Category Archives: Starting

Starting

7 Ways to Increase Foot Traffic to your Small Business

An Original Article from SBA.gov

Late last year, I hosted a web chat with the SBA offering holiday marketing tips and ideas to small business owners. And while many business owners submitted questions relating specifically to the holidays, a large percentage of the questions centered on that age-old question: “How do I get more foot traffic to my store?”

Here are seven tried and tested steps you might want to consider:

1. Start from the outside and look in

If you are in a pedestrianized area, get to know who passes by your store. Literally, sit outside or close by your window and assess the demographic of who comes and goes. Do they window shop? Have they come from another store close by first?

Next, take an objective look at your signage and window display–does it appeal to your target demographic or buyer? For example, if you run a coffee shop and most of your business is done during the hours of 8 AM to 10 AM, think of ways to optimize your merchandising and window display to attract more buyers during these times. This could be as simple as using this time to hand out coupons outside, offering bakery samples to passersby, or promoting your latest offers using sidewalk signage.

2. Host a community event with a newsworthy tie-in

One of the best ways to increase foot traffic is to host a community or charity event. A great way to do this and get noticed is to tie it to a topical event. Say, for example, your local NFL or high school team is playing a critical game. Consider teaming up with other businesses nearby to offer game-day promotions/offers or a tie-in event. Host the event as a block party or at a central location downtown (even if you have to take your business on the road for a few hours). Don’t forget to be community-oriented—consider donating a portion of your profits to charity.

Feature the event ahead of time on your website and social media. For maximum impact, don’t forget to contact local media outlets—including radio channels—and email and mail out fliers to your contact list. 

3. Host a seminar or workshop

Both retail and service-based businesses can generate a good deal of foot traffic by educating their customers about how to get more out of what they are buying (even if you don’t make a sale that day). Florist shops could host a flower arranging class or realtors could host a house-staging workshop to attract potential sellers. And of course, publicize your event—in-store, online, via press releases and advertising.

4. Use location-based services to attract passersby

You don’t have to be a tech wizard to promote your small business using mobile apps that target consumers in the vicinity of your business. Groupon, Living Social, FourSquare and ThinkNear among others let you post information about your latest offers and limited-time deals to consumers within a certain distance of your business. You can also schedule deals to get delivered during key hours, for example, if you’re looking to boost foot traffic during off-peak times.

5. Engage old customers in new ways

It’s always refreshing when a store or restaurant you’ve frequented for some time starts doing something new. And thanks to the power of social media, doing something new or different and doing it well can quickly go viral.

So think about ways you can get the attention of older or existing customers. It could be as simple as offering a new type of discount (it may sound obvious, but offering something of value at a discount for a limited period of time can be attention-grabbing) or letting customers know about a new product or service you’ve added.

A straight-out sale is always a great way to bring old customers out of the woodwork. Send out an email or e-newsletter to your contact database and post it on social media. You might even host a secret sale first for a hand-selected group of customers.

If your business is service-oriented, consider offering a referral fee to existing customers who bring in new clients for you.

6. Put on your small business customer service hat

There’s a reason why consumers opt to frequent small businesses over larger chains—personal relationships. A smile, great service, product knowledge and enthusiasm will bring customers through your door and keep them coming back. So as you host new events, sales or workshops, use your small business advantage to the max!

7. Stay in touch

Staying top of mind with new and existing customers who you’ve engaged through your new efforts is not just about offering great products and services. It’s also about staying in touch.

If you host an event that brings in new customers, encourage them to sign up for your emails. A little incentive, such as a free giveaway in exchange for an email address, is always effective. Then stay in touch, set-up an e-newsletter program, send out regular updates about new product lines, company news, and events and start to engage with your customers via social media. (For tips, check out this blog).

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Starting

Starting & Growing Your Business: 5 Valuable Lessons Learned from Reality TV Pros

An Original Article from Small Business Administration (SBA.gov)

In the past

few years ‘business turnaround’ and ‘entrepreneurial’ reality TV shows have

become compelling viewing – opening our eyes to the successes and challenges inherent

in being an entrepreneur or small business owner.

From UK

imports, such as Shark Tank, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and BBC

America’s excellent business transformation shows – Hotel Inspector and Mary

Queen of Shops – to homegrown productions such as NBC’s ‘The Restaurant’ –

reality-business TV offers a fascinating, albeit voyeuristic, insight into the

highs and lows of starting a business, reinventing a business, and even making

the decision to exit a business.

