Tuesday, May 8, 2018

First 5 Things To Do After Starting a Business

Starting a business requires tenacity, creativity, healthy risk-taking, passion and insight. Now that you’ve taken that big step of starting your new business, what now? Here are 5 important steps to take once you’ve started your business. Flawless management, creativity and planning go a long way in your quest to run a successful business.

First 5 Things To Do After Starting a Business 

 1)  Create your brand identity.
Now it’s time to get your name and your business out there. You will need a professional logo, an engaging website, signage and possibly even business cards and apparel to match your brand. It’s important that your brand identity is professional, clear and provides a great message and mission statement to show what your business is offering. One common mistake new business owners make is creating a quick logo and slapping it on a business card and calling it a day. It’s vital to the success of your business to have a cohesive and creative brand identity from the logo to the website, to your business cards and storefront.

Set a marketing budget.

Many businesses don’t spend enough money on marketing, or even worse, they spend it haphazardly without a clear plan. Beesley (2013) states a general rule that small businesses with less than $5 million in revenue should allocate 7-8% of their revenues to marketing.  If you’re business is not generating much to start, it’s still important to allocate funds to marketing. Be smart and plan accordingly. Never use just the money you have leftover after paying other expenses, marketing expenses should be a top priority.

3) Define your marketing goals.

Now that you have a marketing budget, how will people find out about your business? You can’t just rely on word of mouth to get started. You need to build up a reputation before people will start spreading the word for you. It’s important to have a strong marketing plan to advertise your business. You’ll need to know your target audience and where to find them. Are they on social media? According to Smith and Anderson (2018), roughly two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults are on Facebook. Social media marketing is a great way to start acquiring new customers. You may also utilize direct mail, permission-based email, print advertising and even loyalty programs for new customers. Talk to a marketing manager and get a clear plan in action.

4) Consult or hire a professional.

Your business is not going to run itself, and you may not be an expert in all areas. You may have started a business because of a passion, but do you know how to market on Facebook? If not, hire a marketing or design professional to help you out. Consulting with professionals in areas that you are not confident in can make a huge difference in the success of your business. There are marketing and advertising professionals out there, as well as accountants and bookkeepers. You don’t have to do it all on your own.

5) Learn how to lead.

If you want to run a successful business, you must be able to lead. Growing your business means growing and nurturing relationships. Every successful business is built on relationships – relationships with customers, employees, contractors and other business professionals you will be working with. Learn how to communicate and delegate properly so you are not wasting precious time and money. Your business depends on your ability to hire, inspire and lead others.

Remember, your first impression is a lasting impression. A professional business identity, marketing and budget plan are a must to the lasting success of your business. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Top 10 Business Tips


Starting a business for the first time and wonder where to begin?  Give your new venture the best chance of success with these top 10 business tips! These tips are the best advice I've collected from other entrepreneurs and developed from my own experience of more than 25 years of having "been there and done that" as a small business owner.

Top 10 Business Tips

1) Be passionate about what you do.

I always tell young adults when deciding what they want to do for a career, to think about the things they are passionate about and go into that field.  Don't over anyalize if it is the perfect job or not, just do what you feel is right in your heart. Having a passion for your job, makes life much easier to get up and do it everyday!  
You're going to devote a lot of time and energy to starting a business and building it into a successful enterprise, so it's really important that you truly deeply enjoy what you do, whether it be in real estate, design or providing financial advice. 

2) Start your business while you're still employed.

How long can most people live without money? Not long. And it may be a long time before your new business actually makes any profits. Being employed while you're starting a business means money in your pocket while you're going through the start up process. 

3) 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 start up crisis is invaluable.
Even better, find a mentor, or if you qualify, apply for a business start up program. When you're starting a business experienced guidance is the best support system of all.

4) Get clients or customers first.

Don't wait until you've officially started your business to line these up, because your business can't survive without them.
Do the networking. Make the contacts. Sell or even give away your products or services. It would also be a good idea to start a business facebook page to network with individuals prior to actually starting the business. You can't start marketing too soon! 

5) Write a Business Plan.

The main reason for doing a business plan first when you're thinking of starting a business is that it can help you avoid sinking your time and money into starting a business that will not succeed.
Remember, you don't have to work through a full scale business plan for each new business idea you come up with; ask these 5 questions:
1. Is there a market for it?
2. What’s the profit potential of this business?
3. Is the market saturated?
4. What are the obstacles to my business plan and are they surmountable?
5. Do I have the committment, time and resources I need to see this through?

6) Do the 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. Joining related industry or professional associations before you start your business is a great idea.

7) Get professional help.

On the other hand, just because you're starting a business, doesn't mean you have to be an expert on everything. I cannot stress enough, how important it is to make sure you only do the things you are good at, and hire others do the things you are not qualified to do. If you're not an accountant or bookkeeper, hire one (or both). If you are not good at marketing your business or setting up a facebook page, hire someone qualified to do so. You will waste more time and possibly money in the long run, trying to do things yourself that you are not qualified to do.  In addition to wasting time and money, you risk the possiblilty of creating an appearance for your business that may not appear as professional as it should. Remember, first impression is critical in business, so you want to appear professional right from the start.

8) Get the money lined up.  

Save up if you have to. Approach potential investors and lenders. Figure our your financial fall-back plan. 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. Look at creative ways to raise money for your business. 

9) Be professional from the get-go.

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 getting all the marketing materials such as a logo, sign, professional business cards, a business phone, business website, along with a business email address, social media pages, and treating people in a professional and courteous manner. 

10) Get the legal and tax issues right the first time.

It's much more difficult and expensive to unsnarl a mess afterwards. Have you registered your business name? Will you have to have Worker's Compensation Insurance or deal with payroll taxes ? How will the business ownership affect your income tax situation? Learn what your legal and tax responsibilities are before you start your business and operate accordingly.

Why is a Mission Statement important for a new Business?

The mission statement serves as a “Guiding Star” that keeps everyone clear on the direction of the organization. Business owners should use this statement to remind their teams why their company exists because this is what makes the company successful. And as Andy Stanley says, “It’s your direction, not your intention, that determines your destination.” 

Every entrepreneur should write a mission statement early on because they provide you and your employees with the framework and purpose. If you don’t have one, you need to get one. 

An effective mission statement must be a clear, concise declaration about your business strategy. Here are four essential questions your company’s mission statement must answer:

What do we do?
How do we do it?
Whom do we do it for?
What value are we bringing?

If you have a mission statement, make sure it can answer these questions. It makes all the difference.

As an entrepreneur, your company’s mission statement should be concise and specific so your customers understand your purpose and how you provide value to them.

As a quick exercise, check out this list of Fortune 500 mission statements to see which ones answer the questions that we are talking about and which ones don’t.

Here is an example of our mission statement:

"Our mission is to help businesses grow and succeed through our knowledge, experience and design talents, while creating long-lasting relationships."

It’s clear and concise. The mission statement is focused on what the company does for its customers and keeps my employees focused on our objectives.

Your mission statement doesn’t have to look a certain way. Figure out what’s important to you and your clients and write it accordingly.