Question: I've been in business for myself about a year. I'm finding it really slow-going. Are there any shortcuts to growing my business fast?

Answer: So you want to move ahead quickly? And I suppose you've been asking yourself the question "there must be an easier way?"

Of course there is. Without a lot of specifics (you forgot to mention what your business is) it's a little bit more difficult to answer. But among some more general observations:

1) Organization. Many of us get bogged down with phone calls, e-mails and follow-up correspondence to answer. You need to do more than just plan out your days categorize them. Leave aside some days just for brainstorming or strategizing, others for sales calls and meetings, and others for catching up.

2) Technology. Find the right software that will make your life easier, whether it's message forwarding from a local phone company or data sharing through a communal information system so that everyone on a project gets the same information when you write it.

3) Hire good people. If you have the right staff, it will not only give you more free time to be creative, it will add value to your entire enterprise.

4) Take breaks. Sometimes we think that if we just stay focused and work ourselves to death it will be the fastest route to success. Wrong!

There's nothing worse for an entrepreneur than not to take a vacation or some sort of holiday. You need it. Your family or loved ones need it. There are many ways to get stressed out some of them are not obvious. Getting away from problems and issues sometimes puts them more clearly into focus.

Q: I have been running a virtual consulting company for several years and I have been thinking it might be time to set up a permanent space. However, with rents being so high, it appears to be a risky venture. Do you have any advice?

A: I wouldn't go to a physical office space unless you really, truly believe you need to. The concept of managing a business via remote control & #341; la virtual technology probably has never been easier to do, and is constantly being improved.

Does it really matter where you are, or where your clients are? It doesn't even matter today where your employees are located.

A virtual business works like a Web site what you need is to be connected to your clients and your employees. If you want to grow, like any e-commerce business, you need to get people to come visit your site.

That requires direct marketing. But why would that be any different than having a physical site? You will still need some sort of strategic marketing plan. However, being plugged into the Internet gives you the ability to e-mail and receive e-mail back much better than marketing via the telephone or traditional mailing services.

Tip: make sure that everyone who is plugged into your virtual business knows how the communications and technology operate. You may want to have some basic instructions for new employees or clients so that everyone is on the same page.

Q: My partners and I are all Baby Boomers. But our junior partners and staff are all GenXers. Sometimes I feel like there is a battle not just between management and employees, but between the generations. Any comments?

A: Why should this generation be different from any other? Don't you remember how it was when we were growing up? If anyone should understand generation gaps, it should be we Baby Boomers. We were probably one of the most outspoken, rebellious generations of modern times!

But I do agree that we should learn how to live and work with each other. First, GenXers need to come to grips with the fact that we're not going away quietly into the sunset. They're going to have to take us out of the game kicking and screaming!

It's not like generations from days gone by, when as people got older they started thinking about going to the old-age home. I personally don't see myself ever retiring I love working, it keeps me young (in mind as well as body and spirit).

One way to keep the peace is to take the younger management group out socially. You might even begin to enjoy each other's company.

Communication is extremely important. But the way this generation communicates and the values it holds sacred might be and should be different from ours. So try and at least understand what's important to them, even if you don't agree with their values.

Be patient and tolerant. This is a virtue you can teach them by example. Remember, we're the ones who are supposed to be emotionally mature so act it. Try and motivate them in a way that makes sense for them and not for you.

There are a lot of studies that give insights into Generation X. Read them you might even be enlightened.

Lorraine Spurge is a personal finance advisor, author of "Money Clips: 365 Tips That Will Pay One Day at a Time," and business news commentator. She can be reached at (818) 705-3740 or by e-mail at

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