There’s a plethora of information promoting business as a way to create wealth. But beware folks. Going into business can also mean going into debt. I have first hand experience with borrowing to keep a business afloat and I paid big time for taking a debt risk. Want to avoid tanking? Read on for my tips and strategies to make the hustle work for you.
Once you have a complete, viable business plan that you have had reviewed by a business professional in your industry, have multiple backup plans. Working out ideas on paper will be different in real time. There was no way I could have prepared in advance for the problems I encountered as an entrepreneur sitting behind a desk and but black letters and numbers on whitepages. Fortunately, when I created my business plan, I had a list of board members. I had to learn to tell the truth when I needed help, then learn to utilize their expertise. If you are unfamiliar with business planning and success models, find someone who can help you. Even if a banker never sees your plan, you’ll have to refer back to it often.
Tell yourself ain’t no 40 acres and the mule died. Handouts are time consuming and difficult to obtain. Unless you know venture capitalist, have a way to crowdfund, or have saved at least a year’s worth of operational funding, you may have to go the traditional route and borrow money. I heard you complain from all the way over here. True, there’s free money out there in the form of small business owner grants. Idea Cafe has an annual grant competition. Pitch festivals are all the rave. However, for a majority of people, you won’t get free money until you can prove you’ll provide a return on the investor’s investment. Quit combing the internet searching for startup funding. Continue to develop and grow the business on a part-time basis. Then, use the time you have to create a viable business plan that a banker may want to see one day. If you are met with close doors through traditional funding sources, find the company in the area who is an approved micro lender and offers small business development course.
Before the business opens its doors, make sure people can trust you to deliver better than promised. Do what you say you will do. Make sure to chose a business model that you can grow. There are plenty of people who open a business that has office hours from 9 am to 9 pm without a full staff. They dedicate themselves to working twelve sometimes 15 hours a day. I commend these go getters. Ultimately, no one’s body can sustain these working conditions. Think about outsourcing some of the responsibilites. Every day ask yourself, how can I grow so that I can hire passionate people to work for me? Be prepared to pay the additional taxes and insurance for employing a staff. It can be difficult to know exactly when to hire. But, if you are burning out, not seeing your family during daylight hours for weeks at a time, then there’s a chance you need help. Ask you advisory board. Also, if you hire someone, control the payroll by monitoring schedules and maximizing staff work times. You may need a staff handbook and training for this aspect of the business. I hired front desk workers who spent more time surfing the web than helping grow my business *shade intended. No one will love your business as much as you do. However, you can hold employees to a standard, if you set the standards in advance.
The quickest way to burn money is to forge ahead without a plan. When you pay for phone service and open the door to your business, the first people to come knocking will be local marketers. Trust me, they have been watching you since you signed the lease and anticipating your opening day. They want you to advertise in their newspapers, on their radio stations, and in local magazines. You have to know your marketing plan and your advertising budgets. Before opening day, know who your customers are where to find them. Otherwise you will throw money out into the world looking for imaginary people. One of my favorite marketing strategies is to become an expert. Study, prepare, and be ready for speaking engagements, television apperances, and newspaper interviews. Someone may want to interview you for thier blog. Make sure you have something to say of value. All of these pursuits lead to free advertising.. If someone say can you do…? The answer is yes and haul a** until you make the connections and get it done.
You need more than money
You need connections and empowerment. A mentor or coach is key to success when opening a business. If you don’t have either, utilize local chambers of commerce. Business owners within these organizations have been there for years. They can often help you identify potential pitfalls and the investment is nominal. There are often meetings that you can host at your physical location thereby drawing potential clients. Are there any events in the community where you can purchase vendor space? Who are the movers, shakers, and event planners in the area? Attend networking events and follow up with the people you meet.