One of the most gratifying steps that you can take is starting your own business. This can be an exciting and rewarding venture. The key to business ownership is preparation. Proper planning is one of the most important aspects of starting a business. It defines your capabilities not only as an entrepreneur, but in your personal affairs.
Are you planning for business success? You should be! Here are 6 Tips to increase your chances of success.
Tip 1: 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 to lend to. By being prepared, you will have a better chance at securing funding for operations or expansion of your business.
- 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.
Resources for business planning:
SCORE– “Counselors to America’s Small Business” is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). www.score.org
Association Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) – The mission of the network is to help new entrepreneurs realize their dream of business ownership, and assist existing businesses to remain competitive in the complex marketplace of an ever-changing global economy. To find a location near you, http://www.asbdc-us.org/
Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) – is a national not for profit organization representing women business owners through a network of women’s business centers (WBC). The WBC’s throughout the US provide education, training, technical assistance, and access to capital to over 100,000 women and tens of thousands of businesses each year.
Tip 2: Work on your business, not in your business! The worst thing that you can do is become a slave to your business. I know this first hand; as a former owner of a Building Maintenance Company; I was president, HR generalist, payroll specialist, trainer, janitor, saleswoman and more. It took me a while to realize that not only could I not effectively wear every hat, but in order to grow and regain my sanity, I had to trust others. Believe me, it wasn’t easy for me to let go and trust others to help me in my business, but it was worth it!
Because of my experiences as a business owner and business consultant, I can honestly advise others on the importance of delegating non-core tasks to employees or independent contractors. Play on the strengths of others. The lack of delegation will stifle your growth, or worse, cause you to run your business and yourself into a pit fall.
Before You Hire:
- Create job descriptions and have an employee policy manual in place.
- Communicate policies and procedures to everyone in the beginning, whether employees or independent contractors.
- Have a standard operating procedure (SOP) in place which lay out the daily, weekly and monthly operations of your business. By doing this, your business can run smoothly especially in your absence.
Tip 3: In order to blossom, you must network. Networking is a reciprocal process based on the exchange of ideas, contacts, advice and referrals. By networking, you are building professional relationships and generating new business. It is important to get out and meet with others that can provide a business support structure for you. Don’t think you can do it all by yourself; by talking to others in business you will find out great ideas which is very motivating.
Tip 4: Great customer service is paramount! I can’t begin to emphasize how important it is to provide your customers with exceptional customer service. How is this done? This can be achieved by building lasting relationships with people. The success of a business depends upon the quality of care in the relationship. By understanding and focusing on the needs of your customers, you create a loyalty between yourselves. Don’t sit on your morals! You should never get too comfortable, instead, regularly assess the strengths and weaknesses of the quality of your services, your processes and your customer approach. As a business owner, I make it a practice to over deliver and under promise.
Tip 5: Understanding your finances is extremely important. The NUMBER ONE reason that businesses fail is due to lack of control over finances. Some experts suggest reviewing your profit and loss statements, balance sheets and cash flow reports on a monthly basis. To manage this, there is accounting software such as QuickBooks specifically for small businesses. Also, hiring a CPA or bookkeeper can be a wise investment.
Tip 6: Form an advisory board. An advisory board is a group of individuals, who offer advice, inform or notify. No business is too small to benefit from having an advisory board which is an extremely powerful management tool. This is a great way to get a new perspective on your business or marketing plans, fresh innovative ideas and give honest and constructive opinion. Do you ever share an open discussion with other business people in an informal setting? Well, an advisory committee is a professional version.
Planning is the key to success in any business. Stay focused on your business goals and you will achieve the success that you imagined, and more!
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Sylvia Browder is CEO of Browder Consulting Group, a virtual small business consulting and coaching firm. She is currently employed as a Project Director, business coach and consultant for the Women’s Business Center, Inc., a non-profit economic development organization with a mission of empowering women to start and grow successful businesses. She also serves as a volunteer SCORE counselor, an organization dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. She is also a Technical Assistant Provider for SBA’s Community Express Loan Program. For FREE weekly articles go to Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women Entrepreneur’s, www.sylviabrowder.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org..
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