Are You Thinking About Starting a Business?

bitterHaven’t taken the plunge yet, but you’re working on it? Insert maniacSo, you want toal laugh here…Mwah-ha-ha-ha!

Okay, so maybe you’ve been laid off. Or maybe you’re just fed up and “Don’t want to work for the MAN (or WOMAN) any more.” You want to set your own hours and be your own boss! You’re sick of making money for someone else…

Great! We love entrepreneurs! But as you’re planning – PLEASE do yourself a huge favor: Budget in a large chunk of money for marketing. Wha-What you say?? I can hear your heartbeat increasing and practically see the sweat on your brow. Yes, you should NOT start a business without a business plan (or SOME plan) and that plan MUST include something for marketing your business.

We are always stunned at the number of brand new businesses who have NOTHING set aside. Did you budget for rent, or salaries? Let’s hope so. But why not marketing? What we hear a lot is that there just wasn’t enough “left over” or “We’re advertising our grand opening we’ll see how that goes”. Dumb asses. For businesses with that attitude we take bets on how quickly the doors will be closed – asta la vista, baby.

Unless you’re William Buffet’s long lost love child with an endless supply of “the green” – figure out a budget for marketing and spend it! “If you build it, they will come” only works in the movies and it is certainly not a marketing strategy.  Simply opening a business doesn’t mean enough people will know, or care about it (even if you have “a lot of friends” – yes, seriously, I have been in a meeting where that was the marketing strategy – “knowing” lots of people).  Just like your vehicle has several fluids that are required to keep it running, your business has several areas of work that must be addressed to keep it open.  You can try to run your business without marketing, or your car without oil, but neither is going to work for very long. (And that, you can take to the bank…but I wouldn’t bother, because without a marketing budget your account will most likely be empty.)

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We know that it’s challenging for an owner/operator to balance multiple responsibilities every day, but it can be done.  First, you must know and acknowledge the main functions of your business that must be addressed:

      1. Admin – paperwork, accounting, scheduling, cleaning… anything that doesn’t create a sale, but has to get done
      2. Inventory/Merchandising (if you are retail) or Teaching/Servicing (if you provide services) – the actual stuff that customers get from you
      3. Marketing/Advertising – all the things you do to get new customers and retain existing ones

Next, figure out which of those can be delegated and put the right person on that job.  For example, it’s honorable for you to clean the bathrooms and vacuum the floor and it sets a good example for staff.  However, your personal time may be better spent on higher-level tasks that could not be done by anyone else.  Your goal is to do so well that you hire a cleaning company and let all of your staff focus on their strengths.  For each area you will cover, pick one or two days per week that you dedicate to that task and when someone calls on an off day, schedule them onto the correct day.  You want to drive your own bus, and not be reacting to every shiny thing that comes by each day.  

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