Whether you

are a start-up seeking investment (think Shark

Tank) or an established business in need of a re-launch to abate failure – these

shows deliver what could be considered a 50 minute master class in how to

succeed in business.

Here are some

common and consistent learning moments gleaned from these shows that small

business owners everywhere might consider.

When Seeking Funding – Don’t Over-Value Your Business’s

Current or Projected Worth

One of the more common mistakes

start-ups make – as seen on Shark Tank

– is misrepresenting or overvaluing the worth of their business to potential

investors.

At the end of the day, deliberately or

unwittingly over-valuing (or under-valuing) your business can quickly play

against you as a potential investor picks apart your sales and profit

projections.

So the takeaway from Shark Tank is that proper financial

planning and research can go a long way towards delivering a polished and

realistic sales pitch to banks or lenders.

This Business Loan

Checklist

from Business.gov is a useful

resource for guiding you through the process of planning and preparing a successful

loan application. These online Business

Planning Videos, from expert Tim Berry, can also help you build a realistic

sales forecast to out in front of investors.

Perfect Your Elevator Pitch and Presentation Skills

One of the most excruciating parts

about Shark Tank is those few moments

when budding entrepreneurs get to present their business elevator pitch to the

line-up of potential investors – and, whether it’s through nerves or poor

preparation, their presentation falls apart.

If you are looking to secure funds or

presenting your product or services at a trade show, developing and practicing your

elevator pitch is key. For a three step

approach to developing your company’s elevator pitch, read my earlier post: Why Your Business Needs an Elevator Pitch (and Tips on How to Target it to your Audience).

Learn

from the Competition

Another common scenario found on

business turnaround shows like Ramsay’s

Kitchen Nightmares, is that business owners faced with stiff competition

often retreat from it rather than embrace it.

Business is just as much as knowing

about the competition as it is about knowing your customers.

Take a hard look at what it is that you think

your business is doing wrong, in the light of what your competition across town

is doing right. Next find a way to re-connect with your target market using those

lessons learned – whether it’s re-branding your business; correcting your price

points; or firing staff who don’t cut the mustard.

Take a look at this *online workshop from SCORE

which show you how to gather competitive intelligence and help you be

ready for the competition. The Small Business Administration also offers

useful tips for understanding

the competition and finding a niche for your

business.

Diversify

to Grow

 

Diversification strategies are often at

the heart of reality TV business transformation shows. For example, would

adding a kids menu or brunch dining experience help drive your business in new

more profitable directions?

So whether it’s new offerings, new markets,

new verticals, new distribution channels – whatever it is you need to do to

diversify – explore all possible avenues, plan your approach and desired

outcome, and test and review your findings.

Check

Your Ego at the Door

 

Ego is a significant obstacle to

business success, as encountered by countless reality TV business turnaround

experts. Sometimes it’s a stubbornness to embrace a new business tactic simply

because ‘we’ve always done it that way’, or it’s a case of an over-inflated

business ego driven to succeed regardless of the cost and risk, and is failing

fast.

So in addition to being willing to

diversify, time and again reality TV shows teach us that, a little bit of

ego-less objective business analysis and management can only improve your

bottom line.

*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government web site.

Click here to view the original article.

Starting

5 Little-Known iPhone and iPad Apps for Startups

An Original Article from Entrepreneur.com

Being a small business owner can be like playing in a one-man band. Accounting, shipping, sales and administrative tasks all fall on you. With this in mind, Apple has put together a collection of apps designed to help any new business owner work faster and more efficiently.

Here’s a look at five new or recently updated iOS apps that you might have missed:

1. Invoice2Go:

This app helps you create invoices and estimates on your iPhone or iPad. You can create a master list of regular billable items, or use the Receipts2go plugin to bill for client-specific supplies. Completed invoices can be emailed or printed right from the app.

Invoice2Go also has a reporting tool that lays out your financial situation at a glance. You can create three invoices for free. Paid plans start at $24.99 a year for up to 100 invoices.

Related: 4 Simple iPhone Apps for Creating and Editing Documents

2. Docusign Ink:

Eliminate printing and scanning with this app, which lets you sign all kinds of documents electronically. Import documents from a cloud drive or take a picture with your device’s camera. Docusign Ink converts the document so you can drag your pre-set signature into place. Then save and send.

Need a client to sign off on a work order, sale or contract? You can use Docusign Ink to request a signature by email or have clients sign off digitally in person. You can sign unlimited documents for free, but there is a limit of five additional signatories before you’ll be asked to purchase a yearly plan starting at $15 a month.

