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
Talk with your bank. Talk with a bank with whom you already have a positive relationship. Ask about what kind of business start-up loans they offer and how they can benefit your business. By using a bank you already know, the bank will have easy access to your financial records and will be more confident in investing with you.
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.
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.
As an entrepreneur, there’s a tendency to want to do everything yourself. But if you’re finding yourself unable to keep up, it’s time to bring in some help. Hiring employees is not something to take lightly. In fact, many great leaders cite smart hiring as the key to their success. And as you grow, it becomes more and more important. With the right people in place, you’re able to scale. With the wrong people, you get stuck in your tracks. To make sure you’re being as strategic as possible when building your team, read our tips on how to hire great employees.
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.”
Similarly, if you decide to establish social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., make sure you are ready to make the commitment to the relationship. It is not enough to simply create a profile and post a picture every now and then. Your social media profile information needs to be accurate, your posts need to be consistent and you need to participate in the conversations with your audiences. A strong online presence helps encourage customers to do business with you in person.
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]?”
Use crowd-funding. If you still can’t drum up enough funding, use websites to raise the money you need to start. These funding sources have several benefits: you will not have to pay interest on the money you get (since it is money which is used to provide actual product or services) and it will help you not only gauge interest in what you have to offer but also help you build a customer base. You’ll start business with hundreds or thousands of customers already lined up and ready to tell other people about what you have to offer.
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.
Put your idea into writing. It is important to take the ideas in your head and get them down on paper. Most successful businesses offer a new product or service or fill an existing niche in the market. Whatever your reasons may be for starting a small business, make sure to clearly and concisely put them in writing.
Even though your business may be small, if you approach your role with the same mentality as a big business executive, you will soon realize the level of success you need to drive the results you desire.
Stay organized. Organization of your time, employees, finances and inventory is one of the keys to successfully run a small business. Develop a spreadsheet that helps you keep track of all the important details so you don’t have to keep them straight in your head, and make time — at least once a week — to review everything.
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.
Project growth. All successful small businesses need to grow their customer base and production capabilities over the first few years of operating. Make sure you have identified how your business can and will respond to growth potential.
Make use of benefits. The most valuable long-term benefit you can offer yourself and your employees is a retirement savings plan. In addition, find out how to provide insurance and other benefits and reduce your tax bill at the same time.
Come up with an idea. You will need an idea for a business before you do anything else. You can conduct a market research to have a clear image. This should be something you are passionate about, since your new business will consume a great deal of your time and money.
Credit cards and debit cards are generally the most secure forms of payments, but accepting them requires your to take on additional fees paid to various credit card companies which, depending on the size and complexity of your business, may not be worthwhile.
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
Face it: many of us dream of leaving the 9-to-5 behind and going into business for ourselves. Who wouldn’t like being their own boss? Thing is, if you’re about to go all in on your killer business idea, you’re probably feeling equal parts exhilarated and overwhelmed. How do you get started?
1. Find 1 person — JUST ONE! — who might be interested in your idea. You can do this via email or in person. If you’re not sure, ask ANYONE that’s close to you, even your parents. We’re not aiming for perfection right now, just people.
If you had the ear of a leading marketing guru, what questions who you ask? We were recently fortunate enough to have this opportunity, as we interviewed Jay Levinson, the noted author of Guerrilla Marketing.
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.
From managing to marketing and everything in between, the world of small business can be both exciting and overwhelming. It’s a place where no two workdays are exactly the same and where unpredictable things happen. If you’re thinking about starting (or you already run and manage) your own business, check out the following list of tips to improve your chances of success.
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.
Do you want to grow your business rapidly and profitably? If so, the only way to start is with an honest assessment of your business as it exists right now. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll schedule a time to talk.
The second is a balance sheet, which provides a snapshot of your business’s financial position at any point in time. This report also has three sections: assets, liabilities, and equity. The value of assets should equal the combined value of liabilities and equity.
Use your resources effectively. It’s important to be confident in those things you do well, and realize there are resources to help with those parts of running a business that are not as comfortable. Invest in the equipment you need to help get your business off to a good start. If you don’t have the equipment in-house, look for business resource centers that can help with services needed to run your business such as packing, shipping, printing, and other business service needs. We often hear about the importance of time management, and learning more about available resources can help us better manage our time.
Manage your time. Real time is hard to come by and it’s easy to get interrupted and lose focus on the task at hand. Set aside blocks of time during the week to catch up and consider which tasks can be delegated to be most effective. For example, administrative tasks with no immediate deadlines can be delegated or scheduled at times outside of peak hours. It can be difficult to find the time, but it’s important to schedule time to make sure you are working on your business in addition to in your business.
When you are coming up with business ideas, silence the inner critic that says you can’t teach something unless you are credentialed or the world’s greatest expert on the subject. All you have to be is good enough to help people achieve their goals.
You will, of course, need to spend extra hours and work harder. But the transition from being an employee to a business owner will be far smoother as you won’t have additional expenses to worry about.
Pay attention to your customers. After all, you have to see a customer to know one. No matter how busy you are, especially in the early years of your business, be sure to spend at least 25 percent of your time with customers. You can’t make the right business decisions without understanding the customer’s viewpoint.
Tell me if this has ever happened to you: You hear about some super successful friend or famous person and you immediately tell yourself that they had some special advantage that let them be successful.
Deliver what you promise. Your small business will need to offer a product or service of some kind to be successful. However, if you want to grow your business by growing your customer base, you have to give people not only what they want, but what you promised them. If your product or service does not match what you advertise consistently, you will have incredible difficulty in growing your customer base.
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.
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.”
To figure out which area to prioritize first, think about the day-to-day tasks that eat up the most time. Is it ordering inventory? Managing your employees’ schedules? Setting appointments? Running payroll? If you find yourself spending more time than you’d like on any of these things, it’s time to search for some technology to help.
Know the tax laws. Invest in understanding tax issues that affect your small business. You can avoid trouble and, at the same time, legally slice thousands of dollars off your tax bill if you know the ins and outs of small-business tax law.
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.
It’s not up to them to approve of your idea or let you know whether starting a business is right for you. Only YOU can do that. This is very different from what we were taught as kids. Starting in kindergarten, we had to raise our hand. “Mrs. Kundle, can I go to the bathroom?” “Yeah, you can go to the bathroom, Timmy.”
Seek venture capitalists or angel investors. Angels are high net worth individuals and venture capitalists are companies. Both fund a promising high risk venture for a stake (partnership) and often bring experience, management expertise and contacts to the table. They usually work through a network or association.
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.
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.