The best place to begin is with the stuff that’s low cost. Start with the community—oftentimes, organic, word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective. Make an effort to be visible in your neighborhood. That includes things like introducing yourself to fellow business owners, participating in any local events, and asking to put up flyers at places where potential customers might be hanging out. If you have positive relationships with the people in your neighborhood, they’re more likely to recommend your business to others.
Employ targeted promotional and marketing campaigns. It is important to get the word out about your company. Make sure the money you set aside for marketing is well-spent by conducting demographic research. This will help you tailor your marketing plan to be as effective as possible.
Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter have changed the way entrepreneurs are raising money to fund their new businesses. Whether you want to sell a new software tool or set up an organic noodle bar, you can get people to invest in your business.
We do this all the time. We see a famous CEO and point out how “he took 5 companies public and got a Harvard MBA.” We see a successful children’s book author and point out how “she already knew 4 publishers, so her book got published immediately.”
Manage your inventory efficiently. Inventory management can make or break a small retail business, so manage it carefully to ensure that you’re maximizing every dollar spent. Invest in small inventory quantities at first and continuously monitor inventory numbers so you know what’s selling and what isn’t. Rotate inventory frequently to remove slow sellers and replace them with new items.
The most successful people I know have the most failures. Because they take the most chances. To get in the right mindset, let me tell you about the time we shelved a course we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on.
It should be as easy as possible for you and your staff to ring up customers. That means you should be accepting credit cards. Why? For starters, statistics show that people are using cash less and less. So sending people to the nearest ATM if they don’t have enough cash on hand is not the best customer experience. Plus, accepting credit cards can help you make more sales and improve your cash flow.
Purchase equipment. Purchase all of the things you need to start work. This can mean mechanical equipment, computers, telephone, or craft supplies. It all depends on what you are doing. Try to purchase from business supply companies as they will have significant discounts. If you are short of capital, lease or rent is an attractive option too, so as not to block your funds.
Be sure it’s unique. Whatever your idea is, be sure it’s as unique as possible. This will help you eliminate or significantly combat competition, which will make your business more successful. Simply putting a small spin on a currently existing product (making blue Red vines or something like that) is not usually enough to build a business on, so push the envelope!
Want to be sure if your business idea is indeed unique? Run a test and find out. A pilot will give you the confidence you need to take your idea to the next level and mitigate risk. You can start on a small scale by giving away some freebies to a few people in your target audience group to see how they respond.
Use your website to reflect your personality In today’s world, your company’s website is often the first interaction you have with your potential customers. Your website provides a window into your business. Make sure your website makes the right first impression and communicates the message you want it to.
Recognize that getting your business off the ground will take time. Most businesses don’t become profitable right away, so plan for that in your personal life too. You will be making sacrifices to be your own boss.
The key to being successful is taking calculated risks to help your business grow. A good question to ask is “What’s the downside?” If you can answer this question, then you know what the worst-case scenario is. This knowledge will allow you to take the kinds of calculated risks that can generate tremendous rewards.
And then there’s email marketing—a proven driver of sales for small businesses. Things like events, promotions, and announcements are ripe for email marketing, as are holidays and changes in the season. If you’re a pie shop, for example, you could send an email letting your customers know about your Thanksgiving offerings. If you’re a cleaning service, you could send a reminder that spring-cleaning time is just around the corner. Always be looking for opportunities to keep your business fresh in people’s minds with strategically timed email campaigns.
Blanket statement: You need to keep your finances in order. For starters, that means you’ve done the legwork (or worked with a reputable accountant) to understand all your tax obligations, operating costs, and how much money you need to bring in each month and quarter to break even—and become profitable.
A sounding board, a trusted resource. Someone who can listen – and challenge you to new levels. Mentors offer untold value to new entrepreneurs; in this article Reg Pirie explains why you need them, and how to find them.
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Español: dirigir una pequeña empresa, Deutsch: Ein kleines Unternehmen führen, Italiano: Gestire una Piccola Impresa, Français: gérer une petite entreprise, 中文: 经营小本生意, Português: Abrir Um Negócio Próprio, Русский: управлять малым бизнесом, Tiếng Việt: Vận hành Doanh nghiệp Nhỏ, العربية: إدارة مشروعك الصغير, 한국어: 작은 회사를 경영하는 법, Nederlands: Een klein bedrijf runnen
Make sure your business looks professional and is attractive to the eye. Have a professional logo, branding that is consistent and a professional website to support it. There are several groups that will help you with all this, for example. Startyourownbusiness.net.au and vistaprint.com.au.
Identify your customer base. In your business plan, you need to identify who you think will buy your product or service. Why would these individuals need or want your product or service? The answer to these questions should help to determine all other aspects of your business’ operations.
