Do you want to start your own small business? Many people who are tired of working for someone else or who have been laid off find themselves taking the road of entrepreneurship. I found myself on that road many years ago and have never looked back. I discovered some simple secrets to success that I want to share with you!

Ten years ago I answered a small help wanted ad in the local newspaper for a rep to sell advertising space on movie screens. Having no experience in ad sales, I bluffed my way through the interview. The company sales manager had been interviewing all day so I knew my competition was formidable. I really wanted the job, so I sent a big bouquet of flowers to my interviewer along with a thank you note. Guess who got the job?

 

I went through training and learned I was only allowed to sell ad space at certain movie theaters in town but not all. Many of my new clients wanted to advertise market-wide on all the theaters in my city. I began to see a need for someone to help these advertisers make a seamless media buy that involved various theater companies. This unmet need became the seed for my new business idea.

 

I resigned from my position and started a full service ad agency that bought all forms of media but specialized in movie theater advertising. I built a database of every movie theater in the country that offered an ad program. Now an advertiser had access to a one-stop shop to place a media buy across a market, a state, or the entire U.S. My idea was a big hit! My first client was Disney.

 

Over the past 10 years, I have bought cinema media for clients such as the state of Florida, the city of Los Angeles, Disney, Haagen-Dazs, U.S. Army, the Justice Department, state of Virginia, Royal Purple Motor Oil, New York Courts, Nordstrom, and more.

 

Here are some secrets to my small business success. If you are planning to start your own business these ideas will launch you in the right direction!

 

  1. Do What You Know

 

It only makes sense to start a small business in an industry that you understand and have experience with. Do not try to venture into uncharted waters. If you have a business idea for an industry you are not familiar with, go work for another company in that industry for a year. This will give you a basic understanding of the major players, business models, and needs of the industry.

 

  1. Find a Need Not Being Met

 

Business is about filling needs. The most successful companies have found a consumer demand that was unfulfilled. Sometimes large companies get lost in pleasing shareholders and move slowly in responding to customer needs. Find a niche and become an expert. Customers will begin flowing in.

 

  1. Become a Partner to Your Client

 

Your goal should be to create a product or service that helps your client make more money or solve a problem. Your approach should be stepping into the shoes of a business partner to your client. Successful business owners approach new customers with the attitude, “How can I help you grow your business?” If you wear the persona of a typical sales rep, only wanting to make a profit for yourself, you will struggle to find new clients.

 

  1. Say Thank-You in Creative Ways

 

Knowing that other ad agencies typically send out holiday cards at the end of the year, I send out cards to my clients at Thanksgiving time. This way I am ahead of the pack and really stand out. I also send some gourmet popcorn or movie passes. Clients appreciate knowing you value their business. I also send gifts or handwritten notes after completing a project for one of my customers. A personal gesture of appreciation builds brand loyalty between your company and your clients.

 

  1. Use Social Networking to Build Your Brand

 

As soon as possible, build a top-notch website and begin branding your company across the internet on websites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I used WordPress to create a simple blog that is integrated with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. When I post a new blog entry, it automatically migrates to my other social network websites, saving me time. Email programs such as MailChimp.com, can be set up to send out an email with your newest WordPress blog post. Building your brand online builds your credibility. Show off your knowledge and expertise in the industry to attract new clients. Allowing your customers to interact with you personally on websites such as Facebook or MySpace strengthens your relationships and increases your chances for repeat business.

 

I started out with no money or employees – just a great idea that filled a need in an industry I understood. Take inventory of all your experiences and think about products or services that no one else is offering. Focus on helping your clients achieve their goals and success will follow!

Various business grants are available for those entrepreneurs who want to have some additional funding for the development of their businesses. You can get business grant application either form the government agencies that offer grants or from the website of the federal, state and local government. These grants are also available by different private and non-profit organizations apart from the government agencies. The entrepreneurs have to ensure that they are eligible to apply for the relevant grant and filling the application form is vital because only then you will be able to get the grant money.

