How to Start a Business - Free Small Business Guides Free

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How to Start a Business - Free Small Business Guides Free

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How to Start a Business
A Step By Step Guide to Starting a Small Business Successfully By BizMove Management Training Institute
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Copyright © by BizMove. All rights reserved.
Table of Contents 1. What you need to know before you start 2. Determining the feasibility of your business idea 3. Starting your new venture 4. Buying a going business 5. Choosing a franchise 6. Ten essential aspects of managing a business 7. Special requirements and needs 8. Time to make the decision 9. Going into business FAQ 10. Checklist for starting a business
1. What You Need to Know Before you start
So you are thinking of going into business. This can have advantages and disadvantages. Running a business of your own will bring a sense of independence, and a sense of accomplishment. You will be the boss, and you can't be fired, though there may be days when you would welcome it. Because you can pay yourself a salary and the profit or return on your investment will also be yours, you anticipate a good income once your business is established. You will experience a pride in ownership such as you experience if you own your own home or your own automobile. You can derive great satisfaction from offering a product or service which is valued in the market place.

By being boss you can adopt new ideas quickly. Since your enterprise undoubtedly will be a small business - at least in the beginning - you will have no large, unwieldy organization to retrain, no board to get permission from, each time you wish to try something new. If the idea doesn't work you can drop it just as quickly. This opportunity for flexibility is one of small businesses greatest assets.
These are some of the advantages and pleasures of operating your own business. Now take a look at the other side. If you have employees, you must meet a payroll week after week. You must always have money to pay creditors - the man who sells you goods or materials, the dealer who furnishes fixtures and equipment, the landlord if you rent, the mortgage holder if you are buying your place of business, the publisher running your advertisements, the tax collector, and many others. All of these must be paid before you can consider the "profits" yours.
You must accept sole responsibility for all final decisions. A wrong judgment on your part can result in losses not only to yourself but, possibly, to your employees, creditors, and customers as well. Moreover, you must withstand, alone, adverse situations caused by circumstances frequently beyond your control, To overcome these business setbacks and keep your business profitable means long hours of hard work. It could very well not be the work you want to do. As someone else's employee you developed a skill. Now, starting a business of your own, you may expect to use that skill 40 or more hours a week. Instead, you must perform the management tasks as well. You must keep the books, analyze accounting records, sit back and do long range planning, jump and handle the expediting and, when everyone has gone home and you finally have caught up with the paper work, you may even have to sweep the floor.
As your business grows and you become more successful, you may not do some of these activities. As an owner-manager, however, you must - at least at first - give up the technical aspects you know and enjoy doing, and focus on the management aspects. To get your business off to a successful start, you must be a manager not an operator.
You will never be entirely your own boss.
No matter what you choose - manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing or service business you must always satisfy your customers. If you don't give the customers what they want, they'll go somewhere else and you'll be out of business. So every customer, or even potential customer, is your boss. Your creditors will also dictate to you, and your competitors' actions may force you to make decisions you don't want to make. National and local government agencies will insist that you meet certain standards and follow certain regulations. The one thing you can decide yourself is how you will satisfy all of these bosses.
Are You the Type?
The first question you should answer after recognizing that there are two sides to the prospect of establishing your own business is "Am I the type?"
You will be your most important employee. It is more important that you rate yourself objectively than how you rate any prospective employee. Appraise your strengths and

