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21 Nuggets of Wisdom for Launching Your Own Successful Small Business

21 Nuggets of Wisdom for Launching Your Own Successful Small Business

The last decade has proven to be volatile and filled with uncertainty. Unemployment rates remain high while federal, state and local support services diminish. It’s no wonder people of all ages are seeking to become entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. In some cases, it’s the only option available. Small business owners enjoy a genuine sense of accomplishment and contentment. Operating a business necessitates having entrepreneurial spirit, initiative, persistence, tenacity and business insight.

Here are 21 Wisdom Nuggets for Launching Your Own Successful Small Business. They’re some of the fundamental steps for living the life of your dreams.

1. Identify Your Small Business and Products or Services

Select an emerging market niche where demand exceeds supply, one that exhibits long-term growth and strong profit margins. Offer a new problem solver venture, something innovative; secure your trade secrets. Perform your due diligence, and validate that the products and services you have chosen are what people need, want, and are willing to pay for. Determine what it costs to make your product or service, and then set a price. Be certain the business will contend robustly with your competitors. Maintain a competitive edge. Pick a relevant, definitive business name, and follow local procedures to assure it’s available (not trademarked or already popular).

2. Access Your Clients / Customers

Determine who your customers are, how you will locate them, and what their motivations for purchasing your products and/or services will be. Ascertain how you will reach out to them and scrutinize their business needs. Thoroughly inquire of their problems and perceived solutions. Display a genuine interest in them and their successfulness. Make well thought out offers to service their needs at reasonable prices. More than meet client expectations. Keep abreast of new technologies, techniques and standards. Share them with your staff, your partners and with your clients. If you keep your promises and perform with excellence, they’ll be around for a long time.

3. Determine Your Start-up Resources

Use Small Business Development Centers or Women’s Business Centers for business assistance, free training and counseling services, especially if you don’t have a business coach. Check out local, state and federal programs that assist new business startups. Save money by utilizing government surplus items from the Small Business Association (SBA), such as commercial real estate, vehicles, furniture, computers and office equipment. Utilize as much of your own money as possible. Obtain business licenses, permits and certifications as required for your specific business industry. An Employer Identification Number (EIN) may be needed.

4. Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

The business structure you select affects your business identity, income tax filing status, tax liability, funding status, and even your client’s receptiveness.

Decide methodically which legal configuration best suits your small business: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit, etc. However, don’t turn the decision process into a major project. As your business grows, change will occur. As your company evolves, so will your legal structure.

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5. Prepare a Business Plan

The recommended business plan is simple, realistic, adjustable, and manageable. It provides focus, direction, clear financial objectives, data for loan requirements and it navigates your business success. It helps you to get well-acquainted with your profit numbers, determine projected start-up costs and marketing strategies.

A formal business plan is needed to incorporate your business or to operate as a partnership. Components for a good business plan include: cash flow projection, break-even analysis, budget, profit & loss forecast; business objectives; marketing plan; description of your target audience (customer-clients).

6. Ascertain Your Business Location

Decide where you want to locate your office, i.e., at home, in a shared office facility, a private office, or a retail area. (Home office space MUST be used solely and frequently for your business activities.)

Establish where you will meet with your client-customers. Be sure your office site complements the type of business you will be conducting. Choose a customer-friendly location, properly equipped, set-up and in compliance with zone restrictions. Retail office space should be in a good area accessible by major streets and public transportation.

7. Register Your Business Name and Domain Name

If you decided to operate as a sole proprietor, register your business name with either your state or county clerk. If you chose an LLC or corporation as your legal business structure, registering your business name when the formation paperwork is filed is generally acceptable.

Pick a domain name reflective of your company name, product and/or service. Register both your business name and your domain name with the state government. Apply for tax identification numbers as required by the Internal Revenue Service and your state revenue organization.

8. Protect Yourself and Your Business

Purchase small business insurance (fire, liability, business interruption, automobile and theft insurance, etc.) to shield yourself as well as your company against adversity and lawsuits. With a sole proprietorship or partnership, your personal assets can be confiscated by creditors, lien holders, and plaintiffs for settlements of claims and remunerations. Consider forming an LLC or corporation for greater personal asset protection; otherwise, creditors could take your vehicle, home, investments, etc. If a client or customer falls or gets hurt otherwise on your property, he can sue and cause you to lose everything.

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Another key to self-protection is that you learn from your inevitable mistakes. Your success depends on it.

9. Create an Accounting System

This task is best delegated to a certified public accountant.

Nevertheless, for the health and survival of your business, maintain an excellent understanding of your accounting system. Remain well-informed, constantly aware of how your small business is operating. The accounting system is the structure for financial statements, performance reporting, cash flow transactions, capital expenditure plans, budget variances, the establishment of fees and rates, and income tax preparations. Open up a bank account in your business name. Keep all of your documents well organized.

10. Monitor Your Finances Often

Watch the business funds – your company’s life-blood – frequently and consistently. Control your cash flow expertly and resourcefully. Review company bank statements and invoices. Put checks and balances in place; have audits conducted. Communicate with your vendors and creditors; keep a good rapport with them. As you prepare your initial budget, try to build in enough savings to cover six to twelve months of business operations, as well as an emergency fund. Exercise prudence and double-audit each expenditure. It is wise for you to share in your company’s money management.