The government wants to help business people so that the additional fund that they require gets fulfilled and they are able to concentrate on the development and promotion of their business. The main thing is that these entrepreneurs do not have to worry about repaying this grant money. These are free financial aids offered by the government to those individuals who have a great business idea or the government believes in the idea and the market survey they produce along with it. The approval of the application is not so easy and most often you have to take lot of precautions and go through the lengthy process.

 

Now you can get, fill and submit the business grant application online. It has made the entire process easy and convenient which was very tedious and tiring before. The facility of getting all information online has also helped entrepreneurs save their time and effort. It is easy to fill the application form online where there is less time and physical involvement. You will get complete information on the government website and they are mentioned clearly there.

 

When you are applying for business grants you will have to make a good business plan along with the application that you need to submit. The business plan should include the budget and plan that you have of how to spend the money that you have requested from the government. Business grant application has to be filled and submitted before due date of submission and the business plan should be persuasive to get approved without hassle.

When you start a business, you want it to be successful, right? No one embarks on a venture hoping to fail! Yet, for so many, their destination points in that direction right from the get go.

Why? A lot of times, entrepreneur hopefuls don’t do what they are supposed to: they don’t plan well, they don’t do enough research, they are not passionate about what they are doing…basically, they start off on he wrong foot and end up tripping or falling flat on their faces.

Here are some things you might need to consider should you really be serious about opening shop.

Know your stuff

You want to open a restaurant but don’t even know that adding sugar to a dish helps cut down chili hotness. You can’t cook a proper dish. You don’t know where to get ingredients at the best prices.

 

Now, how do you expect to succeed?

At the car service centre, how does it feel like when the mechanic says, “Oh! This particular spare part costs $900.” And you can’t say that you think it’s too expensive because you don’t know the real cost. So, you just resign yourself to this suggestion, but with that feeling that you’ve just been taken for a ride.

It’s the same at you restaurant, you need to know your stuff.

 

Research

A great location for a certain business might not be suitable for another.

You can operate a luxury car dealership that retails most expensive Maseratis in rather secluded area and still you will get your customers because he cars appeal to a certain market where affluent buyers will go anywhere to get they want

But when you open a stall or restaurant, it would be better if it’s located in an area where there are other food outlets, and where the traffic is high.

You mustn’t be afraid of competition as it creates choice for the consumer

You also need to know the type of crowd you are catering to and price your product correctly.

 

Passion

Just because you like to cook, don’t think you can make it as a restaurateur. At home, you might be used to cooking for family. You might even love hosting the occasional party with 30 friends dropping by.

 

At the outlet, it’s a daily affair.

It’s a lot of work in hot kitchen. And it’s not just the quality of food you have to be concerned about. You need to look at the service your staff provides. Don’t forget the occasional difficult customer.

 

You have to be passionate enough to work very, very hard.

 

Be hands on

If you want to open a business you need to be there, at least for a year, so that you’d know the ins and outs of the business enough and to make accurate assessments and estimations of stock take, customer flow and such.

 

Then no one will be able to cheat you. Also, after a year, your workers would more or less have an idea as to the way you like things done and what displeases you

 

Today, people are loosing their jobs. More than ever, people turn to making their own way. This year is the time to make a bold move, if you have the support. There are openings in many industries, but patience will be necessary. In South Florida, people will see many businesses closing and leaving infrastructure that could be transferred into something else. Making bold moves are specifically for people that have experience in business though. This is not a time for the casual entrepreneurs. Going South could be the next move for anyone struggling in the North and Midwest. Keep in mind, Florida does not have state income tax, so you can keep more of your income. Also, Texas is another state that offers this same perk. The warm weather will limit the need for seasonal expenses, like clothes and car care too. Therefore, this leaves more opportunity for allowing entrepreneurship to be king. This could mean starting a home business, or starting their dream brick and mortar operation. Entrepreneurial motivation can be felt across the country. The days of working at a local factory for 30 years is over. This equates the desire to create the new era of American workers and business people that are self sufficient. The lack of trust in big government, corporate jobs, and layoffs have fueled this situation. The only thing left is to accept entrepreneurship king. Innovation comes about and real transition will ensure America’s survival as a world leader.

