“If you’re going to make serious money, a corporation gives you real tax advantages,” said Consulting Canada CEO Barry Sharp. “If you’re providing a product or service that has a significant liability risk, I’d be incorporated.”
Meet with your local Small Business Development Center. SBDC’s provide help during all stages of the business life cycle. They can help you create a stellar business plan to approach a lender with and their counseling is always free.[2]
Do you ever find yourself wondering if you are the leader your employees need? Or perhaps their actions don’t seem to line up with your expectations. Paul Adams shows you how you can become a smart leader with these simple steps.
Another best friend as you’re running your business? Data. Being intimately familiar with how your business is going on a day-to-day basis is crucial to making informed decisions about how to run things. In your Square Dashboard, you can check all your sales data (across all your locations) and see which items are selling the best, which can help you plan your inventory. You can also see how many customers were new versus returning that day. This is all information you can access on the go, which means you can keep track of your business from anywhere.
Put profitability first and rewards second. Beware of the small business that treats itself to hefty salaries, high-priced consultants, and waterfalls in the lobby. In small business, profitability must come first. To understand profitability, you must first measure your cash flow and understand your key financial ratios.
When you’re running your business, you should always be looking for areas where you could be more efficient. And if you’re doing everything manually, there’s a good chance there are a lot of things that fall into that category.
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.
Some days might seem longer or shorter than others, but with effective and efficient time management, you can maximize those 24 hours to their full potential. Planning is key and will allow you to be productive with the management of your business. Implementing daily habits to improve your efficiency will not only help with the day-to-day tasks, but also with your sustained success looking forward. It’s never too late to make those operation decisions and updates within your business to ensure both current and future success. 
Make sure there are no prohibitive costs, such as equipment which is too expensive to make the business profitable. For example, cars didn’t take off until Ford figured out how to make them cheap by building more efficient equipment.
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.
Shubhomita Bose is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. She covers key studies and surveys about the small business market, along with general small business news. She draws on 8 years of experience in copywriting, marketing and communications, having worked extensively on creating content for small and medium sized enterprises.
Start by setting up the main accounts to monitor. Separate your assets, liabilities, expenses, and equity. Assets are your cash on hand, inventory, accounts receivable, checking account, and savings account. Liabilities are your credit card and accounts payable (what you owe), then there are your general business expenses.
To help you stay on top of your bookkeeping, you can integrate your Square account to a number of tools in our Square App Marketplace (QuickBooks Online and Xero, for example). If you’re shooting in the dark on these things (or tackling finances for the first time), it may be a good idea to take a course on the basics of small business accounting and bookkeeping at a local university or online. If you have the budget, working with a reputable accountant is a great option.
Discover the reason for the employee’s laziness. Sometimes a shift in management style or communication with an employee will help you yield more positive results. Making sure your employees are both heard and properly incentivized will help make a productive work environment. The employee may simply have a lazy work ethic, or abuse a workplace when he/she doesn’t have the right consequences or supervision. Make sure your employees know the expectations, and the consequences of not fulfilling said expectations (whether it be a warning, a demotion, or possibly termination). There has to be a reward for if they surpass expectations as well (whether it be a bonus, commission, praise, promotion, time off, or simply increasing your trust in the employee).
Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you’ll need several of the following types of insurance: life, disability, partnership, critical illness, key person, property, contents, business interruption, general liability, product liability, or professional liability. If you’re unsure what you need, an insurance broker can help.
2. “Test” for language using this script: “I’m thinking of starting some kind of website around [YOUR IDEA]. When you talk to your friends about it, what do you say? What’s the biggest problem around [YOUR IDEA]?”
Try to find the reason that your income has slowed and act accordingly. Look at your audience and situations. For example, ice cream won’t sell as well in the winter as it will in the summer. To circumvent this, you could serve something else that would do better in the winter, such as hot chocolate.
Don’t think you need bankers and investors at the outset. The vast majority of small-business start-ups are bootstrapped (self-financed). Consider your own savings, investments, and salable assets and then talk to your friends and family before you look to outside sources.
You will want to be sure that you are using marketing which is appropriate to the type of people you expect to be interested in your product or services. There is little point in using social media to, for example, advertise a 55+ only cruise line. Meanwhile, if you’re advertising for your new dance club, a printed newspaper is probably not going to be your best bet. There is also no point in advertising a business only available in Chicago to people in Seattle, so consider physical location as well.
Being practical is extremely important when you are toying with the idea of starting a business. You need a steady source of income before you can set up your business, so it’s advisable to hold onto your current job. By retaining your present job, you will be more secured when you need to take risks.
You’ll also want a payments device that can accept mobile payments like Apple Pay, which is ultimately where everything is headed. Contactless (NFC) payments like Apple Pay are by far the best customer experience. They’re convenient, secure, and fast, so you can check people out in seconds. Having the latest and greatest payments processing technology allows you to securely accept any form of payment that comes across your counter.
Running your own business is a stressful but good career and life choice. It demands your time and focus. Start by expecting to live your work until it is established, so it can get off the ground. There are many different opinions about how to start a business. Below are some basic ideas and guidelines to get you started.