11. Preserve Your Good Credit

Make it a point to pay your obligations on time, preferably early. This includes income taxes and especially payroll taxes from employee paycheck withholdings. Preclude being held personally responsible for paying back payroll taxes. The Internal Revenue Service is known for issuing harsh fines and penalties. Timely bill payments stimulate good business relationships and trust. Keeping a positive credit profile supplies a built-in safety net for meeting challenges and attaining financial backing when needed. Good credit is essential for profitable business transactions and sustainable cash flow.

12. Start Small

Endeavor not to over spend or spread yourself too thinly, limiting both your effectiveness and productivity. Try to do one or two tasks flawlessly.

Beth Laurence, J.D. in her article, Ten Tips for New Small Businesses, says, “Think small. Don’t rent premises if you can work somewhere else, and don’t hire employees until you can keep them busy. People who start their small business on the cheap …and create their first goods or services with more sweat than cash, have the luxury of making their inevitable rookie mistakes on a small scale. And precisely because their early screw-ups don’t bury them in debt, they are usually able to learn and recover from them. (Plus, running your business from home can save you tax dollars, too.)”

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13. Prepare Your Elevator Pitch

This tactical, 30-second speech is given to your prospective client-customers highlighting their needs. Always be ready to deliver it. Personalized as necessary, the elevator pitch simply vocalizes your identity, product or service and business objectives. In the first 15 seconds tell your client-customers who are you, what do you do, and what problems you can help them solve. Use the next 15 seconds to add details about your unique selling proposition, special skills and specific ways you can support them. This technique helps convince your targeted audience that you have the experience, astuteness and expertise to furnish what they need.

14. Get and Stay Connected

Do not wait for business perfection, begin networking and recruiting suitable clients. Get actively involved with community activities, associations and meet-ups relative to your client base. Attend town meetings, join civic groups and the local Chamber of Commerce. Network with like-minded individuals; persons with whom you share common interests and mutual business goals. This will help you develop into a sought after business expert. Make frequent contacts with everyone who is supporting, purchasing and promoting your product and/or service.

15. Market and Promote Your Small Business

Eric Holtzclaw in his article 10 Simple Marketing Tips for Small Businesses says, “Marketing doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective…Start a podcast …and interview other business owners. People love to tell their story, and by highlighting them on a podcast you make an instant and meaningful connection.”

Place ads in your local newspaper, in trade magazines and publications. Send out brochures, flyers and postcards to prospective clienteles already motivated to purchase your product/service. Accept a leadership role in an organization, host an event, offer discounts, help with a good cause; support other small businesses. Request an interview on a local radio or talk show. Launch an email campaign.

16. Give Away Some Freebies

One of the greatest ways to attract customers, prove a genuine interest in them and add value to your business activities is to give away free stuff.

Your customers must see usefulness in it, however. For instance, offer sample products or free services like a webinar on how to attract and maintain customer loyalty, a free massage, or a free hour of consulting. Another great idea is to write a marketing book that tells your story and why the product or service you offer is the best resolution for their problems.

17. Get Every Commitment in Writing

Well-written and well-documented contracts make good business sense and are enforceable. They protect your health, your sanity and your business.

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Although oral contractual agreements may be valid, they can be very difficult to validate and impose. They are indeed hazardous to the long-term survival of your small business. Make it a general business rule to give and receive receipts for all business transactions. Even if not legally required, get every contract, commitment, offer letter, purchase order, lease, agreement and procedure in writing.

18. Hire and Partner With the Right People

Employ like-minded professionals, workers with similar goals, personalities and complementary skill sets. Avoid business sabotage and frivolous lawsuits by interviewing potential employees and independent contractors conscientiously. Evaluate their capabilities, work ethic, employment history, credit (where appropriate) and referrals. Establish ground rules and expectations along with clear consequences for violations. Publish these guidelines and procedures in handbooks, and ensure they are read. Administer the rules fairly at all levels and without partiality.

19. Document the Legal Status of your Workers

When you hire workers as independent contractors, make sure they shouldn’t really be taxed as employees. The IRS can impose substantial penalties against you for not withholding and paying taxes for a worker who is really an employee. Preclude this problem by having the worker sign a written service contract, or independent contractor agreement. When hiring an at-will employee, have the employee sign an offer letter that makes it clear the employment relationship is at will.

20. Get adequate rest and relaxation

Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer.
– Unknown

Operating a successful business can be tough and demanding at times. To remain alert, energized and cognizant, you need to exercise, get ample sleep and rest each day. Consume the proper diet and nutrition. It takes a lot to keep pressing ahead while maintaining realistic expectations all along the way. Time-out and tranquility are a must for triumph.

21. Know When to Close the Shop

Sometimes no matter how well qualified you are, or how diligently you work, your plans do not materialize as intended. In those cases, you need to cut your losses and move on without delay. Consider where the flaw occurred and how you might have responded differently. Retrieve the lessons learned, rise above the challenge and move on to your next endeavor much more experienced and astute.

When you have implemented these 21 Wisdom Nuggets for Launching Your Own Successful Small Business, you will have accomplished the essential business liftoff actions. Just remember that operating a thriving small business is an expedition, not a sprint. Efficiently manage your income producing, administrative and operational activities. Take great care of your employees and clients.

They will reciprocate to your delight.

Featured photo credit: Take the Plunge and Start Your Own Business – It’s Definitely Worth It! via google.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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