then there’s the fact that you can do most—if not all—of your tasks and projects remotely, which comes with a slew of benefits on its own.

So, if you’re considering becoming a COVID-preneur, you have good reason to move forward with your plans. From testing out your business idea to working with a digital marketing and PR agency like PR ByIntention, here are some practical tips for how you can set yourself up for success:

Ensure your idea will meet a need. Coming up with a business idea is one thing. Making it work is another. Commit to researching your market to ensure that your idea will satisfy a consumer need. After all, that’s the only way you stand a chance of making a profit and enjoying long-term success. Conduct market research, put out surveys, and take any other steps that can help you determine how to refine your business idea to line up with your target market.

Carefully determine your business model.

Few things are as important as choosing the right business model. This will determine how your company handles everything from production to sales, from delivery methods to pricing strategy. In other words, it really is the model through which your business will be run. Take plenty of time to consider all the implications so that you can start off strong. Here are a few common types of business models to look into:

● Marketplace

● Franchise

● Advertising

● Pay-as-you-go

● Subscription

● Crowdsourcing

Choosing a business model is all about positioning your company to provide value to customers long-term. Make sure you figure out your target audience, business processes, unique selling proposition, and strategy for generating demand before moving forward.

Establish your company structure.

Your company structure is also essential. Many entrepreneurs operate as sole proprietors because it’s the easiest structure to set up and manage. But forming an LLC is typically worth the extra effort because it provides protection from liability and tax benefits, among many other perks. Plus, you can hire an online service to establish your LLC for you; this is much cheaper than hiring attorneys, and it will ensure that your LLC meets the rules and regulations of your state.

Create a digital advertising strategy.

As soon as you begin crafting your brand, it’s a good idea to start promoting online. Digital marketing can play an indispensable role in boosting your brand awareness, conversion rate, leads, and sales. And it’s quite cost-effective, especially when you consider the impact it can have on your business. Work with professionals like PR ByIntention, and you’ll be sure to see results, whether it’s through pay-per-click, social media, or any other type of marketing.

Plan to hire help.

Depending on your business, it’s likely that you’ll need to hire staff or even freelance workers to help with different aspects of your venture. For example, you may need several people to help with day-to-day operational needs. Or, if you aren’t savvy with web design and dislike the idea of a DIY build, you may need to connect with a freelance web designer and developer. It’s wiseto know your limitations and to plan for hiring our outsourcing to ensure a job is handled correctly and that you’re not wasting money or time in the long run.

Whatever type of worker you decide to hire, it’s important to have a payroll system in place so that everyone is compensated on time. While you can tackle this manually, you can avoid the risk of costly errors by using a reputable software system. A popular platform like QuickBooks can be a boon since it provides a wealth of capabilities that help with payroll such as automatic scheduling, tax filing and calculating. You can even tap into their mobile app which allows you to run your books from your phone.

There’s a wealth of opportunity right now to build a business that experiences long-term success. Do the homework to ensure that your business idea is filling a gap in the market, and take time to select a business model that will serve your company well in the long run. Finally, carefully choose your business structure, and invest in digital advertising early in the process.

There’s more involved in launching a thriving business, but following these tips will help you lay a solid foundation.

Photo Credit: RawPixels

YOUR HOME-BASED BUSINESS: THE FIRST YEAR

YOUR HOME-BASED BUSINESS: THE FIRST YEAR

Guest Post by Amy Collett

In today’s market, the driven solopreneur can be a surprisingly powerful force. Creating a home-based business empowers you to define your own success, work the hours that make sense for you, and take your career in the directions that inspire you. Establishing success is a challenge, however, especially early on. The first year of working for yourself can feel like an uphill battle.

Fortunately, with allies like April Neill Public Relations, you can make the most of the first year and set yourself up for long-term success. Here’s a look at some of the best techniques you can use to establish a strong foundation for your business in the long run:

Secure and Track Your Funding

If you’re starting a solo consultancy or freelance business, you might think you don’t really need funding. However, you might be surprised at how much you’ll spend getting started. For example, you’ll need a website – just keeping a site live can cost as much as $135 a year, depending on the details. That’s not even factoring in the cost of using a site builder or web designer to make sure your site is attractive and functional.

