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Why Own Your Own Business?

Many people work in jobs that pay you just enough so you come back on Monday morning. That means you’re working in someone else’s business, helping them grow revenues and adding to their net worth rather than your own.

By contrast, owning your own company is the most direct way to control your economic future. Whether you are a business entrepreneur or a real estate investor, working for yourself and focusing on financial goals that are personal to you and your family gives you several advantages. This article is a short course on doing just that.

Is Owning a Business in Your Future?

Look at your own financial situation. Are you satisfied with it? Does it provide you the freedom to control your own time and financial choices? What are your talents and strengths? If you have the desire to be more in control of your financial future, then you may very well possess the necessary attributes to have your own business.

Many small business owners start part-time. That is, they keep their ‘day jobs’ and begin developing their own business on the side, on their own time. That might be having an eBay┬« business – as do some 1.5 million others. Or it might be investing in real estate. It might be providing a local service to your neighbors and community. Either way, you have lots of resources – from both the federal and state departments of commerce, to the national and local chamber of commerce, and the Small Business Administration.

What’s the SCORE?

Your community probably has access to a local chapter of SCORE – the Service Corps of Retired Executives. This is a volunteer-based service initiative of the Small Business Administration. Retired business executives who still want to contribute voluntarily join together to serve as mentors and consultants to new business owners starting out in their local community. They hold monthly seminars for new business, review and make suggestions for business plans, and often help open doors by using contacts and resources you may not know about.

Where Do You Start?

The start-up phase of any business can at first seem daunting, yet exciting. Choose a name for your business and check the website of your secretary of state to see if that name is available. Get a business license in your city or county in that name, and follow any local requirements such as filing a Fictitious Business Name statement in the local legal newspaper.

You’re going to need a business plan – one that helps you get focused and get financing. Though many business minimize the importance of a dynamic business plan, those willing to devote the time and attention it takes often see longer term success. Many of my clients over the years have come to see the wisdom of updating their business plans and financing arrangements so as to make their business as attractive as possible to potential business lenders.

What’s the Best Form of Business Entity?

The vast majority of business owners operate as a ‘Sole Proprietor’ – meaning that they do not choose to form either a corporation or LLC but rather operate solely in their own name. That is certainly the least expensive way to start a business. It requires little in the way of capital. It has only the most minimal of legal requirements. Yet though it is inexpensive, it is also potentially the most financially unstable due to the fact that if you and your business are legally one-and-the-same, then any liability arising from the business can result in complete financial devastation to you – since all of your personal assets are 100% at risk and can potentially be taken away from you.

It makes much more sense to use a company to start with. Having a company of your own provides a separate identity – that is, you are not the company and the company is not you. Plus, a company gives you a better way to control your taxes. There are approximately 4 times the number of tax deductions available to a company than are available to a sole proprietor. In addition, you can do so much more for yourself financially in retirement planning through a company than you can on your own as a sole proprietor.

There is clearly a national trend today towards the formation and registration of more Limited Liability Companies (‘LLC’) than corporations. This is primarily due to the fact that corporations require far more formalities and have far less flexibility than do LLCs. Using a corporation is still a viable option for many. It is perpetual in nature and can be an effective and tax-efficient way to do business for many. Corporations are used by many business owners and if you plan to take your company public for shares to be sold on a stock exchange, you’ll want to use a corporation rather than an LLC.

However, there is no denying that the number of LLCs formed every year now exceeds the number of corporations being formed on a national basis. With an LLC, the Operating Agreement drafted by a competent attorney will be a key element to the management of your business. It will set forth who is responsible for management, the sharing of profits and losses, the contributions of additional capital to the business, the nature of the business investments and holdings, and much more.

You cannot overlook the wisdom of having a solid business plan, however. It should set forth a clear mission statement and set of goals, as well as a description of how you and your business will achieve those goals. It should set forth a financial picture, including what you need in the way of financing so that your loan application to a small business lending source will have credibility and can be funded. It would make sense to attend live-training events that show you step-by-step exactly how to prepare a dynamic business plan and how to build a small business loan application that a lender will find credible enough to fund.

