You’ve just resigned from your previous job to start your own business. You have a great vision but still far from seeing it all come together. While you’re not where you wish to be just yet, here are our suggestions on the essential things you have to do to show that you’re the real deal.
CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN AND MISSION STATEMENT
Organize your ideas in the form of a business plan. Following a tried-and-tested format not only puts your thoughts on paper, it guides you along the whole thought process as well.
There are a lot of elements in creating and running a business. Being able to identify key factors, as well as plan a mode of attack will allow you to have a road map for the coming months. It will also help you pinpoint the hurdles you have to go through, the level of difficulty of essential tasks, the resources you would need etc. You will also get to see the connection of each piece to the whole picture.
Creating a business plan and mission statement is not only a great exercise to deepen your understanding of your intended business, it will also help you communicate your vision to potential stakeholders.
BUILD YOUR WEBSITE
Having a well-made website may be considered the start of your public operations. While a business plan only stays within your company, a website will allow you to communicate with everyone else. Keep in mind that your website should provide the right feel for your customers. It should clearly communicate who you are and what you can do.
Get your own company domain, and don’t hesitate to hire a professional designer to create you website and logo– that investment would go a long way.
SET UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
Other than making your business “searchable,” these social media accounts can help you generate new leads. If you can’t handle multiple accounts, focus on the most important one. Make sure to generate content that will be useful for your intended market.
HAVE BUSINESS CARDS MADE
There is a lot of debate on how much of a necessity business cards are. However, if you are a just starting out, we suggest you have business cards made. Having your contact details written on a piece of paper gives the impression that you are not a fly-by-night company. It communicates that your company exists in a real location and be contacted when needed.
USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
Sustainability is one of the key objectives of a business. Build a company that can operate efficiently despite having a few people on the team and when there are groups of people working. Ensure that there are clear communication lines, the right processes, the right tools for different functions etc. Invest in tools that can automate the repetitive items, eliminating the chances of error and unwanted costs. Log information through software to ensure that the doesn’t get crippled when a member is absent or resigns.
It is important to note that if you intend to grow, the best time to start using these tools is at the beginning. Migrating from spreadsheets to software is a different battle altogether. Avoid it if you can.
Try tools like PayrollHero for employee management, Slack for communication, PipelineDealsfor lead management, TradeGecko for inventory management, MailChimp for email marketing, Google Enterprise for email, file sharing, etc.
These are only a few of the many things you need to do, but with these simple steps, you’re sure to be headed in the right direction in starting your own business!
The logistics around your meetings should be the easy part. Find out about three different types of tools you should use so you can focus more on your customer.
Meetings with your leads are valuable. Unfortunately, the logistics around sales meetings are annoying. Finding a common time to meet, scheduling a conference call, and sharing documents afterwards can be a pain if you don’t have the right tools.
Fortunately, there are a number of programs out there that you can use to make logistics a breeze. Modern sales tools can simplify the logistics around meetings so that you can focus on your customer’s needs and deliver the most value. Below are several tools to check out if you’re looking to make planning for your next sales meeting easy. (We don’t have an affiliate relationship with the businesses below—we just think that they’re useful for salespeople!)
Sometimes the hardest thing about having a meeting is finding a common time to meet. Scheduling a meeting can be repetitive and time-consuming if you’re using email to coordinate between several people. With the right tool though, you can easily organize a meeting with your prospective buyers and clients with one email.
Our sales team uses ScheduleOnce to schedule with customers. ScheduleOnce allows your clients to select their preferred meeting time based on your availability and automatically update your calendar with your appointments. Simply embed ScheduleOnce in your email communication or on your website, and your customers will find the best time to connect with you in a relaxed atmosphere.
We like ScheduleOnce because it integrates with Google Apps, allows for various meeting types, and it is simple to use. We’ve also recommended it in the past to Outlook users because of its integration with Outlook.
One alternative to ScheduleOnce is Calendly. Calendly offers a lighter-weight version of ScheduleOnce optimized for Google Apps. Calendly is less customizable than ScheduleOnce, but it can be a great alternative option for teams with basic scheduling needs.
PipelineDeals Pro-Tip – You can integrate PipelineDeals with Google Apps and Outlook to sync your calendars. If you use a service like ScheduleOnce or Calendly to plan meetings and use our integration, this means that your meetings will be automatically scheduled back into your CRM. Brilliant!
