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The Immediate Goals of Starting a New Business

Are you tired of your boss? Or are you getting ready for greener pastures? Setting up your own business can be very exciting. However, before you even take the first step, save yourself time and money by being aware of what’s involved in running a business. Investing time and money into proper planning is paramount when it comes to turning your dreams into reality. The idea of operating a small business is not just about working for yourself or from home, it’s also about having necessary management skills, technical skills, industry expertise, finance and, of course, a long-term vision to grow and succeed.

Whether you will choose to be an entrepreneur, buy a franchise, or start an existing business, the business planning resources are the same. The only things that will be different are the business strategies, business opportunities, upfront cost and step by step instructions to start various businesses.

The following are some of the immediate goals of starting a business:

Have Self Confidence

The foundation of success is self-confidence. Ask yourself, do I have the confidence to stand alone and be my own boss? If yes, then you are on the right track. People with self-confidence achieve success much faster than those without. Venturing into a new business means you are willing to risk. Confidence also helps you to understand your colleagues, employees and even customers. Without confidence, you cannot challenge solid issues that affect the business or even the tide the business comes with.

Choose the Right Business

If you want to start a business, you should have the right business idea in mind. What business do you wish to venture into? Do you have an interest in that business? Choosing the right business that you feel you can easily handle and manage is one of the ways to tackle this section. Will the business reap enough? Does it have competitors? If so, is the market competition tight? A market survey can help you in determining the right business.

Identify Your Market Niche

This is a factor to consider when starting a new business or changing your old location to somewhere better. You might have the right product, but you are selling it at the wrong location. For a new business to survive and beat the competition of the similar products it has to have a better location. This means available amenities, parking space, potential customers of the product and few competitors.

What are Your Goals?

What is driving you to do that type of business that you have chosen? Goals will help you achieve several milestones that you have put in place. With proper objectives, you will be able to invest the available starting capital wisely and plan your work schedule. Of cause you are not just going to germinate in one day, you need to set attainable goals and learn to be patient.

Have a Business Plan

Your business goals can only be achieved if you have a proper business plan. In case you don’t know how to prepare a plan, get advice or help from service consultants or a friend who is successful in business. A proper plan will help prepare for that little capital you have and adopt survival techniques to obtain loans on higher interests.

Always Promote Your Business

Sell your ideas and let people know what services or products you are providing. Confidence and vitality to what you are planning to invest on are what will bring customers to your door. Most entrepreneurs forget that the reason they are in business is to attract customers. If you use your finances wisely to market yourself, you will boost your business in a faster way. Some of the ways to advertise include; newspapers, websites, flyers, brochures and even enlightening people personally.

A serious entrepreneur will always be concerned of the following:

  • Product – what am I going to sell or service?
  • Finance – Where the capital coming from, where the money will be spent and cost estimates.
  • Receipts – any money you have spent so far and the current financial records (accountability)
  • Organization – what form is your business going to take and how will it be managed.
  • Adverts and marketing – new ideas on how to market yourself and generate revenue apart from what your competitors are doing.
  • Government permits, new business tax information’s and required business license.
  • Strategy – what do you plan to do to succeed within the shortest time possible?

When all the immediate goals have been achieved, get into the detail and the challenges that the business comes with. How you handle issues and tackle problems that arise in your business can make or break your business. Learn to persevere and be patient. Grab opportunities and market your product or services always. With creativity and great intelligence in your business, you can reap great benefits that you never expected.

Small Business Owners: Improving Profits in Daily Operations

When you own a small business, there are dozens of people and projects vying for your time and attention. It can get hard to figure out where to focus your resources and easy to become overwhelmed.

Furthermore, in my years of consulting what I have found to be the difference in success or failure of a business was not the amount of money, a business owner had on hand, nor the education level of the management team. It was his or her daily habits and beliefs, that determined success or the lack there of.

