Basics of starting a business

Remember, before you jump into anything, READ, RESEARCH, and USE COMMON SENSE!! When you have all your information lined up, only then should you proceed. If you don’t, you will fail. Never go into a business of any kind without a plan and a little education!

All anyone needs to make money on the Internet is a good idea, people skills, and the motivation to WORK!! It won’t come to you if you sit on your butt. You can’t do it just by throwing up a web page and hope people will come. READ all the directions and follow all the links and you will see that everything you need to know is on there. Of course this is not going to tell you exactly which product to sell or what you should do, but it is only a guideline to help you set up what is best for you. Face it, if I told everyone to sell only Betsy Wetsy dolls, there would be a flood of people selling the same thing to a limited audience and no one would make money. Your business must be individual to what you like, what you can do and how much effort you want to put into it.

Be warned! This is NOT about pie-in-the-sky hype about how everyone can easily make thousands of dollars running their own business. This is a realistic look at all your options and you may not want to hear it. I will not mince words. Starting a business is NOT for everyone. If you are one of those people who should be not be self-employed, do not lose heart. I didn’t say you would never be rich, but simply there are other options and self-employment may not be for you.

Do You REALLY Want Your Own Business?

Most who fancy the idea of having their own business want in on the lure of:

  1. Making a lot of money
  2. Having more free time
  3. Being their own boss
  4. Claims that no sales are involved
  5. Claims that this business runs itself
  6. Claims that there are no further investments

Do you really want to start your own business or are you just sick of your job and want a better one? It is important to figure out what you really want. Not everyone is cut out to have their own business. If you just want a better job, consult the career center.

If you just want to make a lot of money with the least amount of effort and are not suited to running a business, you do have one other option – INVESTMENT! Keep your job, but most put aside 10-30% of your income and invest in stocks, bonds, T-bills, CDs, mutual funds, or any other investment vehicle. If you do this consistently, you will be able to make enough money where your money will support your lifestyle.

Are you just wanting to make a lot of money with no effort? It will never happen! Everything takes effort. The more effort applied, the better the results. You can choose to work smart to save time. You can follow examples from people doing what you want to do to avoid their mistakes. What will not happen is if you make a pitiful effort here and there have large sums of cash fall into your pocket.

It is a rare business that makes thousands of dollars a day the first day in business. Those who do make “an overnight fortune” have a unique product and plenty of publicity and advertising to announce the opening day. This can be done if you have a truly new, unique product and plan a campaign months in advance. Something most people starting a business will not do as they want it NOW!

So, you want free time to spend with your family and think a home based business is the way to do it? You can involve them in the process and work together as a family and it will give you plenty of time to spend as a family.However, if your family is not interested or does not want to be involved in your business, you will be running the show alone with some mighty long and hard hours. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you decide to run, you will have to commit to it and invest in it even if you are alone in this adventure. If this is your garden, you must toil in it to make it produce fruits.

I don’t care what those fly-by-night, late night infomercial people will lead you to believe. ANY business you want to make money in will take lots of time and effort. A smart business person will figure out how to do it with the least amount of time and money, but will have to spend both for success.

Want to be your own boss? You must be a very responsible person if you want to be in business for yourself. You have to know to seek out the laws, rules and regulations in your area to practice business. You need to keep accurate records and be timely with your bills and invoices. You need to be strict with your work schedule.

If you have employees, you have to understand they are not going to have as much interest in your business success as you, they want a paycheck. It is up to you to make sure it all runs smooth. This is a heavy load for most people to carry.

All business is sales! Again, the same people trying to sell you the idea that if you get into their business you will never have to sell a thing. THEY ARE WRONG!!

How on earth would one make money without sales? Think about it! You are in business to make money obviously. From where does the money come? Your customers, downline, (if you are in network marketing or direct sales) or others who want your services or goods.

In order to get them to give you their money, what do you have to do? Sell them on the idea as to why they need to part with their money and give it to you as opposed to someone else.

Your sales pitch can be subtle or in your face, but you will have to sell or you make no money. If you hate sales, you should not go into business for yourself. Internet businesses, MLM, and other such get rich quick plans do not run itself. The only degree of putting your business on “automatic pilot” is in reference to being able to accept credit cards or having affiliate programs which can take orders even when you are not at the computer. HOWEVER, you will need to be at the helm to make sure people come to your site or offer as soon as they can. This means you actually have to put in the hours to reach out to find your customers.