GoToMeeting has been a standard in web conferencing for many years, but they’re not the only option available for companies. Increasingly, savvy and growing businesses have been turning to more flexible conferencing services that are quick to setup and less expensive.
If you’re conferencing between Google users, one easy (and free) option available is Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts lets you share files, share screens, and collaborate in real-time. Unfortunately, Google Hangouts are only available between Google users and do not offer recording services.
For more functional conferencing needs, check out Join.Me or UberConference. Join.Me offers on-demand web conferencing for free, and can be used to setup a quick screenshare between teams. With the pro version, you can setup a personal and permanent sharing link, record sessions, and view on your mobile device or tablet. Better yet, the conferencing is available in a browser and doesn’t require any browser.
UberConference offers a comparable service to Join.Me, and comes with easy collaboration tools, unlimited calling, and screensharing.
PipelineDeals Pro-Tip – If you record your phone conversations or video conferences, upload those conversations and video conversations into your CRM. We don’t charge you for storage and this is the best way to stay organized.
DOCUMENT SIGNING TOOLS
The proposal and contract phase of a sale is a headache for many salespeople and a surprisingly easy place to lose a sale. Proposals can languish in potential customer inboxes for a number of reasons, and without the right tools, it can be impossible to know what may be holding up the signing of a document. Having the right tool can have an enormous positive impact on your business (Sneak preview – we’ll be featuring a story from a customer this week who closed more than $100000 in December by implementing a document signing tool).
So what document tool should you use? There are a few different tools out there to check out, including DocuSign (the market leader), RightSignature, PandaDoc, and HelloSign. RightSignature and PandaDoc have built integrations for PipelineDeals that allow you to integrate PipelineDeals with their services. However, any document signing service can ease the process of getting a contract signed.
To find the best service, check out the reviews on G2 Crowd. G2 Crowd offers a comparison of different document signing services from actual customers. Of the available e-Signature reviews on the site, RightSignature had the highest overall score amongst e-Signature products.
PipelineDeals Pro-Tip – Remember that you can track documents on to People, Deals, and Companies in PipelineDeals. If you remember to firstname.lastname@example.org on documents that you send out, these documents will be automatically stored in your CRM.
This article has been brought to you by our friends at PipelineDeals!
Two weeks ago, we welcomed a special guest here at the Bridge Southeast Asia office. JP Werlin, co-founder and CEO of PipelineDeals, flew in from Seattle to talk to us about the increasing role of technology in today’s sales.
It was a great opportunity for the team, not just to learn sales tactics from a pro, but to meet the man behind a tool that we use on a daily basis. PipelineDeals is an essential for the Bridge team—it has made our business development team more organized and more informed about our prospects and our pipeline, not to mention that it has saved us all from the headache of using excel sheets. We could not imagine using anything else.
And we are just one out of the thousands of sales teams around the world that PipelineDeals has helped, ranging from the large enterprises to small businesses and entrepreneurs. What started as a side project by JP and his co-founder Nick Bertolino nine years ago (in a second bedroom in JP’s house) is now being used in 60 countries—and it still has tremendous room for growth, especially here in the Philippines.
To learn a little bit more about JP Werlin’s story of founding PipelineDeals, check out our video interview (or read through the full transcript below):
WHY DID YOU START PIPELINEDEALS?
JP Werlin: Many companies use a spreadsheet or pen and paper to track their sales, and that’s what we were doing. We were using spreadsheets. I knew I could not afford the larger, more expensive, more overkill solutions on the market—this is why we found the technology that would make it very simple and easy to use a CRM in my business. So we built PipelineDeals for us first to solve our problems. It turns out that by solving our problem, we solved a lot of peoples’ problems. So this started in 2006, and we’ve been organically growing for the past nine years and we’re continuing to grow today into 60 countries around the world.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST YEAR LIKE?
JP: Just like with everything in life, you only get out of it what you put into it. When we started PipelineDeals in my second bedroom and at Nick (Bertolio’s) kitchen table, Nick and I were working two jobs. So we had a day job from 8 am – 5 pm, and then at night, we’d come home and work on PipelineDeals. And that’s hard. That is a long day. You’re working 12-14 hours a day, and you do that for three years.
