The beginning of the pandemic saw headlines dominated by stories of job losses and closing businesses. However, the following months saw momentum swing in the opposite direction with a record number of businesses being started across the country. As reported by the Census Bureau, upwards of 4 million new business applications were received in the year 2020, and current projections show this number to increase further in the years to come.
Not only has the opening of new businesses helped the economic recovery, but they’ve also been a prime source of job creation during the pandemic. If you’ve been contemplating starting a business, this article will explore why now is the best time to do so and how to ensure your entrepreneurial journey is successful.
Focus on Customer Needs
According to research, here are industries that have experienced massive growth through the pandemic:
- Home Renovations: This includes selling products such as paints, tools, or services such as interior designing, handyman services, etc.
- Food: Meal prep services, homemade organic foods, and food delivery services have been major winners during the pandemic.
- Gifting: While this can encompass any product from chocolates to rings, brands that have marketed their offerings as the perfect gift for special occasions have experienced high sales.
As a new player in the market, entering a thriving industry will help you get your business off the ground faster.
Have a Business Plan
While millions of businesses are opening each year, unfortunately not all of them will survive. One of the main culprits for this is a lack of planning. To ensure your business doesn’t fall prey to this mistake, your first goal should be to create a business plan.
A business plan encompasses all important aspects of your business such as short and long-term goals, financial requirements, funding sources, marketing strategy, and details about your offerings. Your plan provides you with a clear vision of how to manage your business and provides valuable insights while making important decisions.
A sign of a good entrepreneur is their ability to manage time by delegating responsibilities as needed. While you spend your time handling important projects such as securing funding, creating business strategy, etc., look to pass on subsequent projects like those mentioned below to the experts at Hilltop Secretarial Service:
Email Management: From sorting emails based on priority to prompt replies to customer queries, all your email communication needs will be handled, saving you hours each day.
Virtual Assistant: To avoid distractions during work, forward your calls to a virtual assistant such as Hilltop Secretarial, who can handle customer queries, receive appointment requests, and screen calls.
WordPress Blog Administration: A WordPress administrator will handle all responsibilities relating to designing, posting, and maintaining your company blog, leading to an increase in website traffic and business.
Choose the Right Business Structure
When it comes to choosing the best business structure as an entrepreneur, a Limited Liability Company tops the list due to the following advantages:
- It makes you eligible for tax write-offs and a lower tax rate
- Establishes your business as a separate legal entity, reducing liability during disputes
- Makes it easier to add or remove partners
- Has fewer requirements as compared to other business structures
When deciding to form an LLC, opt to use a formation service such as ZenBusiness. It will help avoid dealing with lengthy paperwork, adhere to state-specific regulations, and drastically reduce costs compared to filing independently.
While skeptics will view the pandemic as a period to delay their business plans, the data and market conditions point towards the perfect opportunity for motivated entrepreneurs to create new thriving businesses.
By Elena Stewart from Elenastewart.com
Hello Everyone! I hope you’re all having a great day. Our weather is wreaking havoc on my chronic conditions and as such I’m forced to stay in bed. I’m grateful for all the wonderful technology that is available that allows you to work even if you’re not able to get to the office – or home office!
First, I start with the fastest internet I can get. In my area, we really only have one choice, Xfinity. I don’t like how much they charge but I do like the reliability. I no longer have their TV or digital voice packages so that helps. (I use Hulu and some Prime channels to make up the difference).
Next, to get the fastest wifi possible throughout my house – or you can use it in an office environment – I have the Orbi Wifi Mesh system, with the router and two satellites. We really love it, and the range is amazing, I have no issues even in the Treehouse Office, or the studio, it is a great product by NetGear.
Next, for remote working from bed, I log into my desktop upstairs using SplashTop by LogMeIn.com I can easily manage not only my computers but my clients’ as well. They even have mobile apps for logging in from your phone or tablet. I have used their service for many years and it just keeps getting better.
For ambiance, and to provide a bit of background noise so my tinnitus doesn’t scream at me so much and make me dizzy, I keep a crackling fireplace video going on the TV. There are a number of videos that are included in Amazon Prime, and I’ve included the link. This is perfect for winter, but for summer I like the streams, rivers and so on. And I’m a huge fan of the Smithsonian Channel’s Ariel America – I’ve probably seen every episode multiple times.
Now, for the desk, I use a simple bed desk I got from Amazon – with adjustable legs – this is important because some days you might want to snuggle with a puppy and they need a bit more room 🙂 My kids are constantly wanting under the desk, and under the blankets – which cheers me up immensely. I got the basic one made of bamboo with a fan built in that I can plug into the power strip. But now I’m thinking I need to have a bit more oomph for it, so I’ve put this one in my cart to “think about”. It is much more than the one I have currently in that it has adjustable height and tilting top, but I’m not sure I really need that. I might just look for things I can clip to the one I have.
See? You CAN work and be somewhat immobile. Or in the middle of a pandemic and being forced to work from home (which I’ve been doing since 1996 by the way). and it can still be comfortable and productive. Having worked from home for so long, I’ll never go back to a traditional office.
Best wishes to everyone and I pray you stay healthy and safe!