Businesses are in perpetual need of investment whether in time or money – both valuable assets. It takes a smart business person to work out a plan to save the most amount of time, money and effort to get the job done.

And it is very important to remember, if you want to run your own business it is necessary to conduct yourself in a professional manner. Common sense dictates that if you want to have people take you seriously with the goal that they will pay you for your goods and/or services, you have to know at least HOW to run a business in all the small details as well as the large.

Those who speak in street slang or use a lot of profanity cannot succeed in business if they engage in this behavior while conducting business. Your public image needs to be sharp and professional which includes your speech, dress and overall communication.

It may seem like an absurd question as you are reading this now, but I mean can you read, write, and comprehend on a business level. It won’t help your business image if you write letters to people using horrible grammar or spelling. If you talk to people, do you speak in a professional manner or do you use a lot of slang and street language? Communication plays a big part in making a successful business.

If you need to contact another business which is crucial in your own business, would you know how to write a business letter in a professional manner or would it turn out looking like something a child would do? Would you know how to speak to them over the phone? Would you know how to dress and act if you meet them in person?

First impressions are vital with your customers and other business contacts. Even more important is how you communicate. If you dress poorly or send a company or a potential customer a terrible looking letter, it does not make a good first impression and is an automatic turn off. They won’t hear anything else you have to say

If your physical impression is good, but your communication is off, you will never get through to the other side as a professional who deserves their hard earned money, time, or attention. Are you organized? Owning your own business means you often juggle several projects at the same time. Can you deal with the daily grind of promoting your business, dealing with customers, dealing with suppliers, handling accounting and mailings, clean up, employee problems…?

Can you balance your checking book? Can you keep track of important receipts? Can you keep a written record of your daily expenses, profits and activities? Can you normally pay your bills on time? Can you stick to a schedule? These skills are even more crucial when you own your own business.

If you run a business out of your home, organization will be extremely crucial. It would be very easy to be distracted by household chores, a spouse, children, television, and other comforts you may associate with being at home. Your mind may relate being home to being off from work or school and put you in the mood for relaxing, not working. Organization will keep distraction at a minimum.

Are you independent? When you go into business for yourself, you are on your own. There is no one to hold your hand and tell you what you must do next. You have to be able to determine what needs to be done and how, who to contact to help you get it done, and schedule in the time to get it done.

When push comes to shove and you are faced with a problem, would you know where to turn to find the answers you need? Could you come up with these solutions on your own? Do you know how to get what you need?

Do you have a plan? Without an idea of what type of business you wish to conduct, how do you expect to get started? How do you plan on running the business and figuring out the goal of such business if you do not know the nature of the business you want to run. Do you know, exactly, what kind of business you wish to run? If you cannot answer this question, you are a long way from becoming self-employed.

Once you figure out what type of business you wish to run, do you know exactly what it will take for YOU to do it? How much will it cost? How much time will it take to get started? How much time everyday must you devote to it? Who will be your customers? How will you reach out to find these customers? Who will supply you with the things you need to run the business? How will you support yourself while you are trying to make your business successful?

These are very important questions and they only scratch the surface. You need to write out a plan which include the following:

  • The Nature Of Your Business
  • Your Business Creed
  • The Goals Of Your Business
  • Getting Your Business Licenses and Other Legalities
  • Setting Up An Accounting System
  • The Expenses To Get Started
  • The Daily/Monthly/Yearly Expenses
  • Your Living Expenses
  • Advertising And Marketing Plans
  • Staff Expenses (If Required)
  • Outside Help Expenses
  • Long Term Plans
  • Back Up Plan In Case It Doesn’t Work Out

In the end, if you are like most people who are tempted, but don’t see the big picture, you may realize it is just better to hone your marketable skills and find a better job for better pay and hours and most plan to invest wisely in your future with either stocks, bonds, and other forms of investment opportunities. The important thing is to think entrepreneurial and think outside the box. Weather you choose a business entity of sole proprietorship, LLC, or S-corp.

