Every job done well is only as good as the tools you use. From a quiet location from which to work to online tools support choose the most appropriate and user friendly for your business. If you are balking at any additional expense, you may need to rethink your commitment to your new venture. Start slow and build up your office arsenal if funds are not available. You are in business and tools will help you increase your bottom line and your sanity.
Make a Good Connection
Having your own computer is a necessity. Sharing a computer and sharing files can really be a source of friction when your business kicks in and you find that you need to have open access at any time. I have lost 2 documents because a family member came and went on-line thereby erasing 2 articles that had taken me 2 hours to write. I was asked yesterday as to whether it would be fine to share a computer with a wife who was just starting 4 on-line college courses. Yes, if you do not mind marriage counseling. If you are serious about your new business you need your own computer. Your productivity depends also on your computer being as up to date as possible with word processing and database programs. To do any slide show or video presentations you will need to have a program like Microsoft Movie Maker. You will need to have virus protection to safeguard your work. Having access to high speed is crucial as time is of the essence when you run an on-line business. If you are doing any video trainings high speed internet is essential for viewing videos and quickly downloading files and programs. Most home based businesses operate on the internet for the majority of the time. For ultimate speed and reliability you need a high speed connection, also known as broadband internet access. High speed connections including DSL, Cable or Satellite will allow large amounts of data to be uploaded and downloaded quickly. This will save you time, money and frustration.
Even though desk top computers have ruled the market place forever, laptop or notebook computers are emerging as leaders in sales because of their portability and size options. A true entrepreneur needs access to his business while traveling or working in different places in the home. You can take advantage of the growing availability of high speed wireless access at airports, hotels and coffee shops.
Your Phone System
Call Me Up Before You Go Go
Even with an on-line business your phone will be one of your most valuable tools. Anyone who believes that you can create hard working partners and long lasting customers only using email communication knows nothing about humanity. People join people not systems. Email will never replace the importance and personal nature of a human voice as a business tool. I believe that having a cell phone is imperative to always be on top of your business. Like the idea of portability with a lap top computer having a cell phone allows you flexibility and mobility and no missed calls. Think of all the time wasted on following up with voice mail messages. With a cell phone you can be reached when people need you. Because of possible reception you will also need a land line where you will do much of your business. Your phone needs to have speaker phone capabilities if possible and a service your system should have is the ability to do a 3 way call. When hooking up more than one person, for training or introductions, the 3-way call is my best friend. When purchasing a phone a separate cordless hand set is also nice. I pace when I talk and if you have children around it is nice to be able to walk around and see what they are up to or move to a quieter location if they are watching Veggie Tales too loudly. A PDA, smart phone, personal digital assistant offer almost all the tools that your laptop has, but with the small profile of a cellular phone.
Hey I Know You!
Another tool that you will need for an on-line business is a good email autoresponder. I would pay much more than I do for this tool. They are relatively cheap ( I pay less then 28.00 a month). This is the most valuable tool in my arsenal. I prefer Aweber because of all the bells and whistles and ease of use for the newbie. An auto responder not only captures your lead for you when they opt in to your capture page but also will follow up with pre-written email messages that you have written one time. This will give your lead many times to look at your business, or your product as they are deciding whether or not to join you or purchase. An autoresponder captures whatever info your opt-in form asks them to fill out, name, email or phone number. Now they can be followed up with immediately with a thank you for your interest message and a phone call. While they are making up their mind your autoresponder emails them every 2-3 days to remind them about you. Surveys show that most people do not buy the first time they see the information, but a substantial amount of people will buy if they see your offer more than once. Without an auto responder you have the chance of warming up a lead just so that a competitor can easily pick them up. This way you can continue a relationship with this lead, updating on new products, conference calls, special offers, and more info about your business. Some people do not buy right away because of timing not being right, they need more information, or they aren’t sure they can trust you. Having a long term way to build a relationship will secure your sales and new business partners in the future.
Starting a new business especially with an on-line business is an exciting time but can be frustrating if you do not have the right support, either a good mentor or good tools. Automating will save you time and create an on-line persona that is very professional. Make sure you align with someone who can steer you to the right tools and strategies and you will have a successful business.