Other costs – cloud storage to keep your computer space open, productivity apps that sync between devices, tools you’ll need for work or technology upgrades – they’ll all add up. You can use small business funding to help mitigate these costs and keep things affordable. However, it’s extremely important to track all of your business spending closely. Not only will this help you stay on budget, but it will be extremely valuable during tax time. After all, you can claim business expenses on your taxes, lowering how much you have to pay (or even leading to a return!)

Invest In Yourself

Another good reason to get funding is that you deserve to give your business the best shot possible through a strong self-investment. For example, hiring a marketing team can lead to great things for your business. In the early days especially, good branding and marketing can make or break your chance at success. After all, you can’t succeed without clients and customers, and marketing is the way to get them.

Another great investment is some kind of productivity system. Take some time to explore the options and see what works best for you. Some people work well using apps, others can’t function without a physical planner or organizer. Still, other people’s best bet is to hire a virtual personal assistant to keep track of tasks and make sure everything’s going as it should. Think about your own workstyle and use that as a jumping off point for how to get organized.

Be Flexible

On the topic of workstyle, however, you should also be prepared to see that change over the first year. After all, if you’ve never worked for yourself, you may not even know what your self- employed workflow looks like. Once you’re no longer constrained by outside schedules and demands, you have the freedom to find the flow that works best for you. Try to stay flexible, and allow yourself to figure out just what an ideal workday looks like for you.

You can use your employed workstyle to get a sense for what might work. For example, maybe you were always super productive in the mornings, but couldn’t seem to stay on track in the afternoon. When you work for yourself, maybe you dedicate afternoons to going on a walk, reading a book, or other forms of self-care and relaxation. Then get back to it in the evening, refreshed from your break. This is just one possibility: Explore your options. You might be surprised by how far your ideal schedule is from the traditional 9-5.

Our final piece of advice: expect a struggle. The first year is hard on businesses – in fact, most businesses don’t really turn a profit till year two or even three. This isn’t a reason to be pessimistic, and in fact we recommend you go in with an attitude of determined optimism. It’s going to be a challenge, but you’ve got the stuff to handle it. It’s time to fight for those dreams.

Turn to April Neill Public Relations for more tips like these and for professional expertise in meeting your outreach needs.

Amy Collett is a Personal Branding Strategist & Author of You, Exemplified: The Role of Personal Branding in Your Professional Life. Amy can be reached at BizWell.org

Photo Credit: Pexels

Feeling Entrepreneurial Doubts? Try These Tips for Pushing Through.

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A few years ago, I wrote a post about overcoming entrepreneurial fears and doubts. As a small business owner myself, I understand how important your mind-set is in overcoming challenges, and in the last two years, I’ve had to draw upon my own advice. And I’ve learned a few more lessons along the way.

It’s a given that your success depends on your ability to handle ongoing challenges, however, often times the biggest obstacles you’ll face come not from the outside, but from within.

“Successful entrepreneurs and small-business owners alike routinely note that overcoming self-doubt, fear and procrastination are three of the greatest challenges they face.”

They have very real effects on your business, including crushing your drive and compromising your ability to play it big, or even at all, for that matter.

Here are some tips to help you push through:

Feel the fear, act anyway. Almost all business owners experience fear. Fear of making mistakes, fear of rejection, fear of failure – the list goes on. What separates those who are successful from those who allow fear to hold them back is willingness to feel the fear and to act in spite of it. The best way to get over fear is to face it head-on – it’s never as bad as you think.

Failed again? Forgive yourself and fail forward. We’ve all been there; it’s not uncommon to screw up a project or to fail repeatedly until you find your way in business, however, you have to be able to let it go and move on to what does works Being able to forgive yourself and failing forward is crucial to your success. I’ve personally experienced the awful feeling of realizing that I’ve taken a misstep with a project that I’m working on; it’s painful and can be immobilizing. When that happens, I quickly focus on what is working and shift back into that direction. Which leads me to the next tip…

• Move into your momentum. One of the best ways to overcome fear of failure is to remember past successes. If you’re fixated on failing, put that energy into revisiting past successes and accomplishments. How did it feel? If you can tap into your past successes and relive how you felt in that moment, you’ll feel more confident facing new challenges. This will also help you to get past failures.

