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Sharpen your professional edge

By • Nov 3rd, 2007 • Category: Personal Development

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Professionalism is one of the keys to success in any endeavour. If as a small business owner, you don’t operate in a professional manner you may be depriving yourself of the respect you deserve and the success you want.

Therefore, to attract clients and harness their loyalty, consider implementing the following big business practices:

* Mastermind a plan

Without a plan, you could find yourself going nowhere fast. Knowing where you are and where you’re headed gives you a clear view of the journey ahead.

Prepare both short and long-term goals to steer you towards success. Make short-term plans with a To Do list for next week, next month or next year. These lists keep you on track. They help you increase productivity and efficiency thus ensuring success.

Long-term goals might include strategies for investments and diversification. They may also comprise a scheduled plan for hiring new employees and the systematic purchasing of equipment to expedite speedier delivery of products and services.

When unexpected situations emerge you will be able to make more informed decisions and take decisive action. With a plan in hand, you can easily swing with the punches without falling down or falling apart.

* Manage your image

As a freelance writer who conducts business online, I often fall into the trap of conducting business in my pajamas. And often, I have to remind myself of this same rule.

Because you can get away with working in sleepwear, underwear or shabby home clothes doesn’t mean that you should. Make it a practice to wear clothes that are comfortable while still depicting a professional look suitable for your line of business.

Can’t afford to pay a printer? No problem, your computer can generate anything from business cards to letterheads and invoices. In most cases, your business card is the first contact you will have with prospective clients. Make sure you always have some in your bag whatever the occasion and they have all the contact information a prospect will need.

* Manage your space

You can use just about any room in your house to pursue your dreams. Many small business owners start and chart the course of their businesses from their bedrooms, kitchens, or garages.

The furnishings are not as important as the creation of a workspace that encourages your most creative, productive and efficient work.

Wherever you produce your products or plan you service, make sure it is well organized. It will determine how you function when you are a full-fledged success and operating from your ideal workspace in the future.

* Manage your information

If you have just opened your business, you may not have funds available to set up your office the way you would like. That is no excuse to operate in a shabby manner.

Make sure all your business information is easily accessible. After all, you will look and work smarter if you can retrieve information at a moment’s notice when a client calls.

* Manage your time

Time management is big business. Large corporations hire time management consultants to teach them how to maximize time. You can learn to manipulate the 24 hours at your disposal to achieve your daily goals.

If you work from home, you have to learn how to juggle your business, household and parenting responsibilities.

Schedule meetings and phone calls during your children’s nap time or while they are at school. Clients on the telephone should not be privy to squabbles or shouting matches between your children. 

Family and friends usually view your working from home to mean you are available at their beck and call. Nip those views in the bud. Set boundaries and enforce them. For example, let them know your working hours and the times when they can call or visit.

Try every trick in the book to avoid wasting time surfing the Internet, instant messaging and checking e-mail every few minutes.

* Manage your money

Just as in your personal life, the budget rules. Formulate one for your business.

Keep personal, household and business accounts separate. If you must borrow from the household or personal account for business purposes, consider it a loan. Record it in your ledger and put a plan in place to repay it as soon as possible.

* Manage your network

Networking with like-minded individuals or groups is one way to keep abreast of new developments in your field. You may even form your own association if none exists. Start with one other individual and stay dedicated to regular meetings and share information.

Surely, you can find a Website about your line of business. Put your name on their newsletter mailing list. Join their forum but don’t lurk about only absorbing information. Engage in discussions; share your ideas and experiences. Formulate friendships and partnerships if possible.

Take your business a notch higher up the ladder to success. Plan for growth, create and maintain a business-like image, manage your information, time and finances and schedule time to network. Family, friends, clients and competitors will look at and treat you as a professional

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