Start a Successful Small Business: Business Advice is a Critical Component in Starting a Business

People start up small business enterprises for a wide variety of reasons and with an equally wide range of personal motivators. Regardless of the reasons and motivations behind any small business startup, setting up a new, small business venture, is a personally dangerous endeavour, especially if sound business advice is not sought, and then acted upon.

Whilst many who do start small business enterprises go in with their eyes wide open, based upon;

  • successful previous business experience,
  • extensive knowledge of the nature of the small business environment,
  • a good understanding of the capital requirements of a small business,
  • a clear understanding of the market in which they intend to compete, and
  • the possession of appropriate skill sets to run and operate a small business,others unfortunately, tend to go in blind.

Major Causes of Small Business Failure in Early Years

Four common causes of small business failure in the startup phase are;

  • Ignorance of the complexities of owning and operating a small business,
  • unrealistic views of the competitive nature of the small business environment,
  • a lack of perception of the myriad of skill sets that are necessary to successfully operate a small business, and
  • insufficient understanding of the capital requirement of supporting a small business until it experiences positive cash flows.

All of these reasons for failure are preventable, and can either be overcome with appropriate business advice and ongoing support, or the understanding of these reasons may assist in the making of a wise decision that perhaps, the risks associated with a particular individual starting a small business, are unacceptably high, and the individual will thereby avoid making a costly mistake.

Business Advice is a Critical Component of a Small Business Startup

In a majority of instances the decision to start up a small business is also a decision which places the financial future of the individual(s) involved, fairly and squarely on the table. Often the decision is one of necessity, or last resort, without careful consideration of the consequences to those concerned, if the small business fails.

Regardless of the reasons and motivation behind the decision to become a small business owner, any potential small business owner takes an immense risk in going it alone, without seeking appropriate business advice. The types of advice that should be sought before any decision is made, include;

  • Legal advice on the appropriate structures to put in place for the proposed business,
  • Accounting advice on taxation implications and record keeping requirements,
  • Financial advice on minimum funding requirements and appropriate sources of funds,
  • Management advice on planning and skill sets required to operate the proposed business, and
  • Marketing advice on the level of demand for the product or service offering and appropriate marketing methods for the target market.

The fact that much of the necessary advice is freely available, and to a certain extent actually free to the individual(s) seeking the advice, means that there really is no excuse for anyone not to take advantage of what is on offer, and use the information available, to give their new small business venture the greatest chance of avoiding the pitfalls, which cause many startup failures.

Sources of Business Advice

Intending small business proprietors can seek business advice from a multitude of sources including;

  • National, State and Local Government Business Advisory Bodies,
  • Local Chambers of Commerce,
  • Not for Profit Mentoring Organisations,
  • Friends and family already operating successful businesses,
  • Banking and other business specific Service Provider websites,
  • Education Institutions,
  • Legal Practitioners,
  • Accounting and finance professionals, and
  • Management and Business Consultants

It is important to seek advice from more than one source, and carefully evaluate the advice received, before rushing to implement any such advice. Acting in this manner will ensure that the full benefits of appropriate advice are gained.

Benefits of Seeking Business Advice Before Starting a Small Business

The are numerous benefits available to an intending small business owner, who seeks sound business advice, before embarking on the challenging path to starting a small business. The key benefits include;

  • Ensuring that the business opportunity is a real opportunity and the right opportunity for the market in which the business will operate,
  • Ensuring that the proposed business structure provides the right level of personal protection,
  • Ensuring that sufficient financial resources are available to get the business through its start up phase and past the break even point,
  • Ensuring that all legislative, regulatory and governance requirements are met and a clear understanding of what is required on an ongoing basis is understood,
  • Ensuring that any deficiencies in management skills are clearly identified and a plan for overcoming these before the business commences are developed, and
  • Ensuring that family and other social support mechanisms are strong enough to assist the business owner to survive the challenges inherent in starting a small business in a competitive environment.

Starting a new small business without seeking appropriate business advice is akin to gambling your life on the toss of a coin. Given the clear benefits of seeking advice on how to start a business, it is almost recklessness to proceed otherwise, as any business failure will impact severely on all directly concerned, and will probably also impact negatively on others, less directly concerned.

Green Ideas for Small Businesses: Tips for Making a Small Business Green

With all the emphasis on being green in today’s culture, many small business owners would like to be more eco-friendly. However, it is a challenge to try to make green choices and stay within the limited budget that most small businesses have. Try some of these low or no cost options for showing customers that for this small business, the emphasis is on green.

