More and more people are becoming their own boss with their own company. Partly because current economic conditions require it. But also because it’s easier than ever these days. Your own business can bring in supplemental money or become your full-time role. Whatever the reason, self-employed business management is a serious thing. And it can be tricky if you have no experience. You will learn as you go. But here are some effective tips to get you started.
Make Data-Driven Decisions
Data is all around us, and we use it for everything, sometimes without even knowing it. In turn, others use your data. Data is used for identification, business transitions, and paying taxes. But for a self-employed business owner, it can be hard to know what data is applicable to you. Fortunately, there are data apps for every industry, such as BuildOps for contractor services like plumbing, electric, and fire safety. For a website, you would use Google Analytics to start with.
Pay Attention to Copyright and Trademark
The copyright and trademark industry is booming today. There are a lot of complex legal workings within this murky and unscrupulous part of the law. And you can find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit from a massive company like Monster Energy drinks. So be careful:
- Research any names, logos, and slogans you will use to check if they are already in use.
- Always use licensed works, pay for them as required, and credit the creator if you must.
- Be very careful about using licensed music on videos for platforms such as YouTube.
- Use your common sense and never copy anything outright, but inspiration is always fine.
Using copyrighted works is okay when you go about it correctly. Often there is an agent who works on behalf of the creator of copyrighted works. So always make the necessary contact, pay any required fees, and keep receipts as proof you have the right to use copyrighted works.
Use the Cloud for Self-Employed Business Management
Cloud services are everywhere these days and with good reason. Using the cloud (any web-based service) is easier, more secure, and often cheaper than standard licensed software. Good examples of cloud services for self-employed entrepreneurs include Dropbox for file storage and sharing, document creation, signatures, and collaborations, or SmarterQueue my favorite service for posting to multiple social media platforms at the same time. Of course, you can also use cloud-based operating systems and office apps for your day-to-day.
Stay on Top of Transactions
You can’t control the economy. But you can control the finances of your company to avoid getting into difficulties. And if you are self-employed, this is vital. Of course, you can hire someone to manage company finances for you. But this is an added expense and may not be possible when you start out. Fortunately, there are apps that make staying on top of money easier. For example, you can record transactions in Quickbooks accounting software and easily manage your business expenses.
Learn Your Country’s Tax Laws
Staying on top of finances and getting to grips with taxes is crucial. If you avoid or delay tax payments, you will end up with big fines and possible time in prison. Each country is different. However, a good tip is to file tax returns on the first possible day and schedule monthly payments for what you owe. Do your research on requirements for taxes, licensing, and business insurance so you don’t get in trouble and end up with fines or owe money to the government.
Obtain All Necessary Insurance Policies
Your business won’t last long if you are not insured. Insurance is a vital process in modern business management. And no matter the type of business you have, insurance is always necessary. Even if your business is entirely online, your desktop PCs can be stolen, meaning expensive replacements. But if your business has even one employee and operates physically, there are policies such as worker’s comp, public liability, and product liability if you manufacture.
Don’t Neglect Cyber Security
The protection of company, employee, and customer data is a huge responsibility these days. And the best defense you have against the theft of personal data is a reliable cyber security strategy. You probably keep your home data safe, but you can also try these for business:
- Learn and teach about common hacking attempts like phishing and social engineering.
- Ensure your devices are secured using complex passwords using a password manager.
- Install anti-malware such as Malwarebytes and set the program to update automatically.
- Don’t forget to also keep hardware and firmware updated to avoid backdoor hacking.
- Use a reliable payment processor to keep customer bank details safe and secure.
- Hire a managed IT service to run your office network and prevent unauthorized access.
- Don’t allow employees to use personal devices for business or access your Wi-Fi.
Having a reliable cyber security plan is a great way to avoid some of the worst issues. But it relies on constant adaptation and education. Additionally, you can be held liable for data misuse or theft if you don’t take reasonable steps to protect it from being intercepted and uploaded.
Keep Your Website Updated
These days, the main point of call between a customer and your business is either your social media profile or your website. A social media profile is very easy to manage. But you must pay attention to your website. For example, make sure you reflect any company changes on your site, such as a new phone number. But also update it often with blog posts and other content to refresh its ranking on search engines. Additionally, update the theme for new security changes. Partner with a web hosting provider that will help and support you in your endeavors. I have used Dreamhost as my provider for over 20 years.
Make Your Website Accessible
Making your website accessible will go a long way in securing respect and loyalty from customers. Shockingly 97% of website home pages aren’t compliant with the WCAG accessibility guidelines. This means people with vision, hearing, or other disabilities can have trouble using them. So you can show that you appreciate all customers by paying attention to these and making changes where appropriate so anyone can access your site and services.
Use a Mobile Responsive Web Theme
Further to keeping your site updated, you must make it mobile-friendly. This is vital today because search engines like Google place a strong emphasis on this in response to how many people use mobile devices to access the web. Today, 90% of people use their smartphone for web browsing more than their desktop PC. So mobile themes are ranked higher. A good mobile site is responsive, includes tap scrolling, and is easy to read while being much faster to load.
Educate Yourself and Your Employees
It’s hard to find a sector, niche, or business type that doesn’t change with the times. New tech, safety concerns, and changes to the law can all mean you need to make changes at your company. This is why you must stay up-to-date with your sector. For example, subscribe to magazines, attend seminars, and make sure your employees also know about these. Failing to keep up with some of these means your business will suffer, but it could also land you with fines.
Include AI Tools to Aid Your Business
If you haven’t heard of artificial intelligence (AI) before, you probably have not since it’s all over the news. Recent advancements in open-source AI have made it accessible to everyone. But far from taking over the world just yet, here are some ways you can use AI at your business:
- AI can help develop personalized experiences for customers based on historical use.
- Automation tools like MailChimp can help you deliver email marketing campaigns.
- You can use AI to aid you in writing niche-specific blog content for your website.
- Use ChatBots to help customers find what they need on your website and contacts.
There is much more to modern AI than automation. But the level of complexity your AI will use across your business depends on what you need. It can be as simple as greeting customers that visit your site or as complex as carrying out dangerous manufacturing processes at work.
Self-Employed Business Management by Outsourcing
You can do a lot of work yourself with passion, dedication, and motivation. But you can’t do it all. And for some tasks, you might not be qualified. But don’t worry because one of the greatest tools you have at your disposal is outsourcing. Outsourcing is when you pay an external service to do some work for you. Common outsourcing services today include managed IT companies, customer services such as call handling, and employee management using HR services.
Self-employed business management is much more challenging than it sounds. But you can make sure your company does well by paying attention to specific things. For example, you can use various data analytics software to catch the information you need to make decisions. Yet you also need to build your cyber security strategy in response to changing threats. And it helps to keep yourself and your staff informed about industry changes that could affect your company.