Doucsign Ink is also available on Android.

3. Bento 4 for iPad:

This personal database app was recently redesigned for the iPad making it even easier to organize and present data. What makes Bento 4 different from the average spreadsheet tool is that it allows you to combine your tables with text fields and images by simply dragging and dropping boxes on to one of 40 free templates.

Use Bento 4 to create a product catalog for sales meetings, to manage multi-step projects or build a detailed contact list. The iPad app costs $9.99 and syncs with Bento’s desktop software for the Mac.

4. Concur:

This app is an organizational tool for frequent travelers. Use it to book hotel rooms, check airline reservations and manage your itinerary. Once you’re on the move, use Concur to track your expenses as they occur. You can type information by hand, scan receipts or use e-receipts to add data. At the end of your trip, Concur combines all of the information into a finished expense report. Also available on Android, the app is free for iPhone and iPad but you’ll need to link it to a desktop Concur account. Subscriptions start at $8 per person, per month.

5. Delivery Status Touch:

If you send or receive a lot of packages each month, Delivery Status Touch can help keep track of them.

For $4.99, the app works with the major delivery services and pulls information automatically from Amazon, Apple and Google Checkout. Once you input a package, it gets added to the home screen. From there, you can see the progress of every item — coming or going.

Related: 3 Low-Cost Sales Lead Tools for Startups

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Starting

How Can I Get Free Publicity For My Business

An Original Article from 360FinancialLiteracy.com

Free publicity may be the most cost-effective way of presenting your product to the public. Generally, it has more credibility than advertising since it gives the impression that the content was written by an independent third party. To get publicity, you have to create a reason why someone would want to know about your product. Then, you look around for a way to bring this information to the public’s attention.

The easiest way for you to do this is through the media, newspapers in particular. You could start by contacting a local or specialized columnist, a regional reporter, or a freelance writer. Tell the journalist why the paper’s readers need to know about you and your product. Often, if you have a story line prepared in advance, you can pitch the story to the journalist.

Other ways of getting free publicity include volunteering, submitting stories to the media specific to your product, holding a press conference or issuing a press release, writing a column in a paper, writing a letter to the editor, or donating to a worthy cause. Finally, you can try to get listed in the community news section to advertise some fact about your business, such as the celebration of its first anniversary. This will give you and your product exposure to the public.

Click here to view the original article.

Starting

Funding a Business

An Original Article from 360FinancialLiteracy.com

Aside from using your own funds and borrowing from friends and family, there are numerous routes that you can take, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the major options available for funding your small business, and some of the pitfalls to avoid. You’ve got your business plan written. You’re excited about your business idea, and now it’s time to get started. One problem: You don’t have the financing to fully realize your idea. What are your options?

Bank loans

Getting a loan from a local bank is the first option that most people think of when funding a new business. But it’s often difficult to obtain a bank loan on the basis of a business plan alone. Banks can’t take your idea as collateral for the loan.

If you are thinking of getting a bank loan, you will likely need to secure the loan through other means, such as putting up your home as collateral. A bank loan may be more feasible, though, if you are purchasing an ongoing business outright. In that case, the assets or the business itself can be used to secure the loan.

In any case, the advantage of a bank loan is that you won’t have to give away any equity if your business succeeds. You will simply repay the loan and own your business outright. If your business fails, however, you may end up losing more than your business assets, depending on the terms of the loan.

Angel investors

Angel investors are private investors who contribute money to a business in exchange for an ownership interest. The obvious advantage of utilizing angel investors is that you don’t have to repay a loan. However, you may have to give up a significant amount of equity (and control, depending on the security issued) to the angel investors. Angel investors typically expect to receive preferred equity security in exchange for their investment.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle is to find the right angels. There are many people out there who want to invest in small businesses, but it’s not easy to find the right fit. If you opt for this route, make sure that all parties have the same expectations regarding the prospect of success. You need to agree on how long you expect it will take for the business to be profitable (be aware that most small business plans are overly optimistic as to profit expectations) and whether your angels will hang in there with you if it takes longer than expected.

Venture capital

We’ve all heard a great deal about venture capital firms over the past few years. The ups and downs of some of these companies have been well documented. But are venture capital firms a potential source of financing for your business?

Venture capital may be a viable financing source for your business but, then again, it may not. Like angel investors, venture capitalists typically take an equity stake in your company, and most expect to receive preferred equity security in exchange for their investment. Most venture capitalists specialize in certain industries, and many provide corporate direction as well as financing (some angel investors may provide such direction, as well).

