10 Steps to a Real Business

Ok, people…If you’re going to start a business, flying by the seat of your pants is what many entrepreneurs do, but it’s not the most effective way to go about it. Here are top 10 things you MUST do in order to get your business in the right track.

1. INCORPORATE. Not just file articles of incorporation with your Secretary of State, but actually get a corporate book, with corporate seal, and keep minutes of corporate decisions (you can email me about this) such as choosing the bank account, issuing stock, voting on Board of Directors, etc. Most people think incorporation is a one-step process and then it’s just a matter of paying an annual renewal fee. Not so. You must ACT as a business too. Otherwise, you are personally liable for all your company’s debts, assets, lawsuits, mishaps, etc. And if you file your taxes and claim business deductions based on your business’s corporate standing, this is PARTICULARLY important. So keep yourself in compliance.

This also means you must choose a legal structure, such as S Corporation, C Corporation, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Partnership, or a sole proprietorship. Your choice of legal structure depends on your tolerance for risk of personal liability, your tax concerns, and your exit strategy (how are you going to get out of the business), among other variables. If you want to know more about this, shoot me an email. Otherwise, stick around for more on this at a later blog.

2. GET A BUSINESS PLAN. And I mean get one. You don’t have to spend hours writing it. Get someone else to do it. But at the very least you want to be very well versed about what your business is, who your target market is, what your competitors are doing and how you’re going to make money. This is particularly important if you’re going to a bank for a loan, an investor for equity financing, or the SBA for grants and other funding opportunities. I know you’re in love with your business, and it might be an emotional decision for you. But it is NOT an emotional decision for the bank. So get clear, give them the answers they need, and be on your way to making money!

3. DUCKS IN ORDER. That means, establish your business presence: Get business cards, a website, a bank account, a computer, printer, fax, office supplies, a separate phone line, an actual business email address (who do you respect more as a business professional, [email protected] or [email protected]?). Depending on your business, you may also need to enter into Confidentiality Agreements or Independent Contractor Agreements with your sub-contractors. These documents must be created, and preferably looked over by your lawyer (or business consultant! Ahem, ahem!) so that you know you are covering all your bases.

4. SHOW ME THE MONEY. The most common funding sources are 1) Yourself: Credit cards, refinancing your home, dipping into your savings, or investment accounts, etc. (What?! You don’t have savings or investments? We need to talk! That’s another blog.) 2) Friends and family (make them your initial round of investors). 3) Bank loans. 4) Grants. 5) Angel Investors. 6) Factoring: This is where the financial institution (factor) advances the entrepreneur money against proceeds from the entrepreneur’s outstanding accounts receivables. Factoring firms generally are paid a percentage of the invoice’s value. 7) Venture Capitalists: Venture capitalists are individuals or companies with large amounts of capital to invest and expect higher returns. Use Venture Capitalists if you already have a great track record in your field or as an entrepreneur, and if you have a business concept that will require a lot of money ($250K to $10s of millions) and will have a rapid growth curve.

5. WHERE ARE THE EXPERTS? Get your team of experts around you to support you in the start-up and growth stage of your business. Here’s who you should have around you:

1. Accountants
2. Attorneys
3. Insurance providers
4. Bankers
5. IT support
6. Web designers and programmers
7. Merchant banking (for receiving payments online)
8. Realtors

These people are your advisors, your backup, your support system. Their expertise can save you thousands of dollars and untold emotional and logistical headaches, so don’t be cheap about this. Your business deserves the best!

6. BUILD YOUR TEAM. This does not necessarily mean hire your cousin and your best friend (not that there’s anything wrong with that). That may or may not be the best business strategy. You want people with at least one of the three P’s: potential, proven skills, or are power brokers. Those with potential don’t have the experience or track record, but they’re hungry for success and not afraid to work hard. They’re disciplined and team players. Those with proven skills have the expertise, knowledge, track record, credibility that you need in order to propel you forward. And those that are power brokers are those highly influential people who always know someone you can talk to, can open doors for you, and are WILLING TO SERVE. Power brokers are not egotistical and self-serving.

My personal opinion is that whether you are building a business or not, it is a great strategy to surround yourself with the three p’s, period. Your life will be greatly enhanced because of it.

And if you’re on your own, or your business doesn’t require a ‘team’, per se, then get a mentor or a business coach. You will always have bigger vision when you can count on another pair of eyes.

7. ESTABLISH A BRAND. If I say ‘Just do it’, you most likely know who I’m talking about (Nike). If you wear certain colors on an athletic jersey, people automatically assume you are representing a certain sports team, even if it doesn’t say the sports team name on the jersey. That’s the power of branding. So you want to be crystal clear on the identity of your business you want to portray because you will use that in your stationery, web site, business cards, logos, slogans, etc. Great brands are emotional, have personalities, stick to your head, and evoke something in your target audience. This is one of the basic steps of your marketing.

8. MARKET YOURSELF. The top 7 ways to market your business is by networking, affiliate marketing, online presence, direct mail, advertising, traditional (printed materials), and grassroots (using the resources you already have to spread the word about your product or service, such as distributing flyers, give great customer service and asking for referrals, participate in community events, word of mouth, free samples, etc.).

