It’s no surprise that when unemployment is high, small business start-ups increase. While not necessarily the best time to think of starting a business, necessity breeds innovation and resourcefulness. The largest increase in business-creation levels was found in those between the ages of 55 and 64, according to the Kauffman Foundation in an April 30, 2009, report by Reuters (full link below). Kauffman is a private nonpartisan foundation that focuses on entrepreneurship.
Just yesterday I was interviewed by the daughter of a very close friend who is taking an entrepreneurial class at college. Her mission? To talk with someone who had started a business and learn the “hows, whens, and whys” behind it.
Food for thought in case you’d been thinking about exploring what it might be like to start a business… The last part of our interview was an open-ended question: “What advice would you give someone who wanted to start a small business?” In classic Letterman style, I came up with 10 things I consider key:
1) Select a business in which you have a great deal of expertise and knowledge and for which you have incredible passion.
2) Be prepared to work harder than you ever have for anyone—and expect to love it more.
3) Engage expert advice/assistance where you need it. Ensure you are well-capitalized (one of the biggest mistakes for many entrepreneurs is not having sufficient reserves/capital).
4) Don’t underestimate the importance of outstanding customer service and keen interpersonal skills… remember, you are your business and customers/clients like to do business with people they respect, like, and trust.
5) Master marketing and self-promotion—essential when building a business, retaining business, and perpetuating growth. Press release on a regular basis—be visible in your community, build a strong network and referral-generation process, and have professional business cards and website. Be very prominent on Linkedin.com, Twitter, and Facebook. Blog regularly. Explore other social media for applicable networking sites. Learn to speak well publicly and get before a variety of audiences to promote your business, cultivate referrals, and ‘spread the word.’
6) Understand the financials—and if you don’t, have a bookkeeper and/or accountant who does (this includes not only accurate and timely recordkeeping, but the all-important matter of establishing a pricepoint, knowing your breakeven, and assessing profitable segments of your product or service mix).
7) Write a thorough business plan—and monitor performance very regularly and frequently.
8) Fine-tune and update your business model on a consistent basis—no complacency allowed! Build a succession plan—and a backup strategy in the event of a serious illness/emergency.
9) Continue your education and professional development; read constantly and stay on top of trends. Join professional associations in your industry/field and be active.
10) Have fun! Enjoy being an entrepreneur. There’s nothing quite like loving the work you do, being expert at it, and making money.
Think you might like to make the plunge? Here are a few resources to explore:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/bizstartups/index.html - Entrepreneur.com (good tips)
http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/index.html - Small Business Administration (free resources)
- Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW, President, Absolute Advantage
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