Bottom Line: You and not your current employer is responsible for your financial future. Your employer sees you as a means to an end – their own, and not you. The lifestyle you enjoy, the money to pay your bills and make purchases, and the way you spend your work time and time away from work can be within your control but you must act. The tax laws favor small business owners, and you should be one of them.

Include Joint Ventures in Your Small Business Target Marketing For Dramatic Profit Increases

What is consistently rated as one of the most effective small business target marketing strategies? Without a doubt it is the Joint Venture (JV), also known as a strategic alliance. Target, or niche marketing means that you are marketing directly to the prospect most likely to buy your product or service. Your JV strategy can be the ultimate form of target marketing since you are using the targeted customer and prospect list of another business owner.

The JV and strategic alliance are so popular and profitable because they leverage the assets (customer list, goodwill, relationship, etc.) your partner has developed with their client and prospect base. Nearly all potential buyers (business and consumer) prefer to do business with a company, firm or practice for which they have a degree of trust.

Marketing legend Dan Kennedy likes to say that we are all walking around holding an umbilical cord saying “plug me in and tell me what to do.” Whether you are looking for a place to buy a hot dog, to buy a yacht, or looking for a brain surgeon or a new church in your community, you are looking for someone to recommend where you should go to obtain the product, service or advice.

Don’t confuse the JV with referrals. Referrals are great for new business and are an effective small business target marketing strategy but generally are given only one or two at a time. Referrals can also dry up if you are not diligent about keeping in touch with your clients and letting them know how much you appreciate and value their business.

JV’s can be as simple as selecting a retail partner and issuing a joint coupon to one another’s client base. They can also be very complex, multi-million dollar deals between large companies. American Express is an example of a very large and sophisticated company that partners with several other large businesses to leverage the client lists of both firms. If you have one of their cards, you have received numerous calls and mailers from them endorsing their JV partners. The partners get the implied endorsement of a blue chip company like Amex and Amex gets increased card purchases as you use the card to buy the recommended partners products.

Now that you’ve decided to add the JV to your small business marketing tools, where do you start? The first thing you must do is to create a demographic profile of your target client. What else do they buy and where do they buy it? For example, Paul Flood Marketing, which is my company, implements a unique and non-traditional marketing system in small businesses and I guarantee profit increases of 25% or more in as little as 90 days. As the old saying goes, “Fish where the fish are,” so I have partnered with other small business consultants, primarily CPA’s and small business attorneys, who have endorsed my services to their clients.

If I had tried to contact many of these business owners cold, I would have probably been turned away but the endorsement of my trusted partners established trust. This is the trust you want to leverage with your potential JV partners.

Armed with the list of potential partners, you formulate your contact strategy. You could try writing letters but I am a strong believer in just picking up the phone and saying to the owner, “Hi, I am a local business owner and I have an idea that could help us both dramatically increase our sales and profits and I’d like to talk with you about it. Do you have a minute so I can explain the concept?

Great, if makes sense for us to talk in more depth, we can arrange a time to get together.” The thing I like about the phone is that I can immediately get a feel about the business and the person in just a couple of minutes.

When you first meet, you will most likely need to explain how the Joint Venture small business target marketing strategy works and how it will benefit both of your businesses. Most small business owners are only familiar with traditional marketing or networking so it may take a bit of explaining to get the concept across.

The most common objection you will encounter is the trust factor so bring testimonials and samples of your product, service, practice or whatever you are selling to the meeting. You need to show why the other business owner person know they can trust you and your business? People are naturally wary (as they should be) about referring others to their clients because their reputation is on the line, as is yours.

Always conduct due diligence. Talk to a couple of their clients and understand their product and commitment to quality service. If you feel uncomfortable at the beginning, bow out of the relationship gracefully. There’s no sense in adding aggravation to your life!

The other objection is the confidentiality of av client list, but that is easily overcome by offering to mail your endorsement of your partner to your list and they mail their endorsement of you to their list. What if you don’t have a list? Pay for a mailing to your partner’s list and pay them a commission or finder’s fee for leads you convert to customers. There are some professions that are prevented from paying or receiving finder’s fees so if this applies to you, you need to investigate alternatives.

