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Published by: Karan Sehrawat on Apr 10, 2011
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Let the Countdown Begin: A Six-Month Plan for Transitioning from Employee to Entrepreneur Aspiring entrepreneurs often

wonder how long it takes to get a small business started. The answer is, “it depends.” Some new enterprises can be up and running in a matter of weeks; others may require several months or more of diligent planning. If you currently have a job, you can pursue your small business ambitions without risking your family’s financial security (assuming, of course, that your research doesn’t interfere with your 9-to-5 responsibilities). If you’re unemployed or facing a layoff, you’re obviously eager to move things along. A good rule of thumb is to allow six months to make a complete transition from employee to entrepreneur. By following the steps below, you’ll be able to wisely invest this time in building a sound foundation for your new business, and your future. Assess Your Personal Strengths & Experience Determine if you have experience in the business you are planning to start. If you don't have experience, how will you get it? An honest and thorough review of your experience and education should give you some leads about whether a particular venture is right for you. Be honest; your review must consider both personal weaknesses and strengths. Be sure to consider the most common reason why a small business does not succeed: lack of management skills such as record keeping, personnel management, market analysis, communication skills and taxes. Many universities, community colleges and adult learning programs offer courses and seminars in these and related topics. Begin Planning What Your Business Will Sell or Do Ask other small business owners how they got started, what mistakes they made, and how they’d do things differently. Research your potential markets and determine whether there’s enough demand to sustain your proposed business. And, examine your idea from the customer’s point of view. What will you offer to attract them, especially if you’re competing with existing businesses? Attend a SCORE Workshop on Starting a Business This is a great way to learn the nuts and bolts of launching a business from veterans of the business world. The workshops cover the process of building a sound business plan with tips on information resources, legal considerations, working with lending institutions and other important topics. Work With a SCORE Counselor on Different Aspects of Your Business

you’ll enjoy that proud moment when you can look at yourself in the mirror with confidence and say. In contrast. you greatly increase your chances of success. This is an example of “interruptive marketing. And. Don’t worry if the answers lead to more questions. explore other ideas or simply put your entrepreneurship dreams aside temporarily. who to hire. “Hi boss!” Online Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Business By Holly Berkley Picture yourself at the ball game cracking through a bag of dry roasted peanuts. where to “set up shop. let’s say you are enjoying those same peanuts when an advertisement for Toyota Trucks pops up on the same screen.” You’ll know what banks to approach. evaluate ideas and point you in the right direction to find additional information. after six months. Your research may also reveal that the wisest course is to wait and gain additional experience. You’re on your second handful when that familiar red and white logo pops up on the big screen advertising an ice-cold Coca-Cola. Evaluation is an ongoing process. rather than wasting .” how to market yourself and contact potential customers. Now.Experienced business counselors make valuable sounding boards to answer questions. workshops and conversations with SCORE counselors will help you understand everything necessary to start and manage your small business. You immediately track down the next vendor with a basket of ice-cold drinks. even for long-standing businesses. you may work with one SCORE volunteer counselor or several. it’s time to put your plan on paper. Many variables involved with starting a small business are beyond your control. Develop a Business Plan to See that the Business is Viable The information you gain from research. but not nearly as effective. and what other tasks necessary to make the big jump.” It is the process of delivering an appropriate message at the right time that produces actual results. Finalize Your Plan & Gather the People and Money to Start Your Business If you’ve prepared a thorough business plan. you’ll be ready to make a strong case for acquiring the resources you need to bring your small business planning into the “home stretch. you feel unsure about moving forward. Depending on the nature of your business idea. as you address and eliminate unknowns. Ready to Roll? Don’t worry if. What does this scenario have to do with your business? Well. It’s a nice ad. This is called “pin point marketing.” It is not truly targeted because it is not what you are actively looking for at that moment. But if everything is ready.

Start by submitting “how-to” or “industry news” type articles to relevant Web sites in your industry. you have a very hot lead. a San Diego-based Web design .valuable marketing dollars on billboards. 30-second television ads or radio commercials (all examples of “interruptive marketing”) focus your energy on putting your product in front of potential customers while they are looking for it. On the other hand. one positive sentence in editorial is worth much more than two paid advertisements. As a result most companies are willing to trade a free plug for your Web site or company for an informative. Internet users are actively looking for a solution to a problem. Or take it a step further and submit your “expert painting advice” to popular home improvement and real estate Web sites. you’ll open your company up to a wider audience while building up your credibility. you’ve made a customer. And. When a potential customer reads your article. studies show that a mother of two who needs a quick dinner recipe will do a quick search. so you could exchange stories and “how to” advice with local carpenters or electricians. In traditional media. while providing valuable information at the same time. Your target customers are most likely looking for home improvement information online. Getting a free link or product mention on another Web site is an extremely valuable way to gain high quality leads. which is extremely important for small businesses. Holly Berkley is the author of Limited-Budget Online Marketing for Small Business and owner of Berkley Web Strategies. Perhaps you own a local painting business. So animated banners ads or even a link to your Web site may not be the most effective way to get her attention. Every article you submit should enhance your company’s position as an expert or industry leader. you have already established yourself as an expert in that field. buying custom content is expensive and time consuming. For example. Content written around your company or product also helps your business gain credibility. The most cost-effective way to achieve this is by combining your marketing message with important content that users are already actively seeking out. and then print out the page. think about what type of person will be using the Web site you select to post your article. By the time the customer clicks over to your Web site or gives you a call. adding a clip out coupon to the article would be very effective. The same is true on the Internet. Unique Web content is important to all size companies. Also. You can swap content with anyone in your industry that is not a direct competitor. Combine that free link or product mention with a well-written article and you’ll turn that product mention into a sale. well-written article. If you can place your product in their path at the right time. By doing so. Unlike when people watch TV or listen to the radio.

