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?
Competition breeds the best results. To be successful, you can’t be afraid to study and learn from your competitors. After all, they may be doing something right that you can implement in your business to make more money.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are planning to get into a completely new business, it would really help if you got a second opinion from someone who knows the market and the challenges involved. A business idea that looks good on paper may not be that attractive when you actually get into it. An expert’s opinion may help you look at things from a different perspective and gain more knowledge that you may lack.
There are many ways for a small business to be successful, from financial return, to work-life balance, to making the world a better place. To run a successful small business, first develop a clear idea of what success looks like to you. As you work out the mechanics of running your company, keep this vision in mind and make choices that will advance you along this path.
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.
All you really need is permission from your parents — and a good attitude. Some cities require a special license to sell items inside the city limits, so ask your parents if your city enforces that rule. Then you’re pretty much set to start your business!
Stop worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter. So many people think PASSION is the key to business success. That if you just care enough the rest will take care of itself. First, any successful person that says this doesn’t take into account the PASSIONATE people that failed. Second, passion is just where we need to start. To truly succeed in business we need SYSTEMS. Three, specifically:
Evaluate your competition; if their market share or product offering is too strong and stable, then you will have a very hard time breaking into the market. No one will want to buy an equally priced or more expensive version of a perfectly good product or service which already exists.
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.
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.
The lead-up to starting a business is hard work, but after you open your doors, your work has just begun. In many cases, you have to put in more time than you would if you were working for someone else, which may mean spending less time with family and friends to be successful.
But most importantly, it helps you start to contextualize your ideas by how they will play in the real world. Not how you HOPE they will work out or not by what you’re the most excited about — but by what has the best chance of working.
First, you must locate the root of the problem. Is it an issue with your employees or the quality of the products? Identify it. Then you must ask yourself how the problem started and how it could be solved. Make a plan and execute.
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.
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.
Now we come to crunch time — assigning specific dollar amounts to your lists. This process is always going to be a best guess, but be realistic and use past experience, research and advice from other entrepreneurs to guide your cost estimates. Organizations such as SCORE and your local Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Development Center can provide free and valuable advice about how to calculate your start-up costs.
For small business owners, there are two different categories of time – clock time and real time. Sometimes it feels like there is not enough real time to get things done and effectively manage a business. The truth is for small business owners, time is irrelevant. It’s all about doing what you need to and when you need to in order to meet the needs of the current project, product or customer.
Report. No matter which source you raise funds from, be sure to provide key operating, strategic and accounting information to your financiers periodically, usually twice a year. It’s a good idea to hold a board meeting if everyone can physically attend. If not, do it via teleconference.
All successful businesses keep detailed records. By keeping detailed records, you’ll know where the business stands financially and what potential challenges you could be facing. Just knowing this gives you time to create strategies to overcome those challenges.
It will be very tough for a younger person to gain credibility when it comes to dealing with potential customers willing to pay big money for your services or product. It would be best to learn your trade or product extremely well . At first, the new entrepreneur will have to reduce his/her prices, and perhaps even give some stuff away as a form of advertising. You must also be patient, it takes a while for a business to become successful.
Making heroes of employees is common practice with many well-managed progressive companies. In this article Dr. Paul Adams looks at the advantages – as well as the possible pitfalls – of using rewards to motivate your employees.
Pick your niche. Take stock of your skills, interests, and employment history to select the business best suited to you. Choosing a niche that you can be passionate about will help improve your chances of succeeding. Remember: Many small-business owners succeed in businesses that are hardly unique or innovative.
You should also be looking to the future here. Will your payments processing device grow with your business and keep you current with the latest in secure payments technologies? Toward that end, get a reader that can accept EMV chip cards.
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.”
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?)
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.
Consistency is a key component to making money in business. You have to consistently keep doing what is necessary to be successful day in and day out. This will create long-term positive habits that will help you make money in the long run.
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.
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.
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.
Now on to accounting reports. At a minimum, there are three key reports you should be keeping. The first is your income statement, which details how much money your business has made or lost over a period of time. It generally has three parts: total revenue, total expenses, and net income. The hope is that revenue is greater than expenses, resulting in a positive net income.
If invoicing is a constant hassle (a common gripe among many business owners), get set up with Square Invoices, which lets you easily send and track digital invoices right from your Dashboard. (Which means no more stacks of paper to sift through.)
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.