101 Business Tips

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Starting a business can be a gut-wrenching, hair-pulling, mind-blowing experience, especially if you go at it alone. But, why go at it alone...there have been so many others who have gone before you that you can draw strength from.

Mustering up the courage to start a business is half the battle, so you're halfway there! Now that you've decided, here's 101 of our best business tips to get you started on the right track. With a little determination and elbow grease you'll be up and running in no time! So dive in right now.

1- Find Your Niche: Most people over complicate this and end up discouraged before they even start. It's really not that difficult. Just get a pen and paper and start making a list of your skills, talents, hobbies, and other interests. Your niche will be on this list and all you have to do is figure out which one you are most passionate about or the best at and use that to create a business.

2- Research and Analysis: Once you have determined your niche you need to research it. While you may be passionate about your niche or enjoy it as a hobby, it's quite a different thing to do it as a business. There is a wealth of knowledge online that you can tap into very easily to do your research. Find out if you need any certifications, licenses, equipment or supplies. Find out everything you need to operate your business.

3- Map Out The Details: It's necessary to go beyond just the surface research to answer the important questions like - What are the start up costs? How will you fund this business? What are the daily tasks for that business?

4- Determine Your Audience: Decide who you will be marketing your product or service to. It's much easier to sell to a specific audience rather than to everyone.

5- Build a Plan: It's important to create a plan of action to determine where you want to go with your business. Think of it as a blueprint or map to your success.

6- Set Up An Office: Start to acquire or rent any equipment or supplies you will need to get your office up and running. Clear out a space that you can make your workplace that is clear of distractions.

7- Name Your Business: Determine what you are going to call your business. Choosing the name of your business wisely will help you succeed since potential customers will often base their decisions to buy simply on your business name within the first seven seconds; especially, if it's an online business.

8- Catagorize Goals: Organizing your goals into categories and timeframes will give you direction and focus, thus allowing you to have an overall sense of direction.

9- Make a "To-Do" List for Each Day: Write down a firm plan for each day. This will help you be productive, and get things done.

10- Prioritize Your "To-Do" List: Determine in which order you are going to tackle things. Prioritizing will help you accomplish more efficiently.

11- Schedule Your Tasks: Once you have made a list and prioritized it you can now schedule when you are going to do each task. Outlook is a fantastic tool for doing this and even will sync up with many cell phones so you can be organized on the go.

12- Set Mini Goals: Decide on a target goal for each day, and cross each item off your list as you complete it. Having goals will keep you from wandering aimlessly, and keep you on track.

13- Get Connected: Set up a phone and fax line so that you will be able to conduct your business and be reachable by your customers. Consider a virtual line with voice messaging services.

14- Create a Professional Voicemail Message: It's important to have a professional front even if you are working out of your home. If you expect a high volume of calls consider a voice messaging service. There are many free or low cost options available.

15- Utilize Free Web Resources: A small business always begins with a website. This is where your customers will come to find out more about you. There are plenty of free tools online that make creating a website quick and easy.

16- Consider a Blog: Blogs are a great way to get your customers interacting with you and coming back to your site time and time again. There are even many free blog hosting services online that you can use.

17- Develop Your Brand: Decide how you are going to present yourself to your customers. What will the atmosphere of your website and blog be - funny, serious, laid-back? It's really up to you. Once you decide, stick to it.

18- Plan a Marketing Campaign: Decide what avenues you will use to advertise. Are you going to advertise online or offline? Perhaps you will do a combination. There are so many avenues to advertise these days the possibilities are endless. Some examples are flyers, business cards, social media, pay-per-click, etc.

19- Time Management: Learn to manage you time. Smart business owners learn to work smarter not harder.

20- Don't Try to Do Everything Yourself: It is not likely that you are actually good at doing everything that needs to be done, so learn when to outsource. Even if you have to enlist your friends and family to begin with - do it.

21- First Impressions Count: When creating your websites remember that you only have about 30 seconds to capture someone's attention before they click off your site. So give them a reason to stay.

22- Network Network Network: You can network by joining professional organizations, becoming an avid user of forums, and joining social networking sites. All of these will greatly increase your business.

23- Ongoing Development: Once your website is done and up and running, it is time to start working on it again. Websites are never really complete. You have to be willing to grow with your market.

24- Customer Service Matters: Determine who will handle your customer service issues. Also, determine a plan for how these issues will be handled.

25- Realize your Potential: In order to succeed at anything, you need to see that you have the potential to reach your goals. Surround yourself with others who will keep you positive.

26- Don't Look Back: It's easy to second guess yourself when things get tough. Don't fall into this trap. Just learn from your mistakes and forge forward.

27- Dare to Dream: Allow your mind to think big! Nothing great was ever accomplished by thinking small. Write down your dreams to make them a reality.