10. I learned these "rules of entrepreneurship" the hard way…on the job! Perhaps it can help those of you who are just beginning.and online marketing company specializing in helping all size businesses succeed online. 9. . Roberts Rules of Entrepreneurship By Flori Roberts You believe in yourself. how will you present and sell it? 8. 7. During the agonies and ecstasies of starting my own company..yes you have to. Whatever your product or service. look for someone who knows more than you. From the first employee. You probably need a break from the complexity of starting a business. 6. Here is some fundamental business advice—simple. Establish a clearly defined distribution network. 2. Lawyers. You have to know everything about your business at the start. convenient location. insurers do work on an as needed. Prepare a business plan. Seek and hire the most qualified people. 1. Use these convictions to create a rewarding and fulfilling business life. Identify your market and learn all about it. Be creative—your new idea does count. fee basis. 5. No bank will take you seriously without a plan for profits. Know your competition and work to win. Work from home or at a low cost. accountants. 4. You have ideas and dreams. so be sure you're financially fit. Find a niche where the Giants won't bother to go. straight forward and easy to implement. where you are the boss.. Keep your overhead low and your standards high. 3. to start on the right track and to avoid the road blocks along the way. Have adequate financing to start and to stay. Depend on marketing strategies rather than costly advertising to grow. Find a need—be ahead of your time. Success does not happen overnight. Pay for the best professional advice.

com's Grow Your Biz Center This is the first part of a two-part series on growing your business. revisit these key points. about exactly what your product or service does to improve the quality of the life or work of your customer. Don't be sensitive and don't take it personally. You may want to follow my "rules of entrepreneurship" or create your own set of rules. Roberts co-founded Flori Roberts Cosmetics and Dermablend Corrective Cosmetics. If ever you aren't happy with the business results you're getting. but never give up your dream. existing need that customers have right now. click here. As an entrepreneur. To help you sharpen this ability. 13. . 11. Learn from the success and failure of others. a cosmetics sales and marketing company. 14. Use technology as a tool for building your business. Never underestimate the power of passion. 1. watch trends. Good luck! Flori Roberts is creative advisor to The Roberts Group. focused and flexible…anything can happen. Use them as a road map to your success. here are some key principles for business success that are relevant and important at every stage of your business life. Be prepared for rejection. But you must clearly identify your goals and live by them. You must be very clear. You will need to take risks and believe when no one else does. From computers to telecommunications to the Web-use them all. Read. Seven Keys to Growing Your Business By Brian Tracy From Entrepreneur. Starting a business requires discipline and discipline requires rules. The Product Must Satisfy an Immediate Need The first principle to consider in selecting any new product or service is to determine if it fills a genuine. analyze and decide is the key determining factor of your profitability.Be persistent. 12. and observe what is "hot" in your industry. Your ability to think. A new product or service must solve a problem of some kind for the customer or make the life or work of the customer better in a cost-effective way. she launched and grew two businesses to multi-million dollar proportions. For more ways to increase your profits. from the beginning.

They carefully consider every expenditure. it must have what's called a Unique Selling Proposition— one or more features or benefits that make it unique. it's expense!" 5. Instead of trying to invent a new business or industry. with regard to your operations. Offer Good Quality at a Fair Price The second principle for business success with any product or service is that it must be of good quality at a fair price. make it better or of higher quality. is "frugality. No product or service can succeed unless it's somehow unique and superior to any other product or service that competes with it. The basic rule for entrepreneurial success is this: only spend money to earn money. They focus on frugality at all times. Even the largest multi-national companies—those that do billions of dollars in sales each year—tend to be very careful with their expenditures. They put these systems in place at the very beginning and carefully record penny they spend. There's seldom any opportunity to build a business around a "me too" product—a product or service that's just the same as all the others. start off with a product or service that people are already using and find some way to make it more desirable. Successful companies use accurate bookkeeping and accounting systems. Cash Flow Is Essential Especially with a small business. They work from detailed budgets and they review them every week and every month. or lower the price of the product or service in some way. Deliver it faster. 3. This area of uniqueness is central to success in business. They're constantly looking for ways to cut costs while maintaining the same level of quality. The basic rule for running your business is "If it's not revenue. Guard Your Cash Carefully One key to business survival. Cash flow is a critical measure and determining factor of business success. If it's in competition with other similar products or services. . In business there are only two categories: revenue and expense. The safest business strategy is to start off with an accepted product that already has a widespread market and then find a way to improve upon it in some way. They take the time to analyze the use of every dollar. All successful entrepreneurs install careful financial controls and monitor them every day. Cash is the lifeblood of the business. where the only difference is that it's you who happens to be selling it. Be Careful With Your Money The third principle for business success is tight financial controls and good budgeting. you must hold onto your cash as a drowning man would hold on to a life preserver.2. different and superior to any competitive product or service. 4.