In all transparency, if you click on one of my links (except the search results links) I’ll get a bit of a commission. 🙂
I found FileCenter Professional and I love it! Once I started using it I immediately recognized how perfect it was for my situation and have never looked back. I uninstalled that ‘other software’ and waved bye-bye. Its easy to scan, file, rename, append, prepend, scan to OCR, edit pdf’s, email files, and so much more! Plus you can scan your entire system and replace the File Explorer with FileCenter. LOVE IT! Organizing your computer files is now a dream! [caption id="attachment_927" align="alignnone" width="300"] FileCenter Pro screenshot[/caption] Its so helpful to be able to edit PDF files right in FileCenter – and open Microsoft files in their native programs. Its an amazing system and I’m still finding out more things I like about it. https://www.youtube.com/embed/PuPuhDLlDNE?autoplay=1&rel=0&showinfo=0
Effortless Collaboration with Shared Folders Managing a project that requires a lot of back and forth of files is a harrowing experience. Email works for the first round or maybe two, but after that, it quickly gets out of control. You’re working on version “c” while your client is already on version “e” and soon important revisions and notes are lost. A better way to work from a single document is to simply add files to a shared folder. This way, as you or your client make changes, they’ll appear in real-time, leaving no doubt about which version anyone has, or what changes were made when. There are several players in the folder sharing market, making it easy to find one that will work not only for you but for your clients as well. Dropbox A favorite in the shared folder race is Dropbox. The simple setup and generous amount of free storage space (2GB) make this a top choice for many people even if sharing files isn’t on their minds. If you work from multiple computers, need access to files on your mobile phone or iPad, or just want the extra security of knowing your important documents are backed up in “the cloud” then Dropbox is a good option. The free version includes 2GB of storage space, which is plenty to get you started, but you can earn more space by Tweeting about Dropbox, referring friends, and connecting other applications. You can also upgrade to 100GB for around $10 per month. Google Drive Not surprisingly, Google has its own document sharing system. Formerly Google Docs, Drive now operates similar to Dropbox in that you can view your files in a folder on your computer. However, opening a file requires a web browser and the use of Google Apps. If you want to edit a spreadsheet in Excel, you’ll have to download it first. Google Drive offers more free space than Dropbox does, starting out with 5GB. Upgrades are less expensive as well, with 100GB available for just $5 per month, compared to Dropbox’s $10 fee. One noteworthy difference between Dropbox and Google Drive is how files are stored. With Dropbox, files exist both on your computer and in the cloud, meaning you can work on them without an internet connection. As soon as Dropbox detects a change to a document, it syncs the new version with that on the Dropbox server. If you and your client are both working on a file at the same time, this can result in a “conflicted copy” showing up in your Dropbox. Google Drive is different in that only one copy of each file exists. When you’re working on a file, you’re actually editing that file on Google’s server. You can see this in action if you have a file open that your client is working on – you’ll be able to watch as she makes changes. There are a variety of other file sharing services available as well, and chances are your clients will have their own preferences, so you’ll likely use several in your business. But to start out, Dropbox and Google Drive offer a simple solution for collaborating with others, or just sharing files between computers.]]>
Plan Your Time More Effectively With Shared Calendars We’ve all been there—stretched too thin, with more work than we have time, and suddenly an important deadline is missed. And if you’re a busy VA with lots of clients, that might happen more than you like, unless you have a trusted system for tracking due dates. Google has the answer for you: Shared calendars. All Your Important Appointments in One Place Few things are a bigger time-suck than having to check and reconcile multiple calendars and apps just to see what’s on task for the day. When clients use different project management systems to record their deadlines, it can be challenging to remember to log in and check on your due dates. But Google calendars synchs with any app that creates an iCal feed, so you can easily “subscribe” to your task lists and have them appear all in one place. Not only that, but by sharing a calendar with clients, you can see what projects and appointments they have in the works as well, so you can plan accordingly. If your client is presenting at a telesummit, for example, you’ll know ahead of time and can keep that in mind when scheduling her social media or creating blog posts. Time Blocking Ensures Critical Work is Completed On Time Aside from knowing what’s on everyone’s schedule for the coming days and weeks, a calendar is a fantastic tool to help ensure all your important work is done. By setting aside time in your day to actually complete projects using a system known as time blocking, you’ll know exactly when you can get to that next project. No more guesswork or late nights trying to catch up when you overbook yourself. Time blocking works by actually setting appointments with yourself. If you have a project to complete, and you know it will take you two hours to do, you make an appointment. The key though, is that these appointments are sacred. You cannot use time blocking as a suggestion, you have to treat it as an unbreakable appointment, otherwise it becomes just background noise that you’ll ignore. Set your “appointments” with a reminder (either a pop-up or an email) and you will never have to ask yourself “What’s next?” You will always know, and you’ll find that you’re much more productive and efficient, too. Access Anywhere for On-the-Go Productivity Not in your office? No problem. Google calendars are available at any time from any of your devices, so you’ll always know what’s happening. Unlike printed planners, you won’t have to remember to take it with you, you can’t lose it, and you can check appointments and tasks not only for yourself but your clients as well, no matter where you are. A calendar is a basic tool that every productive virtual assistant should master. Sharing calendars with your clients will make your job easier (and make you a superstar in their eyes), but you have to make use of it. Getting in the habit of using a calendar can be a challenge. If you’re not accustomed to it, then make it a point to check your calendar first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Set reminders for yourself if necessary, until it becomes a habit. You’ll soon find that you truly cannot live (or work) without your calendar.]]>