28- Don't Give Up: Take a lesson from Colonel Sanders. He was refused 1,009 times before he heard his first yes. Be Persistent.

29- Have a Sense of Direction: Your sub-goals may get changed, abandoned, replaced, or reprioritized along the way. Having a clear sense of direction will keep you focused on the long-term goals and moving toward success.

30- Change your Circumstances: Remember that when it comes to changing your circumstances, you can - the power is within you. If your circumstances lower the chances of success, you need to change them. Stand in prosperous places and you will likewise prosper.

31- Create Milestones: Set certain milestones that you would like to achieve and dates that you want to have them completed by. This will give you something to aim for.

32- Consider Your Business is Real, Not a Hobby: Remember that this is a real business. No successful business is treated like a hobby. Be serious about your business and about the time it is going to take to get it up and running. Coca Cola didn't become an international company overnight or by a haphazard effort. It takes real work to create a successful business, so once you get started be determined to succeed.

33- Follow The Leader: Seek out others who have been successful either within your niche or in a related business model. Modeling other's success will cut down on the time and headaches of starting a business.

34- Take a Break: It's so easy to get caught up in all that you are doing when you start a business that you allow your life to get out of balance. Build break-times into your schedule. It might seem like a waste of time at the beginning, but your business will benefit in the end because you will be a better balanced individual.

35- Stay Focused: It's so easy to get distracted in this world of information overload. Make sure you stay focused on the things that are going to bring you results in your business. Constantly checking emails for example is not staying focused.

36- Meet The Experts in Your Industry: Every industry has experts that can help you. Speaking with others who have gone before you will shorten your road to success. Study them as you would any subject you are interested in.

37- What you don't know CAN hurt you: Finding out what your business competition does right, as well as what it does wrong, what they charge, and what they feel is the next big trend in the business will give your business a significant boost.

38- Failing to Plan Is Planning To Fail: The key to your success is getting your business thoughts down on paper. This plan will help keep your goals in focus, and guide you as your business grows.

39- Set Goals the S.M.A.R.T. way: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely. As you write your business goals, you need to have a way to evaluate those goals. A good way to evaluate your business goals is to determine if they are SMART goals.

40- Consider Reasonable Start-Up Costs: After you have researched the competition you should have a fairly good idea of the startup costs. It's important to take time and do your due diligence here. Estimating too high or too low could significantly impact your success.

41- Business License and Name Registration: The main reason to register your business name is to tell the public and other businesses that you are in business under that name. You can get a business license from your local county office.

42- Open a Business Bank Account: This is a must as you will want to keep your business account separate from your personal account. Many small business owners think it is fine to mix personal and business accounts, nothing is further from the truth. Every small business, no matter the size needs a business bank account.

43- Get Professional Logo for your Business: You will want to create a logo that grabs attention. There are many inexpensive services online that can create a logo for you if you are not artistically inclined. Having this kind of visual recognition can really boost your company's overall success, so it is very important to spend time developing one that identifies your business in the best possible light.

44- Hire an Accountant: As a business, there are several different small business taxes you will need to be aware of. Failure to pay and collect appropriate taxes can cause a lot of trouble with the IRS.

45- File Keeping: In order to take the tax write-offs available to a sole proprietorship, partnership, or LLC, you will need to keep your business files and home files completely separate. To begin with you can keep your files organized in a portable file box.

46- Website Wonders: Business websites do wonders for small businesses. You may think that since your business is new and small that this is something you can put off for now. The truth is, having a website will be one of the best marketing tools you have.

47- Focus on Your Good Customers: Use the 80/20 rule. 20% of your customers will create 80% of your profit so focus on them. In fact, customers at the bottom of the list may actually be costing you money! Repeatedly present yourself to your most profitable clients.

48- Build a Profitable Client Profile: Write down a description of important qualities of your profitable clients. Then work to build a reputation with potential clients that are similar to the profitable client profile you created. Your sales will increase as you start to attract the right customers.

49- Best Second Choice: If You Have a Strong Competitor that you feel you simply cannot compete with then advertise yourself as the second best choice. Whenever your competition cannot meet the needs of their client, you will be positioned to meet their needs and they will know to come to you.

50- Keep Your Existing Clients Happy: Existing customers cost less to keep than finding new customers. Run specials for existing clients.

51- Advertise Consistently: Consistent advertising builds familiarity, which builds trust. And with familiarity and trust, you get new customers. On average it takes 3-5 times of being in front of a potential customer to turn them into a customer.

52- The Brains of Your Business: The computer! What type of computer are you going to need to run your business? If you don't know you may need to speak with someone in your industry to get a better idea of what you will need.

53- Get an Internet Provider: Make sure you hire someone that has dependable service especially if you are running an online business. Every minute of downtime will cost you.

