Tips on Being a Business Owner or Freelancer

You have to think of long term, your business, and your employees. This is one of the biggest tips for any business owner.

As a business owner, no one in your company should not be replaceable at any time, including yourself. With that in mind, you should have every thing every employee, manager, officer does written down and reviewed quarterly to add or make changes. It is so you don’t need those two weeks to find out what that person does or try to figure out what they did after they are gone. And beyond that what happens if some one gets sick? or dies? or can’t come in due to personal reasons.

Tips on Being Small Business Owner

  • Business Plan. Write it down. Read it and review it monthly. Change it if necessary.
  • Get an LLC, Inc, or what ever.
  • Get Insurance and more than enough insurance. If you have a home office most insurance only covers $5000 worth of business stuff. That’s not much when you add stuff up.
  • Write stuff down. Have a daily/weekly task list.
  • Set goals. Then create steps to achieve those goals.
  • Figure out your money makers. Nothing is worse than wasting time on some thing that will make you little money.
  • Don’t be afraid to get rid of bad clients or customers. They will end up costing your company money. Be nice but firm. Tell them things like “I’m sorry my business can’t fulfill your needs.”
  • Stick to what you are good at. Don’t over extend your services. If you are an ice cream shop, don’t try to be an upscale restaurant. If that is what you want to turn into later down the road once going, great, make a plan to do that.
  • Create a proper image for your company. Spend the money on a good web site. Business cards, etc. Nothing is worse than looking like a fly by night company.
  • Be professional. You can have your fun. And business can be very fun. Just don’t act like a tool.
  • Know your customer base and market. If you want to cater to the well off. You better have a business that acts like it and what they would expect. Opening a fancy high end computer store in a run down neighborhood is stupid.
  • Target your market and the people who you want to be your customers. But don’t be surprised if your customers turn out to be some thing else. If your customers are more computer savvy. Do things like send email newsletters, not snail mail.
  • Have a disaster plan. Nothing is worse than crap going wrong and things get messed up because there wasn’t a plan in place.
  • If you have employees, write out a job description. Review it every 3-6 months.
  • If you are looking to hire. Be picky. It is better to wait to hire some one than to spend countless hours dealing with the wrong fit.
  • Go that extra step for your customer. Even some thing as simple as helping them out the door goes a long way. But know your limits without coming off as a jerk.
  • Don’t be afraid to fire some one. If they are doing some thing bad or a bad fit. Get rid of them now. They will drag your company down. If some one gives two weeks. Get rid of them ASAP. They are leaving they don’t care about your business, they will probably not do much work in those two weeks. Why pay them.
  • Kill any sort of office drama.
  • Create a good company culture.
  • Read. And read a lot about any thing to do with your industry and business. Self help, business help, you name it. If some thing will fit into your company, make a plan to integrate it, then follow through.
  • Treat all clients equal. It doesn’t matter if some one spends $5 or $5000. You never know who your customers talk to. If you blow off the person who spends $5, you never know. They might be the one who tells the most people about your business.
  • Learn to manage time.
  • Break up projects in to small pieces. Just because some thing will take 6 hours doesn’t mean you have to do it all at once.
  • Spend at least a few hours a week improving your business. If you have trouble finding time. Schedule it.
  • Keep a schedule
  • Define your processes and tasks. Look at every process or task. Figure out the best way to do it. Write it down.
  • Don’t be afraid to contract some one for a job or project. Just because you know how to do some thing doesn’t mean you should or that it is the best use of your time.
