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.
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.[5]
To manage accounting, make a budget and a long-term financial plan that you can stick to. You should also run regular reports that detail your income, balance, and cash flow. It may make sense to consult with a professional accountant.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Italiano: Aprire un’Attività, Español: abrir un negocio, Português: Começar seu Próprio Negócio, Deutsch: Ein eigenes Unternehmen starten, Русский: открыть свое дело, 中文: 创业, Français: créer votre propre entreprise, Čeština: Jak založit svoji vlastní společnost, Bahasa Indonesia: Memulai Usaha Sendiri, 한국어: 자기 사업 시작하는 방법, العربية: البدء في عملك الخاص, ไทย: เริ่มธุรกิจของตัวเอง, Tiếng Việt: Bắt đầu công việc kinh doanh riêng, Nederlands: Je eigen bedrijf beginnen
Make your bank work for you. Run your small business with financial efficiency by exploring all the options that banks offer small business owners and choosing the right bank for your business’ financial plan. Many financial institutions offer accounts with low fees, loans with discounted rates or free direct deposit programs for small business account holders. Banking with the institution that gives you the best deals will help you stretch every dollar.
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]?”
Ensure collection methods are in place. Be sure to account for how your business will collect on bills due and outstanding debts to your company. A successful business needs constant cash flow. Being unable to accept customer payments or waiting on those who owe you money will disrupt your business.[7]
You have a brilliant idea that you know will definitely work, but what about your competition? Will it be difficult for a rival to copy your idea and repackage it in a better way? A potential investor will ask you this when you approach them for funding. It’s very important to understand the market you operate in and your competition.
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.
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.
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.
Know which hats you wear best. In the early months and years of your business, you’ll have to acquire many skills. Gain the background you need to oversee all the facets of your business, but also determine what tasks you should outsource or hire employees to manage.
As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you are already successful because you have realized your dream and started your business. Congratulations! Now, how do you take your new business and make it great?
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.
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. 

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.
Organizing weekly, bi-weekly or monthly meetings between you and your staff can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and will help you avoid wasted time or overlap in the various responsibilities of your team members. Meetings can also help you analyze who is and who is not adequately performing the duties assigned to them.[15]
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:
Inventory management is often dictated by the “shelf-life” of the product you are selling. For example, if you are dealing with perishable items, it is critical to move the oldest products out of your inventory first to maximize the profits of 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.[16]
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.
Consider using a credit control app. These are apps that help small businesses improve their cash flow through better management of day-to-day cash collection and customer credit control tasks. This would allow you to take-on new customers or monitor existing ones, chasing invoice payment or running cash collection more safely. There are several software providers that can help you with this such as iKMC from where you can also get a free trial.[9]
Develop a passion for learning. As your business changes and grows, you need to change and grow along with it — particularly as you transition to manager. The one common denominator you find in all successful business owners is a passion for learning.
To be successful in business you need to be organized. Organization will help you complete tasks and stay on top of things to be done. A good way to do this is to create a to-do list each day. As you complete each item, check it off your list. This will ensure that you’re not forgetting anything and you’re completing all the tasks that are essential to the survival of your business.
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.
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.
Consider hiring a financial professional. It may be fiscally worthwhile for you to hire a dedicated staff member who can control the financial affairs of your small business. Accountants can help you identify areas of your business that are not running efficiently from a fiscal standpoint, allowing you to maximize your profits.
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 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.
Here, it useful to ask questions of your service or product. For example, you may want to ask questions like, does my product/service appeal to younger or older people? Is my product/service affordable for lower-income consumers or is it a high-end purchase? Does my product/service appeal to people in specific environments? You won’t be selling many snow tires in Hawaii or beach towels in Alaska, so be realistic about the appeal of your product.
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.[8]
Assess your own capacity for financial risk. There aren’t any right or wrong answers as to the right amount of capital to put up, but you’ll be well-positioned if you have a clear sense of how much you’re willing to invest, and of how you’ll regroup financially if things don’t go as planned.
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.
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).
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.