Recycle

Recycling is such a simple thing to do. The key is to never recycle confidential information. Shred anything that has customer addresses or financial information on it. Packing material, printing mistakes and outdated flyers are fair game. Let customers know that recycling is being practiced by placing a bin labeled with a recycling symbol in an area that they can access. It is a free public relations move that can help cut down on clean up, since customers will be more apt to put receipts or flyers they don’t want in the bin instead of dropping them on the floor as they head out the door.

Sell Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable shopping bags are not just green; they are a great marketing tool. Every time a customer carries that shopping bag, whether it is filled with library books or has just made another trip to and from the business where it was originally purchased, the bag’s logo is being seen by other people. Sturdy canvas bags with flat bottoms are a big favorite with most people. Additional features, such as the ability to fold up into a zippered pouch or a pocket in the bag for small items, will make the bags a favorite with customers.

Change the Light Bulbs

Some small businesses and even large businesses decide to save energy by turning off lights or using dimmers. While this is a fine idea for storage areas, it isn’t as great for parts of the building that customers are in or for areas where employees are working. Instead, switch traditional bulbs for energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, are a great way to help the environment and help a business save money at the same time because they use much less energy. While they cost as much as four times more than regular light bulbs, Energy Star says that these CFL bulbs can provide substantial savings on electric bills. In addition, they provide a much cooler type of light, which can mean additional savings on summer cooling costs.

Advantages of Having a Small Business Brochure

Every small business should have a brochure. The brochure helps your small business to become better known in the market place. It helps the customer get a detailed account of your company or service. Brochures are not just for large corporations, but for small businesses and consultants also.

Here are some advantages of having a brochure.

A Brochure Gives Credibility to a Small Business.

The brochure lets prospects know that your small business is reputable and that they can take you seriously. Your company is here and ready to compete. “Anyone can spend $50 on letterhead and business cards and call themselves a corporation. But a brochure proves you are in business and shows you’re more than a fly-by-night operation,” according to Mr. Bly’s book titled, The Copywriter’s Handbook.

 The Brochure Tells

This is the perfect way to tell the customer everything in detail about your small business. This may sound obvious but there are many small business brochures that I have read that are merely just a long list of items, giving no details about the company, the service, or how it works. According to Ms. Maas’s book, Better Brochures, Catalogs and Mailing Pieces, “Tell customers what is included, what are the costs, what are the hours. Graphic devices can help to spotlight important information.”

A Brochure Can Help to Sell Your Business

A small business brochure can help to sell your business and make a big difference, when prospects ask for more information. Customers want to read about your business or product, especially if they are about to spend a lot of money. They want to make sure they are making the right decision.

The Brochure Can Support Your Advertisement

It can be used along with direct mail; after the sales letter the prospect wants more information. The brochure is another sales tool. The brochure is designed to fit into a standard envelope and can be mailed along with the sales letter. It provides information about your sales points, list features and contains photos about your product or service. They are used by salespeople to leave behind after a presentation. Brochures are great to take along when networking.

Keep in mind that people will read the brochure as long as it informs and positions your product or service as the solution. The brochure for your small business is a great way to give your customers enough information about your product or service.

Small Business Continuity Disaster Recovery Plan Templates

A small business disaster can take many forms. Natural events, such as a fire or flood, can wipe out all equipment, while a virus or theft can result in data loss or other problems. Planning ahead with a disaster recovery plan template helps small business owners maintain continuity in any emergency.

Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

For business continuity, disaster recovery planning is critical. With this disaster recovery plan template from IBM, businesses can make sure that all of the most important aspects of a data recovery plan are implemented before disaster strikes.

  • Data Recovery Personnel Lists – For emergency data recovery, maintain a list of data processing personnel. The list should contain names, positions and contact information, to allow administrators to call in critical personnel in the event of a disaster.
  • Emergency Data Recovery from Critical Applications – Maintain a list of applications and software that run on company computers, and the level of importance of each type of software.
  • Computer Hardware Inventory – This list should contain a full list of of all computer hardware on-hand. This list allows business owners to quickly replace equipment after a total loss or determine the value of losses for insurance purposes.