It is this aspect of specialization that makes venture capital financing difficult for most new businesses to obtain. If your new business doesn’t fit into the right niche, your company might not be a candidate for funding.

What fields do venture capital firms focus on? Most venture capital firms specialize in high-tech, computer, and Internet services. Others specialize in scientific projects and inventions that require a lot of cash. So, if you’re looking to open your own transmission shop, a venture capital firm probably isn’t the right financing alternative for you.

Selling stock

Selling stock in your company can take several different forms. We’ve all heard and read a lot about initial public offerings (IPOs). IPOs are stock sales in which previously private companies go public. An IPO is a possibility for an ongoing business, but it isn’t likely to be a viable alternative for your new company.

A private placement is less complex than an IPO and involves selling shares of stock to a select group of equity investors. The investors typically exercise control over the company in direct proportion to the number of shares that they own.

Selling stock or other securities in your business generally requires compliance with federal and state securities laws. Seek the advice of an attorney experienced in these laws before your business issues any stock or securities.

Factoring

You’ve been in business for a while and you have customers, but your collections have been bad. You need cash now, but your lack of cash inflow is holding you back. What can you do?

A common solution to this problem is factoring. Basically, you secure a loan (usually at a high interest rate) against your accounts receivable. Factoring companies aren’t hard to find, and some offer better deals than others, but they are almost always going to charge you a much higher rate of interest than your bank. Thus, factoring is usually considered as an option only after all others have been exhausted.

Economic development programs

Many federal, state, and local government loan programs are available to small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration is a good place to start.

Don’t overlook your local government loan programs, though. Local governments often offer incentives such as tax breaks or a discounted loan rate if you locate your business in their jurisdiction, often in an area zoned for economic redevelopment.

Customer/supplier financing

This is an option for a business that has a poor credit rating, and a realistic option that many small businesses overlook. In essence, your business bills for part of the services or products that it supplies up front. The rest of the fees are paid as the products are delivered or as the services are completed.

This strategy is aggressive, but many of your customers can appreciate the need that a small business has to keep cash flow current, and won’t object to your asking for partial payment up front.

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Starting

Properly Insuring Your Business

An Original Article from 360FinancialLiteracy.com

No matter how careful you are in running your business, accidents happen. And no matter how big or small your business, you’ll have to plan for these and other risks if you want your business to thrive. One way to do this is with insurance.

Imagine this: Your custom-made cabinetry business is thriving. You have a handful of talented employees and a stack of orders. Then, the unthinkable happens. You or one of your employees is severely injured using the equipment. Or a fire damages all of the cabinets you’ve spent the last few months building. Or a customer calls to tell you that the new cabinets you installed yesterday just fell and crashed onto her kitchen floor.

Protect your business from physical destruction

Your business is situated somewhere–an office park, a warehouse, a barn. And just like your home, this structure (and all of its contents) is susceptible to damage from many causes. Property and casualty insurance provides coverage for losses due to the physical damage or destruction of your business. With the right policy, neither fire nor exploded boiler can put you out of business. Everything from your office building to your cabinets to your water cooler can be covered.

You can buy various types of insurance protection separately, or you can purchase one package that covers many potential hazards. Among the forms of coverage you can purchase are:

  • Building and equipment insurance: This protects you if your facility or equipment is damaged or destroyed
  • Valuable papers insurance: This protects you if the documentation supporting your accounts receivable or other valuable business records is lost or destroyed
  • Crime insurance: This protects your business in case of theft
  • Business interruption insurance: This protects you by replacing some or all of your operating cash flow if your business is unable to maintain its normal operations for a period of time due to a covered event

Keep your business afloat if you or a key employee dies or becomes disabled

If you were to die prematurely or become permanently disabled and could no longer work, would your business survive financially? It’s easy to believe that such a tragedy won’t befall you. But remember, accidents happen not only on the job but also at home, and illness can strike anyone. Though the death or disability of an owner may be a minor issue for large businesses, small businesses may find themselves in a bind. And if you’re a sole proprietor, you’re personally responsible for all of the debts of your business, so everything you own could be repossessed if you’re unable to pay your bills.

To survive a money crunch, your business can purchase life insurance and disability insurance to cover you, with the business named as the beneficiary. Upon a triggering event (death or disability), the policy will pay your business a certain amount of money, which it can use to cover its normal operating expenses like rent, utilities, employee salaries, advertising, and maintenance costs.

