Master the Fundamentals
There may be few road maps available to entrepreneurs when it comes to starting a small business, but there are certainly things to keep in mind. Here are some tips that will help you build your business thoughtfully and intelligently taking the steps necessary to make your venture an ultimate success
Focus on Financing
Keep your mind on funding. Always be on the lookout for opportunities for funding. Don’t expect to start a business and then walk into a bank and get money. Traditional lenders don’t like new ideas and don’t like businesses without proven track records or financial data.
Seek alternative sources of financing as well. For example, special incentives in place right now may make it a perfect time to look for investors for certain kinds of domestic corporations. The incentives may not be right for your business but could help with startup or expansion in company’s meeting the prescribed profile. See: ICS Fast Money Guide
Know Your Customer
Develop a clear picture of who your ideal customer is. Because potential customers come in all sizes, shapes, and spending profiles — and because ideal customers don’t come with their profiles stapled on their foreheads — your first job is to first identify your customers and figure out which ones are most likely to become your best customers and then to figure out how to attract and reach them. There are a lot of things that go into figuring out your market, whether the market for a new product or service or a market into which you might want to expand an existing business. But creating a profile for the ideal customer can be a great place to begin.
Be Professional from the Start
When you first go into business, people don’t know who you are, how you do business, which values and ethics you hold dear, and the quality of your products and services. You need to build credibility as quickly as possible. Everything about you and the way you do business needs to let people know that you are a professional running a serious business. That means having all of the necessary tools such as professional business cards, a business phone and a business email address, and treating people in a professional, courteous manner. Understand that customers have many choices as to how they spend their money, and if you are not putting forth your best image, your business might not fit their choice.
Marketing & Sales
Of all the areas that small business owners violate the most are marketing and sales. Having a system in place to consistently generate prospects that you can sell to is the only way to keep the business growing and working for you. Your effectiveness in marketing and sales starts with mastering the basics and then applying the best strategies. Remember this one thing: Marketing and Sale aren’t expenses but investments. By investing in them you ensure your success over the long haul. Marketing vs. Sales: What’s the Difference?
Don’t Do It Alone
You need a support system while you’re starting a business (and afterwards). A family member or friend that you can bounce ideas off and who will listen sympathetically to the latest business startup crisis is invaluable. Even better, find a mentor or business advisor who can help you save valuable time based upon their experiences and such. When you’re starting a business experienced guidance is the best support system of all.
Do Your Research
You’ll do a lot of research writing a business plan, but that’s just a start. When you’re starting a business, you need to become an expert on your industry, products and services, if you’re not already. As you are building your professional reputation, one of the key elements that you need to establish is your position as a subject matter expert (SME). You need to go from anonymity to respected and credible expert. Your continued education will be what sets you apart later on as well.
Embrace the Social Media
Yes, I said embrace it because it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s not enough to know and except its existence. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have more than 1.5 billion members between them. According to Constant Contact, Social Media Marketing is, “Building your social network of fans, followers, and connections, using relevant and interesting content allowing you to reach and engage more people and drive more business.” As an entrepreneur, you need to understand how to use these outlets to identify potential clients, partners and suppliers. Adding Value for Your Clients Through Social Media
Learn the Basics of Public Relations
Understanding the basics of PR are key to any entrepreneur or small business owner. Advertising and marketing are both huge costs. Along with the basics of PR management, every entrepreneur should learn the significance of using press releases. Though writing may not be your strong suit, when starting out small it can be critical to have a basic grasp of how to tell others, most importantly the media, who you are and what you do.
Invest in the talent you need
Whether tech specialists or other employees, your workforce will be important to your success, at least if your business expands beyond a one man or one woman operation. So the question becomes how do you find the right people for your business and attract them to your company? The answer may not always be money.
Systemize Your Business
One of the best ways to avoid becoming overwhelmed is to start systemizing your small business. This means that you have to find an organized way to deal with the different components of your business. Find ways to structure the different jobs so that they are able to get done themselves, or they can be done by another person. The goal of systemizing your small business is to be able to concentrate on enjoying life and growing your company without being overwhelmed by it.
Get Help Sooner Rather than Later
Very few persons succeed or fail by themselves. Unless you plan to operate a large corporation with all support in-house, you will likely need to recruit an outside support team. You must find reliable and professional people like an attorney, CPA, and insurance agent who can help you with these types of legal and financial business issues. Just because you’re starting a business, doesn’t mean you have to be an expert on everything. If you’re not an accountant or bookkeeper, hire one (or both). If you need to write up a contract, and you’re not a lawyer, hire one. You will waste more time and possibly money in the long run trying to do things yourself that you are not qualified to do. Outsourcing such tasks can be a better use of your time. One of the most important innovations for the overworked entrepreneur is the virtual assistant. These workers have emerged as an outgrowth of both outsourcing and online technology allowing support that gets you what you need when you need it at cost you can typically afford.
There is only one way to be successful in your business or anything else. Master the fundamentals—the basics!” To master them you must own them. There is no mystery here. It takes discipline, fundamentals, proven productive systems, and staying actively engaged in building and promoting your business.