What is profit? It is simply, how much money the business makes after transaction and paying taxes is over.

Traditional thinking about profit says, Revenue – Expenses = Profit. However, this method fails to measure lost opportunity.

What is lost opportunity?

First, business has people performing activities each day. The lost opportunity is in not measuring, managing and leveraging those activities on a real-time basis.

Management fact, your company profitability depends on how well your people consistently perform specific activities minimizing errors.

The following are 12 tips to help your business increase operational efficiency, reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and stay ahead of the competition.

1 – Living a balanced life

A. Work and business are not the be-all and end-all of your life. Learn to have fun! Spend more time with your family. Take a vacation once in a while. Engage in activities that will rejuvenate your spirit and your life. Take care of yourself, and your health, exercise and eat fruits and vegetables. Your productivity and focus will improve if you are stress-free and healthy. Bad health and divorces has destroyed more businesses than I have room to write about in this article.

2 – The Destination: Goals, Themes and Vision

A. Go find your business plans and update it. Since your business’ inception, a number of factors must have changed – from the overall business climate to your product line. Take all those changes into consideration, consider the business and economic climate, factor in your and your family’s goals, and get a clear assessment of the direction of your business. Get in touch with your business coaches, if any. What is your overall vision of your business? What are your goals 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now? What is your business theme and brand to your customers? Is it relevant to your business and memorable and fun for your customers?

B. Setting Team Expectations

1. Small business owners need to insure all managers and employees are on the ‘same page’ daily. Setting proper team expectations and accountability, is the most impactful thing you can do to insure the success of your business. Have weekly meetings with management teams to discuss accomplishments and challenges.

3 – The System: Starting your day off with motivations

A. Take a notebook (or a laptop or tablet) and jot down your thoughts and plans for the day. Whether you prefer doing this in the morning or in the evening, it is always best to take a step back, review what happened during the day (or the day before), and think of ways how you can do better. Take time to review your profit scorecard, in order to find quick hits and losses. Send out an email where you see outstanding work, done the previous day.

B. Figure out the 20% of activities that are producing 80% of desired results. Eliminate activities that are keeping you busy but not producing results, daily.

4 – Understand Customer Needs

A. Write down ideas, whether for your marketing strategies, product lines, or new projects that you want to take on. List your ideas on how to expand and energize your business. Only through innovation and continuing adoption of relevant new products and ideas can your business improve its competitiveness and profitability.

B. Take time to tap into your customer database and get in touch with your existing customers. Whether by phone, email or letter, contact your customers to greet them and remind them that your business is ready to serve them again. Get their opinions about what they think about your business (and make getting customer feedback a part of your business processes). You need to constantly look for ways to encourage repeat business. Although marketing and advertising are important to get more customers, quality, service and customer satisfaction are what keep a business successful in the long run.

5 – Understand the Profit Formula in your day to day operations

A. What are the critical success factors in your business, daily and monthly targets to meet or exceed annual profitability?

B. Develop an executive dashboard for monitoring operational progress on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

C. Compare the employee time documentation with information gathered from your operational monitoring process. If productivity is not meeting or exceeding goals, look at employee time logs where time is not being used as effectively as possible and make adjustments to that employee’s job role. If operations are running on track with goals, consider elevating goals by small increments until you reach a point of break-even.

6 – Keep employees involved, motivated and trained

A. Good employees are hard to find; yet they are an important element in your business. It all comes down to choosing the right person and personality type for each role so that no one is doing tasks that they resent. Forget coaching weaknesses (too time consuming), focus on leveraging strengths and passions. Check to see if they are getting what they need and make them part of the team. Help them understand the importance of their role in your business and how their job impacts the business as a whole. Review your relationship with your employees and find ways to keep your relationship happy and avoid costly attrition.

