Myth 1: If you don’t know all the details about running your business, you shouldn’t be in business.
Being an entrepreneur is all about having a great idea and making it happen. Planning is key, but you don’t need to be an expert on day one. If in doubt, look into training. Government organizations, small business groups and technology vendors offer many options. Try Industry Canada’s Strategis site for a range of free advice on setting up and running a successful business.
Myth 2: No one in a competitive industry is willing to provide tips to a start-up business.
Trade associations and industry conferences, both full of competitors, are great resources for start-up companies. Some industry groups even offer classes and workshops (after all, a rising tide lifts all ships).
Myth 3: A small business won’t benefit from technology investments
Technology enables small businesses to reach new customers and be more efficient. Today’s technology – websites and portals like eBay Stores –open up new avenues to customers. In a recent survey, 90% of small business owners said QuickBooks accounting software cuts the amount of time they spend managing their books, searching for business data, taking care of payroll and other administrative tasks. Without the admin work, they can focus on running their business.
Tip 1: Get a plan! Success requires smart, simple planning
A good business plan shows two things: a great business idea and a clear shot at profit. Your plan should identify:
- The purpose of your business
- Your primary competitors
- Your likely customers
- How you plan to staff, stock, and supply your goods and services
- Your estimated start-up costs, revenues, and expenses
- How you plan to make a profit.
Not quite sure how you’re going to make a profit? Refer to one of the many online resources that offer free small business financial planning tools, such as interactive calculators to estimate starting costs, cash flow, ROI (return on investment), break-even points and more.
Tip 2: Get expert help and training for starting your business
Getting business help and training doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, and is easy to find. Local chambers of commerce and various government organizations, such as Industry Canada’s Strategis site offer a number of resources for Canadians, most of which are free of charge and easy to access. Many colleges also provide inexpensive courses covering a range of business subjects.
Tip 3: Reduce time spent on administration and focus on your business
Many would-be entrepreneurs shine when it comes to one aspect of their business, whether it’s sales or growing their business, but get stuck when keeping up the books. That’s why many small business owners invest in small business accounting software to more easily track cash flow, sales, payments, and manage payroll and other back-office tasks. Accurate records generated by software make work easier for the business owner and for an accountant when it comes time to get professional accounting assistance. The right software will save entrepreneurs money and free up more time to spend growing their business.
Tip 4: Make a mark with your business identity
Picking a name is a rite of passage when starting a business, and while it can be fun, you should put some serious thought into it. The name you choose will affect how others see your business. A memorable name will stick in customers’ heads, while a too-clever spelling might be hard to find in the yellow pages. Does your name suggest the products and services you offer and stand out from the competition? Is your descriptive name (Jane’s Aquariums, Downtown Mufflers) going to limit you in the future if you choose to offer new products and services? When you find a name you feel suits your company best, search names and trademarks to ensure you can use the name legally; consider speaking with an intellectual property lawyer about your rights and responsibilities when naming your company. The bottom line is to get honest opinions from people in the industry and those you trust.