your weaknesses. As a prospective operator of your own business, acknowledge that you are weak in certain areas and cover the deficiency by either retraining yourself or hiring someone with the necessary skill.
Numerous studies have been made of small business managers over the years. Many look at traits and characteristics that appear common to most people who start their own businesses. Other studies focus on characteristics that seem to appear frequently in successful owner-managers.
First, consider those characteristics that seem to distinguish the person who opens a business from the person who works for someone else. These studies investigated successful and unsuccessful owners, some of whom went bankrupt several times. Some were successful only after the second or third try. The characteristics they share might almost be said to predispose a person into trying to start a business. Of course, not all of these characteristics appear in every small business owner-manager, but the following seem to be most predominate.
Strong Opinions and Attitudes
People who start their own business may be members of different political parties, feel differently about religion, economics and other issues. They are like everyone else. The difference is they usually feel and express themselves more strongly. This is consistent. If you are going to risk your money and time in your own business you must have a strong feeling that you will be successful. As you will see later, these strong feelings may also cause problems.
If you want to start your own business you probably have mixed feelings about authority. You know the manager must have authority to get things done, but you're not comfortable working under someone. This may also have been your attitude in a scholastic, family or other authority structure.
If you want to open you own business you are likely to have a strong "Need for Achievement". This "Need for Achievement" is a psychologist's term for motivation and is usually measured by tests. It can be an important factor in success.
The person who wouldn't think of starting a business, might call you a plunger, a gambler, a high risk taker. Yet you probably don't feel that about yourself. Studies have shown that very often the small business owner doesn't differ from anyone else in risk avoidance or aversion when measured on tests. At first thought this seems unreasonable since logic tells us that it is risky to open your own business. An Ohio State professor once explained this apparent contradiction very simply. "When a person starts and manages his own business he doesn't see risks; he sees only factors that he can control to his advantage."
If you possess these traits to some degree or other it doesn't mean you will be successful, only that you will very likely start your own business. Some of these characteristics in excess may actually hamper you if you are not careful.

The characteristics that appear most frequently among "successful" small business managers include drive, thinking ability, competence in human relations, communications skills and technical knowledge.
Drive, as defined in the study, is composed of responsibility, vigor, initiative, persistence and health. Thinking ability consists of original, creative, critical, and analytical thinking. Competency in human relations means emotional stability, sociability, good personal relations, consideration, cheerfulness, cooperation. and tactfulness. Important communications skills include verbal comprehension, and oral and written communications. Technical knowledge is the manager's comprehension of the physical process of producing goods or services, and the ability to use the information purposefully.
Motivation or drive has long been considered as having an important effect on performance. Psychologists now claim you can increase the motivation and the personal capacities that will improve your effectiveness and increase your chances for success. Much of the development of such achievement motivation depends on setting the right kind of goals for yourself.
What Business Should You Choose?
Many of you have already decided what business to choose. Others may still be seeking answers from counselors. Whether you have decided or not, you will find it helpful to continue your self-evaluation.
Begin by summarizing your background and experience. Include jobs. schooling, and hobbies. Then write down what you think you would like to do. Does what you would like to do match up with what you have done? It is helpful if your experience and training can be put to direct use in your new enterprise.
What are your prospective needs? What are your prospective customers' needs? You may make money doing something you don't like if people will pay for it. On the other hand, you will never make money if people don t need your product or service no matter how happy you are doing it. Experts have said more companies fail because they are in the wrong business than because they are "doing business wrong".
Read, listen to the experts, talk to business people, try to determine where growth will occur. Most new businesses can only get customers by taking them away from someone else, or by attracting new people entering the area. In other words, don't start a contracting business in a community where the population is decreasing even if you are a good contractor.
At this point, try to match your background and interests with what you see the needs to be. If they match, wonderful. Now all you have to do is discover how to offer the customers more for their money than do your competitors.
If the needs and your background don't match, don't despair. Get training by working in a company that provides a product or service that is needed. Find a job in a well

managed, successful company of the kind you are contemplating. Then absorb as much management know-how as you can while learning the technical skills.
Education can help too. While there may be no educational requirements for starting your own business, the more schooling you have along the right lines the better equipped you should be.
(Some fields require licenses, certificates, even degrees in specific educational areas.) Certainly it is helpful if you have had courses in record keeping, sales and communication. These needn't be college or even high school courses. They can come from adult education programs and the like.
Is there a need for what you want to sell or do? Are you prepared to fill that need? Are you interested in the area? Can you learn what you need to? Will there be a continuing and growing need for your product or service?
Your Chances of Success
What are your chances of success if you go into business? New businesses are always being started. Almost as many are failing or being discontinued. A year of poor business conditions is likely to be followed by a greater than average number of failures or closings. A year of good business conditions tends to be followed by large increases in the total number of businesses. In general, the number of firms increases with increases in human population, total personal income and per capita income and since these factors have increased regularly, the total number of small businesses usually rises every year.
This growth is not free of growing pains, however. At the same time new businesses are being born other businesses are being discontinued. Some of these discontinuances are legally business failures; other owners give up to avoid or minimize losses and are not failures in the strict sense. Still others discontinue for reasons such as the death or retirement of the proprietor, the dissolution of a partnership, or the sale of the business to a new owner.
Younger businesses tend to discontinue first. Many do not make it through the first year. The discontinuation rate of those that survive this first year "burn-in" declines steadily until at the end of several years the rate has dropped dramatically. So, your chances of success improve the longer you stay in business.
Poor management is the largest single cause of business failure. Year after year, the lack of managerial experience and aptitude has accounted for around 90 percent of all failures analyzed by Dun & Bradstreet, Inc.
Many factors may adversely affect individual firms over which owners have little control. In such cases, the astute manager can often soften the blow or, sometimes, change adversity into an asset. Examples of factors over which the owner has little control are overall poor business conditions, relocations of highways, sudden style changes, the replacement of existing products by new ones, and local labor situations. While these factors may cause some businesses to close, they may represent opportunities for

