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Starting Points - Resources, Tips, and Links
Starting your own business is a test of self-motivation, multitasking, efficient management and careful organization. In fact, just coming up with a business plan takes a lot of courage and creativity. But perhaps the biggest challenge is getting down to the real, gritty details of entrepreneurship.
At this point of starting your own business, you should have already developed a concept for your establishment, chosen a general location and devised a management structure. Now comes the job of taking a hard look at funding choices, securing the necessary permits and licenses, and developing short and long-term goals for success.
Starting Points: The Right Stuff
- Self Assess for Success -- Starting a business means developing realistic time lines and goals focused on costs, necessary licenses and any other requirements. To do this, it's a good idea to get money issues out of the way.
- Tough Tasks Take Drive -- In spite of planning, funding and all the innumerable elements involved in starting your own business, the driving force behind ongoing professional viability is a positive attitude.
- Leadership Motivates -- Dynamic business leaders share common traits and characteristics that ignite their visions and engage their followers.
- Financial Backing: Programs that Help -- Under-capitalization is the top reason businesses fail, according to some industry analysts.
What Type of Business is Good for You?
- Duplicate a Thriving Business: Franchise! -- Cornerstones of the national business sector, franchises offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to own businesses within the framework of a proven system.
- Existing Biz: Ready to Go! -- Buying an existing business is similar in many ways to buying a franchise. If you are serious about being the boss, however, you may find a franchise operation too restrictive.
- A Spanking New Business -- A third avenue to pursue as an independent business person is starting your own business.
Starting Points: Plan and Evaluate
- Will the Business Work? -- The first step to your company's financial well-being is determining its viability in today's marketplace.
- Get a Handle on Capital -- The next hurdle to overcome is financing. A lack of capital is one of the primary reasons new businesses fail.
- Resources at the Ready -- Before working on a business plan, many seasoned entrepreneurs opt to perform a break-even analysis to predict future viability in their respective fields.
- The Business Plan: Framing the Future -- Many would-be entrepreneurs shudder at the prospect of putting together a business plan, but the task need not be daunting.
- Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan -- Once you've established the fundamentals via your business plan, it's time to prioritize goals and to get organized.
Into Business: The Start Phase
- Starting Points -- So much to do, so little time! Likely the easiest way to get things rolling is to begin with the most obvious tasks.
- Legal Structure: Choices to Make -- Even solo operations require a legal structure, not simply for tax-filing purposes, but also to take advantage of tax deductions, insurance breaks and revenue distribution (e.g. salaries, dividends).
- Mission Possible: Mission Statement -- The U.S. Small Business Administration describes a mission statement as a short declaration explaining the thrust of a business.
- Products and Services: Is the Price Right? -- For fledgling entrepreneurs, pricing products and services competitively while still managing to clear a profit can prove one of the biggest challenges they'll face.
- Looking Ahead: Issues and Challenges -- No wise entrepreneur stays rooted in the present, particularly given the fragility of today's economic structure.
After the Start Phase: What is Next?
- Setting Up Your Office -- Setting up an office is the ultimate dream for most entrepreneurs but the fact remains, the process entails plenty of tough decisions. This section offers a wealth of practical, up-to-date information on choosing a space; relocation strategies; selecting furniture and equipment; the right hardware and software; office safety and security; and dozens of other topics all geared to making life easier for the small-business owner.
- Keeping Your Financial Records in Order -- What exactly is a cash-flow statement? Or a balance sheet? And just how does one buy or expand a business? This section on small business accounting holds the answers to these questions and many others, from budget preparation and company valuation, to insurance, financial ratios and building personal wealth. It's all right here.
- Recruiting and Hiring -- Most entrepreneurs will agree that finding and hiring the right staff amounts to an art. This section on human resources provides the ultimate "how-to" guide for developing a company's most valuable commodity its people. Subjects such as employee recruitment, sales staff, outsourcing personnel, personality assessment, training strategies and employment contracts represent a mere sampling of the in-depth information offered here.
- How to Sell Your Product -- Direct selling requires more than arranging some products on store shelves and waiting for a few customers to drop by. This section deals with the science of selling. Distribution methods, licensing requirements, motivating sales staff, sound marketing strategies and dozens of other factors, presented here in detail, can make the difference between huge profits and simply "getting by."
- How to Sell Your Product Online -- The advent of the Internet forever changed the business of selling. Once an adjunct to brick-and-mortar establishments, online storefronts now commandeer a fair share of the market. Check this section for information on how the Internet can work for you. Subjects include Web site design, search engine marketing, e-marketing, online sales transactions, cyber-customer service and a broad range of other tech topics.
- How to Leverage SBA/Government Resources -- The United States Government provides entrepreneurs with invaluable resources addressing all aspects of starting and managing your own business. Visit this section to link up with the Small Business Administration, Business.gov, the Internal Revenue Service and other government sites, such as the House and Senate Small Business Committees.
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