Running a one-person business? Here are some tech tips

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Many entrepreneurs start out as a one-man (or woman) show. While this can be challenging, exhausting and incredibly rewarding, ultimate success may not be determined by your business idea, but by how organised you are.

Experienced freelancers and small businesses that are single person operations need to be ultra-organised. Whether you are flying solo for the first time or well established, technology can improve your efficiency and performance. Here are some pointers based on my own experience running a one-man show.

Software and apps

A mobile app runs on smartphones and tablets and is great for working on the go. Don’t let travel or other down times get in the way of staying on top of things.

1. Get in the cloud  

Move appropriate information to a secure, cloud based solution. A cloud drive or app keeps your data stored on someone else’s servers and is accessible through the app or from an Internet browser.

* Get organized with cloud apps and software: Google is a great example of an integrated cloud based solution. Download the app to your mobile device and access your email, calendar, contacts and more — anywhere you have connectivity. Cloud solutions will update automatically on all your devices so you never have to worry about syncing up or working on an old version of something.

2. Financials on the go

Inevitably, you will need a decent accounting system — just prepare your first Business Activity Statement (BAS) and you will find out why. You can review or update financials on the go by choosing cloud solutions.

* Accounting: Access your accounts in the cloud from your mobile devices. Ensure you can bill customers by email on the go and record those pesky petty cash expenses as you incur them. Cloud accounting also makes it easy to collaborate with your accountant.

* Banking: Download your bank’s mobile app so that you can pay bills on the run with direct transfers or verify clients have really banked that cheque!

3. Social media

Organize a social media calendar as part of your overall business or marketing plan. Then, get started on your chosen social media platforms sooner rather than later.

* Get social: Get the apps for your chosen social media platforms and spread the word about you and your brand. It may be Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn, but I do most of my social media on the go. This includes responding to incoming client leads and global networking.

* Collaborate and network: Save time and use technology to establish new relationships with people locally (for example with the Business Victoria Facebook Group) and globally (via Twitter).

4. Test and learn

There are many amazing cloud based applications that can revolutionise your small business, and some are free. Try these for starters: MailChimp, SurveyMonkey, Elance, Evernote or Eventbrite.

Hardware

Keeping up to date with hardware is incredibly important, and with prices plummeting, good hardware is becoming more and more affordable.

1. Mobile phones: Update often and get on a good network. If you are active on social media, you will love the new high quality photos, brighter screens and higher speeds.

2. Tablets: Consider using a wireless mobile tablet for one-on-one interactions. Photos look amazing, and you can work directly through the cloud or update a presentation as you flick through it.

3. Laptops: Update, back up and maintain yours regularly. Turning up to a meeting with a battered old laptop creates a bad impression.

4. Connectivity: This is important. Make sure you have reliable Wi-Fi, mobile phone coverage and Internet connectivity, both at your home base and on the road.

5. Printers and scanners: You probably should be scanning most of your documents and emailing them by now, but upgrade if you haven’t already.

Other things to keep in mind

As a one-man or woman business you still have many of the same obligations a bigger business has with regard to being organised. You need to make decisions on tax, superannuation, insurance, possible incorporation and other registrations, just to name a few. Fortunately, you don’t need to do it all alone. Get good advice: you will need a proactive accountant, a lawyer and possibly a business coach to help you get started or grow! Do your research. See what assistance the local, state or federal small business departments can offer, and start planning for success.

  • //www.twopeas.com.au Pam Pitt

    One of the biggest problems of being a sole operator is what to do when going on holidays…who is going to look after your business/clients?
    I was a sole operator in the software consulting industry. When I was planning holidays about 8 years ago, I looked around until I found a person also running a sole operator business, I trusted her and asked if I could leave her number on my mobile phone while I was gone. It went so well, that now we have merged our businesses and have a staff of 12 and growing. And I have the best business partner who looks after the business while I am gone!

  • Alex

    Informative article but I would like to add that some of us one-person businesses prefer not to “get in the cloud” with all our business activity. I use an app called SideShark that I downloaded onto my MacBook for all my invoicing, quotes, accounting, and contact management. It is designed specifically for a solo business, does everything I need with a minimal learning curve, and there are no monthly fees. I appreciate that if you want (or need) to manage your business on the go via your phone or tablet, a cloud service is preferable, but that doesn’t apply to all of us.