Backup for Disaster Recovery

Backup all software programs regularly to ensure a timely disaster recovery process. It may seem tempting to backup files, then secure the backups in a filing cabinet or in a desk drawer, but this does not protect the files in the event of a natural disaster. All company files should be stored both locally and remotely, to facilitate a swift restoral of business.

Physical backup medium, such as a data CD or a thumb drive are adequate for small backups. Online backup services can also provide a safe and reliable place to store business data.

Small Business Disaster Recovery Plan

After filling out the small business disaster recovery plan template, a business owner will have a comprehensive list of software and hardware, lists of emergency contacts and action plans, and a clear idea of the best and fastest way to restore operations after a disaster. Perform tests of the disaster recovery plan at least quarterly, and update the plan information whenever there is a change in personnel, software or hardware. The use of a detailed and thoroughly researched plan for recovery after a disaster or emergency is essential to the swift restoral of business services.

Benefits of Opening a Small Business in the United States

Opening a small business provides several advantages for the owner. It gives an individual the opportunity to control how he makes his living and to spend his time doing so. Small businesses also provide a way for owners to help their communities grow by offering jobs and paying taxes. The income potential of running a small business is also a great advantage.

Control of Your Business

Becoming a ‘boss’ is one of the main reasons for opening a small business. An owner has the authority to set their own rules and hire and train employees and staff. He has the power to choose a business location, set prices for his services or products and pick the company’s name. One of the intangible factors that make an individual open a small business is that it gives him the opportunity to make money doing something he wants to do. Having total control over a business also allows the owner to work the hours he wants so he can spend more time with his family on his schedule.

Income Potential

A person goes into business for herself to increase her money-making potential. A small business owner reaps the profits of the successful business. The difference in salary between a small business owner and a worker in the United States is significant. According to PayScale, the average salary of a small business owner was $70,447 per year ($39,540-$101,354). In 2015, the average worker’s salary in the United States for all occupations was $43,460 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 The Ability to Put Americans To Work

Small businesses make the United States economy strong. According to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, 99.9 percent of all employers were considered small firms (companies with less than 500 employees) in 2017. Small businesses operate in all communities across the country, providing jobs to millions of Americans. Examples of small businesses include physician and dental offices, retail and grocery stores, restaurants, car repair shops and web design, online and other home-based businesses. The Department of Commerce also reported that small businesses employed over half (60.7 million) of all workers in the United States (120.6 million).

Time Management Software for Small Business: How to Choose the Best Time Management Software Package

Implementing and using a quality time management software package can reduce stress and increase productivity for a small business owner. With so many comprehensive time management software products available on the market, it is challenging for a small business owner to make an informed purchase decision without feeling overwhelmed. Here are some basic things to consider to simplify the shopping process:

Time Management Software Must be Easy to Use

A time management software system that is difficult to install, overly challenging to learn, or cumbersome to maintain will likely be abandoned before any real benefits are realized. When comparing time management software options, consider the learning curve. Look for products which include short video tutorials, quick-start materials, and a comprehensive “help” menu.

Time Management Software Should Integrate and Synchronize with Other Small Business Tools

The ideal time management software system will integrate and synchronize with other productivity and communication tools. Some time management software products integrate with popular time management systems, such as GTD (Getting Things Done) or FranklinCovey. Look for time management software that synchronizes with the Microsoft Outlook calendar and task folders. Since Outlook synchronizes to most PDAs, Blackberries, and Smartphones, this allows for portability of the time management system.

Look for Flexibility and Features That Best Serve the Small Business

There are no one-size-fits-all time management or productivity solutions for small businesses. Depending on the nature of the small business, some small business owners may be able to plan for a few months a time, while others work in a rapidly changing environment and must plan on the go. When shopping for time management software, make sure the system offers the flexibility and features needed for the specific small business. While functions such as pop-up reminders, importing of motivational images, search capability, color-coding prioritization, and time management training all have their place, there is no point in paying extra for features if they will not be used.

Find Out How the Time Management Software is Reviewed, Supported, and Guaranteed

Look for and study independent consumer reviews on the internet. How do customers review the functionality and support of the time management software product? Some products also offer user forums which are open to the public, so review these to monitor user satisfaction and product support. Ideally, the product will come with a 30-day or longer trial period and a money-back guarantee.

The optimal time management software system will offer the small business owner ease of use, integration and synchronization capabilities, flexibility, useful features, and reliable product support. By being a wise consumer, the small business owner can feel confident in the purchase decision and enjoy the rewards that come with using quality time management software.