10 small business tips you can't afford to ignore!

Stuff I wish I'd known earlier.

Nobody sat me down and gave me a list of small business tips to follow when I started my first business. It might have saved me a lot of sleepless nights if they had.

Now there's a lot of people seriously thinking about being self-employed. Many had never thought about it before. If that's you...

I'm sorry it took a bad economy for you to consider starting a business of your own. But it could be one of the best decisions you'll ever make!

You need some small business tips before getting started. These small business tips have been gleaned from my own experience as an entrepreneur for the last 20 years or more.

Good times, bad times... seen 'em all.

But I still think that being an entrepreneur is the only way to be sure of your job security. The reality is- job security is an oxymoron now.

I feel much more comfortable relying on my own abilities and resourcefulness to earn money.

You've heard the old Chinese saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This Hungry Entrepreneur website is my attempt to “teach you to fish.”

If you're planning to start a business you have to do all the traditional business start-up stuff. Click here for a checklist of things to do when you're starting your own business. Some things just are sensible. Planning, research, funding, legal matters ... these things are ignored at your peril.

But it's the little bits of advice or insight that you don't “get” until later that make a difference between success and failure.

Here's some small business tips that will help you avoid mistakes that cost you time and money.

  1. If you want a business, start one! This is the most important small business tip I can give you. Don't just sit there, waiting for perfect timing.

    Are you laid off and job-hunting? Still waiting for phone calls or emails that don't happen? Have you beat every level of every video game you own by now? Consider becoming an entrepreneur.

    There are businesses that are very inexpensive to start. Don't just sit there... DO something! Take charge! I want you to understand that YOU-CAN-DO-THIS.

  2. Decide what your business is about. Know exactly what you sell. Everybody is selling something. Services or product. Be really clear about what you plan to do. Think it through. Decide on your niche or angle. What will make you stand out in the crowd? Try to have your concept “nailed down” from the beginning. Trust me- radically changing direction after you're already in business will confuse your customers.
  3. Find the money you need to keep yourself afloat while getting your new business off the ground. No business makes tons of money right away. (At least, nothing legal does.)

    I said that you could start a business without much money. That's true. But you've got to eat and pay bills until you're profitable.

  4. Things will go wrong in your business. Sometimes a lot! As an entrepreneur, it's up to you to decide what to do next. You can cry, complain, blame, or fix what needs fixing. You need patience, but flexibility is a virtue.
  5. Don't spend what you don't have. Another money tip. As a general rule, remember... borrowing = bad, bootstrapping = good. Don't borrow on credit cards.
  6. It's your business... your responsibility Work it. Dream it. Be it. You ARE your business... especially at first.
  7. Schmooze & network with, get moral support, and learn from others while helping them too. This is the other VERY IMPORTANT small business tip you need to understand. Networking will help you and your business succeed. Find a local group, or an internet group or forum, and make connections with other people.
  8. Write a simple business plan. Keep it SIMPLE, it doesn't have to be complicated. It's for you, no one else.

    Everyone else says that you need this to show your banker when applying for a loan. But remember I said, “don't borrow.” So it's your own fault if you have to stay up for days writing a plan that no one else will ever want to read.

  9. Do create a marketing plan, and stick to it! Again, this does not have to be a 60 page book! I assume you're starting a small business... probably a micro business. A written plan will help you focus your efforts... a good thing.
  10. Be proud of what you're doing, even when others think you're nuts! Nobody understands what being an entrepreneur is like... except for another entrepreneur.

    A business is like a small child that needs constant attention when it's young. When it gets a little more mature, you can relax a little... but you'll always be listening for a phone call. Tend to your business. Keep your head up and your blinders on.

Maybe this should have been called “business philosophy” instead of small business tips. I'm sorry it's not a neat “to-do” list that you can follow.

It's hard to explain the entrepreneur mindset. Try a different page. Maybe something there will “click” for you.

But if you only take away one thing from this page, I want you to realize that you can start your own business. There's no guarantee that it will succeed and make you tons of money... or even a living.

But if you don't make expensive mistakes when you fail, you'll be ready to start another business with the real advantage that experience gives you.

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