What it Really Takes to Start Up a Small Business
Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Sam Melton – Enjoy!
A bakery that specializes in all things cupcake. A party planning service that offers one-of-a-kind themed events. The best new plumber in town.
Chances are there’s a small business idea out there with your name on it. Maybe you’ve got that entrepreneurial itch, or you’re currently without work or working for too little pay.
Many have the dream to start a business, but only a few have the know-how to nurture a successful startup. Write up a business plan and follow these procedures to get from the idea phase to implementation:
1. Find the start-up cash (and manpower) you need – without resorting to dishonesty.
Fudging the truth to make your business proposal sound more impressive than it might actually be is an easy thing to do – especially if you need investors or employees, like, now. You may exaggerate your business’ potential to make it a more appealing investment. Or bend the truth about the strength of the business model to recruit employees.
To avoid all the lies (even the white lies) and still get your startup started up, always:
- Back up your financial projections with valid assumptions.
Be able to back up every figure in discussions with potential investors. Use current and projected trends in your field to find the numbers, and offer legitimate estimates in your debates.
Don’t just tack on zeros to make your business’ future seem more stable. It’s one of the easiest lies to catch.
- Make sure employee paychecks don’t bounce.
Instead of promising employees a market salary you might not be able to afford, share the details of your startup’s risk with potential hires.
Your employee will appreciate a scheduled rollout of pay increases more than a worthless check. They may even be more motivated to drive the company forward if they’re invested in its future.
2. Invest in the right tools now to help ensure success down the road.
If you aren’t particularly tech savvy, the time to learn is now. Computers and the Internet have made it possible for even the smallest businesses to make a big impact. The New York City Economic Development Corporation understands the value of equipping entrepreneurs with game-changing Internet access.
They’ve partnered with Verizon to set up one of NYC’s Harlem Garage incubators with super-fast Internet. According to the Wall Street Journal, startups at the incubator will receive “award-winning FiOS Quantum 300 megabits-per-second Internet service, free for six months, to support the high-tech, high-bandwidth needs of these innovative, new companies.”
The online tools necessary for content management on the business level require a certain amount of computer literacy, but are designed to place a company in a position to compete in the current market. Equip yourself with the following right off the bat:
- Web hosting.
Choose a Web hosting service to host your domain and make it available for consumers to access your site and learn about your business.
- Online data storage.
One of the most useful aspects of computer technology is the ability to store large amounts of data. Use a cloud service like Dropbox to store business files online so they can be accessed anywhere and anytime, even if company computers crash.
- Online project management software.
Keep yourself and your employees on track when it comes to tackling difficult projects. This software helps you allocate tasks, manage your team, documents and more.
3. Avoid common money traps by knowing where to skimp – and where to sacrifice.
Thinning out overhead costs can be difficult, especially in those volatile early days and months of a small business’ life.
It may seem necessary to rent the fancy office space, to buy the expensive new furniture or office equipment. Often, another money suck is employing a large staff right at first.
Equip yourself with the basic essentials and a staff that is eager to learn and motivated – rather than a staff with credentials out the wazoo and a background at a Fortune 500.
You can also save money by choosing an office location with less features and lower rent. Or maybe switching out expensive and trendy office equipment for reliable – but less costly, brands.
Sam Melton is a former marketing professional turned freelance writer. His specialties are business and sports technology.