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Don’t Wait Anymore! 20 Websites To Help You Start Your Own Business

Don’t Wait Anymore! 20 Websites To Help You Start Your Own Business

It is easier than ever these days to start your own business, especially with all the resources at your fingertips. Starting a new business is fun, exciting, challenging, and overwhelming all at the same time! I should know because I started a business 15 years ago from scratch, and let me tell you everyday is a new adventure.

Although there are more resources than ever to get your new venture started, combing through them to find the best can be a maddening experience. So, what I have done is come up with 20 websites that will not only help you get it started, but keep it running!

Complete A-Z Resources

SBA

This is my number one draft pick! The Small Business Administration is a must for anyone thinking about starting or currently running a company. They have more resources than anyone I know. SBA should be in your speed dial while starting and running your business.

SCORE

SCORE, who works with SBA, is a great resource as they offer mentors who have been there, done that, and it is free! They’re people who have done what you are trying to accomplish. So, don’t try and invent the wheel, get some guidance from professionals who know and SCORE is the place to do that!

My Own Business

I wish this site was around when I started my first business in 2000, fortunately we live in a time when resources are abundant, and this is a great one! They even have classes you can take for free that get you ready for your successful venture.

BPlans

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Although it sounds like this site will just help you with building your business plan, which is one of the most important steps in starting a business, it also helps you with pitching your idea, funding your business, how to get it started, managing it once you’ve got it up and running, as well as many other business tools.

StartupNation

Startupnation is a website I was unaware of until writing this article, but I am glad I stumbled upon it. It has everything you need to start your business including a community platform that involves groups, forums, and even a radio show.

AllBusiness

Whether it is a home based business, online business, franchising, buying or selling business, this site has ebooks and guides along with many other resources that will get you going in the right direction.

Business Know-How

This site is great. It takes you from ideas, to startup, to marketing, to HR, to financials. With worksheets, checklists, and ways to find money, it is a great resource for every stage of starting a small business.

Small Business News, Trends, and Ideas

Entrepreneur

Great articles on how and what it takes to start your own business from writing business plans to what it takes to be your own boss. Entreperneur is an industry leader with top articles in every avenue of becoming your own business owner.

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Inc

Inc. is one of the industry leaders in small business ideas and resources for entrepreneurs. This website is great for ideas and learning about what other successful entrepreneurs have done.

The Huffington Post

Great website to get ideas and general information for people running a small business. It has a ton of current small business news, which is essential to keep up with small business trends.

For Entrepreneurs

This site is done by David Skok, who is a serial entrepreneur turned VC. He writes for this site and provides entrepreneurs help with starting their companies. No better place to learn than from someone who has done it time and time again.

TheSelfEmployed

This site was created by the bestselling author Steve Strauss, who wrote The Small Business Bible. In Steve’s words, “The site aims to be your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know to have a fun and successful entrepreneurial journey. At the site, you will find relevant articles, how-to videos, podcasts, forums, and special offers that are all deigned specifically for the self-employed.” I couldn’t put it better myself, so I didn’t.

Social Media

Facebook

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When it comes to starting a successful business, marketing is at the top of your priority list. This site helps you understand some of the social media benefits and how to gain customers right away and increase your customer base as you grow.

WordStream

Wordstream is your all-in-one social media manager. Although it has a monthly fee, it can be well worth it. The site itself gives you a great helicopter view of how to manage your social media even without paying.

Legal

Shake

Just as marketing is vitally important to creating a successful business, without the right legal strategies your business is at risk of crumbling because you did’t have the right document signed. This site helps you understand the legalities of operating your own small business. From terminology to contracts, this site is a must!

Startup Company Lawyer

Are you looking for some legal advice, but don’t have the cash to pay the overpriced attorneys? This site gives great ‘legal” via posts. It answers many of the common questions anyone starting or running a small business needs.

Funding

Fundable

Depending on what type of business you are starting, funding can sometimes be an idea killer. Fundable is a great choice for those looking to raise funds when family, friends, and personal options are exhausted.

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Fundera

Another option for funding when all others methods are out of the question is borrowing. After filling out a single application, Fundera will then match you to up to three compatible lenders. Don’t waste time going from lender to lender. Fundera does it for you.

Onevest

Are you looking to do some crowdfunding to get your business started? If so, Onevest may be the way to go. You can raise up to five million from investors with proven results.

Gust

Gust is a cool site where you can upload your pitch for investors to see exactly who and what they will be investing in. A great way to get your mission and passion across to potential investors.

You now have 20 websites that will get you from idea to startup to successfully running your own show. No more excuses! Begin with SBA and before you know it, you will be in business!

Featured photo credit: Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet by Maurizio Pesce via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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