7 Template Resources to Save You Time

If you are a small business, every bit of efficiency helps you. Free templates available online help you do exactly that. You don’t have to recreate Invoices, supply order forms, financial worksheets, NDA drafts, etc. They are all available out there. As you think about it, it seems fairly obvious to prepare templates for such repetitive tasks. It increases your productivity immensely and also gives you an opportunity to improve your brand image when you use customized templates for internal as well as external needs.

I have put together a list of useful resources. These are by no means exhaustive.

Google Docs Templates and Microsoft’s Office templates are, in general, very good resources for


presentation templates, MS Word and MS Excel based small business templates. Check them out. The resources below are in addition to the above and address a specific need.

1. Presentations

Brainy Betty is a very good resource for free and paid templates. Besides just the templates, they also offer a range of extra utilities and add-ons to be used with PowerPoint. The premium templates are not free, but are good. You can search for different kinds of templates on the basis of keywords and template colors. Microsoft’s Business Presentation templates and HP’s business templates and images section are good sources where you can get very good free templates to be used for presentations. A couple of resources for pay-to-use PowerPoint templates are Presentation Load and Dream Template.

2. B-plans

Business plan templates are essential for those run-ins with Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors. Having your plan ready and accessible makes you prepared for such situations. Bplans.com has a few good business plan templates to be used. Another very good resource for getting help on

making B-plans with prepared templates is Score’s template gallery. It has business plan templates for start ups and established companies.

3. Financial Accounting Worksheets

This is a very good tool for goal setting as well as continuously assessing your growth. Monitoring cash flow and financials is good habit for small and large companies.

Score’s template gallery has profit and loss projections, balance sheets, sales forecast, start up expenses, financial history and ratios, cash flow, and breakeven analysis templates.

If you are an expert in finance, Exinfm is a good resource for getting some very good and free templates for financial valuation and the like. They are organized as per expected requirements and you are bound to find some that will suit your needs.

4. Invoices

Billing invoices need to be prepared fast and quick once the job is done. Microsoft’s site for Office products offers free templates for invoices. They are spread out over a range of different needs and requirements as anticipated for almost all kinds of businesses.

5. Office Agenda and Memos

If you need to have meetings frequently with your group, you know how important it is to have an agenda for the meeting ready and circulated among the members prior to the meeting. Having a simple template according to what you usually discuss makes it easy for you to record the proceedings and make sure that critical issues are covered. Meetings can stretch on for hours if no agenda was agreed upon in the beginning and valuable time is lost. I found that Microsoft’s online help has a good set of free templates for you to use for internal meetings, conferences, community meets among others.

6. Non-Disclosure Agreements

You often need NDAs when you share sensitive information with an affiliate or a client. Having a simple template for this is always handy. This is a fairly generic document, so you may try out any of the following templates. Please note that if there are some specific laws or clauses to be inserted, you need to have a section for them. Links: Business-in-a-box, Experienced People. You should also know that p2w2 has off-the-shelf, customizable Non Disclosure agreements that you can use when you document terms of service with a professionals.

7. Work-for-hire agreements7-template-resources-to-save-you-time

A simple work-for-hire document is about getting work done through others (like you can do on p2w2) but protecting the intellectual property in that work so you can claim it. P2w2 has off-the-shelf, customizable work-for-hire templates. In addition, Docstoc is a good source of such templates.

(Disclaimer: Nothing in this post or blog should be considered legal advice)

About the author: Chaitanya Sagar is the Co-Founder and CEO of p2w2, which helps small businesses outsource services like writing, software, graphic design, virtual assistance, business consulting and research. He is fascinated by entrepreneurship and the difference technology can make in people’s lives. Chaitanya blogs at p2w2 blog (RSS) and tweets at www.twitter.com/Chaitanya.

Picture credits: Envios, Endlosautomat

Networking – The Key to Unlock Small Business Growth

What is the mantra for success of your business? Introducing new products? Big ad campaigns? Networking? No. It’s relationships!

Networking sounds like wiring. And many people network like wiring – they make it messy

and they want to extract something out of it.

Networking is not exchanging business cards! It’s about connecting with people. That is how you can help them. Darcy Rezac (in the book “The frog and the prince”) defines it as “discovering what you can do for someone else.” (Source: Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of Schmoozing)

Relationships are about Caring for OthersNetworking – The Key to Unlock Small Business Growth

Just today, I heard this podcast (Jackie Speier, Former State Senator and Deborah Stephens, Center for Innovative Leadership at Stanford) where Deborah talked about relationships and she said, “I don’t think we have to network. We have to build Relationships. Relationships are about caring about someone.” And caring is reflected in how we listen to people, and how much we help others, how much you want to meet people, and how much time can you spare for others just to help. And you have a ton of such opportunities in business.

Wonders Relationships Do to Small Businesses

I cannot think of p2w2 without relationships. Every step we have taken until now was made possible because we had someone who helped us along the way.

Relationships are so important – they help you reach a higher orbit. You get new opportunities because someone knows you. They help you keep your business in a tough economy. They help you in hiring, financing your company (friends and family are the biggest and the first source of financing small businesses), in purchasing (you know deals before others!), and of course in selling (referrals). Relationships could be the essence of building a business.

If you have great relationships, you can survive the biggest challenges in the market, competition or otherwise.

So how would you network? err.. build relationships?

Networking – The Key to Unlock Small Business Growth

About the author: Chaitanya Sagar is the Co-Founder and CEO of p2w2, an online marketplace for services like writing, software, graphic design, virtual assistance, business consulting and research. He is fascinated by entrepreneurship and the difference technology can make in people’s lives. Chaitanya blogs at p2w2 blog (RSS) and tweets at www.twitter.com/Chaitanya.

Picture credits: Theeerin, techcocktail

The Slow Down Reaches Small Businesses

Ever thought Enron is history? The past 10 days have been shocking in India as the Satyam Fiasco unfolded. The $ 1.5 billion fraud made headlines across the world. (see Satyam: Sanskrit for ‘Enron’). It’s great to see that the Indian government has acted swiftly (see: India Names New Satyam Board).

Satyam episode is not the only thing bothering me. Layoffs in small businesses have been on the rise. (source) The ADP national employment report indicates that layoffs in small businesses have increased 3.5 times in the past 3 months. In Dec 2008 alone, a staggering 281,000 employees have been laid off in small businesses. This follows 197,000 employees in Nov 2008.

Employment Figures ((c)p2w2)
“Sharply falling employment at medium and small-size businesses clearly indicates that the recession has now spread well beyond manufacturing and housing-related activities.”

Historical data indicates that this has been the largest fall in employment in small businesses in the past 8 years since ADP has been collecting the data.  The highest prior to this was in Oct 2001, after the dot

com bubble burst and Sept 11, in which 125,000 employees were laid off.

This is not good news for the small businesses. I do hope that we will get over the financial troubles soon. What is your own assessment? What is happening in your business and other businesses you know of?