  • Don’t be afraid of change. If you don’t change you will be left behind.
  • Train yourself and your employees well. It is often what makes or breaks your company.
  • Network your business. Go to networking meetings. Become a leader in your community. But don’t have the attitude or come off as “buy from me”. Share your knowledge and have the “How can I help/What can my company do to make your company better” attitude.
  • Charge what you are worth and make sure you are worth what you are charging.
  • Don’t be afraid to bill people. Be up front with the person. If you are rendering a service, find out how much you can legally ask for up front.
  • Be up front about freebies or bonus things you give your clients. Don’t let them expect it every time.
  • Don’t spend money you don’t have.
  • Be honest with yourself, your employees, and your customers.
  • Learn to know when to apologize. Things happen. Apologize, correct it (go beyond expected if possible), then move on.
  • Cut out dead services or products that aren’t making your money or have a low return, especially if you can replace it with some thing better.
  • Be excited that you are in business for yourself. Be excited about your business. If you aren’t why are you doing it any way?
  • Take time for yourself. Go on vacation. Go have fun. What ever. It is important .
  • Let your employees grow. You will be surprised what some are capable of. Talk with them, see what they like. Learn what they are good at doing. Just because you hired them to do xyz, doesn’t mean they always have to do xyz.
  • Listen to your customers and employees. But be smart before making changes.
  • You will hear complaints 5-10x more than you will hear praise from your customers. That doesn’t mean you are doing a bad job or have to make a change. It is a fact people complain more than they praise. And what they complain about is some times stupid. Learn to cut through the BS.
  • Praise your employees when they do a good job. Some times just saying “Thank you” or “Excellent job on…” goes much further than bringing cake or some thing like that.
  • Never complain about employees or customers to other employees. If a customer is being crappy. Deal with it, move on.
  • Know how much time you should spend on stuff. We often get caught up doing meaningless jobs or tasks the majority of the time.
  • Keep organized. Its easy to let things go. We are lazy by nature. But you will waste more time trying to figure out some thing or find some thing than taking the time to keep it organized.
  • Get rid of negative people or influences. It usually takes three negative people to disagree with your idea before you give up. Its crap. Most people don’t like to see other people succeed or take risks. Those are the people who try to crush your dreams.
  • Talk to other business owners. Find business that are similar to yours that aren’t your competition and start or master mind group where you talk about business once a month.
  • Pack up your pride. If you are struggling. Get a business coach or ask for help.
  • Get an accountant, lawyer, etc. A few bucks to ask or get a blessing on some thing, is far cheaper than being sued.
  • Create fair, honest, clear policies for both customers and employees.
  • Stay away from Dark Patterns and deceptive practices.
  • Learn to say NO. Especially to services outside of what you offer. The money will be tempting but if some thing happens, if will cost you more in the end.
  • Be picky about your clients. If you have a bad feeling about a potential client. Usually you will be right. Deny with grace.
  • Listen to your gut. If some thing feels right, it usually is. If not, it usually isn’t.
  • If you are a service business, create a contract for all clients. Get it blessed by a lawyer.
  • Know when to quit. Better to stop and move on then waste time and money.
  • Do what ever you are going to do very well. You don’t have to be the best. Just better than your most of your competition.
  • If you are launching new products or services. Prepare properly. Its exciting to get new things out there but poor execution will run any excitement and clients.
  • From time to time, take a step back and just look at what you are doing and how.

