These are just some general tips to keep in mind as you design/operate your small business:
1. Take the time out to explore and understand whether or not you are compatible with running your own business. Some people are just plain happier and better off financially on the other end of the paycheck.
2. Get your personal finances in order. Before you jump into the entrepreneurship world, get your own money matters squared away.
3. Pick your niche. Many small business owners succeed in businesses that are hardly unique or innovative. Take stock of your skills, interests, and employment history to select the business that is best suited for you.
4. Benefit from your business plan. The exercise of creating a business plan is what pays the dividends. Answer the tough questions now before the meter starts running.
5. Do not think you need bankers and investors at the outset of your business. The vast majority of small businesses are bootstrapped.
6. Acquire the proper background. In the early months and years of your business, you will have to acquire many skills. Gain the background you need to oversee all facets of your business well, but determine what tasks you should outsource or hire employees.
7. Remember that nothing happens until a sale is made – How many good products go nowhere because they do not reach the shelves? Sales drive your business. You will need a good marketing plan to sell your product or service.
8. You have to see a customer to know one. No matter how busy you are, spend at least 25% of your time with customers. You cannot make the proper business decision without understanding their viewpoint.
9. Solve your customers’ problems. The best way to satisfy your customers is not by selling them products but by giving solutions to their problems. There is a big difference.
10. Quality takes minutes to lose but years to regain. Quality is not a destination; it is a never-ending journey. After you have strayed from quality’s path, your journey maybe sidetracked forever.
11. Put profitability first, rewards seconds. In small businesses, profitability must come first. Find out how to measure your cash flow and understand key financial ratios.
12. Hire supporters. If you intend to create a growing business, your number one duty is to assemble a great team of employees.
13. Do not do it alone. Find such help from small business peers, a mentor, even trade associations. They can help take some of the trial and error of beginning your business.
14. Vendors are partners too! Treat your vendors like customers and watch your partnership grow.
15. Make use of benefits. Understand how to provide insurance and other benefits for your employees and cut your tax bill at the same time.
16. Ignore regulatory issues at your peril. Federal, state, and local governments require licenses, registrations, and permits. Obey them or face losing your business.
17. Know the tax laws. Invest in understanding tax issues that affect your small business.
18. It’s the people! Whatever happens to a small business happens at the hands of the people who work for it. The evolution of the business is a result of their efforts.
19. Fast, good, cheap. Pick any two. Serious trouble awaits those who attempt to be all three in the market place. Stick with what you do best.
20. Develop a passion for learning. As your business grows, you need to change and grow along with it. The common denominator of all successful entrepreneurs is a commitment to life-long learning.