Depending on your industy, there’s plenty to consider in location-scouting beyond curb appeal. Look at zoning by-laws, and be sure to note any conditions that could impede your progress (or consider hiring a municipal lawyer). Conduct a traffic analysis to ensure customers can actually get to you. And be sure to consider nearby competition. Would you want to open an electronics shop next door to an Apple Store?
Be accessible. Make sure potential clients and customers can get in touch with you and your business whenever they may need to. The best way to grow your reputation as a respectable business is to be responsive to your customers’ needs.
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.
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.
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.”
In addition to a secure payments processor, you can streamline your operations using a variety of software. There are affordable tools to help you manage inventory, employee schedules, payroll, email marketing, and invoicing.
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?)
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.
When you don’t have money to start your business, it’s essential you find the right people who can help. You may attend events and trade shows where you can find potential investors. You may also join various online forums on social networking sites where you can find useful tips and resources to bring your business to life.
Whether or not your primary objective in running a business is to earn a lot of money, you must must make enough to keep your company afloat. To be financially sustainable, a small business must take in more revenue than expenditures on basic operating expenses. Even if you’re not practiced and comfortable with business bookkeeping, you can develop basic skills to help you understand what is going on with your business financials.
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.
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.
Who am I? I’m New York Times bestselling author Ramit Sethi, and I’ve created more than 15 products that generate tens of millions of dollars a year. I’ve helped tens of thousands of students build businesses so profitable they can leave their full time job.
Leadership skills are critical to the success of a new venture. Do you have them? Whether or not you think you’re a gifted leader, you should consider putting management theories aside and focus on common sense as you build your business.
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.
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 you ask people about an idea they will all say “YEAH! THAT SOUNDS GREAT!” And then they don’t buy. Get past this base level of feedback. To figure out if your idea has legs it helps to plot it on a demand matrix like the one below:
Create a records system. From doing taxes to figuring out why you’re mysteriously missing $2,000 to searching through customer records to find out if Mrs. Jones did in fact pay her bill, you’re going to want a good records system to help your business run smoothly and efficiently. Invest in file cabinets, labels and digital records software to keep you organized and on top of things.
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.
Celebrate milestones Everyone deserves a win. So when you get one, acknowledge it! Don’t become so busy and focused on results that you forget to stop celebrate when you have achieved those results or reached a milestone along the way. Even a small success deserves recognition. This positive thinking will generate more enthusiasm from you and your employees, inspiring more enthusiasm on the next project and leading to even more successes.
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.
Social media is another low-cost way to market your business. At the very least, you should get your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts up and running, and make sure that you’re posting at least a couple of times a week. You can post things like announcements for events and sales, pictures of the products you’re offering, or even fun things like famous quotes that relate to your business. Be sure to use hashtags and tag appropriate people in your posts, which increases the likelihood of getting more shares and likes. If you’re feeling stuck, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all have guides on how to use their platforms to market your business.
What do some entrepreneurs do differently that enables them to achieve almost mythical business success? This month we look at the characteristics that separate successful entrepreneurs from their peers.
In a sole proprietorship, all the profits and decisions are yours – but so is the liability, which is unlimited. A partnership – where two or more people create a non-incorporated business – allows you to share startup costs and management, but again liability is unlimited and you’re financially responsible for your partner’s decisions. In the rarer co-operative, members own and control the business, limiting liability but making decisions more time-consuming. Finally, in a corporation – where the business is a legal entity – liability is limited, but regulations are tight and getting started is expensive.
Hire superstars. If you intend to create a growing business, your number one duty is to assemble a team of superstar employees in your game-breaker positions. Game-breaker positions are key positions, such as the president/CEO (that’s you), the financial person, the sales manager, the marketing manager, the production manager, the office manager, the purchasing agent, the art director, and so on, that will make or break your company.
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.
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.
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:
Offer references. Compile a list of satisfied clients that are willing to serve as references to potential clients. This will give future customers the ability to verify your work and customer service.
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.
Without a steady stream of customers, you won’t have a business at all. So you need to employ some marketing strategies to get your business on people’s radar. There are many ways to approach marketing, and they run the gamut from grassroots tactics to spendier, more involved campaigns.
The good news is that as a small business, there’s a bunch you can write off on your taxes—potentially things like your vehicle, office space, or even equipment. Work with an accountant to determine what you can write off, and make sure you’re keeping any necessary receipts or documentation throughout the year. It could save you a lot of money come tax time.
In order to maintain this success and achieve positive growth for your small business, you need to approach some aspects of your job from the mindset of a Fortune 500 CEO. If you think small, you will most likely remain small. But if you think big, your company will realize big results.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And lastly, you should keep a cash flow statement, which highlights how much money has moved in and out of your business in a given period of time. It, too, is made up of three sections: cash flow from operations, investing, and financing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.