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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Starting Your Own Small Business and How to Make it Work

There are a variety of reasons you may consider starting your own business, including gaining freedom from the "daily grind" that sees you working hard for someone else, as a means of self-fulfillment, to capitalize on a great idea or even because of an innate entrepreneurial drive. Regardless of the reason for starting a new business, however, there are a series of steps that new business owners can follow during the startup phase to ensure that they succeed. Just because most small businesses fail within one year of their startup does not mean that yours has to be one of them.

Surround Yourself with a Great Team

This is advice that you may or may not hear often, but it’s probably the single most important thing that a small business owner can do. By "team," I mean the team of professionals with whom you work. This will typically include an accountant, an attorney and a technical specialist. For those whose specialty falls into one of those areas, you can of course serve in place of another professional in that area, but trying to "wear too many hats" is a common failing of business owners.

Make no mistake, you will be responsible for everything from writing the company business plan to taking out the trash at the office and making copies, but when it comes to the specialty areas, don’t skimp on accounting, legal and technical services. A good accountant and attorney tandem can assist with setting up your business’s structure, i.e. - a sole proprietorship, LLC, "S" Corporation or other, and can advise you on things such as tax write-offs, financial reporting, intellectual property and a host of other issues that you will likely face as a small business owner, regardless of the industry in which you will be operating.

Make Sure to Network - It Works

For those who hate to "schmooze," being a small business owner may be a painful experience. Unless you’re starting your small business with a partner who will handle this aspect of the business, it is crucial to get out and network with like-minded people. The number of business opportunities that can arise from casual meetings, a brief meeting over coffee and more formal events cannot be overstated.

Take the opportunity to look for events sponsored by your local Chamber of Commerce and local business associations, then go to the events to get in touch with people who also own small businesses in your area. You may not gain something from each trip out, but sooner or later the continuous contact will lead to some deals for your new company.

You Must Advertise to Succeed

It is generally said that businesses are "growing or dying." If you want to avoid being the latter, make sure to advertise, in addition to networking, to make your business continue to grow. While it depends on your business what types of advertising will work best, a website is a key component almost regardless of what your business does. Likewise, there are a number of online advertising techniques that can be used by a small business owner to establish a web presence that contributes meaningfully to the success of the business. For those with a bit more of a budget, television, print and radio ads may work as well, but in this instance it will likely be best to seek the advice and assistance of a professional.

You’re Probably In for Some Long Days (and Nights)

Needless to say, starting and operating a small business can be exhausting and all-consuming. Even in the evening, when work is supposedly "finished" for the day, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to escape entirely. While there is a certain freedom from operating your own business, keep in mind that you’ll likely be working longer hours than you did in your "real job" - at least for a while. With some hard work, and adherence to the advice above, it really can work.





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