How to be a Successful business owner or freelancer

Perseverance. Ideas come and go. But it’s the work in the end that yields success. Keep going back to your dream that you fell in love with when you were first getting started. Keeping that dream alive will allow you to do the endless, insurmountable piles of work that stand between you and success.

How to be a Successful business owner or freelancer

Recognize that a lot of people will look at you like you’re nuts. Most of my friends went out and pursued jobs and careers straight out of college. They were taking starting salaries at $55k+ while I lived below poverty level for 2 years before getting my shit off the ground. You may have to compartmentalize or disassociate from people who do not support you. Naysayers will sap your confidence, energy and tenacity fast.

 

Always improve yourself as a business owner

Always be improving/polishing. Figure out how to do things better in a shorter period of time. Simple shifts in thinking can change the whole way you may perceive a problem (asshole middle-managers will call this a paradigm). If something works well, keep it and move onto the next problem. But never set anything in stone. Revamping functional code can drastically change performance. Changing the design of forms can dramatically change the choices your clients/customers make. Changing your policies can drastically cut down on returns, refunds and dissatisfied customers. Changing the way you communicate with vendors can give you back your life. Always Improve. Evolve Constantly. Never settle. This will keep you from going soft.

 

Get your first big success and first big failure down as quickly as possible.

If you’re just getting started. Get your first big success and first big failure down as quickly as possible. Your success will sustain you. Your failure will take off the pressure. Unless it’s an enormous fuck up of epic proportions, you’ll still be alive and able to make changes to create more successes.

But always. always. always go back to your dream. There will be times when there are nothing but obstacles. Nobody will support you. And the only thing driving you will be your dream. Keep pushing and make adjustments/improvements along the way and you’ll get there. Keep the faith when nobody else will.

 

Hard works pays off

A lot of hard effing work. As you grow, book keeping becomes a nightmare. Insurance, taxes, fees, permits, state taxes, city taxes, employee theft (much more than customer theft), workers comp insurance, payroll taxes, state sales taxes, quarterly taxes, state audits, federal audits, insurance audits. It’s not easy at all. It takes a lot of hard work. That being said, I make a good living after starting my business 8 years ago. It’s a pain but it’s worth it.

  • Anything you don’t know how to do well – outsource it! Focus your energy on what you do well and get HELP from others
  • Stay up to date on any legalities you’re faced with, be it taxes or making sure that your fire extinguishers are charged. Nothing kills a productive day like a visit from an unexpected bureaucrat with the ability to shut your operation down for even the slightest oversight.
  • Don’t hire your friends. Ever. Managing them is the worst thing ever. On the other side of that same coin, don’t settle on employees and hire competent people.
  • Be prepared to work your tail to the bone. Shit rolls uphill in a small business scenario. The buck stops with you.
  • Focus on making the best product / service that you can and DO NOT sell yourself short. Your time is valuable so do favors for people few and far between. Charge full price or do it for free. There should be no in between. It will set precedence for return customers to expect you to bend over backwards for little return.
  • Under-promise and over-deliver.

 

Running your own business gives you lots of freedom

Running your own business will not give you the freedom from the chains of work that you think it will. You’ll work more hours than you ever worked in your life. However, the quailty of your ability to chose when you work will more than make up for it. Yesterday I decided I needed to step away from my desk so I went and hit a couple buckets of golf balls with my son. I take my kids to school every day, I pick them up every day. I kiss them goodnight every night. Then, I put in the other 6 hours of work I need to get done before I hit the sack at 2AM so I can be fresh at 7AM to start it all over again. I take a nap when I need one, I eat when I am hungry. But my wife and I work constantly.

Promoting your side project or freelance skill

A short list of how to promote your side project.

– Find as many blogs in your niche as possible. Pitch them properly (a lot could be written on that point alone) DON’T JUST GO FOR THE BIG ONES! The smaller blogs are more likely to link to you if you’re friendly to them and develop rapport.. I run blogs with over 10,000 subscribers and I love helping people who are FRIENDLY and GENUINE.

– Use your social network.. you’ve been building one up, right? Make sure all your Twitter and Facebook followers know about what you’re doing. Lean on your Linked In contacts.

– Stumbleupon advertising (if appropriate, 5 cents a visitor). Adwords advertising (if appropriate).

– Find places where users of competing applications gather (forums, Google Groups, etc) and work your way into their attention zone.

– See if there’s a sub-Reddit that’s specifically for your niche. Find people to charm there, post ancillary links regarding your app, etc. Don’t over-do it.

– Post it on HR (as someone said above)

– Find your way in to interviews, podcasts, etc. A lot of content providers are dying for more content – you might make a great interviewee. The media is less opaque than it seems.

– Go to events! Make sure you have an elevator pitch. Get excited. Wear schwag featuring your logo, etc, if you want to. Don’t just focus on the big-wigs – get anyone who might find your service useful excited.

– Does your design rock? Get on to the “CSS design”, and “Web design” show case type sites. There are hundreds of them around. Not amazing exposure, but the more links the better and any one of your visitors might turn in to a serious contact.

– Start your own blog for your company / startup. Make it really interesting. Be candid. Show off new features. Show off stuff you’re working on. Show off your team or your technology. Build up your own tribe of followers. They will make all the difference when it comes to saving you on del.icio.us, Digg, Reddit, and so forth.