9. CHECK YOURSELF. At all times, when you are building your business, check how it plays up to your talents, gifts, and skills, and if the business needs something you lack, make sure you are mature enough to admit it to yourself and then proactive enough to fill that gap with someone on your team or your pool of experts. You also want to make sure your business fits your life and personality (not the other way around), and that it fulfills your personal mission, your values, what drives you forward. You want your business to make you WANT to get up in the morning, excited to create another powerful day.

10. KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE. At the end of the day, did you give 100%? If not, what stopped you? What became more important than going all the way? And if you did give 100% and you didn’t generate the results you wanted, then what might be missing? Where are you not looking? A business coach can help you to keep things in perspective and offer possibilities you might not have even considered. But aside from that, know that your business is just ONE vehicle to express your purpose, your talents and who you are in the world. If things aren’t working out the way you want them to, it’s okay to fail and try again. The only time failure is unacceptable is when it’s final.

Business Cards – What You Really Need to Know to Have an Effective Business Card

So you believe that your business card just tells a client your name and contact info. This is not the case. Your business card assures clients and potential clients a lot more than this.

Think of your business card as part of your sales team, in fact it is your personalized sales representative. This sales representative will be functioning for you when you are not. When a potential customer is recollecting of a problem they will search their list of contacts by browsing business cards that they have acquired through out the years. If your card has that magical formula to arouse a response from reading your card then it has done its chore. More significantly, when submitting a business card it also gives an opinion about your degree of professionalism, how your business functions and your general abilities.

Your business card, like a respectable sales person must be equipped with a respectable sales ability and first-class product knowledge. If a salesperson does not have the above mentioned, then he will not complete the sale. This maintains true with a business card. If your card has the power to gain a sale and to relay product knowledge, namely you, then your business card can do its job in good order.

But how can you get those two important things into a small piece of paper?

When picking out a business card make sure that you use excellent quality stock for your business cards. Stay away from mediocre stock, make-it-yourself at home cards. These business cards will establish a terrible impression for you, your company and your overall business. You have to look like you regularly succeed in acquiring and carrying out a great volume of business. You can only do this by making the card as presentable as possible. You should supply a company logo that again, looks professional and in turn, this logo makes your card and you look more professional.

Another strategy to make your card more robust and raising its likeliness of completing a transaction for you is to make the card different from other business cards. When I mean different, I do not mean radically different. You must make sure your card appears presentable and respectable but keeping it different from your competitors. Business and contact information should be on the front of the business card but expressing facts about your company and ways that you are unique from the competition should be expressed on the back of your business card. This can include price differences, professional accolades or guaranteed level of service.

Differences can also be shown merely by having different sized business cards compared to common cards. One possibility is to create business cards that are slightly smaller than standard cards. Another fashionable alternative is to have all the info in portrait orientation instead of the stock landscape orientation. This will force the business card holder to turn the card and read the card. This may appear like a dry or poor strategy that does not result in any action but in fact there is a psychological portion to this. If a person is forced to do an action before they read something, they are more likely to retrieve or call that person because there was a previous action carried out. This action of curiosity is more in all likelihood, to snap a person’s attention and consequently having a business card doing its job of completing a business dealing for you.

Remember; always have your business card with you at all times. You never know when you’ll meet a possible customer. Being readied with a business card also proves your readiness in doing business.

How to Start a Home Based Business the Right Way

We get tons of questions about how to start a business. Today I will lay out the ground rules and explain what you need in order to start a home business. Then you can decide if running a home business is for you.

Most people think you just sit back and relax when they hear you work at home. They don’t understand there are so many little things behind the scenes that they don’t see us do. From research and development to laying out a game plan and keeping it updated; you put in a lot of man hours when you run a successful business. It doesn’t come free.

When you compare your hourly day to a regular 9-5 job, it may come close. Most successful home businesses spend 6-8 hours a day working. When your just starting out it isn’t uncommon to spend upwards of 8-12 hours a day in development. There is a lot of work that you wouldn’t think of, if you come in to this unprepared. That’s why it is so important to do your homework before you start any business.

Make sure the business you want to start is your own idea. Try to stand clear of promoting a business you saw in an ad somewhere. Don’t be a copy cat. Come up with something that is original. Even if you are going in to an industry that has thousands of businesses doing the same thing as you; Make sure you have your original twist that others do not have. Keep your business original and you will stand a great chance against your competition.

1. What are your talents and skills?
The sad thing about new people starting a home business is; they try and do what someone else is doing. They think that since one person is doing great in that particular field, they can do the same thing. “WRONG”. Find your talents and make a business out of it.

You should know the things you are good at doing. Everyone has something that they excel at doing compared to someone else. You may have to ask a friend or family member what your talents are to find out what they are; but everyone posses a talent or two. You may be an office person, a person that can play video games well, maybe you are a great communicator, or lucky enough to be a person who can learn and pick up anything quickly.

