Monday, October 31, 2011

But Wait, There's More!

Starting a business has so many components, I could have written and located days and days worth of posts to entertain and educate you. Most of the information I provided this month was from the Small Business Association and I did that because it is some of the best, most up to date information available.

Do your homework and don't just jump into a business because you think it will give you the time and freedom to do your own thing, that couldn't be farther from the truth! What is true is that with the right ground work and proper research you could find yourself in the business of your dreams making a prosperous living. I say, if you're willing to do the work, success is likely!

Friday, October 28, 2011

What Is SCORE?

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and has been mentoring small business owners for more than forty years.

SCORE is a valuable network of 13,000+ volunteers who offer small business entrepreneurs confidential business counseling services at no charge. SCORE volunteers have the knowledge and experience to help any small business owner get the help they need. Our dedicated volunteers represent over 270,000 years of experience across 62 industries.

SCORE also provides local workshops and events throughout the country to connect small business owners with the people and information they need to start, grow, and maintain their businesses, as well as online workshops available 24/7. SCORE provides resources, templates and tools to assist entrepreneurs in developing tools and plans they need to navigate their way to small business success.

Founded in 1964, SCORE is headquartered in Herndon, VA and has 364 chapters throughout the United States and its territories, with over 13,000 volunteers nationwide.*

*Directly from the web site

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Yeah, it sounds cliche' when in fact, it's fun! Start with your local Chamber of Commerce - memberships are usually very inexpensive and no matter how business savvy your are, it's not what you know, it's who you know. You need to meet and know the other influential business people in your area. Our Chamber does a business networking luncheon the first Wednesday of each month and an evening mixer as well. There are two opportunities every month to get out and market your business.

If you are connected on Facebook and Twitter, there are many more opportunities to meet up with other professionals and spread the word about your business. I'll talk about social media in the next few posts. No matter how you get your name out there, you have to do it. Network! Network! Network!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marketing a New Business

I'm a firm believer that without marketing, you do not stand a chance at staying in business. Let's face it, who wants to barely get by? No one! You have to have a marketing plan and a budget to not only implement it, but to maintain it. Here is some more great info from the SBA website.

Developing a Marketing Plan

Marketing takes time, money, and lots of preparation. One of the best ways to prepare yourself is to develop a solid marketing plan. A strong marketing plan will ensure you’re not only sticking to your schedule, but that you’re spending your marketing funds wisely and appropriately.

What can a Marketing Plan do for Your Small Business?

A marketing plan includes everything from understanding your target market and your competitive position in that market, to how you intend to reach that market (your tactics) and differentiate yourself from your competition in order to make a sale.

Your small business marketing budget should be a component of your marketing plan. Essentially, it will outline the costs of how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within a certain timeframe.

If you don't have the funds to hire a marketing firm or even staff a position in-house, there are resources available to guide you through the process of writing a marketing plan and developing a market budget.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Business Laws and Regulations

As a business owner you will be expected to know the laws and regulations surrounding your business, both on local, state and national levels. Be sure you do your homework to know what you need to know in the following areas:

Advertising Law

Employment & Labor Law

Finance Law

Intellectual Property

Online Business Law

Privacy Law

Environmental Regulations

Uniform Commercial Code

Contact a Government Agency

Workplace Safety & Health

Foreign Workers, Immigration, and Employee Eligibility

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Money! Money! Money!

Where will you get the cash to start your business? You not only need the cash to get started, but you will also need money to keep the doors open until the big bucks start rolling in. Okay, I'm making light, but the fact of the matter is, you need to be able to run your business and the expenses will either be fixed or variable. This is not including the one-time costs you will have for equipment, signage, incorporation, etc.

While identifying these costs, decide whether they are essential or optional. A realistic startup budget should only include necessities to start the business. Fixed expenses include rent, utilities, administrative costs and insurance costs. Variable expenses include inventory, shipping and packaging costs, sales commissions, and other costs associated with the direct sale of a product or service. The most effective way to calculate your startup costs is to use a worksheet that lists the various categories of costs (both one-time and ongoing). I know, back to the paperwork!