The lack of options creates a life of uncertainty. Moreover, making entrepreneurship the main solution for tough times could create a society of business minded individuals.These people may not be ready for the challenge to operate a business, but they will have to quickly discover a way to make money. The ability to create your way of earning a living is a great sense of pride, but society has taught everyone to get a good job. Therefore, this is problematic for most people to transition. The new added responsibility for yourself can be traumatic. However, there is a strategy to solve the issue of fear. Just do it. Be well educated on the new entrepreneurship idea first, and then make a move. Understand that you are not alone, and that entrepreneurship is king for this new American era. Most people may not see it yet, but having a side business is becoming the norm. One job people are becoming obsolete. Therefore, if you are working full time, take on a good paying hobby to earn some extra cash to prepare for the “entrepreneurship king” trend. This will enable a competitive advantage for when you may have to become a full time entrepreneur due to unforeseen circumstances. Also, the earlier you start the better. Think of this as taking on another task and get creativity juices flowing. After all, we sell our worth to bosses everyday, so why not reap all the benefits.

 

In summation, entrepreneurship is king due to economic factors. We can’t change the situations, so we must make the best strategic decisions. Gaining extra skills that are well paid could be a great income booster. Community colleges offer great options for working adults with classes that enhance skills, and this can be used to build upon. Financial aid is available in many cases, so there is little excuse not to try. If you feel fear of loosing your financial security, accept that entrepreneurship is king, and make it work to your advantage with a new army of tools.

Those entrepreneurs that have limited fund can take the advantage of grants for small business owners. These grants are specially designed and created to help those business owners that find difficulty running their business swiftly because of lack of fund. When people hear about grants, some think that it is very easy to get the free money from the government while others think this is not meant for them as government grants are only for low income group of people. Both the concept is not completely true.

Government grants are neither too easy nor very difficult to get. You have to follow a certain procedure and submit the application for the relevant grant to the respective agency. If you are a small business owner, you need to analyze your business needs, find out what are the requirements of your business and list them according to the preferences. This will help you search for the right grant and fulfill the needs in sequence. Once you have sorted out your financial needs, it is time to find the grants that can fulfill them.

 

Complete information on grants for small business owners is available on Internet. Be careful and conscious while browsing the net because there are many fake companies and cheat individuals that will try to misguide you. Try to log on to legitimate websites particularly that of the government. Although these grants come under federal government grants, they are available with local and state governments. You can also find out the details with your state and local government agencies.

 

It is a time consuming job to find the grants and review their requirements. But once you have found the grant, see to it that you qualify for the grants. It is good to go through the guidelines for submission of the application form of that grant. Make sure you meet all the requirements and provide complete information while filling the application form. If possible, find out the constraints, expectations and budget of the grants for small business owners that you are going to apply. This will help you in presenting your application and persuading the panel to approve it.

Luck has nothing to do with someone being their own boss or making their home staging business a success. “Luck” is when you win the lottery despite odds of one in 28 million. Of course if you never buy a ticket, you’ll never be that lucky “one.”

Was Sara Blakely lucky to invent Spanx from her apartment and turn $5,000 in savings into a huge success story? Was Sandra Wilson lucky to invent Robeez when she cut up old purses to make baby booties for her son, eventually selling her company for $30.5 million?

Both women were passionate about what they were doing and refused to quit even when others told them, “it will never work.”

Comments like, “You’re so lucky you get to work from home” and “Oh, I wish I was lucky enough to be my own boss” discount the tremendous amount of hard work that goes into making opportunities happen in one’s life.

That mother working from home to be there for her family isn’t just lucky. She has taken risks and invested hundreds of hours of hard work to create that life for herself and her family.