Get A Product Or Service Idea. You cannot have a business unless you have something to sell to people. It can be a service or a product, but it must be something people will be willing to hand over their money to you. Reach inside yourself. What do you like to do? What do you believe? What could you see yourself doing in every spare moment of your time? Your business must be you. Your likes, dislikes and personality shines through anything you promote. If you hate doing MLM plans, you will never make money because you don’t have the enthusiasm and drive to follow through. Think about a well loved hobby, childhood dream, or a current passion or cause. Brainstorm until you can come up with an idea on how you can turn this into a money making venture.

For instance, if you love to watch sports, you could create your own sports magazine, sell sports equipment, coach,… the possibilities are endless.

The most important thing is whatever business you choose, you should love what you do since you will have to spend a lot of time pursuing it to make it profitable. Don’t just choose something because others make a lot of money doing it. You are the one who has to work it so make sure YOU like it

Develop A Business Plan

Don’t make the same mistake as the dot coms who are going bankrupt. They took all kinds of investment money on a dream of the potential to make big money. The problem was there was no real business plan on how the money would be made.

You need to figure out how much it will cost you to start up your business, the day to day costs, and living expenses. You also need to figure out the cost of your service or product and how much you will need to sell to be profitable.

When you have an idea of the money involved, you need to figure out how you will pull off your business plan. Go to the Small Business Administration and ask for help in creating a business plan.

No matter what others will tell you, there is no such thing as a business that will cost no money out of pocket. They use a fancy phrase, “Use Other People’s Money!.” I don’t know about most of you, but I find it hard to believe that very many people have a friend who is willing to take a bet on a business venture for a friend. Banks and credit agencies want people with a good credit history or at least a co-signer and a business plan.

Yes, there are free ways to get products and to advertise, but that will only take you so far. You need money for your daily living expenses while you are pursuing your venture. Good advice, start your venture part time and please keep your day job. Only when your business can make enough money to produce a nest egg income for at least 6 months, then try to make a goal of it full time.

If you are in the unfortunate situation where you are trying to stake your riches on the Internet because you are out of work or in a despairing circumstance and need a lot of money, then you are simply going to have to work harder than you have at any full time job to make some money. It can be done without money, but you cannot take a passive role in advertising, YOU WILL HAVE TO SELL IT!!

Before you go on to the next step, be sure to have a completed outline for your business and some cash funds for your venture.

In a nutshell, this is the next part of doing business online:

  1. Figure out your current living expenses
  2. Figure out how much it will cost to run your business
  3. Figure out how you will get the money to run your business
  4. Put it on paper

Develop A Marketing Plan

Once you know what you will do or sell and how much the product or service will cost, you need to develop a strategy to get the word out to the public that you have something to sell.

First the price! This should have been worked out in your business plan. Be sure to price your product or service where you will actually make money. The key is to figure out how much the product costs you to make or produce, or how much performing your service will cost you.

Then add in the cost of delivering your product or service along with the time for customer service.

Then add in your expenses for advertising. This is where most people lose money! Calculate the cost of the ad divided by the customers it gets you. If an ad costs you $1000 and it brings in 10 people, then your cost per customer would be $100 – not a good deal unless your profit is over $1000! If the same ad brought in 10,000 people it works out to 10 cents per customer. This is why it is critical to be careful when you target your market.

It would be a big mistake to take out a full page ad in an expensive newspaper with a target audience of 3 million people when you don’t know if this ad will pull or not.

Instead, test a small classified ad in a cheap local paper. Using a classified ad, you can make one that is only 10 words by using a powerful headline with a number to call. Make that phone number a voice message system that you can describe your product or service in detail. You can either direct the caller to call another number for more information, leave a message or even where to send payment. By using this method, the potential customer does not feel threatened by a high pressure salesperson to find out more. It also clears the time wasters out who are not interested so you can spend more time selling to a likely candidate.

Once you have discovered what aspects of your product are able to sell, you can work on a bigger marketing plan. Just be sure to keep the ads within a budget.

Be sure to correctly target your ad. If you are selling fishing gear, don’t advertise in a Woman’s Crochet magazine. If you are selling cures for an aching back, don’t advertise in a swimsuit magazine.

If you are selling get rich quick plans, do it in those cheap rags such as Thrifty Nickel or if you have more money, the tabloid magazines. If you are selling things related to hobbies, find out the things hobbyist read and advertise there. If you are selling cookbooks, do it in a magazine for cooking related items (those who sell recipes in the tabloids often end up on mailing lists.)

