'Journey' being the optimum word, as Patrick is currently having the best of both worlds by starting a business and travelling at the same time. So over to Patrick for week 1's blog post and a rather timely starting point with some pointers on the tools that can help you grow your business...
"In my experience I have often learned my most valuable lessons whilst travelling. The opportunities to integrate with different cultures, the people I meet and the experiences I encounter have helped to shape how I run a business and how it will evolve. Over the next 6 weeks I will be giving you an insight in to what it is like to set up a business remotely, having no funding, no startup cash and how to charge in one currency and live in another.
I previously ran a property company, and the biggest learning curve during that time for me was that sustainability and slow organic growth is essential, and material goods mean nothing. A big office, a logo on your door, mac desktops, branded stationery - none of it means a thing apart from boosting your ego. Launching Timely Pa my mantra from the start has been to keep everything lean, if it doesn't fit in your backpack or if it is not online, then it is not part of the company. This is only achievable by having a very limited wardrobe, but more importantly by having very good systems set up from the start to run the business.
Working as a virtual pa for tech startup companies, I have been fortunate enough to be introduced to new businesses that hope to disrupt current day systems and ideas. Using these new companies I am able to run my company efficiently and cost effective, all whilst experiencing new countries on a weekly basis. The following are the tools that helped me and could help you to grow your business:
(1) Cyfe is the most important tool I have and I highly recommend this for any small businesses. Cyfe is a customised dashboard where you can monitor at a glance exactly how your business is running. This can be anything from site traffic, twitter mentions, paypal payments or customised google docs to show graphs of your data. I use Cyfe to run the business on a daily basis, if my graphs are not growing upwards and showing progression then it's a signal I need to change things. You can also create multiple dashboards where you clients can log in and see what work you are doing for them, which is a great tool for businesses that offer SEO or marketing.
(2) My Social Cloud This is another startup that simplifies my working process. If you use the same password for every log in, have passwords saved on word documents, or constantly forget your passwords, then this company will be a your saviour. Mysocialcloud is an online secure password database bank. Every time I create a new log into a site, my passwords are saved to msc. I never lose a password or log in and each password I have is generated to be secure. I also use this with my clients as I create a msc login for them where they can add their passwords to their accounts for me to log in, When the contract is finished the client simply removes my access to their msc account and there is no worries about shared access or passwords being public.
(3) Streak For any company starting up, it may feel that having a crm system is not essential, or you can use one when you have more customers. However using a crm as part of your business from the start will put you in the right routine , save you time and help build up a rapport with your clients. Streak is a new company that helps you create a crm system within your gmail account. It is very simple to use, very slick and it means you never lose track of who you have emailed, when you emailed them and what the correspondence was.
(4) Wunderlist I organise my weekly routine by breaking it down in to daily targets. I like to feel that I have achieved something new every day with the business and I like to tick boxes when I have completed a task. Wunderlist is an online to do list that is easy to use and creates a system of completing tasks in order every day. All of my clients use this and they simply create a new task, add to wunderlist and I am notified and work straight on the job.
All of these businesses are new and growing rapidly but are free to use at the moment. Using these startups I'm able to monitor everything in my business and continue to grow in a sustainable way.
Now that you have created your business , your systems are in place and your costs are at a minimum, you are ready to look for the business to grow. Next week I will be explaining how to get more business and increase sales whilst never physically meeting your clients.
You can follow Patrick Collins on Twitter - @timelypa
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