– Make sure you stay on top of your e-mail. Customers might test you with e-mails – responding quickly and completely can make the difference between sales and no sales – or life and death with a startup.

– Find ancillary reasons to get your service mentioned in blog posts and tutorials. For example, if your startup is an RSS mashup generator of some sort, you need to have tutorials out there that recommend your service. Get those tutorials and posts on to Reddit, Hacker News, Digg, etc.

– If people write about your site, write tutorials that mention you, etc, PROMOTE THAT CONTENT EVEN IF IT’S NOT YOURS! Get people reading stuff that’s about you – not by you!

– Remember that bigger sites like TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb (if applicable to your sector) love exclusives. Don’t bother mass pitching those – focus on one, whichever you can get best rapport with, and offer an exclusive. Your product needs to be AWESOME for this to work though.

– Follow a search.twitter.com search on terms related to your service (and even the name of your service) .. get in touch with people who might be interested, respond to all comments about your service.

– Write a bog standard press release and submit through the standard channels. This will not help much but at least your company name/service name will end up with a ton of results in Google – this can help you look bigger than you are. You /may/ even get some offline coverage if the press release is actually kinda good (but not too crazy). It’s cheap to do this.

– Build ancillary “fun” services that tie into your main web app. Something fun, free, perhaps something that you can relate to sites people find interesting, such as Twitter. Let’s say your main service is an online graphics editor. Perhaps you could create a separate site where people can create avatars for Twitter / Facebook from a small set of templates.. separate project but promoting the first.

– Hustle, hustle, hustle! Make sure you know as soon as someone blogs about your service. Follow Google Blog Searches, etc. Keep Googling. Get commenting on blogs (not in a spammy way – just get your name and service out there). If someone needs to do something your service offers, you need to be there!

How to Find Time to Freelance or Side Projects

I have had numerous independent projects that I start, work on for a while, loose motivation, and eventually forget about. I have yet to find the magic recipe that leads to ultimate success for personal side projects, but here are some tricks I have learned that have helped me.

 

Focus on only one side project at a time:

Having a full time job, family, and other responsibility leaves me with minimal time for personal projects. Dividing my limited free time between multiple projects results not only in less time for each project, it also decreases my focus and problem solving capabilities as I become spread too thin. If you are spending mental cycles on multiple projects it’s harder to deeply think about a particular problem you’re trying to solve.

 

Work on your personal project before anything else:

The first thing I do in the morning is work on my personal project. I don’t check Twitter. I don’t read email. I don’t browse the Internet. Besides eating breakfast the very first thing I do is work on a personal project. Because I have a regular job with normal business hours I get up as early at 5 am and put in 2 to 3 hours before I go into the office. This usually means I have to stay a little later at the office but it is worth it to me as I find I’m extremely focused when I first wake up.

 

Set aside large blocks of time:

About 75% of the work for my personal projects is completed during large extended blocks of uninterrupted time, typically on the weekends or during extended vacations. It takes me a decent amount of time to get back up to speed on a project but once I get going I really start to make large dents on projects. In Computer Science terms I would call this the context switching penalty. Try to clear out your calendar on the weekends and let everyone know, including your family, that you are busy working and should not be interrupted.

 

Ship as soon as possible:

Public scrutiny is a huge motivational force. I try to get the first version of a project, the MVP, out as soon as possible. Once it’s public your name and reputation is at stake which I find is a huge motivation to continue working on the project. A secondary benefit I get is tons of feedback which tends to either validate my idea or help me morph it into a better idea.

 

Befriend inspiring people:

Many of my friends and coworkers have cool side projects and do interesting things with their free time. I want to be like them. Friends that don’t force me to grow tend to see less and less of me. Spending time with people that have accomplished similar things to what I want to accomplish has a powerful effect on me. I also find that people love talking about their projects which serves as amazing learning opportunities.

 

You have to make sacrifices:

There simply isn’t enough time in a day to do everything I want. You have to be willing to make sacrifices in order to free up enough time to make measurable progress on your personal projects. When I’m in the middle of a project my social life suffers, I spend less time then I would like with my wife, I don’t exercise as much, I don’t watch television, and I give up my hobbies (surfing, snowboarding, mountain biking). Fortunately for me, my wife is understanding and has several hobbies and projects that keep her just as busy.