B. Hiring the right leader, someone who owns the operation from start to finish.

1. The small business owner needs to hire a operations leader to own the operation from start to finish. This person should be obsessed with the details, the metrics, and the numbers. They should be elated to hit their goals, inspired by business coaching to do better when they miss it. They love the success of your company; it’s not a job but an adventure to them.

7 – Keep an eye on new opportunities, markets and products

A. Start the year by exploring new markets for your business. Whether you are looking at targeting a new demographic or getting your business up on the web, take time to plan how you can expand your existing market. Look for ways to improve your marketing, whether by winning easy publicity, arranging an open house or preparing direct mails.

8 – Find Ways to Operate efficiently with lower cost

A. Motivate employees with production goals and ask employees and managers what they need to improve workplace operations. If suggestions seem practical and are within budget, consider implementing them. Example, only scheduling 30 minute meetings unless subject requires extra attention.

B. Documenting your Processes

1. Document the workflow of every operation within the business, with policy and procedures and special customer instructions. Yes, this is a time-consuming, tedious, boring exercise, initially. However, if you are able to provide clear and concise documentation to your team, it leaves very little room for things to be miscommunicated. Documentation makes it easier to onboard new employees, saves business from being reliant on any one person and allows the business to continuously improve and innovate operations, without having to waste months and money, researching and gathering workflow procedures from inexperience contract workers. Documenting helps to avoid ‘lost opportunity’ of being slow to change operations in the marketplace.

9 – Use Process Improvement initiatives to your competitive advantage

Six Sigma methodologies is a tool that can be utilized to improve process, people and profits. By establishing performance measures for key processes, asking the following questions.

• What is the purpose of the key process?

• What is the expected deliverable?

• How will the process owner know if there process has succeeded?

Six sigma benefits for small businesses are

1. Provides a road map and tools to determine root causes and solve problems

2. Reliable facts for decision making, improved metrics and measurements

3. Improvement in order accuracies and on time delivery

4. Improvement in labor efficiencies enterprise wide

5. Increased customer confidence and profitability (customer buy more better quality)

As a business owner, it is vital that you understand how ‘technology’ helps me to make more money by eliminating errors, overhead expenses and attracting more customers.

Invest in new technology that will help streamline operations and improve productivity, after processes have been documented. This could include new computers or equipment related to your industry or designing more efficient work stations and telephone systems. Provide training for new hires to ensure they are aware of how to effectively perform the functions of their job. If seasoned employees are underperforming, send them for training refresher courses.

Documenting processes, installing six sigma and implementing technology improves the customer experience with your business, making your profit planning measurements more transparent to employees throughout the enterprise.

Implementing an employee recognition system and recommendation process, continuously improves operations aligning performance with corporate vision, mission, performance measurements and corporate profit scorecard. Quality improves your customer emotional attachment to your business. Loyal customers are repeat customers which will recruit others to your business, increasing profits.

10 – Identify and Resolve Weak Spots in the System

A. Take stock of all aspects of your business operation and list down the areas that you want to improve. If your list of delinquent receivables is longer than Santa’s list, find out how you can improve your billing and collection process. Perhaps you need to improve your record keeping to help flag you on delinquent accounts

11 – Keep an eye on your competition

A way to get the inside edge on your competitors is by asking your customers for help. This need not be especially difficult or complex. Simply ask your customers (in the form of a survey or follow-up call) if there’s anything a competitor does (or sells) that they wish you did. Now, the idea isn’t that you’ll necessarily turn on a dime and honor every request that comes in.

Own a share of stock in their publicly-traded competitors. This alone entitles you to detailed financial information about the company each and every year. But what if you and your competitors aren’t public companies? The basic idea is the same: any financial data you can get your hands on is worth having. You want to know as much as possible about what their costs are, who their suppliers are and how you stack up in comparison.

If there is a trade journal or research study about your industry, now is the time to subscribe – and digest what it contains.