Your business can also purchase life insurance and disability insurance on a key employee–someone who is key to the success of your business (i.e., this employee brings in substantial accounts or has specialized knowledge or talent). Again, on the triggering event, your business would receive a sum of money to compensate for the lost income generated by the employee, or for the cost of replacing the employee.

Note: These types of policies are different from workers’ compensation insurance, which all states require businesses to have. Workers’ compensation insurance provides compensation to your employees if they’re injured at work or get sick from job-related causes. Once an employee opts to receive benefits under such a policy, he or she is usually prohibited from suing your business for the same injuries.

Protect your business assets if someone threatens or sues your business

If your cabinet installation goes awry and your best customer (or so you thought) calls screaming at you on the phone, what will you do? With a liability insurance policy, the insurance company will pay (up to policy limits) third parties who claim they were injured or their property damaged by your product or service. If a lawsuit is threatened or filed, the insurance company will hire and pay (again, up to policy limits) a lawyer to defend you.

You can purchase general business liability insurance separately or as part of a commercial package policy, which combines this coverage with other types of coverages, such as property and casualty insurance. Certain small businesses, including retail outfits, can buy a business owners policy, which includes a general liability insurance line. If your business needs broader coverage or higher liability limits than these policies offer, you can purchase supplemental liability insurance with a commercial umbrella policy.

An important point: If you provide professional services (e.g., doctor, lawyer, accountant), a general liability policy doesn’t cover you for losses incurred by third parties arising from your professional acts. In this case, you may need to buy professional liability insurance such as malpractice insurance, which protects you against liability for injury done to others due to your misconduct or lack of skill; or errors and omissions insurance, which protects you against liability for things that you did improperly or failed to do.

Attract and keep employees with insurance-related employee benefits

Nowadays, insurance is a crucial component of most employee benefit packages. In fact, the types of insurance that you offer (and pay for) might be a key factor in a person’s decision to accept a job with you or an employee’s desire to work for your business long term. Insurance helps employees feel secure, and this security can translate into loyalty and strong job performance. Here is a list of group plans that you might decide to offer as part of your employee benefits package:

  • Health insurance
  • Dental and vision insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Long-term care insurance

In each case, the employee receives all of the benefits under the policy.

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Starting

10 Tips for a Strong Start

An Original Article from Entrepreneur.com

As someone who has been called a serial entrepreneur, I’ve had more than my fair share of experience starting new enterprises, turning around underperforming enterprises or re-vamping operations.

During that time, I’ve learned a thing or two about some critical factors you absolutely need to know before you jump into the proverbial entrepreneurial waters.

In the majority of cases, start-up success or failure is all about knowing the both the how and the why of taking action, and always being clear about which steps to take next.

To help this process, here are 10 essential things you need to know about running a successful business. Use it as a checklist to make sure your thinking and your business plan are on the right track, or if you need to get more information, strategic education or clarity for yourself on your overall vision, your market, or your product or service.

  1. Offer what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell.

    Too often, people jump into a business built around a product or service they think will be successful, rather than one that is already proven to have a market.

    What do I mean?

    Instead of creating and selling a new sports shoe with the latest trendy design and materials, you’d be much better off from a business perspective to focus on shoe category generally (a proven category because which people buy shoes every day) and then focus more specifically on the niche of high performance sports shoes, (which you may even sell in a section of a shoe retail outlet). Better to have a small slice of a large category than a large slice of no market at all.

  2. Get cash flowing ASAP.

    Cash flow is the lifeblood of business, and is absolutely essential to feed bottom-line profits. So you need to find ways to jump start cash flow immediately.

    How do you do that? In a professional services business, you can ask for deposits on work up-front, with balances due on delivery.

    You can do the same in retail, especially on high-ticket or specialty item and position it as an added value and a way to insure delivery by a specific date.

    You can also add value to generic items by creating private labels, and develop continuity programs where customers pay an up-front monthly fee to insure delivery or availability of items they will buy on a repeat basis. Of course, the key is to make sure there is little or no gap between when you pay for labor, stock inventory and when you actually get paid. Ideally, you’ll find ways to get money up front, and your cash gap will never be an issue.

  3. Always find new ways to keep costs low.

    All the cash flow in the world is worthless if it’s not positive cash flow, which means you have to bring in more cash than you pay out.

    To do this, you need to keep your costs and expenses low. We’ve touched on this before, especially in terms of outfitting a startup. The main idea is to never pay retail , and look for used or gently used items to furnish your office or your retail space.

