Starting a Small Business? ?Tips from a Veteran

Congratulations, you are starting a small business! You are taking charge and going for your piece of the American dream! Your excitement is high, and the adrenaline is pumping! Everyone dreams of freedom and owning a successful business, but not everyone can successfully create that reality. Now that you've made the commitment to give it a shot, let me give you the single most important tip that I can give you to insure your success. Businesses that succeed whether large or small all begin with a business idea. Your challenge is to determine if your idea will be a winner or a loser.

You may be surprised to know that in most cases it is not the quality of the idea, but rather the quality of the planning that determines the success of the business. That's right, small businesses that start with a good idea often fail because they lack a plan to successfully execute the idea through both the good and the bad times. The plan to succeed is probably more important than the idea. Fail to plan and you plan to fail.

Writing a good business plan is not something most entrepreneurs want to spend their time doing? they have dragons to slay, and mountains to climb. A business plan seems like busy work that is necessary only for the banker or the angel investors, right? Wrong. The business plan, when done correctly is the guide that an entrepreneur can refer to when under the unending pressure that is part of any startup venture. Sometimes the pressure is from too much business too quickly, and sometimes from not enough business? the 'ol too much month left at the end of the money dilemma. Referring back to the business plan can clarify the vision and help make those difficult decisions easier to make.

Reviewing your plans and your solutions for problems that were thought through with the luxury of a clear head and no pressure can give any entrepreneur a fresh perspective. And perspective is needed when you are in what seems to be a never ending crisis. I don't know of a single entrepreneur that hasn't felt that feeling. This alone is reason enough for a good business plan.

Most entrepreneurs write (or hire someone to write) a business plan that outlines a solid plan for success, as they should; however, they often fail to fully contemplate the risk factors, the potential problems and challenges that are surely going to raise their ugly little heads. A good business plan evaluates every aspect of the business good and bad. Granted risk factors and contingency planning are not as much fun to concentrate on, but knowing what to watch out for certainly helps a company avoid the pitfalls that gobble up most startup companies. Better to spend time thinking about how to avoid the pitfalls than to experience them first hand!

Your business plan should have contingency plans for every conceivable disaster. Disaster recovery planning or business continuity is what separates the winners from the losers. It is easy to sail on calm seas, but when it is stormy, the boats that float are the ones that planned for the storm. Planning a disaster recovery strategy is vital for every business regardless of its age or size.

Don't be afraid that discussing the risks so openly will scare away the potential investors or the much needed bankers. It is quite the opposite. Most business plans are glorified sales pitches. Don't kid yourself, seasoned investors and bankers read between the lines hunting for risks. An entrepreneur that has taken the time to adequately evaluate the risks and has formulated plans to lesson the impact of those risks on the startup company will be well ahead of the game. Confidence is gained when it is evident that an entrepreneur has planned for every possibility. Contingency planning is something that gives investors' confidence in your plan. Knowing you've carefully evaluated the risks and are ready to plow ahead is the sign of a strong leader.

Starting a small business is the most rewarding thing you will every do ? if it is successful. Take advice from this seasoned sailor? spend the necessary time developing your comprehensive business plan before you float your boat! It will help you weather the storms and sail into the exciting seas of success!

Have fun and good luck!

Renee Rich is a success entrepreneur and freelance writer offering guidance and suggestions for small to mid-sized businesses concerned with business continuity, time management, strategic internet marketing, business & money. Her many articles on these topics can be found at http://www.business-continuity-4u.com

She gives information and tips to help grow your business, save money, manage your time, and develop a successful business continuity plans. For more information go to: http://www.business-co ntinuity-4u.com/Strategic_Internet_Marketing.htm

In The News:

Small business is big business in SC  Charleston Regional Business
Goldman Sachs Started 7300 Small Businesses. What's Next?  Harvard Business School Working Knowledge
Small Business Hiring Slows  The Wall Street Journal

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