By Andy Tiwari
Many business owners have heard the old wisdom: all you need are a good idea, a business plan, capital, and hard work – plus good (legal) advisors – to be successful.
Good intentions will only get you up and running. Below are some nuggets of wisdom from me as a business owner and advisor to business clients, as well as my spouse who also owns a business.
1. “If I build it, they will come.” One of the most frequent problems I’ve seen with small businesses is too little marketing. Investigate options and budget accordingly. Don’t underestimate the power of old-fashioned networking: we do business with people we like and respect.
2. “I already filed my DBA, so I’m totally legit.” Research laws and regulations that could impact your business so you are not investing time and money into something that won’t pass legal muster.
3. “I have lots of money coming through the door. Donald Trump better watch out!” Budget early and often, and pay close attention to your finances. If you have $1 million dollars in sales, that’s great, but if you’re spending $999,999.99 to operate the business, I might have to refer you to a bankruptcy lawyer. Know your profit margin for every service you offer or product you sell.
4. “It’s too expensive to hire other people, and besides, I know everything about everything.” It might be necessary in the beginning to do most things yourself, but that will quickly change once your business ramps up. Consider outsourcing administrative tasks (particularly payroll processing) and, when the time is right, hire help. You can’t grow without it.
5. “Why would I meet with that business coach? I only want to learn from the best, like Steve Jobs… but he’s a tad hard to reach right now.” If your friends and contacts give you positive feedback about an efficiency or business coach, consider what you might learn from adopting that practice or employing that expert. The right training can improve your productivity and your job satisfaction.
6. “Why on Earth would I spend time learning sales techniques? I’m a yarn specialist, not a telemarketer.” You’re always in sales if you’re in business, even if your customer is the government. Knowing good sales techniques can help position your company in the most favorable light versus competitors. Combined with your marketing, knowing sales techniques helps tell your brand story.
7. “This is easy. I have my family behind me, and all I have to do is work hard.” Expect to work a lot in the beginning. You’ll need a good support network of friends, family, and fellow business owners to provide solace in times of distress. Seek “buy-in” for your idea from immediate family early and often. Make time to reflect and recuperate.
8. “I’m selling every type of yarn there is. Plus I’m going to sell scrapbooks because yarn people do that too. Plus wine, because yarn people usually scrapbook while drinking wine. Plus cheese because, duh, every yarn knitter-scrapbooker-wine drinker eats cheese.” Think “riches in niches.” On occasion, carrying multiple product lines or services works well, but the best businesses usually identify their strengths and expertise and focus on those.
9. “Everybody loves me except for this one non-paying person, who just can’t be satisfied and gave me a 1-star review on Yelp.” Obviously you should strive to give good customer service and protect your reputation as much as possible. But no matter what you do, you can’t please everyone. So when you know you’ve done everything you can, move on and focus on the good stuff. How you respond to a negative review can enhance your business too.
10. “Billy’s Yarn-Book-Wine-Cheese Shoppe looks successful. I’ll just set up an S-Corp like him. All the cool small business owners are doing it.” Small business isn’t “one size fits all.” While you should look to others for advice, don’t assume that their setup, products, or methods will work for you. Talk to an advisor about legal and tax issues. The Internet is helpful, but the right professionals should be able to use their experience to give you better advice.
If you need legal advice, schedule a meeting with Tiwari + Bell PLLC through our website or by calling (210) 417-4167.