    Paying vendors up front also gives you leverage for negotiating better prices. Especially in this economic environment, where credit is at a premium, vendors are more willing than ever to find creative ways to finance transactions, and that is a trend will likely continue over time.

    So do some extra work and research now to discover how owners and vendors are finding ways to work out deals, and you just may hit on whole new ways of doing business.

  4. When planning, always overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues.

    I was trained as an accountant, so the numbers side of business is part of my entrepreneurial DNA, and was also a big part of my early business education.

    That said, I’ve never seen a startup business where expenses were at least 30 percent more than initially planned or anticipated, and revenues are at least that much less.

    Being conservative in your numbers doesn’t mean you are willing to accept those numbers, it just means you are arming yourself with information you can work with and work over. It means you can gauge the kinds of efforts and activities you will need to put into sales and marketing.

  5. Focus on sales and marketing manically.

    In business, nothing happens until a sale is made. From the jump, you’ll need to find a good way to get leads, convert leads into sales, and make sure you keep getting repeat sales from your customers.

    The way to do this is to find or create a marketing and sales funnel system that you can work, test, measure; one that anyone in your company can utilize.

    Too many entrepreneurs focus on getting their brand right before they start to generate leads. That is exactly the wrong way to go about business. Leads are always more important than your brand, so don’t waste money getting your brand right at the expense of spending that same money to buy new customers.

    Soon, you’ll discover you can build your brand from the ground up, versus spending years and hundred of thousands of dollars building it from the top down. Don’t presume you’ll even survive that long, because without leads, you won’t!

  6. Find ways to exponentially increase profits.

    In business, there are five drivers that impact profits. If you can master them while keeping your costs in check, you will run a successful business.

    It’s as simple as getting more leads, converting more leads into customers, increasing the number of times those customers buy from you, increasing the average price point of your sales and increasing your profit margins.

    Do any one of those, while also keeping costs down, you will see more profits. Do all of them and you will see your business really take off.

  7. Test and measure everything.

    You can’t change what you don’t measure, and you can’t tell if a program or strategy is working if you are not faithfully testing, measuring and tracking your results.

    Another way to look at this is to think in terms of doctors. Most like to get baseline stats of your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing before they delve into identifying symptoms or recommending corrective courses of action.

    The same is true in your business. Why keep literally throwing money away on an ad campaign that costs thousands of dollars but doesn’t bring any people through the door?

  8. Accept that learning more equals earning more.

    If you’ve never run a million dollar business, you don’t know how to start a business–simple as that.

    But you can learn to run one, even if it is your million dollar business you are building from the ground up.

    However, you need to accept right now that learning always comes before “earning” (except in the dictionary). You’ll need to be committed to learning as much as you can about sales and marketing and operations if you want to have a truly success business.

    Once you do that, however, the sky is the limit. Knowing and applying those simple fundamentals in a highly leveraged way is one of the reasons many top executives and entrepreneurs earn so much.

    Identify those areas and you then can decide to learn it yourself or hire an expert and learn as much as you can from that person–because you never know when you can run across a distinction in thinking or a strategy that can really take you and your business to a new level of success.

  9. Don’t discount, add value.

    Whenever you discount, you are taking money directly out of your pocket and directly from your bottom-line profit. So don’t do it. Instead, create added value propositions all the way up and down your product or service line.

    Whatever the industry is, look to hold your price points, increase your margins with the low-cost or no-cost extras and any kind of freemium offerings.

    In the end, those little things won’t cost you a lot, but will build up tremendous goodwill and word-of-mouth with your customers and customer base.

  10. Get a coach.

    Even if you don’t get a business coach at first to help you and guide you in your planning and operation, get someone who is objective and outside of your business you can rely on for nitty gritty business advice and to hold you accountable to getting results.

    Too often, we think we have all the answers and are the only people who can really get things done. The reality is that another set of eyes can work wonders for how you operate both on and in your business. An outsider can also make sure you are getting the numbers you need both on the top line and the bottom line to survive.

I hope this initial checklist will be valuable in helping you clarify your thinking and helping you prioritize some activities in your planning and start up mode.

I like to say there are no mysteries in business or in life, there’s just information you don’t know yet.

So prepare as well as you can, knowing you will need to make changes and corrections. But armed with the right strategies up front, you can cut the time it will take you successfully get to your ultimate destination–wherever it is that may be for you and your business.

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