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.
It is helpful to think of promotions and marketing relative to the capacity of your business. Paying to run a commercial on a national network does you little good if your business is only designed to operate at the local level.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Capital Expenditures. Also known as capital expenses, these are the one-time costs of buying assets such as inventory, property, vehicles or equipment as well as making upfront payments for security deposits. These start-up assets don’t usually qualify for deduction, but some can be written off through depreciation at tax time.
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.
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:
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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.
You do not necessarily need a full-time employee to handle financial responsibilities. For example, if you have a solid grasp on your inventory flow and cash flow management, you may only need a CPA when tax time comes around.
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.
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.
Being a small business owner comes with challenges unique to the size and function of the business. The small business owner has to handle all the challenges of selling, delivering, financing, managing and growing the business with little or no staff, while trying to make it a success. The most important of all is to retain the interest of all stakeholders like customers, vendors and team to build momentum in a short span of time. Running a small business can be hugely rewarding both personally and financially.
Take credit cards. Very few people consistently pay for products or services with cash any more. It will be much easier for your business, as well as records keeping and accounting, if you accept credit and debit cards. If you want to save yourself ridiculous fees or keep your business more mobile, consider using the Square. This device plugs into a smartphone or tablet and lets you swipe customer’s card.
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.
Communicate clearly with your loved ones about how your business will affect your home life. Understand their level of tolerance and understanding, and enlist extra help, if necessary, such as child care for your family, or additional employees for your business.
To estimate your start-up costs, begin by creating two lists — one of things you’ll treat as expenses, one for your assets. Don’t forget to consider items such as brochures, business cards and website development costs or any security deposits you need to make. Consider whether you need the help of a consultant, tax adviser or lawyer to get started. Next, categorize these items as essential or optional — do you really need to spend money on these before you start making any kind of income?
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.
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.
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:
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.
Put profitability first and rewards second. Beware of the small business that treats itself to hefty salaries, high-priced consultants, and waterfalls in the lobby. In small business, profitability must come first. To understand profitability, you must first measure your cash flow and understand your key financial ratios.
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.”
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.
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.”
How will your product or service generate money? How much money will it generate? How much does it cost to produce your product or service? How do you intend to pay operational costs and employees? These, and others, are critical question you need to answer in planning your small business’ financial future.
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.
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.
Use banking options against one another to secure the largest upfront capital and lowest interest rates. For example, if one bank offers you a $10,000 loan at an interest rate of 4%, you may be able to take that offer to a competing bank to see if they can provide more upfront capital or a lower interest rate.
When it comes to taxes, make sure you’re filing everything correctly and on time. The website for Governement of Canada has a section of its website dedicated to a checklist for new small businesses and their fiscal obligations and their implications—it’s a good idea to spend some time there to make sure you’re compliant.
Delegate responsibilities. You can’t do everything yourself, so delegate the various jobs and responsibilities to qualified employees. Small businesses often require employees to take on many tasks and responsibilities that may not fall firmly in their areas of expertise.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shubhomita Bose is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. She covers key studies and surveys about the small business market, along with general small business news. She draws on 8 years of experience in copywriting, marketing and communications, having worked extensively on creating content for small and medium sized enterprises.
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.