In addition to using your competitor’s products, you should go through and closely study their sales funnel. Every successful business has a system for attracting, educating, selling and following up with customers. Whether it’s via direct mail, Internet marketing or the telephone, this is the infrastructure that actually turns their prospects into buyers. How do you know if your sales funnel is performing at max capacity if you don’t compare it to the competition?

12 – Go Play Golf: Network, Network, Network

Effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for your business.

Join business associations to meet other business owners, you might be surprised at who will assist you towards your success or what ideas you hear that can solve your current dilemma.

Join your areas Chamber of Commerce and participate in community service events. Get involved in your community by volunteering, donating to and/or sponsor local events. It gives you the opportunity to network with other business owners and maybe cross promote with others. These monthly meetings let you know what going on economically in your area.

So You Want to Run a Massage Business From Your Home

I received my license and certification as soon as I finished school for massage therapy. I knew right away that I was going to start building my own practice out of my house as soon as I finished school (which is why a prerequisite of the home I was purchasing had to have an extra room for my business space). I built up my clientele and was quickly recognized as one of the top massage businesses in the area. Here’s how I did it…

First thing’s first. Find out what all the regulations and restrictions are for operating a massage practice out of your home for your community. This is extremely important, as some towns may not allow you to operate this kind of business out of your home without proper permits and business licensing, if at all. Make sure you obtain all of the necessary credentials, as well as massage therapy insurance, CPR/first aid certification and also home owners or liability insurance. If you are renting your home, make sure you also have written permission from your landlord for operating a business from their property. Some municipalities require specific building features, such as handicapped accessibility and the relativity of the location of your office to the entrance(s) of your home, as well as to the bathrooms. Most of this information can be obtained from your local Town Hall.

Next, write up a business plan. Even if you’re not planning on applying for business funds, it’s crucial to put your goals and ideas into a written format, using as much detail as you are capable of. When you put things into writing, the law of attraction will go to work to make sure that your intentions come to fruition. Whether you believe in it or not, there’s something almost magical about it. And if you don’t have any clue where to begin with writing up your business plan, don’t fret. There are samples, example, outlines and tutorials all over the internet at no cost to you.

Next, come up with a name for your business. This can be a bit tricky, as there are thousands of massage business names already in use. Do your research to be sure that you’re not using the same name as, or one that is similar to, another business near yours. Also, I recommend not using your personal name. Keep in mind that although “Massage By Jody” may add to the personal appeal, it hinders the professionalism of the business.

Once you’ve done all of that, it is highly recommended that you create an LLC for your business. This will take any liability off of you personally and keep it completely restricted to your business. Probably the easiest and most convenient way of doing this would be through an online legal firm. Just follow the links on their website for creating an LLC, fill in the blanks and submit your application with your payment. They’ll take care of the rest. It really is that simple. Then file your business with the IRS to receive your Employment Identification Number. After which you’ll be able to open a business checking account to keep your finances separate from your personal bank accounts. This makes it a whole lot easier when tax season comes around. This also gives you the option of accepting check and/or credit card forms of payment from your clients (this is a convenience that they will greatly appreciate).

If your goal is to operate a successful, long-term massage practice out of your home, you MUST have a space that is specifically designated for your business and your business alone. Don’t set your table up in your living room or your bedroom and then assume that it will be good enough for your clients. I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s not. That might be okay for your close friends and family if you’re limited on space, but for anybody else you’ll need to provide a safe, comfortable and private space where they are allowed to relax and feel at ease.

Keep it clean. It’s one thing to have a home that is lived in (because it is and most everyone will understand that coming into it), but if your house is cluttered and messy and scattered with your kids’ toys or pets roaming around and causing unpleasant aromas, your client repeat rate is going to be one that is slim to none. It won’t matter how good of a massage you give if your clients have to walk over or through your messes. So get your place cleaned up and organized if it isn’t already. And don’t be afraid to ask for outside assistance, even if it’s just that of an honest opinion from a trusted friend about what could be improved upon. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and see your space through their eyes from the moment they park their car to the time that they leave. Take it a step further and spruce up the decorating. Fresh paint on the walls, a nice throw rug, a vase of fresh flowers and tasteful wall art can do wonders for any room and it can be kept inexpensive.