Monday, October 17, 2011

What Kind of Business?

Being a business owner myself (ZipperBack Gloves & Intentional Winning in Life), I have researched this subject to death. I am currently enrolled in business classes at my community college and yes, I've learned some of my lessons the hard way. I am using the SBA website for much of this topic not because I don't want to write original pieces, but because I feel it is the single best resource for people looking to start a small business. When I use a segment of their website, I am sure to tell you. One of my lessons as a business woman is if it already exists perfectly, don't reinvent (or in this case, rewrite) it and give credit where credit is due! Visit the SBA website for more invaluable, free information.

You have several options to explore, including where you’ll do business, how you will structure your business, and how you will conduct business. Additionally, you should explore opportunities that exist for people with specific characteristics.

Nonprofit Organizations
A nonprofit organization uses its profit to improve its services, rather than pay dividends to investors. If your organization is registered as a nonprofit, you are eligible for certain programs including grants, government surplus...
•Self Employed & Independent Contractors
Do you want to be self-employed or an independent contractor? This page will discuss the many opportunities that are available to you and guide you to success in the small business world. Self-Employed Individuals As an...
•Starting a Green Business
The explosion of organic and eco-friendly products on retail store shelves is more than just a passing fad. It's big business. This reality presents opportunities for environmentally minded entrepreneurs ready to start their own...
•Startups and High Growth Businesses
In the world of business, the word "startup" goes beyond a company just getting off the ground. The term startup is also associated with a business that is typically technology oriented and has high growth potential....
•Women Owned Businesses
Have you ever wanted to start your own business? If you are a woman entrepreneur, there are many opportunities for you to start, grow and expand your business. Start by asking yourself the following question: Is Entrepreneurship for...
•Starting an Online Business
Establishing a business presence on the Internet can be a lucrative way to sell, market, and advertise your business’s goods and services. The following topics provide details on how to start and manage an online business. 1...
•Young Entrepreneurs
Young Entrepreneurs are a valuable source of American innovation and long-term growth, and SBA is committed to supporting you! We’re dedicated to educating young people about entrepreneurship; connecting young entrepreneurs to...
•Home Based Business
What do Apple Computer, Hershey's, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and the Ford Motor Company have in common? These well-known corporations all started out as home based businesses. In fact, more than half of all U.S. businesses are based...
•People with Disabilities
Starting a business can be a great opportunity for many people with disabilities. In addition to meeting career aspirations and goals, owning your own business can provide benefits such as work flexibility and financial stability....
•Minority Owned Businesses
Are you ready to start your business, but don't know where to start or what opportunities are out there for minority groups? The following resources provide information on federal government programs and services that help
•Veteran & Service-Disabled Veteran Owned
If you are a veteran or a service-disabled veteran, you have several options to choose from when starting your business. As a small business owner, you are continuing to serve America.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Do I Really Need a Business Plan? YES!

Most people assume that if they don't need a loan to open their business that they don’t need to write a business plan, but every business should have one. It will help you figure out many key business elements, but most importantly, it will force you to look at your idea realistically and objectively.

When you’re done, you will have a better idea of the effort it will take and whether it's a venture you want to pursue at this time. Don't be scared. The process of writing out a business plan could spark your creativity and lead you to new ideas about this business and potentially even new ones. You'll also find that having your business goals written down enables you to refer to them at any time. This will ensure you don't lose sight of your original focus once you do start your business.