Just because you see an ad in a magazine for many weeks does not mean it is making any money. Some ads are duds that people have bought many weeks in advance to get a price break. Others are scam ads where the person was told to make a certain amount of money, they would need to place the same ad like they saw.

Your marketing strategy will be different depending on the nature of your business. If you have a brick and mortar store, or your office is a street corner, or a virtual online URL, your approach in finding your audience will vary, but the principles will be the same.

This is your outline for the next step in doing business online:

  • Figure out your target audience.
  • Create several sales pitches -one line headline attention getters, small classified ads, full page ads, search engine ads, paid per click advertising, social media.
  • Find the places you plan to advertise and bookmark them for easy access.
  • Get submission software to promote automatically.
  • Consider advertising offline.
  • Use e-mail carefully when advertising.
LinkCollider - SEO Tools with Social Media Advertising

Getting Up Your Web Site

If you want to make money in the real world, it helps if you have a store set up in a place that will lend to your credibility. Face it, if you are selling products on a street corner or out of your car, people may buy from you some items, but many will question your credibility for selling (Is it stolen? Is it defective? What will this person do if you need a refund or exchange?)

Today, even stores with a physical presence need an online outlet. This gives your potential customers a chance to scope you out before they come to your store. It benefits you because those who do go to your web site and then go to your store are most likely going to buy something from you because they walk in with the knowledge that you have what they want already.

Even if you do not have a physical store, you need a web site in order to direct potential customers to your offers and how to contact you.

Online it is no different. People are buying, but tend to favor sites that look like they are going to be around for awhile and have roots. While you could make money from a free web site with a ridiculously long URL, you don’t have the credibility of the companies with a full domain name and you are competing with the free site’s banners. This is much like the person selling out of his car. You could sell on a free site today and be gone tomorrow since there is no call on your part for commitment. A domain name and a host site will cost you money to set up and maintain and implies you are committed in running it.

Once you have your idea, a domain name, a place to host it, a business and marketing plan, then you should proceed in setting up your web site. Many affiliate programs require you already have an established web site before they will even consider letting you sell their merchandise. Even if you are only selling the stuff you produce or through a drop-shipping program, you still need content to attract people.

You will need some content for your site other than the product you are selling. Unless your site is one advertised on tv or some other media and the people know what to expect, you have a hard sell on your hands. People don’t like an in your face sales pitch and on the Internet can quickly change a page they don’t like. Smooth it out with some content related to your product. For instance, if you are selling automotive items, produce a site about cars. It could be all about a particular make and model, how to repair your car, the history of cars or any other car topic that can be tied into what you sell. If you are selling pet care items, make your site about a particular animal, how to care for pets, the history of pets… Such content will keep the surfer’s attention and if they are in the market for such items, your story may help the surfer get their guard down enough to give you a chance.

  1. Learn the basics of how to design a web page.
  2. Get a program to help you save time in creating a web page.
  3. Create content that will be related to what you will sell.
  4. Make the page user friendly and easy on the eyes.
  5. Be sure to utilize meta and alt tags.
  6. Submit it to search engines.
  7. Promote it on and offline.

Re-Invest Your Earnings

An important, and often overlooked part of a business, is the follow up. Unless your service is recurring, you will never see that person again without something to make them come back.

Master your customer service skills. Follow up on orders to make sure they were satisfied. If they weren’t, then do what you must to make them happy. Offer other products along the same lines. If they felt good about dealing with you before, they certainly will be likely to trust you again.

When you see that you have finally made a profit, don’t be tempted to blow it on a luxury cruise. Put some of that money aside for a nest egg for living expenses and to expand your business. Make sure you have a comfortable nest egg to support you for 6 to 12 months just in case your business falls on hard times.

Once you have a cushion of financial safety, then slowly and cautiously spend the booty!

Obviously, there is a lot more to running a business than listed here. There are so many variables to consider depending on your business, your skills, your personality, your cash flow and other possibilities. This is why you should really think about what running your business will mean to you in all aspects of your life. If all this information just seems too hard for you to put into practice, you probably should stick with your day job.

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

Walt Disney

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

J. K. Rowling

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

Dr. Seuss


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