Social media is the best way to promote your business on the cheap. Beyond that, it really depends on what your business is. Roadside advertisements are a great way to attract consumers, but not particularly effective if you are a wholesale company. The first step is to identify your clients, and figure out the best way to reach them, for consumers, the best ways are social media, road side adds, TV commercials, and good customer service has been shown to get more word of mouth. For a wholesale or investment business, the best ways to promote vary greatly, so just identify your clientele and think about how other businesses advertise to them. Also, never be afraid to self promote.
Advertise in a way that catches customers attention at a minimum and hopefully goes beyond to capture their imagination. Be creative and appeal to the right aspects of the customers you want to use your business.
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.
Make use of marketing and PR. You will want to reach out to potential customers in ways that make them want to use your business. This is especially important when you are first starting, before you have an established, regular customer base.
Get an office. You will need a space from which to run your business. This can be a home office if you require little space and will not have employees, or it can require an entire workshop or warehouse. Look at renting in a low cost neighborhood or business incubators instead of a fancy address. Some universities make space available at a low rent for new business ventures based on an innovative scientific idea. It depends on what you will be doing and how big you intend your business to be. Make sure the space is coded and legal for how you intend to use it and within your budget.
Founded in 2003, Small Business Trends is an award-winning online publication for small business owners, entrepreneurs and the people who interact with them. It is one of the most popular independent small business publications on the web.
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.[3]

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.
Expenses. These are the costs for operations that occur during the start-up phase. They include tax-deductible costs such as travel, payroll, rent, office supplies, marketing materials, etc. They also include initial organizational costs like legal fees and state incorporation fees. Many (but not all) of these costs are tax deductible, up to $5,000 in the first year of doing business. You can deduct the remaining costs in equal instalments over a period of 180 months (starting with the month in which your business opens).
But that’s simplistic, and it’s an excuse to stay in your current state and do nothing differently. Instead of thinking of the reason they succeeded, ask what you can do TODAY to get closer to your goal. The fact that a famous entrepreneur went to Harvard has NOTHING to do with you finding your first customer or testing your first idea.
CIT and Operation HOPE Join Forces to Help Small Businesses Launch + Grow To celebrate Financial Literacy Month, CIT and Operation HOPE are partnering to educate and empower small businesses with tools and tips for success. Hear inspiring stories from a diverse group of small business owners at
Make scheduling appointments easy for your customers with our Square App Marketplace partners. The Square App Marketplace offers a number of online booking systems that fully integrate with Square Point of Sale. Here are some helpful online booking systems that will increase efficiency for your business.
Hi, I am really trying to start my own trucking company doing hot shot services. I know plenty companies that would let me handle their needs but with the cost of living being so high in the city it makes it so difficult to save money to get started with bills and child support. If anyone knows anybody that could help me get a small business loan I would gladly appreciate it.
Consider if it is possible. Before going too far, think about how plausible your idea is. Is it something that people would actually pay for? Will it turn enough of a profit to be worth spending your time to do it? You will also need to be sure that it is possible to put into action. While it would be great to have a computer which makes food magically appear out of thin air, this is simply impossible (unless you’re Patrick Stewart.)
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.
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.
Capital Expenditures. Also known as capital expenses, these are the one-time costs of buying assets such as inventory, property, vehicles or equipment as well as making upfront payments for security deposits. These start-up assets don’t usually qualify for deduction, but some can be written off through depreciation at tax time.
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.[12]
Coming up with a great business idea is just the beginning of your journey as an entrepreneur. There are many more steps that you need to take before you can get started. Fleshing out your business idea is one of them, and it’s very critical to the success of your venture.
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!
As a would-be small-business owner, you might be eligible for an influx of funding from various government grants. Do your homework. Don’t just look for “grants,” by the way, but also awards, rebates, tax credits, industry-specific incentives, or non-repayable loans. You won’t want to overlook any potential source of funding.
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.
Think about why other businesses have failed. Oftentimes, it’s the wrong product, the wrong pricepoint, the wrong market, the wrong team, the wrong marketing, or the wrong entrepreneur, whose skills weren’t up to speed. Now is also the time to take a critical look at your finances. There might not be much money coming in to start. Can you sustain that?
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.
Get local investors. If the bank loans will not be enough, look into local investors. There may be a local business tycoon or other similarly wealthy person who would have a vested interest in seeing you succeed. Research people in your area who may have the funds and motivation to help you.
You do not necessarily need a full-time employee to handle financial responsibilities. For example, if you have a solid grasp on your inventory flow and cash flow management, you may only need a CPA when tax time comes around.
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.
What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually. Would Google have become the world’s most ubiquitous search engine by its original name, BackRub? When brainstorming, consider what sort of associations your business name evokes. Is it catchy, unique and memorable? Does it cast your company in the right light? You can make sure your name isn’t taken by creating a Nuans report.
Realize that not everyone is cut out to be a small-business owner. Take the time to explore whether you’re compatible with running your own business. Some people are happier (and better off financially) on the other end of a paycheck.
Certify employees. Employ individuals with certification in your business’ field, like certified public accounting or electrical repair technician. Having certifications for all employees will ensure that your employees are skilled at the highest level and will increase your client’s confidence in your business.[13]
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.