 

She isn’t doing anything you couldn’t do yourself if you really wanted to.

You can’t waste your life wishing you could fire your boss and go into business for yourself unless you make a move to make that happen.

Being in the right place at the right time can play some part in the success of a business, but it’s commitment, hard work and doing something you’re passion about that will let you make your own “luck” in this world. What are you going to do with your future? Will you leave it to luck, or will you work hard to create the life you want to be living?

Instead of waiting for luck to help you start your new career as a home stager, download the home staging courses written by home staging expert, Debra Gould, who has helped more than 4000 people around the world learn how to become home stagers.

She is donating $100 from her business‘ profits to Save the Children’s relief efforts in Haiti. It may not sound like much, but Ariana Smith-Bland is not the president of a multi-million-dollar corporation. She is the owner of Monai Enterprise, a one-woman, Cleveland-based business specializing in hand-made decorative tissue holders. The 18-year-old Shaker Heights, Ohio, native has used an e-mail campaign to encourage other entrepreneurs-both novice and veteran-to contribute as well. So far the response has been great, according to Smith-Bland.

In February, she sent just 10 e-mails to colleagues telling them that Monai Enterprise had donated $100 to Save the Children’s Haiti relief effort. She asked those colleagues to meet or beat that pledge. The e-mail spread virally, reaching hundreds of young entrepreneurs as well as established professionals and business owners in Greater Cleveland. The e-mail even made its way to one of her teachers at John Carroll University, who said that two of his children were making donations.

 

Smith-Bland is keeping track of the donations promised and hopes that the money will allow children in Haiti to realize their dreams. “I selected Save the Children because so many kids want to have their own businesses, and I would definitely like to help the children of Haiti start their own companies,” she says.

 

The entrepreneurial bug bit Smith-Bland when she was 13. “I was part of Caring Communities, a business and entrepreneurial development class (in Cleveland),” she says. “My aunt gave me the idea for my business.”

 

Smith-Bland sews all of the fabric tissue holders herself, although these days the college freshman employs the help of her grandmother to assemble them. The tissue holders are sold at a local boutique and an art gallery, but she says that word of mouth is her best form of marketing.

 

Currently working toward a degree in business management with a minor in entrepreneurship, Smith-Bland’s long-term dream is to graduate from law school and open her own firm. She says that running her own business at a young age will give her the skills needed to accomplish that goal.

 

In high school, Smith-Bland’s business sense was heightened while attending classes at E-City, a nonprofit organization that teaches Cleveland-area students entrepreneurial, business and life skills. E-City, she says, reinforced the importance of entrepreneurs giving back to their communities.

 

Smith-Bland took those words to heart and for years has volunteered locally with Coats for Kids, the Cleveland Food Bank and the City Mission, among other organizations. In 2007, her company donated more than $200 to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina as well as AIDS victims in Africa.

 

After seeing the devastation following the earthquake in Haiti earlier this year, Smith-Bland knew she had to help.

 

Giving back, she says, is a way to say thank you to those who in the past have helped her and to give others a chance at success. “If people invested time and energy in me, I should reinvest my time and energy in others,” she says.

 

Sources:

http://www.ecitycleveland.com

http://www.savethechildren.org/countries/latin-america-caribbean/haiti.html

Bad things can happen to good entrepreneurs with fantastic ideas. This statement is not meant to burst your bubble – it’s meant to nudge you in the direction of being realistic about your planning efforts long before you’re left with nothing but a soapy residue on the floor because you failed to implement the best practices for protecting your personal assets.

Take the Proper Steps

 

It’s all too easy to get carried away with the thrill of being your own boss and finally pushing the results of your hard work onto the marketplace. There isn’t any serious entrepreneur that at some time has not put their own money on the line, but the cold, hard fact is you can lose your investment if something goes wrong and your business fails. If you have not taken precautions, you could lose everything you own, destroy your personal credit and be left with no choice but to start over.

