Taking care of a company alone may seem crazy, but this is the reality of half of Indian entrepreneurs.
Research recently released by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) with data from 49 countries around the world including India shows that 63% of national entrepreneurs have an IME (individual microenterprise) and do not plan to hire any employees.
As it is not an easy task to take care of production, inventory, and accounting and still think about a marketing strategy without the help of anyone, we have gathered some tips for entrepreneurs who face this situation
According to experts, among the big problems of micro entrepreneurs is the lack of planning when setting up and running a business and the little knowledge they have about their consumers and the logistics behind an enterprise.
One of the ways to circumvent the lack of experience is to use online tools that help to control all areas that in a traditional company are divided among several workers. With the help of software, many of them with free versions available, it is possible to manage accounting, manage projects and organize the daily schedule without so much headache.
We detail below how micro entrepreneurs can gain efficiency in their businesses with the help of simple tools and we cite some options of software known in the market that any entrepreneur can start using today.
Finance and Accounting
For novices in the world of entrepreneurship, taking care of company accounts is surely one of the number one concerns. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to do their homework well in this regard. A survey conducted in 2018 by TIME with 1,000 self-employed entrepreneurs (with revenues of up to $ 81 thousand per year) reveals that 50% still uses paper and pen to record their expenses and that an almost identical number (48%) does not make a forecast of the company expenses.
Tip: Business management systems help micro entrepreneurs to have an overview of business processes and gather all information in one place, from accounting, through finance, to sales and payments. The so-called ERP (enterprise resource planning, in English) were formerly exclusive to medium and large companies, but free and affordable software developed in recent years in India has become a great option for those who run a business alone.
Important point: this type of program can be used both by physical businesses and by those who have an e-commerce, a common reality of many IMEs.
Task and project management
Those who do not have a broad view of the functioning of their business cannot plan which steps to take, which the specialists consider one of the major problems faced by micro entrepreneurs.
Tip: In order not to fall into a vicious circle and avoid the feeling of always running after the machine, it is important to get organized. With the large amount of information that an entrepreneur needs to handle alone, a simple agenda may be insufficient.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend anything to improve the organization. In addition to free, task management software such as Microsoft To-Do, Todoist and Trello are intuitive and simple to use.
With them, it is possible to set reminders for all activities of the day, week or month, mark those that are recurring (some manual activity that cannot be forgotten, for example) and share messages with people who also use the program. These tools also feature integrations with hundreds of platforms, such as Google Drive.
We live in an increasingly digital age, but having a company still involves dealing with a large number of documents and contracts to be reviewed and signed. Among bureaucratic issues and involving the relationship with suppliers and customers, it is easy to waste time (and money) on a mountain of papers.
Tip: Digital signature software helps cut paper, printing and shipping costs, eliminates wasted time waiting for physical documents and increases transaction security. Solutions like Clicksign, DocuSign and BRySigner offer free options or affordable basic plans for tight budgets.
Anyone who wants to grow their business needs to know their client well. It seems like an obvious statement. The reality, however, shows that for lack of time or knowledge, many entrepreneurs end up focusing on the product or service they offer, leaving aside the construction of good relationship channels. If the customer base grows, saving all the information in a notebook or spreadsheet becomes almost impossible.
Tip: If ERPs help organize the door inward, so-called customer relationship software (CRM) lend a hand to the company’s external contacts. A CRM gathers in one place all the details of the customers, the contacts maintained with each one of them, information about sales (which can be used to generate reports), among several other functionalities.
Like business management systems, CRM software is no longer exclusive to big businesses and it is now possible to find great free options on the market.
Another advantage of this type of tool is the possibility of connecting it with marketing platforms for prospecting customers.
The famous word of mouth can leverage sales of a product and make it available to the general public. But this definitely cannot be a micro entrepreneur’s only marketing strategy, especially in markets where there is a lot of competition.
Tip: Online marketing platforms allow companies to manage e-mail and social media campaigns to reach the desired target audience. One of the most used programs in the field, MailChimp, has a free option (available in English only). The Zoho Campaigns is the best known Brazilian solution, but the prices are high for those starting a business.
For beginners, the tip is to attract attention to your brand or product with active pages on Facebook and Instagram. With the increase in interest in videos, a YouTube channel can also be explored. You should also keep an updated and attractive website.
For those who want to take it a step further, another option at no cost is to use SEO (search engine optimization) techniques for business pages.
It is basically a strategy that allows a page to improve its positioning on Google (or other search engines), which increases visibility, clicks and can, consequently, benefit sales. There are several free courses and materials available on the web on the subject.