Poornima Vijayashanker went from being an early employee of Mint.com to founding Bizeebee, a business which advises folks like yoga studio owners on how to grow their businesses. The 29-year-old engineer–who enjoys yoga in her spare time–has expanded the six-person company to serve about 500 clients since 2010. She also blogs about her experiences in a “mengineer’s world” as the Femgineer.
The $200KFreelancer recently asked Vijayashanker for her advice for self-employed
professionals who work outside of traditional office space on how to build a thriving business. Here are her tips.
Invest in the right technology. Vijayashanker initially used Skype and Google+ Hangouts for virtual meetings, but as she expanded her business, she felt it was worthwhile to invest in GoTo Meeting, especially for conversations with investors. “Some of the paid products offer a lot more robust solution,” she says.
Expand your reach with “virtual” help. As your business become more established, you may get so busy you have to choose between turning away work or bringing on extra help to meet the demand. Vijayashanker likes to hire talent through oDesk, which has a technology for tracking the hours that freelancers devote to a project.
“The more tasks you can get off your plate, the more efficient you’re going to be,” she says. “You’ll be more relaxed and have more time to think about your business.”
Stay reachable. Even if you don’t have to answer to a traditional boss, you’re still accountable to the key stakeholders in your business. Make sure your clients and team members can reach you during normal business hours–even if you’re out at a meeting–and that they know what method to use to contact you. “In general, everyone should be available from nine to five,” she says.
Build keeping in touch into your routine. Vijayashanker makes it a regular discipline to send out an enewsletter and posts to a blog to keep clients up to date on what’s going on in her business. “Whether you’ve changed your physical location or added staff, clients need to know,” she says. You never know when sending out a newsletter will help you reconnect with a customer you haven’t seen for a while.
Avoid burnout. If you do business from home, build transitions into your day so it doesn’t feel like you’re always at work. “I like to set the goal that at 6 p.m. I’m going to make dinner or work out–out of the house,” she says. “Those breaks (are) a nice mental shift.”