A word of caution, listen to your gut. As you write a business plan, it's tempting to paint the best-case scenario. I can get my supplies for this much, I can sell my product for this much more and I can sell a million units in the first 12 months.
You will know when you are not being honest because you will feel it in your belly. Listen and be honest, it's you you're talking to.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Write a Business Plan

Don't be scared! I know writing a business plan can be a daunting task, I've done it. What is most important is that you see it as a tool for you. It truly is a road map to success for your business. You will need a business plan if you intend to seek financing for your business. Every bank and investor will require that you submit a business plan (and not just a page or two with you idea on it) when you apply for a loan. From the Small Business Association (SBA) website, here are the essential elements of a good business plan:

A business plan should be a work in progress. That's because your business will evolve over time, and be influenced by outside factors such as the economy and local conditions. Even successful business owners should maintain a current business plan to ensure they remain knowledgeable on the elements that can affect continued success.

•Business Plan Executive Summary
The executive summary is Part 1 of the business plan and is the most important section of your plan. It provides a concise overview of the entire plan, along with a history of your company.

Market Analysis
The market analysis section is Part 2 of the business plan. This section should illustrate your knowledge about the particular industry your business is in. It should also present general highlights and conclusions of any market.
Company Description
The company description is Part 3 of the business plan. Without going into detail, this section should include a high level look at how all of the different elements of your business fit together.
Organization & Management
Organization and Management is Part 4 of the business plan. This section should include: your company's organizational structure, details about the ownership of your company, profiles of your management team, etc.
Marketing & Sales Management
Marketing and Sales Strategies is Part 5 of your business plan. Marketing is the process of creating customers, and customers are the lifeblood of your business.
Service or Product Line
Service or Product Line is Part 6 of your business plan. What are you selling? In this section, describe your service or product, emphasizing the benefits to potential and current customers.
Funding Request
The Funding Request is Part 7 of your business plan. In this section, you will request the amount of funding you will need to start or expand your business. If necessary, you can include different funding scenarios.
Financials is Part 8 of your business plan. The financials should be developed after you've analyzed the market and set clear objectives. That's when you can allocate resources efficiently.
The Appendix is Part 9 of your business plan. This section should be provided to readers on an as-needed basis. In other words, it should not be included with the main body of your business plan. Your plan is your communication tool.

For the complete list and descriptions, visit the SBA website here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Find a Mentor

A mentor is someone who has been been down the same path you're taking. A mentor is experienced, successful and willing to provide advice and guidance–for no real personal gain. A mentor could be an invaluable resource to you.

There are a number of ways to find a mentor, most people know someone that they have seen start and run a successful business. Most of the time, people are honored to be asked to be a mentor and even if they can't make a long term commitment, they will be willing to spend some time answering questions and taking a phone call here and there. If you don't personally know someone who could mentor you, there are a number of places to look.

  • Government-Sponsored Mentorship Organizations - You might be surprised, but the government offers a great deal of free resources and services to support small business owners, both online and locally.The following are some organizations you can reach out to:
  • •SCORE: Provides free and confidential counseling, mentoring and advice to small business owners nationwide via its network of more than 12,400 retired business executives, leaders and volunteers. SCORE is sponsored by SBA and has volunteers share their expertise through in-person and online counseling.

    •Small Business Development Centers: Provides management assistance to current and prospective small business owners.

    •Women’s Business Centers: Provides business training, counseling and other resources to help women start and grow successful businesses.

    •Minority Business Development Centers: Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency was created specifically to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in America, with more than 40 centers nationwide.

  • Trade Associations - Many trade associations operate mentor/protégé programs that provide guidance to help you build your business. These mentoring programs are often conducted through a combination of formal one-on-one mentoring sessions and group networking and discussion opportunities with fellow protégés. Business owners might be connected with several different mentors over a period of several months to gain a more holistic experience.

    Most industries are represented by trade associations, as are genders, ethnic groups and business types. If you need help finding a trade association, consult any Internet search engine.