 

You have to be passionate about the project:

Everything I said means nothing if you don’t have a true passion for the project. You can’t just work on projects for the sake of it.

Tips on How to Become an Uber Drive to Make Money

How do I get started with Uber?

To get started with Uber, sign up at https://www.uber.com/

 

You can drive and earn as much as you want. And, the more you drive, the more you’ll make. Plus, you’ll get paid weekly and your fares get automatically deposited.

Does it cost anything? What is the process? How long does it take? What are the requirements?

Signing up for Uber costs nothing. The process consists of submitting your personal information for a background check (criminal and driving history). This step takes anywhere from a few days, to several weeks. New drivers can be denied because they have criminal records, DUIs, poor driving records, or insufficient driving history in their licensed state – if you were issued a license in the last year.

 

What are the Uber requirements?

The requirements for being able to drive are: have a valid drivers’ license (for more than a year), have a 4-door vehicle that meets Uber’s requirements (usually 2005 or newer, depending on your market), have a vehicle insurance policy, and a valid registration/inspection if applicable in your state. Some markets may require additional inspections or licenses, but you will need to check with your local branch or inquire in this sub concerning individual markets.

 

I’m approved by Uber! How do I take my first ride?

Download and install the driver app, and hit “Go Online”. Once you get a request (a “ping”), you can hit ‘Navigate’ to be taken to the rider’s pickup location. When you’re sure you have arrived, flip back over to the Uber app and hit ‘Arrived’. The passenger (PAX) will be notified of your arrival, though it’s also nice to text them – to let them know what type of car you’re in (though they see this on their app, not everyone looks) and to confirm that they’re actually where their pin was placed. When they get in the car, hit ‘Begin Trip’. If they haven’t entered their destination, you can enter it – then hit ‘Navigate’ again and you will be routed there. At the end of the trip, hit ‘End Trip’, rate your passenger, and you’ll be placed back online ready to pick up another PAX!

 

How do passengers pay for Uber rides?

You should have watched the training videos, however: Passengers pay automatically through the app. When they open the rider app for the first time, they have to enter a credit card, this card gets billed at the end of the ride. You don’t ever have to deal with cash, unless someone tips you. You don’t need a card reader. Uber will pay you weekly, after they take out their % cut.

 

How do I receive a cancellation fee?

Two ways. If you’ve been driving for more than 6 minutes and the PAX cancels the trip, you’re automatically paid the cancellation fee. Otherwise, you must hit arrived and then wait for a minimum of 5 minutes, then choose cancel trip: reason: rider no-show. Any other cancellation option will not give you the fee. Not all markets still have cancellation fees. If you don’t receive one, make sure to contact support and request it.

 

How do I call/text the passenger? Do they have my real phone number?

Uber assigns the same phone number to all your PAX. You can view the number by hitting the info button on the partner screen once you receive a request. It is recommended to save this number in your phone as “Uber Passenger”, so you can quickly access it. You can text it once the request has been made, and you can continue to text it after the trip is over until you pick up another passenger, at which point the text will go to that passenger. Likewise with calling; once you get another rider, you can no longer call the previous PAX without contacting Uber support. Similarly, PAX receive a single number for all drivers. They do not have your number unless you give it to them personally.

 

Can passengers tip Uber Drivers?

They can tip with cash. There is no tipping within the Uber app. Most PAX are under the impression that “the tip is included”, thanks to Uber’s marketing.

 

How much can I make driving for Uber?

This completely depends on your market and the demand. Some drivers in less popular areas claim less than $10/hr profit average, others claim as high as $30/hr. Much of it will depend on the times you drive, the demand that day, the amount of surges you hit, and other factors.

 

Is there a way to see Surges without logging in?

There are some 3rd party apps that claim to do this, but there are reports of drivers being deactivated for using them. Use at your own risk. Otherwise, you can either:

  • open the passenger app and drag your pin around the area, this will show surges, although not in a “heatmap” style.
  • open m.uber.com and drag your pin around; works the same way as the pax app above.

