Business Licences and Permits
Are your business licences up to snuff? Often states or municipalities will require businesses to obtain a simple license to operate, which can be obtained for a fee. Find out more about licences and permits here.
Now is the time to strike up a relationship with an insurance agent you trust. "Be wary of agents who try to load you up with policies," writes Daniel Richards. The right agent will value a long-term relationship and will advise you to take out just the policies you need, no matter what your type of business.
Get Your Financials in Order
A common mistake among entrepreneurs is a type of magical thinking when it comes to financial planning. In order not to have a heart attack come tax time, spend some time up front locating a good CPA. To find one, ask for recommendations and shop for a CPA who sees lots of businesses like yours. More tips on choosing a CPA here.
Where to Operate
You know what they say -- location, location, location. The location of your business can make or break you -- and some of the reasons why may surprise you. Consider all of these factors:
- State - The Small Business Survival Index ranks the various U.S. states on how friendly they are to small business -- check it out when deciding which state to set up shop in. .
- City - Rent and other costs, availability of labor, taxes, regulations and government economic incentives can also vary greatly from city to city, even within the same state. It pays to do your homework!
- Part of town - With retail and restaurant businesses, street traffic can make or your business, but even if you are not in those businesses, consider how rent and "curb appeal" will affect your business.
- Type of location Do you need office space, retail or warehouse? Retail is generally the most expensive of the three.
More about location here.
Building Your Reputation
Building your reputation when you are first starting out can seem incredibly daunting. It's the classic chicken and egg problem -- you can't build a reputation before you have customers and customers are what are essential for building a reputation. At least as far as consultants are concerned, Scott Allen argues that the key to building a solid reputation rests on the following:
- Be prolific.
- Be ubiquitous.
- Be generous.
- Be dependable.
- Be credible.
More on building your reputation here.
Make Your Space Your "Business Partner"
"Many entrepreneurs start out as an army of one," explains organizational guru Liz Dahmen. "When this is the case I find it really helpful to look at designing your work environment so that it functions like an ideal business partner would. Now, an "ideal" business partner has a different profile for everyone. Like any good duo, an ideal business partner generally compliments your skill set."
Don't Forget About Marketing
Build it...and they will come? Your product might be brilliant, but be sure and lay the groundwork before launch day comes.
Jim Schakenbach explains: "One of the most common mistakes high tech entrepreneurs make is not being prepared in advance for going to market. Often company founders and innovators are engineers or technical persons with perhaps little or no business experience. They're excited about the potential of their innovation and have focused all their energy on developing, testing, and fine-tuning their product. Sometimes, even with due diligence performed for funding, little or no thought has gone into the strategy and process of actually marketing it to potential customers. Suddenly, it's time to show the world what they have to offer."
See more resources on sales and marketing here.