What’s Your Passion?
If you are thinking about starting a business, it should be something you enjoy. Since a lot of time and energy goes into running a business, it is smart to look at a hobby or professional experience as a possible business idea. For example, if you are good at sewing, consider a tailoring shop; or an accountant could look at bookkeeping or tax service. Now, imagine what your life would be like if you spent the majority of your day actually doing what you love. Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? To improve your chances, here are 10 Extremely Important Tips for a Successful launch.
Tip 6: Know Your Clients
A common mistake that I encounter with new business owners is that they don’t know who their customer is… possessing a poorly defined target market. Most want to sell their products or services to ‘everybody’ instead of narrowing their targeted customer base to a manageable size. You must do your homework… i.e., market research. I’ve created a business resource guide to assist you, Resource Guide for Women.
Tip 7: Got Marketing?
In business, marketing plays a key role in getting the word out to your prospective clients. You must create an image and be consistent! It’s important to mold and hone your business image to successfully appeal to your prospects and customers. By choosing a relevant company name, answering your phone professionally, creating a professional and clear elevator pitch, investing in professional business cards, logos and brochures, etc… all are key in marketing your business.
Tip 8: Don’t forget Uncle Sam
Understanding tax obligations is one of the most important issues facing small businesses. The local, county, state and federal agencies does not care that you didn’t know or you forgot to pay your taxes. You will be subject to penalties for not paying on time. Here are some resources to assist you:
- For a list of state agencies, http://www.business.gov/states/
- For a SBA resource guide by state, http://www.smallbusiness3.com/magazine
- For IRS business information, http://www.irs.gov/businesses/index.html
Tip 9: Don’t forget the ‘B’ Word… Budget!
Create a start up budget. Because businesses are different, each will have its own specific cash needs at various stages of development, so estimating your start-up costs may vary. Some businesses can be started on a shoestring budget, while others may require considerable investment in inventory or equipment. It is imperative to know that you will have enough money to launch your business venture.
A few ways to prepare:
- Create a list of anticipated expenses for your first three years
- Projections are fine, be realistic
- Have a tracking system. QuickBooks, Quicken, Ledger, Excel spreadsheets, I don’t care which you use…. It’s important to put a system in place that works for you. Personally, I use QuickBooks. I can send files to my CPA, easy to work with. In addition, as the treasurer on the board of a non-profit organization, I also use Quick books to reconcile the organization’s bank statements and to bill our member’s annual dues.
- Open a business checking account. The worst thing you can do is run your business from your personal account… it is an accountants nightmare. Open up a business account so that you can separate the two… plus it tells others that you are serious and professional.
Tip 10: Put it all together… in a plan!
Last but not least, you must write your business plan. By failing to plan, you are planning to fail. If you can’t take the time needed to plan for the success of your business, then don’t waste your time starting one. Statistics show that 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first three years. This is staggering but true! Invest your time in researching and writing a business plan. Many prospective entrepreneurs think that a business plan is very hard and tedious. The truth is it’s a powerful tool that can help you plan and achieve business success.
So, what is this thing called a business plan? Well, a business plan is your blue print or what I tell many of my clients, it’s your bible! A business plan defines your business, identifies your goals, and serves as your company’s resume. It will help you arrange strategic alliances, obtain financing and attract key personnel. By planning for success, you will be able to overcome many hurdles that may arise.
A closer look at why a business plan is important:
- To secure funding, your lender will request your business plan with completed financials. DO NOT approach a lender without having a completed business plan. In his/her eyes, you will look unprepared and too risky. By being prepared, you will have a better chance at securing funding for operations or expansion of your business.
- It is a great way to test the feasibility of your business idea. By the time you complete your market or competitive analysis, you will have a clear picture of the viability of your idea.
As you can see, there is a lot of work involved before starting a business. To ensure success, it is important to research thoroughly, take advantage of the resources available to you and learn as much as you can. Preparation is key to a successful start!
About Author: Sylvia Browder is publisher of “Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women” and Founder of National Association of Women on the Rise. As a business consultant for Browder Consulting Group, her passion is helping women in service based businesses to bridge the gap between where they are now to where they want to be.