Wednesday, June 27, 2012
If you're ready to strike out on your own and start your own business, be prepared. With so much going on in the world and the future more uncertain than ever, today's business climate is unlike anything you've experienced during your lifetime. You'll need to force your own success by arming yourself with a set of tools and skills that have worked well for the successful entrepreneurs who came before you.
This is especially true if you live in a smaller community in which every business is a point of local pride, but it works everywhere. As a business owner, you need to get out and make a positive impression as many people as you can.
In order to polish your image and keep your brand on the tip of your customers' tongues, it can be fruitful periodically to sponsor local events like summer festivals and school sports teams. Don't look at this merely as an advertising opportunity: local sponsorships are also a great networking venue. Also, don’t forget to join the Chamber of Commerce and other networking groups and clubs.
This rule applies both to your physical workspace, whether it's at a dedicated office downtown or in your home's bonus room, and to your workday schedule. You need to maintain an uncluttered, sharp-looking office area so that visiting clients aren't put off by your lackadaisical attitude toward cleanliness.
Just as importantly, you need an easy-to-read calendar that consolidates both your business and personal appointments in one place to minimize your chances of forgetting something big.
This may sound more like a general life lesson, but it will serve you in the business world as well. Whether they're your employees, customers, or financial backers, you must be able to put yourself in others' shoes. Think about what they expect, want and need to see from you.
If they're your customers, you'll need to ask them directly what they want from your products. Once your brand is big enough, you may need to enlist the help of a focus group or marketing professional. Your employees and financiers, on the other hand, mostly want to see you leading by example, so don't tell them one thing and then do another.
Cutting corners may appear to help your business in the short run by reducing input costs, but it virtually never works as a long-term business strategy. Resist the urge to short-change your customers and focus on building a reputation for quality, dependability and honesty. If you promise to do something for a customer, do it: They'll be happy with your work and transform into a living, breathing advertisement for your business.
If there is one thing for certain as a business owner, persistence pays. Once you've made your first sale, call your new client in a week or so to ask how it's going and if there's anything you can to for him or her. They'll be more likely to buy from you again if you show a little interest in their side of their equation as well. This is just one example of how being persistent can pay big dividends for a business.
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This article was contributed by John Russell for www.insuranceswami.com where you can compare and contrast free quotes from top insurers to meet your coverage needs.