Some you’ll want early in your business include a mission statement." Once I worked for a man who had started with nothing and built an $800 million dollar business empire by the time he was 55. Everybody must think about selling and satisfying customers all day long. performance evaluation and employee policies. 7. when he was worth more than $25 billion dollars. Determine what policies you need. and/or your professional advisors and consultants. What's the purpose of a business? Some people say that it's to "make a profit. the ability to sell is one of the key skills for a successful life." But this isn't correct. He likes the product so much that he can hardly wait to talk to other people about it. This attitude of frugality from the top permeated every aspect of Wal-Mart all the way down and throughout every department. frugality.frugality. The practice of frugality assured that the business was profitable. He's eager to make new customer contacts. All emphasis has to be on creating and keeping customers. But where there's no sales expertise. Communicate policies to everyone in your business. Get input from key employees. With regard to the product. the keys are to "Sell! Sell! Sell!" One of the most important single skills you must develop for succeeding in your own business is the ability to sell yourself and your product to your customers. Doing so helps avert crises and awkward situations. for example—and revise them . He delighted in saving money. the finest product or service will fail. still drove his own pick-up truck to and from work. as well as compensation. and drove a used car. This requires an emphasis on marketing that permeates the entire organization. Establish policies before you need them. as well as from members of your advisory board. Maximize Your Marketing Perhaps one of the most important principles for business success is strong momentum in the sales department. Selling Is the Core Skill of a Successful Business The keys to business success are simple. The true purpose of a business is to "create and keep a customer. your board of directors. all successful businesses begin with a single person who's excited about the product and who's very good at selling it to others. 6. I was amazed to see that he ate lunch at a small diner across the street from the office. and helps solve problems before they arise. year after year. Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. 5 tips for developing polices for ur business Think ahead. With very few exceptions. In fact." Profits are the result of creating and keeping a sufficient number of customers in a cost-effective way. Review policies on a regular basis—once a year.

are trucking services available? Consider the surrounding community. service. and be aware of the outside influences that affect your business. and police and fire protection. dealings with family members outside the business will be questioned 5 Tips on Choosing a Location for Your Business Find out if local zoning laws permit your kind of business at the site that you desire. continuous learning and the frustrations of owning your own business. Be alert. Award contracts on merit. special favors to family members and friends de-motivate employees and set a bad example. prices. Be willing to commit to the hours. Spend a little money to create a professional logo. 5 Tips to Jump Start a New Business By Christine Banning. trade associations and trade shows. are there sufficient high-income households nearby to support your business? Look at the other businesses in the area. promotions. Make sure the site has adequate public services—such as water and sewer services. government agencies. quality. Think twice about offering a contract to a supplier who is a relative. affordable transportation. employees. Make sure that you have a passion for owning a business and for this particular business. Present a professional image. Seek help from other small businesses. Know your mission. Decide whether or not having direct competitors will be helpful. advertising. Examine your motives. including products. for example. 5 tips for effective business planingClearly define your business idea and be able to succinctly articulate it.as necessary. Conduct a competitive analysis in your market. Determine if there’s adequate. in a small or family-owned business. business card and stationery. If you’re a high-end retailer. Think of the future. professionals. vendors. adequate drainage. and don’t allow your sister to ask the company computer wizard to set up her home office. SCORE VP Corporate Relations Create a brand. and visit your local SCORE office. ask questions. trash collection. Can your employees get to work? If you’re a manufacturer. Don’t put family members on the payroll if they’re not working in the company or can’t make a real contribution to the business. If you hope to seek investors or go public. distribution. 5 tips for avoiding conflicts Be aware that. Avoid letting family members borrow company vehicles. discipline. .

Determine if postponing the task would affect other projects you are working on. Which tasks could you handle another day? If you would face no consequences by moving a task forward. instead of relying on your memory. Knowing the difference between the two will make prioritizing easier. Build Buzz. email campaign or something out of the norm for your business to get people talking about you. This will help you to realistically prioritize your tasks. Look for a special promotion. Get testimonials from your first sales. Promote Testimonials. You really shouldn’t do without one. A Web site is today’s calling card. your product or service. Tasks and projects can have a domino effect. you may have wasted effort on the first task. This counts as getting started. Get that first sale even if it’s friends or family at a discounted rate. big event. Give people a place to go to learn about your business. This is key. 5 Tips to Set Priorities Use a paper-based. Important means a task needs to be done while urgent means it must be done immediately. electronic or computerized list to keep track of your tasks. Start building credibility for your business from day one. Make creating a Web site a top priority. Make Your First Sale. A list will give you a clear idea of what you need to accomplish. . so go for it. Be creative. Realize that you can't do everything. move it ahead another day or another week.Ramp up Online. Know the difference between important and urgent. yet fail to do another. If you do one task.

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