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9 Tips for Increasing the Odds of Your Success in a Small Business

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College Administrator William A. Ward once said, “There are four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently.” Use Ward’s advice while pursuing the following tips.

Tip #1. Stay current.

Join industry associations related to your product or offering. Subscribe to the magazines that cover your business. (They are tax deductible!) Read and constantly be researching topics about your business. It’s easy on the Internet!

Tip #2. Make sure you have a financial plan.

Also work with a budget and a measurement process to keep track of how you’re doing monthly. If you don’t know where you stand financially and have no short-term and long-term financial goals, then you’re just letting fate dictate your success. (We know those odds aren’t too good.) Control your own destiny!

Tip #3. Utilize cash forecasting.

It sounds boring and difficult, but it’s really not. Keep it simple. Look at your next three months’ projected income or revenue, then just lay next to it all the expenditures you need to keep the business running. The difference is your cash flow. You must do this to avoid surprises. Most businesses hit the brick wall because they fail to understand their cash flow.

Tip #4. Create an advisory board or find a mentor.

Sounds crazy for a small operation? It’s not! The board can be made up of family members who you trust or friends. Ask them to be your board of directors, and review your business plans and results with them. Having someone to bounce ideas off to get an objective opinion is critical.

Tip #5. Maintain a balance between work, play, and family.

This is essential for long-term success. We all put in crazy hours on a short-term basis to get a hot project done and out the door. However, if you keep up this pace on a long-term regular basis, it’s a dangerous sign that you’re losing perspective. You need to be able to step away regularly and to get your batteries re-charged. Also, making time for family is important. If they suffer, it’s almost a sure bet your business will suffer too.

Tip #6. Network, network, network.

It’s easy to get isolated in a home business or within your own small business operation. Force yourself to get out and meet with others who can provide a business support structure for you. One of the benefits of a corporation is the workings of teams and the on-going support structure this provides. You need to create that for yourself. Don’t think you can do it all alone. By talking to others in business, you’ll find great ideas and this can help motivate you.

Tip #7. Cultivate discipline and motivation.

One of the hardest aspects of a small business or home-based business is creating the discipline or motivation to work each day. It’s so easy to get distracted and put off the essential tasks that need to get done. Keeping your work place and hours separate from the rest of your responsibilities helps. So does developing a to-do list every day. Set goals for the week. Review how you’re doing against them. We all struggle with #7, but it’s one of the key elements of success.

Tip #8. Don’t rest on your laurels.

Be prepared to always change. Force change. Look for ways to do things more efficiently or to improve your offering or product. Constantly evaluate your competition and benchmark yourself against them.

Tip #9. Do something you love.

If you’re in a business that you hate, then it’s a good bet that you won’t be successful. Find where your true talents and skills are, and get in a business that exploits them. The saying “If you do what you love, the money will follow” is so true. Remember that success is more attitude than aptitude, and never forget that failure is only the opportunity to begin again in a more intelligent way.

Meir Liraz is the President of BizMove.com

(www.bizmove.com), a free informational website for entrepreneurs and small business owners & operators. The site provides guides and tips for planning, starting, growing, and managing a small business. Bizmove.com also sells accounting software, business forms, media lists, a collection of bookmarks of useful Internet sites, and other business support products.

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