The old saying, “Rome was not built in a day,” applies here. Just because you open a business doesn’t mean you’re going to immediately start making money. It takes time to let people know who you are, so stay focused on achieving your short-term goals.
It is helpful to think of promotions and marketing relative to the capacity of your business. Paying to run a commercial on a national network does you little good if your business is only designed to operate at the local level.
This is a very simple way of taking your ideas and figuring out what is worth your time. As you can tell, you want ideas in the “Golden Goose” quadrant, one where there are lots of potential customers and a high price. Plotting your ideas on this matrix help you to not fall in love with your first idea, something we call “idea one-itis.”
Secure a loan or other type of investment. Successful businesses need capital to get off their feet. Be sure that you have arranged and secured enough fiscal backing to cover all of your small business’ operating, production, and marketing costs until your business is in a position to generate and operate on its own profits.
To store and share files, there are programs like Dropbox or Box.com. To measure your website’s online performance, there’s Google Analytics. To communicate with your customers, there are email service providers like MailChimp. There are even free resources to calculate employee payroll, like Intuit’s Snap Payroll app. Check out additional free business resources [hyperlink: http://www.slideshare.net/FitSmallBusiness/top-25-free-business-software] compiled by FitSmallBusiness.com.
Have great customer service skills. Be good at interacting with people. Practice reading between the lines of what people say. Learn how to meet needs they didn’t know they had. Figure out how to make people happy. Be charming. Most importantly, be humble. The customer may not always be right but you need to be able to let them think they are.
I need funds for state filing and office equipment. I am also a paraplegic so my mobility is very limited but a home-based business would be ideal for me. Does anyone have any specific suggestions for me to raise funds for this. I need about $3500.
Use free resources. Your local library contains numerous useful references regarding incorporation, writing business plans, marketing, as well as information specific to your industry. The Small Business Association, Chambers of Commerce, AMEX Small Business website, associations for your industry, associations by ethnicity…all of these offer training, materials, networking and sometimes financing. Another good option is SCORE, a group of retired executives who provide business start-up advice.
Get your license. Remember to register and acquire your small business license in the particular industry of your business. This step is important to ensuring that you’re running your business legally and according to industry regulations. Be sure to register for permits related to particular services you offer, like home repair or tax preparation, which could require registration and certification. You will not be able to hire effective employees if your business is not operating with the appropriate licenses and permits.
Pay attention to all small-business-related regulatory issues. Federal, state, and local government agencies require an array of licenses, registrations, and permits. Obey them or face stiff penalties, including possible closure of your business.
Determine your cost of operation. You will need a solid business plan to present to any investors and the best place to start would be with determining your basic cost of operations. This will outline and help you determine how much money is needed to produce the product or offer the service you intend to offer or produce. It includes production costs, shipping, taxes, worker’s wages, rent for workspace, etc. 
Is your business idea really unique? What value will it generate? Is it something your target audience really wants? Or is it something you think they’d want? Getting answers to these questions is important to determine whether or not your idea works.
Always start small, meaning start online, and only produce what you are sure you can sell. You can always make more if demand increases. Start by marketing yourself on social media, and start a virtual store front on a site like Etsy or eBay.
To avoid any derailing issues, you should also take some time to make sure you’re good to go with all your legal and tax obligations as a small business. It’s a good idea to consult with a reputable lawyer and accountant to ensure you’re not missing anything and are filing everything on time. You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve taken care of all the permits or fees that are required to do business in your province. You don’t want any future surprises that could eat up your budget. Ensuring you have all these things set will save you both minor and major headaches that take you away from running your business.
Even if you’ve hired excellent people, you have to know how to manage them. Effective management is one of the most important skills for a small business owner. It’s a skill to be honed throughout a lifetime, but if you’re new at this, there are tons of resources out there to help you—from online classes (check places like Coursera for free online courses) to books (there are countless titles to choose from) and articles like this one from the Harvard Business Review. To get you started, we also have an article outlining 5 Management Skills to Help You Become an Effective Leader and a guide on How to Motivate Your Employees.
There are many successful businesses that forget that providing great customer service is important. If you provide better service for your customers, they’ll be more inclined to come to you the next time they need something instead of going to your competition.
Delivering what you promise begins with how you tailor your approach to sales. If you or your sales team is offering or promising too much, your customers will be understandably disappointed when they receive or use your product or service, leading to negative reviews and bad word-of-mouth about your business. Remember, good sales tactics should be centered around identifying and understanding your customer’s needs and making them see the realized benefits that your product has, not lying to your customers and clients about the potential of your product.
The last excuse is the MOST important one. So many of us SAY we want to “take risks” and “start a business” for YEARS but never act. Why? We’re afraid of failing. Which really means we we’re afraid at what people will think of us for failing.