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.
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.
Plan timing and location of marketing. Once you know what kind of marketing you intend to do, think about the most effective places to advertise and what time of day, month or year are going to work best to reach your target market.
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.
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.”
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.
Know your business. Stay on top of what’s new or trendy in your business so your small business can stay competitive within the industry. Subscribe to periodicals or online newsletters to stay informed about current events in your small business’ industry. Staying at the cutting edge of your industry will help you draw customers away from competing businesses.
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.
“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.”
Utilize your employees. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to employees. What you as a small business owner can’t forget is that delegating helps save you time, provides an opportunity for you to focus on your many other tasks and helps to ensure you keep your priorities in order. You can always start with delegating small tasks and increase the level of responsibility over time so that you can build confidence and trust together.
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.
At a minimum, your customers should be able to identify your company’s products and services and your brand’s value proposition. Then, your website should be easy to navigate, pleasing to look at and contain enough valuable content to keep readers engaged.
Create ideas fitting your budget. Once you know how much money you have, research the costs of different types of marketing and come up with ideas which fit those methods and are effective for the price range. If you have a lot of money to spend on marketing, for example, you can consider shooting a commercial. If you have almost none, you’ll want to think about ways to use social media effectively, which is very effective for requiring little money.
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.
When starting a business, there are important differences between starting from scratch, buying a privately owned business and buying a franchise. To know what steps you need to take be sure to read these articles:
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. 
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
If you are a retail operation, consider using a tablet with an app-based credit card processor like Square or Intuit GoPayment Reader instead of a bulky point-of-sale system at each register. You can synch your transaction data to your accounting software and utilize the tablets for other purposes as well.
Don’t go it alone. Tap into resources, such as small-business peers, mentors, and trade associations, that can help take some of the energy-draining trial and error out of starting and running your business.
Require payment. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Require payment within a specific window of time (whatever is appropriate for what you do). Invoice people as soon as you possibly can. If someone is late in a payment, talk to them. If you ignore these problems hoping that they go away, you will find yourself working for free and your business in the tank.
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.
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.
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.
You require money to start your business, but how much do you really need? Without a clear idea you run the risk of coming up with an unrealistic valuation of your business, which will put off investors and get your loan application rejected. So before you start wondering how you should raise money, you should focus on evaluating your funding requirements. How much do you need to get started? How exactly are you going to use the funds?
You’ve decided to run a credit check on a potential client to ensure that you’ll get paid for your services. Once the report arrives what are you really looking at and how can you use the information to make the best decision? This article can help.
Choose a business structure that makes sense for your ownership arrangement, such as a partnership, if you’re starting your business with one friend. Consult a lawyer about the best structure for your particular circumstances.
Approach friends and relatives. People who know you for a long time are most likely to have faith in your ability and intentions. These are also the people who are likely to stand by you if the going gets tough in the initial stages of your venture or you need to raise more money. However, make it clear the money is intended as risk capital and they might lose it completely or may not be returned in the short term.
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.
From time to time you will need to hire or fire an employee. Make sure you are aware of all state and federal laws that deal with employment equality and anti-discrimination laws in your area as they pertain to the hiring, firing, disciplining and treatment of employees.
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 be looking for ways to improve your business and to make it stand out from the competition. Recognize that you don’t know everything and be open to new ideas and new approaches to your business. (For related reading, see: How do I determine my company’s competitive advantage?)
Sorry, but yes, there’s more paperwork. Figure out whether you want to incorporate federally, which costs $200 for online filing or $250 for paper filing. Then, determine which permits and licences are legally required for you to get started by using a tool like BizPal.
To run a business smoothly, you need a solid foundation. First and foremost, that means you have a business plan in place that serves as a blueprint for both you and any potential investors you may want to tap for financing. If you don’t have a business plan, it’s time to get cracking. We have a detailed description of how to write a business plan in our guide “How to Start a Business,” but at a high level, the sections to include are an executive summary, a business description, market analysis, competitive analysis, service and product line, operations and management, and financial considerations. With a plan in place, running your business from day to day is a whole lot easier and less scattered.
Your Square Dashboard also has your historical sales information. This is particularly helpful when it comes to future planning. You can look at how business went last December, for example, to be strategic about what you want to do this December. You could re-up on your best-selling items from previous years, or spot trends in your peak sales times to be smart about planning your hours and staffing. Read our post on 5 Ways Square Analytics Can Help You Run Your Business to see what other insights you can glean.
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.
If your services are seasonal you will want to consider what the best time of year would be to advertise. Also, television advertisements will need to be timed so that the right demographics will be watching when they air.
3. Write down the exact language they use. Did they really say, “I want a solution that’s easy, fast, and secure?” No, they did not. WRITE DOWN WHAT THEY ACTUALLY SAY. “I hate how these jeans look on me” is a terrific response. “Every day I wake up, I just dread going to work” is another.
Have a website. The world has moved online. Any business that wants to survive the next ten years is going to have a website. People will use it to contact you, find your location, learn your operating hours, ask you questions, make suggestions, and maybe even buy your products or services. In having a website and services which are available over the internet, you will be able to expand your service area out across your region or even the world.