Dare to Design Your Business

tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian

Create your business to fit like a great suit. Although you serve a market, you started your own business because you wanted to be in the driver’s seat. Make it work for you.

My article in Women Entrepreneur, “Serial Entrepreneurs Reveal Insights,” features eight exemplary entrepreneurs who reveal wisdom earned. Each has leadership experience through running many organizations.

“Serial” entrepreneurs all agree that a drive for ownership is inherent, not taught. Having it, however, can be negative or positive. Negatively, an entrepreneurial spirit suffers when working for someone else. Positively, an entrepreneurial spirit builds fortitude when focused constructively.

Women have a high degree of entrepreneurial spirit. Blending enterprise with lifestyle has been going on since the dawn of time. Yet, women are often lacking in business education, instead learning on the job. This method of growth needs shortcuts to save time, money, and heartache developed from proceeding the hard way. No one has enough time to discover all the best strategic ideas. Only those enterprises with the deepest convictions and resources have the strength to last.

I have a few tips of my own about entrepreneurship (adding to the article):

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tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian Define consistent boundaries. If you keep to a schedule, convey this to co-workers. However, this schedule must adapt to clients and customers.

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tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian Secure backup support to switch gears quickly. Service professionals often need to change schedules on a dime. Quickly retool, move portions around, shuffle priorities, and reorder processes. Lineup family, friends, and organizations to fill in when in a business time-crunch.

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tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian Learn the preferences of all those you work with to facilitate mutually respectful communication. With so much interaction online, remote management uses new skills. Be sure those implementing projects are proceeding the way that you want or when finished; it may have been done wrong if not checked at strategic points.

 

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tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian Know the trade-offs for scale choices. Most serial entrepreneurs stay in the realm of small business. They pay learning “dues” when working for other companies, but few entrepreneurs grow large corporations. Those that do perpetuate the myth of rags to riches. The numbers show that small business is huge business when collected together. But individually, most business owners slug it out in small arenas.

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tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian Segment work. This is critical for being efficient when working at home. Don’t schedule tasks that need focus in the middle of family activity. Remove yourself. Plan tedious tasks that can be picked up and put down to integrate with other activities, even if not accomplished as quickly.

 

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tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian Juggle. Plan segments that can be accessed quickly. The time lost due to stopping and starting can be mitigated by dividing projects into free-standing portions ready with all the pieces assembled. Whether in folders, boxes, trays, piles, or briefcases, to keep all project elements together is as important as the work itself because looking for a missing piece robs time away from progress.

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tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian Play proactive (or offensive). Too many entrepreneurs keep nose to the grindstone and miss opportunities. When reactive, the focus is more on keeping clients or customers happy than it is on staying ahead of business changes. But client and customer management means leading as well as satisfying.

For most nonprofits, members look to their organization for the latest developments in the industry and the best new practice ideas. Responding to this pressure requires the ability to spot innovation and nurture creativity within the ranks.

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tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian Identify ideal clients/customers. If you don’t, you won’t recognize when them when they come along. For example, in a visual world where everyone needs design (whether willing to pay for it or not), becoming side-tracked by projects that don’t fit the picture invites expensive detours.

 

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tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian Say no first. Although eager to please, most creative professionals say what the client wants to hear to be awarded the project. But if you find the flaws or difficulties quickly and point them out in negotiations, your position is differentiated from competition and you appear not only helpful, but visionary.

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tools of the trade by Liane Sebastian Keep the pipeline full. Visibility is more important than sales. One backlash of e-communications is that clients and customers most likely to choose the easiest or most familiar products and services. Referral momentum backed up with industry contributions are good ways to attract new business—whether cyber or brick-and-mortar.

Designing your business means taking advantage of your natural energies (often called biorhythms). For example, I write every morning (usually for two hours) because my creative energy is the highest early in the day. Evenings need more physical tasks—I save production for the hours I’m not as mentally sharp. Working at home and living in a hectic household, I built an office upstairs away from the bustling energy of family life.

Hopefully these ideas will help you create and maintain your best choices and create the busines that fits the reasons you began your own practice in the first place.

Liane Sebastian, illustrator, designer, writer, and publishing pioneer

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