According to an Occupational Outlook Quarterly article titled, “Considering Self-employment: What to Think about Before Starting a Business,” many people today find self-employment attractive because it can be seen as an opportunity to be your own boss, earn more money, and gain status. Outside factors that could affect an employee’s desire to shift to a small business or entrepreneurial business can also be related to the significant impact of downsizing, rightsizing, or layoffs in many companies—especially in times of an economic downturn.
Even though many small businesses have done the right homework, with the creation of a business and marketing plan, and aggressive online and traditional advertising, there are still some very basic steps that have a tendency to be left behind when starting your own business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over half of all entrepreneurs fail within the first five years for starting their business (Silversti, 1999). Given this startling statistic, it is crucial to equip yourself as a small business owner with knowledge on how to survive and flourish in a competitive business landscape.
Here are five crucial stepping stones for success as a entrepreneur and small business owner:
The ability to communicate in a professional manner is a necessity in today’s business environment. Having your thoughts logically presented can help you gain inner-confidence in selling yourself.
First step to effective communication is creating a unique and convincing sales pitch. Once your sales pitch or presentation is prepared – practice does make perfect. Practice your introduction, handshake, and hand gestures before you talk to anyone about your business. Dress rehearse in front of the mirror or with of a friend or colleague. Make sure that you are presenting yourself the way you want others to perceive you. Remember that other’s perception of you and your business is the way that you will be remembered.
The ability to talk to others about yourself and your business is crucial in networking. A great and economical way to build your network and networking skills is to join your local Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber can aid in creating the marketing tools that you need to be successful. By joining a local Chamber you can attend Chamber-sponsored networking events. The Chamber can aid in the promotion of your business by posting your business in their directory, on their website and by recommending your business to others seeking your type of service. Chamber membership is a sure-fire tip to aid the growth of your business while simultaneously growing your network.
Possessing a positive attitude means everything. Your attitude can affect others around you, the way you run your business, and the way others see you. A good positive attitude will make you feel good about what you are doing and make customers want to come back to do business with you. Remember, nobody wants to do business with someone who really does not care about him or her as a customer. Presenting a consistent, positive attitude—whether you are in line at a grocery store or working with clients—is crucial to your small business’s reputation.
Piggy-backing off the importance of attitude is relationship building. Relationship building is a very important factor that many small businesses have the tendency to forget about. Understanding a person, their business, and their passion can aid you in building a relationship with them. Making an effort of understanding the person or business will aid in creating a mutually cohesive business environment. Sometimes by knowing something personal about someone can help you remember them, refer them to someone else or to aid in your relationship building. You have to keep in mind that growing your business is both give and take. By listening to others about their business and giving them a referral may go a long way in building any type of relationship. Sometimes you have to realize that if you help others you will see the reward come back to you.
Americans today are looking for options that permit for both a personal and family life and many seek ways to have it all (Lockwood, 2003). It is not always easy to start or build a business. Hours and years of development for you to be successful can often be involved in small business and entrepreneurship. The best advice is to realize that there needs to be a balance in your life between family, work, and friends. Not understanding the balance can only lead you down a path of burnout and frustration. The balancing act maybe one of the hardest items to accomplish; however, you need to keep this in front of you at all times. Nothing comes easy; your hard work will pay off in the future, however, remembering these tips can aid in your success!
Lockwood, N. R. (2003) Work/Life Balance: Challenges and Solutions. HR Magazine, 48(6), 2-11.
Silvestri, G. (1999) Considering self-employment: What to think about before starting a business. Occupational Outlook Quarterly, 43(2), 15-22.