Setting Up Your Independent Sales Representative Business
Thinking like an Entrepreneur!
Once you make your decision to start an independent sales rep firm, even if it does not involve employees, you are taking on the role of an independent entrepreneur. You will be the one who is responsible with every facet and venue of your business. Since you will have no boss to answer to, you will need to have the discipline to push yourself. Some facets of the business you will not like, but you will need to complete them anyway!
Systems for Your Business
As a new entrepreneur, I suggest you take a look at some basic structured systems to implement in your business. Starting and growing a business is really about developing systems within your business. Most tasks, even sales tasks, can be systemized to make a smoother working operation to catch oversights and errors more efficiently. Systems are a set of methods and procedures, sometimes policies, to follow for each repetitive aspect of your enterprise.
There are several different types of systems to help you with your business -- some of these systems, for example, may include the following:
- The systems you set up to keep track of commission receivable will ultimately determine your success in managing critical cash flow, so you can pay your bills on time, and collect delinquent accounts.
- The systems you set up to turn prospects into customers, and turn customers into repeat customers, will determine the long term health and vigor of your sales rep business.
- The systems you set up for writing and processing orders, including follow-up on orders, will expedite your ability to continue generating sales.
- The systems you set up to monitor your sales goals will keep you on target with the growth of your business
Choices about these systems, including development of policies and procedures, constitute the management level you wish to attain in your business. Even after you set up initial systems, tweaking those systems, and creating new systems to address recurring problems, lost opportunities, and growth is really your most important work. As the principle operator or owner of a company, setting up systems which are effective and efficient take more work up front, but lead to a streamlined operation over time saving you time to make money!
Setting Up Your Company
Part of getting your business started is setting up the business framework. There are many books and agencies available to help you set up your company that will go into much more detail than what is listed here. Since each state and city regulations are different, it is best to contact your local city hall, county, or Secretary of State to inquire about requirements such as business licensing, permits etc. If you have a Small Business Development Center in your area, normally located on a college or university campus, they can be a wonderful resource, for getting you started.
Following are some ideas and suggestions:
1. Decide on a business name. Some sales reps use their own name as all or part of the name of their business, for example, “P. Jones Enterprises”, rather than a DBA or “doing business as” for their business name. Some of the most famous firms in the world, such as Hershey’s, use a family name as part of their company name.
2. Set up a separate phone (whether cell or land line) for business calls. Use an answering machine or voice mail, and make sure you can access your messages from long distance, when you are traveling or during sales presentations. Frankly, in this day and age, a cell phone makes the most sense, but I started with a phone attached to an answering machine (voice mail is still not available here in the hinterlands), and it worked for a while.
3. If you plan to use email as a way to communicate with your customers and vendors, AND I STRONGLY RECOMMEND IT!, use a separate email address from your personal email, to filter your emails as they arrive, making it easier to manage and respond to important business correspondence. Also, if you use an email address that incorporates your business name, will create subliminal advertising for your business, and creates a more professional image.
4. Open a separate business checking account for all your business related expenses and deposits. Distinguishing business from personal expenses is a big time saver come tax time, and eases record keeping, and makes the IRS happy!
5. Depending on where you live, and your personal situation, you may want to set up a separate address, usually a PO Box, for your business mailing address.
6. Use a separate room or den in your house as your office, at least in the beginning. Note that the IRS allows you to allocate a pro-rata portion of your home expenses as a business deduction. However, watch the rules carefully, as this is a major red flag item for audits.
In summary, the success of your business is entirely in your control and owning your own results is one of the most satisfying facets of becoming a self employed sales rep!
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