  • Local Colleges/Community and State - I personally feel that utilizing local schools is a no-brainer, do it! If you can't enroll in a business class or two, contact the business department and find out which professors would be willing to mentor a local entrepreneur. If you can make time to take a class, it's the perfect way to not only learn something new, but to build a rapport with the professors and other students some of which will likely be business owners.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Getting Started - 20 Questions

Now that we know you want to start your own business, ask yourself these important 20 questions. Your answers will help you determine if you are ready to become a small business owner or where you need to spend more time in planning.

1.Am I prepared to spend the time, money and resources needed to get my business started? It is recommended that you speak to many other small business owners and ask them about their time/money/resources investment...

2.What kind of business do I want?

3.What products/services will my business provide?

4.Why am I starting a business?

5.What is my target market?

6.Who is my competition?

7.What is unique about my business idea and the products/services I will provide?

8.How soon will it take before my products/services are available?

9.How much money do I need to get my business set up?

10.How long can I have to finance the company until I start making a profit?

11.Will I need to get a loan?

12.How will I price my product compared to my competition?

13.How will I market my business?

14.How will I set up the legal structure of my business?

15.How will I manage my business?

16.Where will I house my business?

17.How many employees will I need to start up?

18.What types of suppliers do I need to contact?

19.What kind of insurance do I need to invest in?

20.What do I need to do to ensure I am paying my taxes correctly?

These are questions that if you don't answer now, you will find you need the answers as the issues arise - oh, and in small business language, "issues" means problems! I don't mean to make this sound like a bad idea, I just know that more often than not, people are excited about owning a business and haven't really taken the time to know what it truly entails. Do your homework, lay a strong foundation and if you decide to open up shop, you will do so with ease.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Want to Start a Business

Well, this is a wide open subject. The statement "I want to start a business" leads to the obvious question, what kind of business? Believe it or not, I've had conversations with people who have no idea what kind of business they want to be in, they just know that they want to be their own boss and control their own destiny. Though I admire the entrepreneurial spirit that drive this dream, I know what the real story of business ownership is.

You certainly need to know what kind of business you want to own/operate, there is a foundation to lay and things you can do that will be a strong base for any business. Let's jump in and look at Business Basics 101.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What Is Intentional Winning In Life?

Because I know we have new friends joining us here in the Dream Machine, I periodically repost the explanation of Intentional Winning in Life. Read on and join us on Facebook, too! I have big plans for IWIL and would love nothing more than for you to have been with me since the beginning!

Intentional Winning In Life - IWIL is the process of bringing your dreams to life right now by thinking about them differently.

So many of us had dreams when we were younger that for this reason or that, we let go of pursuing. Even as adults, things come up that seem exciting or worthwhile, but we believe we aren't qualified, don't have time to learn, don't have the money, or simply don't feel we can reach the goal. Whatever you think, you're right! So if you don't think you can do it, maybe you could think about it in a way that does seem doable to you. Just maybe, there is another way to bring that dream into reality.

Here's an example (reference the photo above): Let's say your dream is to go from San Francisco, CA to New York, NY. Most would agree that the fastest, most direct route would be to travel eastbound on highway 80 in one strait shot - the pink road. You'll see a little piece of green on the pink route which is a planned detour where there's a break in highway 80. As we do this, plug in life goals and normal activities that come along the way such as going away to college, getting married, having kids, changing jobs, etc. If you think about each of the events in your life that stop your progress to your dream destination, it's easy to see how we get stalled and eventually "settle down" in Anytown USA along the way. If you look closely at a United States map, you will see that there are hundreds of other roads to get you to New York from San Francisco - the orange roads. Will it take longer? Yes. Will it cost more? Possibly. Will the journey be full of surprises? Absolutely! When you realize that all those other roads can get you where you want to go, you can see that not only can you make your dream come true, but you may also find other things that make you happy and bring you joy along the way.

I'm going to define IWIL a whole lot more as we continue through this year. I'm also going to show you many things you can do to restart the engine on your dream and start feeling it's joy this very minute! Let's get this show on the road and start discovering what the orange roads have to offer.