It takes a lot of commitment, a lot of follow though. And getting through those first three years, you are looking down the barrel of failure every single day.And being able to have the faith and the confidence that we are going to see it through, and make this work no matter what, was what pulls you through to the other side.
So for us, having that resilience and commitment to a vision that you’re going to succeed and get to a point where the business can start to fund itself and get an office space, that you could afford a phone number that wasn’t your personal cell phone, where you can hire a personal customer service person to respond to a customer email and you would have to respond—that was luxury.
So it took us a long, arduous journey, that you spend many a sleepless night working instead of going out with friends or playing it took some hard work.
HOW DID YOU FIND THE MOTIVATION?
JP: For a lot of entrepreneurs, it basically comes down to that [determination that] You’re gonna make it work. Mistakes happen, difficulties arise, but you’re gonna make it work and you’re going to find a solution.
For me it’s an innate confidence that with the help of others, we can find a way to make this business work, and that’s what pulled us through in the early years. But more than me, finding some critical early hires—additional team members to employee number one—was critical. Finding ‘juniors’ as what we call them, and having this energy and passion and commitment, and giving him a forum to realize his full potential, was critical.
And so you can’t do it alone. But we couldn’t afford to pay him for a long time, right. So we had to do on our own for a few years, then finally we were able to hire our first employee. So if you get to the point that you get to hire, it’s critical to hire someone who really helps you succeed.
WHEN WAS YOUR BREAKTHROUGH?
JP: I think early on, we knew we were onto something when we had a random phone call from a large healthcare company in the United States. They kind of made a joke like “Oh, you guys are in your garage.” We were on our conference call and we just kind of laughed and said “Oh no, no,” but of course we were. We were one our second bedroom—its not really a garage so we didn’t necessarily fib—and that customer gave us the ability to hire.
And it wasn’t a lot of money, but it was enough to pay the first employee. So that was not necessarily a breakthrough, but it gave us some form of breathing room. Ever since then it was about building enough space, enough breathing room into the business, where you can continue to grow without dipping too far into your credit cards. You would have some revenue to offset the expenses.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE FAILURES?
JP: I’ve had more than my share of failures, I think that’s where I learned the most. So I embrace failure. I think if I don’t push the business near to the point of failure, then we’re not pushing ourselves hard enough. I’m not afraid of failure. Success is not a good teacher. I think failure is a true teacher. So my goal is to face that failure now with the best people who can see us through.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BIG OPPORTUNITY HERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?
JP: The Philippine culture is young, it’s vibrant, it’s growing. Growth here is make parts of the cities int he US look a little bit sleepy. The youthful vigor is critical to an economy. I think there’s some fundamental things that the Philippines will be focusing on—around banking, around saving, around thinking about the future financially. The adoption of easy payment methods may be like Globe’s electronic money, other ways to save and store pesos, is going to change the way the younger generation thinks about money. And that will translate into business, right?
So that youthful energy and growth potential is the biggest thing. As far as the cons, I don’t see a lot. I’m not going it change anything in the Philippine culture or the Filipino mindset.
But what I learned with my colleagues—and I’ve spent very little time in the country compared to some of my friends—and what they tell is that the reticence of some [in the Filipino workforce] to take the responsibility and step up into a leadership level of a team lead or a management lead, is hard to find. I think those young professionals who see that not as a weakness, but those who can take the bull by the horns—I think those driven, entrepreneurial, aggressive young Filipinos in the workforce today, who’ll step and up and say “I am going to take a risk, and I am going to try to be successful in my company, and take a leadership position,” I think they have a very bright future.
I think they’re going to be the business leaders of tomorrow. I know a lot of Philippine-based companies don’t want to hire expats as leaders anymore. They want more Filipino born-and-raised leaders. They need to cultivate the leaders of tomorrow. And those leaders start as the team leaders and sales managers of today.
And so I think that whole weakness-opportunity dynamic is true here in the Philippines. I encourage the young folks in the Philippine workforce to get a little more serious about your career and get more motivated. I’m not saying work longer hours. I’m all for ‘work smarter, not harder.’ I’d say work smarter, but step up and say ‘I’m willing to take responsibility. I’m wiling to take a risk. I’m willing to push my company further.’