Keep it quiet. There’s not much that is worse when receiving a massage than distracting noises. Turn off the ringer on your phone and disconnect the doorbell while you’re working. If you have children (especially little ones) it’s best not to be working when they are in the house. My kids have grown up with me working in our home, so they know to be quiet and considerate when clients are over. But I typically work around them so their lives are not always being inconvenienced by my career and business. Same goes for pets in the house. Keep them separated from your business area and train them to be respectful when visitors are over (I have two large dogs in the house and most of my clients are none the wiser). Barking dogs, crying cats and noisy birds do not set the tone for relaxation. If you do not have control over your pet’s (or kid’s) volume, you may end up having to decide how important (or not) your home massage business is to you.

Keep your rates reasonable, especially when you’re first starting out. The really nice part about working from home is the low overhead, so you don’t have to be compensated for extra rent or utilities (and our clients know this). Check out the pricing of other massage establishments in your area and charge accordingly. Stay competitive, but don’t undersell yourself. It’s perfectly acceptable to offer specials and discounts to new clients (such as $10 off their first visit or a buy-one-get-one at a reduced rate deal), but I would stay away from participating in mass offers such as Groupon or Living Social, and also don’t spend much (if any) money on print media advertising such as local newspapers or phone book listings. This can get expensive with little to no return. Word of mouth from your clients is going to be your best form of advertising. So impress them, because it’s free and fail-safe.

If you really want your clientele to grow leaps and bounds, learn how to market your business. Building a website for your business, being active on social media and creating local listings online are sure fire ways to get things moving. Have business cards made as well as brochures with a list of your services and their prices. Make sure you answer your phone when you can. Set up your voicemail or answering machine with your business information in the outgoing message and be sure to respond to messages promptly so you don’t lose out on that business. Same goes for email. Have a separate email address for your business and keep your correspondence professional yet personal. Refrain from using all caps and abbreviations or “text talk” in your emails.

If your town allows it, it’s a good idea to have some type of business sign in your front yard so that your clients (or potential clients) know exactly where you are located. Keep it simple with just your business name, logo (if you have one) and phone number. You could also include your web address if you have one, but it isn’t necessary since chances are that anyone who is going to want to find you online will simply enter your business name in their search engine anyway. The more ways people have to get a hold of you, the better.

Practice what you preach. You ARE your business. If you’re instructing your clients to get regular massage, YOU should be getting regular massage. If you’re telling your clients to drink plenty of water throughout the day, YOU should be drinking plenty of water throughout the day. If you’re suggesting to your clients that they eat a well balanced diet and do moderate exercise, YOU should be doing the same. When you take better care of yourself, you’re better able to take care of your clients and they will keep on coming back because they’ll want to look and feel just as good as you do.

Appearance isn’t everything, but it’s definitely something. Practice good personal hygiene and grooming. Keep your hair well-kempt (including facial hair for you male therapists) and your teeth brushed. Shower regularly and keep your fingernails trimmed and clean. If you work barefoot for grounding energy, keep your feet clean and toenails trimmed and neat, too. If underarm odor is an issue, use deodorant daily. Don’t douse yourself with cologne, perfume or body spray. These fragrances may disturb your clients or cause allergic reactions that disrupt their massage. If you are in need of a more pleasing aroma, a dab or two of essential oils can be mutually beneficial to both you and your clients. Dress appropriately as well. We can be flexible here, but do yourself and your clients a favor and save the ripped, stained and/or holey clothes for other occasions.

You have the potential to be a walking/talking billboard for your business any time you leave your house, so these guidelines can carry over into your everyday life and benefit your business if you allow them to. BE the type of business you want to have and the rest will follow.