54- Get Computer Software for your business: Determine what type(s) of software are required to run your business? There are two main types of software; systems software and applications software. Purchase all the required software and hire someone to train you on how to use them or study the tutorials.

55- Research e-commerce Shopping Cart: If you are going to sell your products or services online you will need shopping cart software. There are many options available online. Research what is being used by your industry and choose what will work best for you. You want to make sure you purchase software that is user friendly as you do not want to have kinks in your buying process. This is how your customers will ultimately purchase your products.

56- Hire Employees: Determine if you will need to hire employees. You may want to work with a local recruiting agency to find and hire employees or use social media to hire such as linkedin.

57- Experience is a Plus: Previous business experience is always a big plus when starting your own business. If you are lacking certain skills needed to run a business, but do not feel you can afford a full-time employee, you have several other options. - Outsource.

58- Business Cards: Meeting someone face to face is still one of the best ways to market your business. Keep a pocket full of business cards with you as you never know when you will need them. Make sure to include your web address on your business cards as this will take your offline business online more rapidly.

59- Be Memorable: Be distinctive, be fully present, ask thought-provoking questions, reinforce your keywords, and contribute to the conversation when meeting someone. Standing out in business is a good thing and will bring you more business.

60- Give First: As you begin to network remember that giving a great "use value" for a small "cash value" is the fundamental key to creating wealth for yourself. Find out what knowledge you can give away to your potential customers that would be of great use for them and will connect them with you to create more customers.

61- Designate One Outside Office Space: While etiquette experts say it's fine to work from home, clients may feel uncomfortable when asked to meet at your home. There are many virtual office spaces that you can rent on an hourly basis when needed. Many come equipped with all necessary office supplies.

62- Get Dressed: Getting dressed symbolizes the beginning of the day and helps get you into work mode. You will work more effectively when you are ready for the day. Also, people can sense subtle energy when they are interacting with you over the phone.

63- Join Industry Associations: Joining professional organizations, chambers of commerce, or a business networking group will keep you connected to the outside world and will give you strength and purpose on those hard days.

64- "Becoming" Goals: Your goals should not focus on "what" you want to have but rather they should focus on who you want to become.

65- Consider Going Wireless: Why tie yourself down to one corner of your office? A wireless router and card for your laptop can be purchased for around $100 and will give you great flexibility. It will enable you to stay connected to your business from any location.

66- Protect Your Business Data: Make sure you have the latest anti-virus software and keep it updated. One bad virus could create an enormous headache not to mention the loss of money from the downtime.

67- Keep Your Calendar Prominent: On the desk, or on your computer, keeping your work schedule deadlines visible so you can get organized and stay on task is crucial. Consider using calendaring software that syncs your computer with your phone to give you mobile access to your calendar at all times.

68- Keep track of Your Time: If you chart your time you will be able to see if it's necessary to adjust your work schedule in order to meet you business goals.

69- Be Realistic: Don't over schedule. Determine how many hours a day you can realistically sanely work. Owning your own business can be like working in paradise, as long as you control your environment rather than letting it control you.

70- The Goodness of Stress: Without stress, we'd be unable to react to situations quickly, and wouldn't have the stimulation we need to think and act. Stress provides life's zing, and keeps us from being bored. Make stress work for you rather than against you by: recognizing stress, using stress management techniques, and cultivating a positive attitude.

71- Recharge Yourself: Starting a business can be stressful. Combat the negative effects of stress by regularly scheduling and indulging in activities that recharge you, such as going for a walk, playing with your children, golfing or having a long hot bubble bath. Alleviate some of stress' symptoms by paying attention to your nutrition, and making sure you get enough sleep, so you're physically at your best.

72- Fear of Failure: Don't let fear of failure stop you from starting a business. It is easy to get caught up and contract paralysis by analysis and stop ourselves before we get started. Just remember it's like flying an airplane, 90% of the flight you're off course, but as long as you keep course correcting you'll land successfully on the ground. Learn from your mistakes.

73- Fully Commit: Successful entrepreneurs are people who are fully committed to their business ventures. You have to be prepared to put your heart and soul into what you're doing. If you have one foot in and one foot out of the door you will have a difficult time succeeding.

74- Do Not Waste on Yellow Pages Ads: Don't waste your money. For the one or two clients per year a small yellow page ad will bring you, it is better to wait until your marketing budget can afford to buy large, extravagant and eye-catching ads.

75- Promote your Solutions: Don't promote yourself; promote your solutions. Everyone who comes to your website has a problem they need solved. If you figure out that problem, and can tell them how to solve it using your website, you have just hit a marketing gold-mine.

76- Try Try Try Again: Whether it be your marketing, networking, solutions, etc., just because it didn't work the first time doesn't mean it's time to quite. When you're starting a business, you have to try, make mistakes, learn, and try again. If you try, make a mistake, and give up, you will never be the success you know you can be.