What is the simplest JV strategy? Each partner mails an endorsement of the other’s business to their list with a description of the benefits of doing business with them and why they are recommending one another. It’s that simple. The key to success of the JV as your small business target marketing strategy is that you and your partners must be proactive in promoting one another and in managing the relationship. As the person who originated the partnership, take control and action to make it happen. If you have a partner who isn’t committed, drop them and find another.

When you are actively using the JV as a small business marketing tool, you will be amazed at the results you can achieve in a relatively short period of time. Of course, as with any other business strategy, there are experts like myself who can be delivering profits while you are attempting to find your first partner. The key is to make the decision to make it happen, to leverage your contacts and your list and get started!

24-7 – That’s Why You Need a Strategic Plan For Business Growth!

24-7.

Are you caught up working 24-7 IN your growing business?

Can’t find the time to get it all done? Not enough hours in the day? No one can do the work right, except you?

Well, then maybe the time is right for you. You’re finally ready to implement a strategic plan for Business Growth.

Let’s review 24 reasons why your business needs a strategic plan for Business Growth.

24 Reasons Why You Need A Strategic Business Growth System

You have no future-oriented vision for your business. In other words, you don’t know where you would like your business to be in 1 year, in 5 years, or even in 10 years from now.

On the other hand, you have some vague notions of where you would like your business to be in the future. But you don’t have any concrete plans established to make your dreams a reality.

Another reason you need to develop a strategic plan for business growth is that you are not sure what it is specifically that YOU want to achieve for yourself personally from your business. A strategic plan for business growth specifically incorporates plans to help you achieve those personal goals you want from working in your business for the next 5 to 10 years.

A strategic plan for business growth includes the balancing of your personal and business values. One should not outweigh the other. A strategic plan asks you to consider your personal values as you develop a plan to grow your business.

One primary reason for developing a strategic plan for business growth is your Cash Flow. Is it unpredictable? Why is that so? A strategic plan for business growth must address your business’ Cash Flow circumstances.

In addition, a strategic plan to grow your business will help you develop your business’ unique methods of generating Cash Flow.

Does your business have a specific “system” developed to generate Cash Flow? How about to manufacture more of it? Your strategic plan should encompass the design of such a Cash Flow “system”.

Any business can suffer from the unfortunate circumstance of having trouble paying bills on time. How can you solve this problem? The answer typically lies in having an organized approach to your business growth that keeps focus on your financial outlook. Your Cash Flow, your sales, your accounts receivables, and your own collections may be underlying reasons for your own financial woes. Your strategic plan should answer these questions and should arrive at workable solutions that you can implement to correct the problem of money, of Cash Flow.

If your business has failed to produce sustainable profits, likely you do not have a strategic plan in place. Your plan must set out actions to produce profits. But must also be focused on sustaining profits once they start to come.

One major reason for designing a strategic plan for your business is because your customer or client base is unstable, not growing, or even dwindling. You need a plan to identify your current customers and clients. And a plan to target your most valuable ones.

What if your customers or clients aren’t sure what it is you do? What steps are you taking to ensure that your customers and clients do know exactly what it is that you do? These steps must be “programmed” into your customer and client contact “system”.

If your customers or clients do not refer business to you, and neither do friends or colleagues, something is wrong. What? You’ve got to strategically analyze your business and come up with reasons for your lack of referrals. Then your plan must include remedies to the referral problem.

Many times, your competition gets the upper hand over your products or services just because you failed to consider them. Your plan to grow takes into account your own competition, their products, and services compared to your own. What steps can be taken to improve your products and services, or to design new ones that are even more competitive in your market? Your plan will have the answers.

What do you love about your business? Your products? Your services? Are you really passionate about your business? Any plan to grow a business must answer this important and fundamental question.