 

Form a corporation. Most people start out as sole proprietors and register with the state as such, but eventually you will need to form a corporation. You’ll need to form a C Corp, an S Corp or a limited liability company (LLC). If you don’t know the difference, do the research or consult with a business attorney. Consider the tax consequences for the various types in incorporations, and most of all your protection from personal liability. Remember this point – you and your business are not one and the same. Your business is a separate entity with its own life and should be managed as such.

 

Build business credit. The moment you submit your incorporation papers to the state, apply for a federal tax identification number. Once you have that, register with Dun  amp; Bradstreet to start building a business credit score based on your business activity. Get your services and vendor accounts transferred into your name. Set up a bank account under your business name and Tax ID number. If you apply for credit cards or lines of credit for business use, put them in your name, not your personal name.

 

In the beginning you may be asked to provide a personal guarantee for some of your business needs but limit these to as few as possible. Taking these steps will help you remove the personal liability from your business affairs. It is also wise to consider getting a loan when you need financing rather than pulling the cash from your own pocket. If your business does fail, you have not lost all your money. You can learn from your mistakes and start over again – the most successful business people in the world have all experiences flops.

 

Use Business Credit to Get Financing

 

If you feel bad about losing someone else’s money, take heart. Business credit lenders are fully aware of the risks they take in lending money to small business start ups. You can use this to your advantage – they will insist on seeing a viable business plan before they fork over the cash you want and with a well.

The following is a post from Brabble director of business development Patrick Mackaronis. Patrick is a thought leader and subject matter expert in the fields of entrepreneurship, finance and startups, and has been a self-starting businessman for years.

The decision to start a new business can be an exciting moment. However, the moment soon passes and the it’s time to start working. An entrepreneur must not leap into the business start-up fray without building a strong foundation for success. Too often, new businesses omit the most important part of that foundation – good planning.

The planning process encompasses all aspects of a new business – financial stability, product or service marketing and branding, and administration and operations. All of these aspects interrelate with each other, and the entrepreneur will omit or downplay any one of them at her own peril.

Financial Stability

One of the most common reasons for business failure is the lack of capital to survive downturns as well as take advantage of emerging opportunities. Business environments are dynamic in nature and an entrepreneur who does not have the resources to adapt to changing conditions will ultimately fail.

What are the major pieces to financial stability?

  • Obtaining sufficient capital before opening the doors to the business is the first piece to the puzzle. Resources can be gathered from family or friends, personal resources, SBA Loans, or investors. Whatever the source, do not assume that capital will come along. Find it before starting the business venture.
  • The initial nest egg will probably not last through the entire life cycle of the business, so entrepreneurs need to build strong business credit. This can be accomplished by creating vendor accounts and then paying bills on-time and also by obtaining lines-of-credit and credit cards from financial institutions.
  • Track business expenditures to ensure that money is being allocated correctly and to identify any troublesome trends that could become compromising.

Product / Service Marketing and Branding

An innovative idea for a new business is great but, if there is no market for the product or service, it will never become profitable. In addition, if the business is not able to distinguish itself from the competition, it will not succeed.

What are the major pieces to product / service marketing and branding?

  • Identify what the business’ market is, whether it is local, regional, national, or global. Read local and trade publications or go onto the internet to determine if people want what will be sold. Depending on available resources, a market research firm can be hired to do this or just getting out and talking to people can be useful.
  • Examine the market to determine the level of competition. A great idea may not go far if the market is already saturated with competitors while an innovative idea with very few competitors may be very lucrative.
  • Study the number and type of competitors carefully to determine how the business’ product / service can be distinguished from them. Concepts such as quality, affordability, convenience, and customer service are often used to stand out from the crowd.
  • Create a marketing / advertising budget and stick to it. Generally, television, radio, and print advertising is cost prohibitive for a business start-up, and is often not as effective as networking, sponsorships, and volunteering anyway.

Administration and Operations

Many businesses fail because entrepreneurs did not understand adequately the costs of day-to-day business operations. Too often, the assumption is made that actually operating the business will come naturally and does not require planning.