 

I’m not getting Uber request, why?

There are several possible reasons why you haven’t received a ping. Open the passenger app (you can have both installed, and running.) and see if there are tons of other drivers nearby. Pings will go to the closest vehicle, and you may not be in a prime location. If there are no drivers nearby, it is possible that you’re simply in a bad location and nobody is requesting a ride. You may also be in an area of poor cell/data coverage, and your GPS may be reporting your location incorrectly – you should be outside if possible, rather than waiting in your house for a request.

 

What do driver/passenger ratings mean?

Drivers can be deactivated for having too low of a rating. Passengers rate drivers after each trip, though there is a (approx 48hr) window in which they have to do so. Drivers have to rate each PAX after each trip. PAX ratings mean nothing; they only serve to show drivers who may possibly be a poor rider.

 

Can I see who rated me?

Short answer, No. The best way to get an idea of who rated you what is to keep the driver-dashboard (log in to the website as a driver) open on your phone, and set to the 1-Day average. It will update after each completed trip, and if your rating drops then you have probably just been rated poorly by your last rider. However, it could have been a previous rider who just opened their email and rated you several hours after their ride, so keep this in mind. There is no guaranteed way to see who rated you what.

 

Can passengers request a specific driver?

No, unless you give them your personal cell number. Then, they could call/text you their location, and you could meet them – at which point they could request a ride, and you would automatically (hopefully) be closest.

 

How do I contact Uber? How do I call them?

Ha-ha, call them. You can’t.

You can email them at support@uber.com.

Your local market most likely also has an email, usually partners[marketname]@uber.com. Keep in mind that most first emails will result in a form-letter-reply, and you may have to email multiple times to get a ‘real’ response. Be concise, polite, and explicitly state your issue for best results.

 

Is it worth it to drive for Uber?

This is the most loaded question in this sub. Each driver feels differently about this. It boils down to: take some rides, and do your own calculations. Factor in the cost of your time, the cost of your gas, any additional maintenance or upkeep necessary, the depreciation on your vehicle, the wear-and-tear associated with having 10’s of additional passengers a night, the possibility of having a spill/mess/puke to clean up, and any other expenses you may have. The federal mileage deduction is at time of writing 57.5 cents/mile, which means you can write off ALL mileage driven for uber (from the time you turn the app on to the time you turn it off).

 

What’s the best car for Uber? / Should I buy a car for Ubering?

The best car is the one you have already, period. Otherwise, if you’re already planning on buying a car, and have done the math to determine it’s worth it for you, then your best bet for an UberX vehicle is a hybrid. Prius, Insight, Civic get the best MPG and therefore the most profit/expense ratio. If you plan on driving for one of the other platforms (Select, XL), you’ll need to compare costs and rates to determine what’s going to get you the best return.

 

What is the Safe Rider Fee I see added/removed on my statement?

The SRF, from the Uber site, is for: “Federal, state and local background checks, regular motor vehicle screenings, driver safety education, current and future development of safety features in the app, and more.” This is often a hot topic in this sub because a “$4 minimum fare” really means a $3 minimum for the driver, which Uber then takes 20% out of.

 

What’s UberX/Select/Plus/XL/Pool/Black?

These are currently the different ‘levels’ that Uber offers, and may vary by market. UberX is what the majority of drivers in this sub drive for, as they have the least strict requirements and it is also the most popular platform for requests because it offers the cheapest rates for PAX.

XL is only available to drivers with vehicles that can seat 7+ passengers.

Select/Plus is only available to drivers with cars that are on the Uber-approved “select” list. You’ll have to google for “uber select vehicle list” to see what applies in your market. Leather interior + 4dr is a minimum must-have.

Black is Uber’s ‘luxury’ service. This is only for licensed livery drivers, and only for certain vehicles. Again, google to see if you meet these requirements as a driver.

UberPool is also only available in limited markets. This is essentially a carpool service where you can pick up several passengers along a route. It is not a vehicle requirement, just a fare rate offering.