others. A local market place may decline in importance at the same time new shopping centers are developing. Sudden changes in style or the replacement of existing products may bring trouble to certain businesses but open doors for new ones. Adverse employment situations in some areas may be offset by favorable situations in others. Ingenuity in taking advantage of changing consumer desires and technological improvements will always be rewarded.
In the final analysis, it is up to you. Will your management be competent? Will you be able to judge, and then satisfy, your customers' wants? Can you do this accurately and quickly enough to more than compensate for risks due to factors beyond your control? Such accomplishment requires expert management.
Will the rate of return on the money you invest in your business be greater than the rate you could receive if you invested your money elsewhere? While your decision to go into business for yourself may not depend entirely upon this, it is a factor which should interest you. Too frequently people invest money in their own businesses under the misapprehension that the financial return will be far greater than the return from other investments. Investigation of the average annual returns in the line of business in which you are interested may be worthy of your time.
Your decision to go into business may not depend entirely on financial rewards. The size of the potential return on your investment may be overshadowed by your desire for independence, the chance to do the type of work you would like to do, the opportunity to live in the part of the country or city you prefer, or the feeling that you can be more useful to the community than you would be if you continued working for someone else. Do not overlook such intangible considerations. But remember, you cannot keep your own business open unless you receive an adequate financial return on your investment.
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2. Determining the Feasibility of Your Business Idea
This chapter is a checklist for the owner/manager of a business enterprise or for one contemplating going into business for the first time. The questions concentrate on areas you must consider seriously to determine if your idea represents a real business opportunity and if you can really know what you are getting into. You can use it to evaluate a completely new venture proposal or an apparent opportunity in your existing business.
Perhaps the most crucial problem you will face after expressing an interest in starting a new business or capitalizing on an apparent opportunity in your existing business will be determining the feasibility of your idea. Getting into the right business at the right time is simple advice, but advice that is extremely difficult to implement. The high failure rate of new businesses and products indicates that very few ideas result in successful business ventures, even when introduced by well established firm. Too many entrepreneurs strike

out on a business venture so convinced of its merits that they fail to thoroughly evaluate its potential.
This checklist should be useful to you in evaluating a business idea. It is designed to help you screen out ideas that are likely to fail before you invest extensive time, money, and effort in them.
Preliminary Analysis
A feasibility study involves gathering, analyzing and evaluating information with the purpose of answering the question: "Should I go into this business?" Answering this question involves first a preliminary assessment of both personal and project considerations.
General Personal Considerations
The first seven questions ask you to do a little introspection. Are your personality characteristics such that you can both adapt to and enjoy business ownership/management?
1. Do you like to make your own decisions?
2. Do you enjoy competition?
3. Do you have will power and self-discipline?
4. Do you plan ahead?
5. Do you get things done on time?
6. Can you take advise from others?
7. Are you adaptable to changing conditions?
The next series of questions stress the physical, emotional, and financial strains of a new business.
8. Do you understand that owning your own business may entail working 12 to 16 hours a day, probably six days a week, and maybe on holidays?
9. Do you have the physical stamina to handle a business?
10. Do you have the emotional strength to withstand the strain?
11. Are you prepared to lower your standard of living for several months or years?
12. Are you prepared to loose your savings?
Specific Personal Considerations
1. Do you know which skills and areas of expertise are critical to the success of your project?