What are the major pieces to administration and operations?

  • Issues such as office space, staffing, equipment and supplies, telephone and internet, and signage must be planned out in advance, with reasonable budgets established and evaluated regularly. Entrepreneurs often find themselves wearing multiple hats when the business opens which is reasonable when resources are tight. However, that same entrepreneur may become overwhelmed if proper staffing is not built into budget formation.
  • Proper tracking is essential in managing a business successfully. This is accomplished through financial tracking software and spreadsheets which can be used to determine where resources are going and what product / services are generating the most income. Tracking of supplies and costs for telephone / internet are also important to determine expenditure levels and ways to better manage them.
  • Evaluate and re-evaluate staffing and other operational issues to better match emerging priorities to available resources.

A Well Constructed Business Plan is an Entrepreneur’s Best Friend

A comprehensive business plan can serve to better understand and track financial, marketing and branding, and administrative and operational variables / priorities. A well designed plan will document the entrepreneurial idea that serves as the motivation for the business and market conditions that can make the idea profitable. It also addresses administrative and operational requirements including staffing and infrastructure costs and how much money will be needed to sustain the business short-, mid- and long-term.

There are numerous resource books / software available on the market to help entrepreneurs develop a successful business plan. Business plan creation can also be performed by business and management consultants. Whatever avenue an entrepreneur uses to obtain a comprehensive business plan, this document is essential for proper business management and ultimate success.

If you enjoy creating blog posts, advertisers may be looking for you. Now you can turn your hobby into a source of income, implementing these 12 workable and easy steps. You, too, can join the ranks of skilled bloggers who blog and get paid for it. It’s easy when you know what to do and how to go about it.

Initial Steps

Step 1: Copy and paste any links or tracking tokens you need to include in your blog post. Hit “Enter” and push these down on your page. You’ll return to them later.

Step 2: Read through the opportunity description and summarize the main points. This is your rough draft.

Step 3: Keep sentences and paragraphs short and to the point. Now insert (copy/paste) the links mid-sentence in your post. For paid posts, advertisers usually prefer relevant links to be midway in sentences.

You now have your rough draft.

Second Stage

Step 4: Once you’ve written your blog post, do a quick word count to make sure you are on or over the required number of words specified in the opportunity description.

Step 5: Now–and this may sound strange–hit “Publish.”

Step 6: Pull up your newly created blog page and check to see that your links are highlighted. Click on them. Make sure they are working correctly and that they point to the advertiser’s page. This step is crucial to your receiving payment for blog posts.

Step 7: While you are there, read through the advertiser’s page and add any additional points to flesh out your blog post. You’ve accomplished two things: you’ve checked that the links are working and you’ve read through the relevant info. This approach may seem backwards but it is easier than having to hunt for the advertiser’s page in the beginning, then having to return to the opportunity page and grabbing the link later.

You’ve now polished your post and have made sure that it meets technical requirements.

Editing

Step 8: Hit the spell checker at the top of your newly-created blog page. If you are still unsure about any words check them with an online dictionary (which you should have sitting in your browser’s top bar for convenience).

Step 9: Check formatting (spaces between words and paragraphs) and make sure there’s a period at the end of each paragraph.

Adding the Title and Labels

Step 10: Think of your post in a nutshell and this will give you a suitable title. This reverse approach is effective because you save time by not having to change your title, as your post changes and develops. Make sure you use keywords in your title, subheads, and blog post body.

Step 11: Include “Labels For This Post,” using applicable keywords.

Final Stage

Step 12: Publish again and hit “View Blog.” Read through your entire post now that it is in published format. check that it is free of errors. Scroll down to the bottom and right-click on the time stamp. Hit “Properties” or “Send Link” and copy/paste your page URL for submittal.

By developing a systematic approach to blogging, you’ll author quality posts. By following these 12 steps, you’ll streamline the whole process, creating blog posts that will result in earnings when you blog for pay.