77- Start Your Business While You're Still Employed: How long can most people live without money? Not long. And it may be a long time before your new business actually makes any profits. Being employed while you're starting a business means money in your pocket while you're going through the starting a business process.

78- Don't Do it Alone: Having a support system is critical to your success. A family member or friend that you can bounce ideas off and who will listen sympathetically to the latest business start up crisis is invaluable. Even better - find a mentor.

79- Get Financial Backing: Approach potential investors and lenders. Figure out your financial fall-back plan and save up if you have to. Don't expect to start a business and then walk into a bank and get money. Traditional lenders don't like new ideas and don't like businesses without proven track records.

80- Be Professional From The Beginning: Everything about you and the way you do business needs to let people know that you are a professional running a serious business.

81- Meet With a Lawyer: Determine what it will take to set up your business right from the start. It's a lot easier to set it up correctly to begin with. It's much more difficult and expensive to unsnarl a mess afterwards.

82- Do a Breakeven Analysis: A breakeven analysis is used to determine how much sales volume your business needs to start making a profit. Fixed Costs divided by (Revenue per unit minus Variable costs per unit).

83- Tackle the Worst First: Determine if there are any obstacles to starting your business and tackle them first. It's better to get them out of the way at the beginning when you have a lot of energy and excitement than to keep putting them off. Letting them drag on will just slow you down.

84- Virtual Assistant: If things become too overwhelming for you hire a virtual assistant. They will be available to assist you with anything from calls to paperwork.

85- Research Vendors: Are you going to need the service of vendors? Do some research and then interview your possible vendors to determine who will be the best fit. Look for dependability, pricing, and good customer service. Remember your business depends on it.

86- Grow With Your Business: Always remember that the best business plan today can be obsolete tomorrow. So, keep an open mind and be willing to change courses if necessary.

87- Become a Leader: As your business grows it will be important to invest some time in developing your leadership skills. A strong business needs a strong leader to succeed.

88- Find a Partner: Determine if having a partner would speed up your start up process, lighten the load, and bring you greater success. Find someone who you can trust and is willing to get the job done.

89- Be Patient: Growth that is planned and based upon sound business practices will be with you for the long haul. The faster you grow, the faster you may fail. Be patient and enjoy watching your business take off.

90- Estimate Your Expenses: Over-estimate expenses and under-estimate sales. The reason most businesses fail is that they don't have enough money to keep going in the beginning when they have no income. If you over-estimate income and under-estimate expenses, you won't borrow enough to keep you going until your income catches up with your expenses.

91- Make Reasonable Profit: Make sure you are charging enough to make a living. Many people estimate their bids too low to cut out competition, but never make enough to get by. Also, many people don't value your work if your rate isn't high enough.

92- Experience Counts: It sounds simple enough, but make sure you have experience doing whatever it is you want to do. You should know more than your employees about your business.

93- Take Action: Don't wait to start a business until the "perfect time." There will never be a perfect time so just start taking action, however small, in the right direction.

94- Have a Contract: Have contracts for all of your projects and clients... no matter how small. Spell out as much as possible in these agreements, and make it clear to the client that it's not only to protect you, but also to benefit them.

95- Learn to Say No: In the beginning you may be eager to say yes to anyone who will become your client, but don't be afraid to say no. If you take on high maintenance clients just for the revenue, you may suffer in the long run.

96- Talk to Your Customers: Don't assume that just because your product or service is great that people will buy it. Research as much as possible to make sure there are potential buyers. You can even survey potential clients to find out what they are looking for.

97- BE - DO - GET: In other words, goal setting theory says that you can't get your goal until you take appropriate action (the DO bit), and you can't take that action until you become the type of person who takes this action (the BE bit).

98- Give Them A Reason to Come Back: Your website is your face to the world and should be a living place for you and your customers to interact. Offer a newsletter, forum, industry tips, run contests, encourage comments, and have fun with your customers.

99- Contact Information: Make sure there is a way for your potential clients to contact you through your website. List your phone number, address, email. You can even use services that allow you to chat with your customers right from your website.

100- Customer Security: Make sure that your customers feel safe while interacting with your business. Whether your business transactions occur online or offline be sure to use proper credit card transaction processes.

101- Send Handwritten Thank You Note: Make sure your customers feel appreciated. Remember to thank them for doing business with you. If possible send them a handwritten note expressing your gratitude. They will become your customer for life!

101 Business Tips article originally appeared at JennAndAlbert.com

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Jenn and Albert are the Founders and Senior Editors of JennAndAlbert.com, which has been called the best source for Entrepreneurs To Integrate Personal Development With Online Marketing and Communication on the Internet today. Let us connect  Jenn And Albert on Facebook and Follow on Twitter!

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