2. Do you have these skills? 3. Does your idea effectively utilize your own skills and abilities? 4. Can you find personnel that have the expertise you lack? 5. Do you know why you are considering this project? 6. Will your project effectively meet your career aspirations The next three questions emphasize the point that very few people can claim expertise in all phases of a feasibility study. You should realize your personal limitations and seek appropriate assistance where necessary (i.e. marketing, legal, financial). 7. Do you have the ability to perform the feasibility study? 8. Do you have the time to perform the feasibility study? 9. Do you have the money to pay for the feasibility study done? General Project Description 1. Briefly describe the business you want to enter. ________ 2. List the products and/or services you want to sell ________ 3. Describe who will use your products/services ________ 4. Why would someone buy your product/service? ________ 5. What kind of location do you need in terms of type of neighborhood, traffic count, nearby firms, etc.? ________ 6. List your product/services suppliers. ________ 7. List your major competitors - those who sell or provide like products/services. ________ 8. List the labor and staff you require to provide your products/services.

Requirements For Success
To determine whether your idea meets the basic requirements for a successful new project, you must be able to answer at least one of the following questions with a "yes."
1. Does the product/service/business serve a presently unserved need?
2. Does the product/service/business serve an existing market in which demand exceeds supply?
3. Can the product/service/business successfully compete with an existing competition because of an "advantageous situation," such as better price, location, etc.?
Major Flaws
A "Yes" response to questions such as the following would indicate that the idea has little chance for success.
1. Are there any causes (i.e., restrictions, monopolies, shortages) that make any of the required factors of production unavailable (i.e., unreasonable cost, scare skills, energy, material, equipment, processes, technology, or personnel)?
2. Are capital requirements for entry or continuing operations excessive?
3. Is adequate financing hard to obtain?
4. Are there potential detrimental environmental effects?
5. Are there factors that prevent effective marketing?
Desired Income
The following questions should remind you that you must seek both a return on your investment in your own business as well as a reasonable salary for the time you spend in operating that business.
1. How much income do you desire?
2. Are you prepared to earn less income in the first 1-3 years?
3. What minimum income do you require?
4. What financial investment will be required for your business?
5. How much could you earn by investing this money?
6. How much could you earn by working for someone else?

7. Add the amounts in 5 and 6. If this income is greater that what you can realistically expect from your business, are you prepared to forego this additional income just to be your own boss with the only prospects of more substantial profit/income in future years?
8. What is the average return on investment for a business of your type?
Preliminary Income Statement
Besides return on investment, you need to know the income and expenses for your business. You show profit or loss and derive operating ratios on the income statement. Dollars are the (actual, estimated, or industry average) amounts for income and expense categories. Operating ratios are expressed as percentages of net sales and show relationships of expenses and net sales.
For instance 50,000 in net sales equals 100% of sales income (revenue). Net profit after taxes equals 3.14% of net sales. The hypothetical "X" industry average after tax net profit might be 5% in a given year for firms with 50,000 in net sales. First you estimate or forecast income (revenue) and expense dollars and ratios for your business. Then compare your estimated or actual performance with your industry average. Analyze differences to see why you are doing better or worse than the competition or why your venture does or doesn't look like it will float.
These basic financial statistics are generally available for most businesses from trade and industry associations, government agencies, universities and private companies and banks
Forecast your own income statement. Do not be influenced by industry figures. Your estimates must be as accurate as possible or else you will have a false impression.
1. What is the normal markup in this line of business. i.e., the dollar difference between the cost of goods sold and sales, expressed as a percentage of sales?
2. What is the average cost of goods sold percentage of sales?
3. What is the average inventory turnover, i.e., the number of times the average inventory is sold each year?
4. What is the average gross profit as a percentage of sales?
5. What are the average expenses as a percentage of sales?
6. What is the average net profit as a percent of sales?
7. Take the preceding figures and work backwards using a standard income statement format and determine the level of sales necessary to support your desired income level.
8. From an objective, practical standpoint, is this level of sales, expenses and profit attainable?