Either way, your talents are what will make you money. It took me years to finally figure out I could be a successful business consultant. But after running many successful home businesses and teaching people what I know; I figured out what my passion was; teaching people to make money at home was my talent. I love to do help people and what better way than to teach people how to make money at home in this recession. Your talents will be the building block for making your business successful.

Most people like what they can do well. That’s why so many successful business people use their talents and build a business around them. They don’t get bored and give up out of frustration. Your talents give you interests in those talents. This will make you experienced in that field. You will know more about your talents than the average person because you are interested in them. This is your first step to being above average in your businesss filed. You are already an expert.

Your skills will follow your talents. Skills come from lots of practice from your talents. Practice makes perfect is the mind frame you need to be in when you run a successful business. Take your talents and put them to use. In time you will learn skills that came from your talents. This will prove to be any business person’s strong point and the foundation of their success.

2. Coming up with ideas to gear you business toward.
Coming up with the perfect field of business may be the hardest part. Great, you found out what your talents and skills are; but how do you make a living doing it?

If your talent is artwork; Google “artwork job titles” and you may be pleasantly surprised to find many businesses you could start right now. Scratch off every business idea that is out of the question. For example, if you want to work at home, scratch off all your ideas that have something to do with off site work.

This part is all you. You have to decide out of what talents you have. Now which one/s do you want to make money for you. The smartest choice will be the one you have the most interest in doing. You always hear people say I hate my job. It is everyones dream to do what they enjoy doing everyday for work.

Pick what you enjoy most and do some research on Google to find out what will be most profitable for you. Don’t forget to add your originality. Give your customers something your competition isn’t doing. Now you have one foot up on your competition as well as your expertise.

3. Once you choose your job title and business field, pursue it!
Don’t make the same mistake most new entrepreneurs make. Most people come up with a great idea and then they give up. Or what’s worse is; they tell someone or many people about their idea and someone steals it before they can get a start on it. You have to follow through with whatever you start.

Do not to start a business and then quit once things start getting tough. Stay active in your ideas. Keep on top of what is new in your field and take advantage of it. If you feel you need to quit and start over because you thought of another idea or two; think long and hard about it. Think of ways you can revamp your new business and use your new ideas too.

After all, you don’t want to throw away your long hours and hard work over another idea. In the end it’s all about keeping up with the times. Change is good, but when you quit and start over it can get very discouraging. Most people will quit when they are frustrated over starting over.

4. Don’t dive right in to it.
Don’t just jump right in to something without doing the background research to know if it will work for you or not. Many people make the mistake of investing time and money in to something that will eventually fail because they didn’t research it first or think of a game plan ahead of time.

Make sure you look at the entire picture and make sure your business will have a high success rate. If you can’t see a high success rate for your ideas, do more research so you can make your business original and attractive to new customers. If you do the same thing everyone else is doing without originality, you will be sure to fail along with the other copy cats.

5. Having a game plan, setting goals, and chasing them.
Make a list of all things you want to accomplish. These will be your goals. Make some short term goals that will help you reach your long term goals. Keep your daily goals written in a book, or as I call it, my business diary. Your future goals may change as you achieve each goal, so a little notebook may work best for you. Some people choose to make a business diary in word pad or note pad on their computer. Whatever is easiest for you, I suggest you do it.

Make your goals S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, achievable, Result-oriented, time-tabled. Make your goals realistic. You probably won’t make a million dollars in your first year, so don’t make this your goal. Make sure your long-term goals are able to be reached by achieving your short term goals. Your short-term goals should be set up so they slowly take you to your long term goals. One step at a time is the best way to achieve anything.

6. Stay active and don’t give up.
Most people will start their business like a jet car off the line; but give up after a short time. Your business won’t be successful if you don’t stick with it. Yes, it’s okay to take a break when you need it. (that’s why we started our business in the first place isn’t it? Our freedom)

But don’t go over board with taking time off from your business. The more time you take off, the more you wont want to go back to work, its human nature. Be persistent in what you do for your business. Try not to slack off on what you were serious about before hand.

Your business will not do a thing if you are not consistent and stay true to what you believe. Staying consistent is what will slowly build your business over time. Don’t put things off until tomorrow. Tomorrow never gets here.

7. Research and development is what keeps us going strong.
R&D is the most important thing to keep your business new and fresh. Don’t use the same ideas and programs you used three years ago. Most likely those are all outdated.

Yes, it’s very important to do R&D to get your business started but it’s even more important to keep your business running strong. Even if you have to cheat and look at what your competition is doing. Keep an eye on your competition and take their ideas to a new level. Put your original twist on things and make them your ideas.

You will always stay on top of today’s technological business world if you keep up with what is new. Staying new, fresh, and changing with the times will ensure your success. Businesses that use yesterday’s technology will only be left in the dust by their competitors. Doing constant research on today’s technology and knowing what works will be the key to drawing in new and repeat customers.

Customers want what is newer and easier. In today’s fast moving world, nobody wants to spend hours doing what can be done in minutes. Keep this in mind and you won’t have a problem drawing in new and repeat customers for the rest of your life.