Small Business For Dummies
From managing to marketing and everything in between, the world of small business can be both exciting and overwhelming. It’s a place where no two workdays are exactly the same and where unpredictable things happen. If you’re thinking about starting (or you already run and manage) your own business, check out the following list of tips to improve your chances of success.
Copyright © 2012 Eric Tyson, Jim Schell. All rights reserved.
20 Tips for Small-Business Success
Realize that not everyone is cut out to be a small-business owner. Take the time to explore whether you’re compatible with running your own business. Some people are happier (and better off financially) on the other end of a paycheck.
Get your personal finances in order. Before you jump into the entrepreneurial fray, get your own money matters squared away.
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.
Benefit from your business plan. The exercise of creating your business plan pays dividends. Answer the tough questions now, before the meter is running.
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.
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.
Remember that nothing happens until a sale is made. How many good products go nowhere because they don’t reach the shelves? Sales are what drive your business. You need a crackerjack marketing plan that details how you intend to package, promote, distribute, price, and sell your product or service.
Pay attention to your customers. After all, you have to see a customer to know one. No matter how busy you are, especially in the early years of your business, be sure to spend at least 25 percent of your time with customers. You can’t make the right business decisions without understanding the customer’s viewpoint.
Solve your customers’ problems. The best way to satisfy your customers is not by selling them products or services but by providing solutions to their problems. Understand the difference and market your products and services accordingly.
Keep in mind that quality takes only moments to lose and years to regain. Quality isn’t a destination but rather a never-ending journey. After you’ve strayed from quality’s path, your journey may be sidetracked forever.
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.
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.
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.
Remember that vendors are partners, too. A good vendor is as important to your business as a good customer. Treat your vendors like customers and watch the partnerships grow.
Make use of benefits. The most valuable long-term benefit you can offer yourself and your employees is a retirement savings plan. In addition, find out how to provide insurance and other benefits and reduce your tax bill at the same time.
Pay attention to all small-business-related regulatory issues. Federal, state, and local government agencies require an array of licenses, registrations, and permits. Obey them or face stiff penalties, including possible closure of your business.
Know the tax laws. Invest in understanding tax issues that affect your small business. You can avoid trouble and, at the same time, legally slice thousands of dollars off your tax bill if you know the ins and outs of small-business tax law.
Keep your focus on the people. Whatever happens to a small business happens at the hands of the people who work for it.
Fast, good, or cheap — pick any two. Serious trouble awaits those business owners who attempt to be all things to the marketplace. Focus on what you do best.
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.