A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL SUCCESS
The recommendations provided below have been developed by several successful entrepreneurs, with whom CharlotteSCORE has worked over the past year.
5 “Must Do’s” When Starting a New Business
- Connect with SCORE – wish I had done this sooner! An incredible resource for support with basically any question related to startup businesses.
- Take time to set up your accounting – This I learned the hard way. I started thinking my business would be just a hobby, and when it took off I never found the time to properly organize my accounting. It was another two years before I became an S Corp. I would recommend that as quickly as possible to organize how you will plan to report your taxes, how you will keep records such as mileage, your personal salary, and receipts etc.
- Never ever, EVER get caught without a business card. There is nothing that makes a small business look more illegitimate than writing your info down on a scrap of paper. Life is all about first impressions, so make sure you always have several professionally printed business cards on hand EVERYWHERE you go. No kidding, I have handed out tons of cards at social gatherings or places like the grocery store where you bump into someone needing your product.
- Establish a website and keep up with it.
- Acknowledge the things you could work on, but focus on the positive. I am constantly thinking of ways to improve my products and how my customers order them, but pointing out your company’s shortcomings to potential customers (even friends!), is not the best idea. As a startup, you are the face of your company and as the chief salesperson of your product, you want to project an air of excitement and an overall positive happy vibe to your customers. Your product may see improvements over the years (my packaging has completely changed!), but focus on showcasing the positive aspects of your product, and when you have a spare moment tackle the things you can improve on bit by bit.
Top 5 Ways to Grow a Startup With Limited Capital
- Organic Marketing. Find the people who care about your product, listen to what they care about, and start forming relationships with them. Two low-barrier and authentic ways to do this is via social media and newsletter programs like Mail Chimp.
- Mentors. First, look around your closest circle of family, friends, and colleagues. Chances are you’ll find some smart people who know more than you do about life and/or business. Seek them out and ask them for advice. In addition to our close circle, we found SCORE. I can honestly say, the advice we’ve received from both formal and informal mentors has given us the gusto to take our business to the next level.
- Free resources. There are an abundance of resources at your fingertips to help with almost any startup needs you have. Some non-profits offer free accounting, local universities have student interns, SCORE provides specialized mentors, and TED talks or Quickbooks offers free seminars and workshops. Whatever skills your organization is lacking during the startup phase it’s highly likely that you can find someone to teach, or help you learn, for free.
- Stand on the shoulders of giants. More than likely, you are not the first business of your kind. Look towards some of the leaders in your industry, and businesses that have succeeded in a way you’d like to emulate. Look to them for leadership in the field.
- Make connections. Network, network, network, then network some more. If you have a product, sample it any chance you get. If you have an idea, talk about it with whoever will listen. If your idea/product/business is a good one, people will take notice.
SCORE is a national volunteer organization and is a resource partner with the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA). SCORE has 320 chapters nationwide, with over 11,000 volunteer members, and is indisputably, America’s premier source of free and confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs.
- Those thinking about going into business
- Those starting a small business or buying an existing business
- Those starting or buying a franchise business
- Owners & managers of small businesses faced with retrenchment, growth or other business challenges
- Small business owners considering concluding operations
- Free face-to-face and on-line confidential mentoring. CharlotteSCORE is located near the South Park Mall and has Certified Mentors on duty every business day from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Appointments are strongly recommended.
- Low cost workshops, which include “Simple Steps For Starting Your Business” and multiple “in-business” problem solving programs
- Free on-line tools and resources to help you with:
- Business plan development
- Business problem solving
- Funding plan/loan proposal assistance
- Marketing/growth planning