• Break through your comfort zones. Most people tend to avoid uncomfortable situations. If you want to succeed, learn to be comfortable even when you’re outside your comfort zone. It can be scary, but it won’t kill you. Really, it won’t

• Find what motivates you. It’s important to remember your “why.” Passion trumps fear and when you focus on your dreams (and not your fears), you’ll shift your momentum and eliminate procrastination.

• You’ve just got to BELIEVE. Having self-confidence and belief in yourself and your business is hands down the most important aspect of achieving success. Boost your self-confidence and belief by having a solid foundation and staying current on best practices in your industry.

• Focus on relationships you have. Fear shrinks your perspective. Participating in small business groups or meet-ups gives you access to ideas and experiences beyond your own and can help you focus on the big picture. Also, surrounding yourself with like-minded business professionals will remind you that you’re not alone, which in itself can go a long way toward conquering your fears.

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO of April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. April is also a guest contributor to NBC Chicago’s Inc. Well Blog where a version of these tips first appeared.

Find Your Purpose, Follow Your Bliss

By April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

“Every man has a purpose, something special that he can do better than anyone else. Your work is to discover this, then give yourself to it. The extent to which you use your skills to add to the world determines your happiness.”—Deepak Chopra

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I had a conversation the other day with my son, Steven, who is contemplating whether to pursue his Master’s Degree (he currently holds a BS in Psychology from Loyola University – so proud of him!) or to venture off as an entrepreneur starting a design business with his best friend. Or maybe a janitorial business? So many choices! He currently has a great job at a hospital, although not in his chosen field, and it got me to thinking about how important it is to find your passion when you are considering your career path. My advice to my son? Do what you love to do!

According to a recent survey conducted by Yahoo! Finance/PARADE almost 60 percent of Americans polled would choose a different career. That means for most of us, if you work in a profession that you’re not charged up about, you could end up feeling uninspired and unfulfilled for a huge chunk of your life. That’s a lot of time and years to waste!

I personally didn’t start out as a publicist. I studied Criminal Justice and dreamed of a career as a profiler. That dream changed after I got married and had four beautiful children (my greatest love and passion, for sure!) and it wasn’t until I was in my early 30s that I started on a path to my chosen profession. With no formal education or experience in marketing or publishing, I launched a career as an entrepreneur and started my own Christian publishing company. I discovered a passion and a great love for marketing and publicity and embarked on an exciting and fulfilling journey which led me from running my own business for 15 years to leading the PR efforts of a large chiropractic group for 5 years and then back to my entrepreneurial roots with my own PR firm. Why did I end up working in publicity? Because I LOVE it! It’s my passion; it’s what gets me up in the morning and what I think about day-in and day-out. Simply put, I can’t imagine doing anything else. And being able to help other businesses and non-profits expand their reach and grow their market share? Giving back in this way brings me great joy. The inner profiler in me still loves watching Criminal Minds, however, I discovered that publicity was my true calling.

There are many reasons people get up to go to work every day and more often than not, it’s not just about getting paid. Some people find fulfillment by working for a company that shares their vision for helping people. Some people love their company culture – I hear Zappos employees are having tons of fun in their highly creative and zany workplace—and some are just nuts about crunching numbers all day. The key to happiness at work is to figure out what you are passionate about and what truly inspires you. Here’s the advice I gave to my son. Ask yourself what you would do with your life if you had everything? What would you do if you didn’t need the money?

If you’re contemplating changing careers, ask yourself the following: Is your current work meaningful and do you feel challenged? Do you enjoy it? Also, are you proud of the work you do and the company you work for? Do you feel like you’re part of the larger picture? An important question that I had to ask myself was whether I felt appreciated at work. That was a big one for me…and one that ultimately led me on a different path.

If you can’t answer yes to most of these simple questions about your job, it may be time to find inspiration in a new career. And if you’re just now pondering what it is that you want to do with your life career-wise, consider this: Life is short. Do more of what makes you happy, more of what brings value to others, and follow your bliss!

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call (312) 772-3832 for more information. Visit us online at AprilNeillPR.com. Follow ANPR on Facebook at Facebook.com/AprilNeillPR.