What about your marketing? Have you addressed this issue in your plan to grow? Are you spending too much money on marketing with no specific method, plan, or target? When you implement your strategic plan, you will come up with a specific plan for your marketing and, most important, a specific target to market.

Additionally, it may surprise you but you are in desperate need of a strategic plan to grow your business if your only form of acquiring new customers or clients is word-of-mouth. What is your method of acquiring new customers? What are your specific plans?

Who are your “prized possessions?” I call these your “Ideal Customers and Clients.” Your plan to grow your business must include ways to identify your Ideal Customers and Clients, and ways to acquire even more of them.

Can you state exactly what benefits your products or services provide to your customers or clients? You must be able to as part of your plan to grow your business. Once you arrive at your answers, write them down. These benefits must be constantly, and consistently promoted to your customers and clients as part of your overall plan to grow your business.

Why do you need a strategic plan to grow your business? Because you don’t have enough time in the day to do all you have to do. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Writing it down, and then following your plan is a great strategy for time management and goal achievement

“But I can’t develop a plan.” I’m just too busy putting out of the fires.” That’s a primary reason why a plan that strategically addresses your issues, obstacles, and problems, your IPOs, is urgent. You’ve got to identify what are your IPOs. You do this as part of your strategic plan. Then your plan has got to come up with solutions that you can implement to overcome your IPOs.

A central reason for having a strategic plan in place is so you have a method and steps to follow to achieve your goals. And they’ll be written down. Once they’re written down, then their achievement are merely a matter of executing the steps you have written down. If you want to achieve your goals, then have a strategic plan to do it.

But what if you say you don’t have a plan. That you just do what you have to do each day you come into the office. Having a “system” and a formal process to follow day in and day out leads to consistent action and eventual triumph over the hurdles and obstacles you face in your business. A formal plan will keep you on track taking the actions that you need to achieve your goals.

A necessary part of your business, if you want it to grow, and make money in the process, is to design and implement a “system of operations”. Your strategic plan for your business must establish the key “business operating systems” that will run your business and its component parts, whether you are on the job or not.

If you’ve been keeping track, we’re now at the final reason why you need a strategic plan in place to grow your business. If you’re not sure of definite ways you should grow your business and increase your profits based on your personal goals and business objectives, then you really don’t have a plan. You haven’t thought out how your business is supposed to be the vehicle that gets you to the ultimate destination…, your goal achievement.

But once you take the time to design a strategic plan, you’ll then have a method… a “system” that you can follow daily. You’ll have a plan that sets out definite ways and methods that you can implement… ways that will increase your profits… and that will drive you daily towards the ultimate achievement of your goals and aspirations. Not only for your business…, but for YOU.

There’s 24 reasons why you need to design and implement a strategic business growth system for your business.

“But, how can my business benefit if I design a strategic plan for business growth and increased profits?”

To answer that question, let’s review just 7 benefits of designing and implementing a strategic plan for business growth.

7 BENEFITS OF A STRATEGIC PLAN FOR BUSINESS GROWTH & INCREASED PROFITS

Once you develop a strategic plan to grow your business and increase your profits, you will have:

=> A business that is strategically growing and evolving into the dream enterprise YOU always wanted.

=> More fun and satisfaction by doing the kind of “work” you most enjoy, with the people you most like to work with, and for the kind and quality of customers and clients you dreamed of one day serving.

=> A financially solid business with increasing income for you and your staff.

=> Profit building, with lower overhead costs and reduced expenses.

=> Easier, quicker resolution of customer and client complaints, and staff issues.

=> More time off to spend with family and friends.

=> Less stress.

So, what are you waiting for?

There’s only 24 hours in the day . And only 7 days a week.

24/7.

But that’s enough time to get busy working ON your business.

So, get going. Today. This hour!

You want to make more profits? Achieve all of your goals? Have more time off? Feel fulfilled? Be happier and more passionate about your business?

Then here’s the secret.

You must design, and implement a strategic plan for your business growth.

This article is an excerpt from the MasterMind Business Growth System, as authored by Miguel Mendez, Jr., Esq.

Copyright 2008. Miguel Mendez, Jr. All rights reserved.