My 7 Most Important Business Lessons


Millions of people start new small businesses in the United States every day. Many fail at running a small business every day. What causes one business owner to succeed where another fails? There are seven key areas to focus your efforts for a successful small business. It starts with knowing oneself and ends with not being afraid to ask for help.

1. Know Yourself

Having your own business is more than just creating a job for yourself. To be a successful small business owner, there are many personal sacrifices you will be required to make. You have to be willing to make them. By knowing yourself and what is truly important to you, you will be able to make these choices far easier than if you have never considered your priorities.

Your basic roles in a small business are in marketing, planning, finance, and administration. To get the best results, it is rare for one person to play all these roles equally well. You must know which parts you can handle yourself and which parts you're going to need help with. That's why it's so important to be objective and take a close look at your overall strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself the following questions:

- Do you plan before you take action? - Are you willing to hustle for the sale? - How financially savvy are you? - Do you have a well thought out plan? And, do you work the plan? - Do you know how to make sales happen? Can you ask for the sale?

In those areas where you assess yourself as weak, you can ask for help.

2. Ask For Help When You Need It

When you're young and unseasoned, you tend to think you can do anything. This is a recipe for disaster for the small businessperson. If you insist on doing everything yourself, you will work 16 hours a day and not do some things well.

Remember, getting results is what counts! With outside advice and assistance, your quest for a successful business can be accomplished faster and with far fewer bruises than doing it yourself. When I started my first online business, I even created by own website. In retrospect, this was a big mistake. It took me far longer to create my site than having a more experienced person do it. Start equating every second of your time with money. Your time isn't free. While you are trying to do everything, what's falling through the crack?

Don't be too proud to ask for help, we all need help sometimes. With the Internet, the small business owner has a wealth of experience available to them. Why not take advantage of the many resources, paid and otherwise, available to you? Join a small business forum, like the Small Business Forum (www.smallbusinessbrief.com/forum/) where you can exchange knowledge with other small business owners. Access the millions of online articles on every business subject you can think of at ezinearticles.com.

Qualified sources are also available from your local government offices and other professional services. It is important to recognize -- what you don't know can end up costing you money and greatly reduce the chance of achieving your business goals.

With all that knowledge, you need a plan of action.

3. Action Planning

I like to call it "action planning" rather than "planning". Action is the only element which turns a plan into reality. Many people are great at planning but they suffer when it comes to follow-through. Successful small business owners are action oriented. But that action starts with a plan.

According to leading authorities, the main reason 80% of all new businesses fail within the first five years is not money, but the lack of planning. If you want to succeed, the trick is to know how to make right the decisions by implementing an effective business plan. Remember, if you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail.

A business plan should include how you will finance the business, who will perform certain critical business functions, the license and permits required, accounting method, as well as what you know about your prospects and customers.

4. "Mind Meld" Your Customer

Just knowing your customer isn't enough for long-term success in your small business. In Star Trek, the Vulcan race had the ability to perform a mind meld. At the time of the mind meld, they could see, think, and feel everything their partner was seeing, thinking, and feeling. This is how close you must come to understanding your customer. The closer you get, the more successful you will become.

Are you listing to your customers? Make it your business to give your customers what they want and they will buy from you. They are the reason you are in business, and your future depends on them. The products and services you provide should be a direct reflection of their needs. Think in your customers' terms; buy, show, sell, and say things that interest them, not you. Don't forget, it is the customer that determines whether or not you succeed. They vote every day by where they spend their money.

Reflect on the following questions:

- Do you know the reasons why customers shop at your store? (service, convenience, price) If not, ask!

- Do you seek suggestions from your customers on ways you can boost business?

- Do you use a store or online questionnaire to aid you in determining your customers' needs?

- Do you stay in contact with customers on a regular basis?

- Do you ever try to re-establish a relationship with lost or inactive customers?

A key to success lies in knowing your customer. The other half of the equation is to know your industry.

5. Know Your Industry

You can gain the greatest competitive edge if you intimately understand your industry. You must know the ins and outs of your particular products and industry. You should know every competitor as well as their strengths and weaknesses. It's in your competitor's weaknesses where you will most frequently find your own success.

Your competitors size, services, location, marketing approach, type of customers, suppliers, and pricing strategies should be as well known to you as your own. Your local business climate, median household income, level of education, ethnic population, and the other demographics of your potential customers should be second nature to you. To prosper, you must know the game and the playing field intimately.

Many people focus upon these areas but still fail. Why? They focus more upon the product than the finances of the business.

6. Maintain Good Financial Records

If you don't know where your money is going, it will soon be gone. The "game of business" is played with products and customers, but the score is kept in dollars and cents. Good financial records are like the instrument panel on your car, they keep you posted of your speed, fuel level and engine condition. Without them you're flying blind trying to pace the other cars. If you know how much you're spending, buying and selling, you can take control and help your business make more money.

- Do you have basic accounting knowledge? Or, do you have someone you trust to keep the books?

- Do you maintain every receipt you obtain through the running of your business?

- Have you computerized your business to streamline everyday tasks and business procedures?

- Do you use sales forecasts, expense sheets, and financial statements on regular basis to assess the progress or your business?

- Do you evaluate your operating expenses and make necessary changes on a regular basis?

Many people erroneously believe good record keeping is for the government and those financial obligations. They are wrong! Good financial record keeping can help your business succeed. Use the financial information available to make improvements to the operation of the business and improve profits. Remember through it all, the old adage "cash is king" is true.

7. Manage Your Cash

It doesn't matter how unique your store is, your business can't survive without good cash flow. Cash is the lifeblood of your business. The money coming into or out of your store is the vital component that keeps your business financially healthy. For profitability, more cash must come into the business every day than goes out of the business. You can have the greatest sales in the world, but if it's all in receivables, how will you pay your bills?

A monthly Cash Flow Statement is a critical business tool. It shows the amount of money at the start of a period and how much cash was received during the period. It identifies the various sources of incoming cash and the reasons for outgoing cash. Budget wisely. Know the sources of your monthly income and expenses. Then, you won't have to worry about running out of money. And that is a good thing.

Like any game, the game of business has rules and tools. Those who excel at the game, play it better than their competitors. Keep focused upon these seven critical areas and you will succeed. Remember, Albert Einstein once defined "insanity" as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Isn't it time you changed the things you are doing so you can succeed? I think the time is now!

Michele Schermerhorn calls herself a "Corporate Freedom Fighter" dedicated to freeing cubicle prisoners to experience their own successful online business. She has over 30 years experience in the business world and over 12 years running her own successful online businesses. She is President of Online Business Institute Inc. (www.obinstitute.com">http://www.obinstitute.com), authors a sassy marketing blog (www.imarketblog.com">http://www.imarketblog.com), and regularly conducts free online seminars. Online Business Institute Inc. exists to "Create Successful Online Business Owners One Person At A Time".


MORE RESOURCES:

Giuseppe Conte, the PM-in-waiting, quits and coalition of M5S and the Lega fails as president refuses to accept their choice of Eurosceptic finance minister

A standoff over Italy’s future in the eurozone has forced the resignation of the populist prime minister-in waiting, Giuseppe Conte, after the country’s president refused to accept Conte’s controversial choice for finance minister.

Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president who was installed by a previous pro-EU government, refused to accept the nomination for finance minister of Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old former industry minister who has called Italy’s entry into the euro a “historic mistake”.

Continue reading...

  • US president backs off cancellation as officials visit Panmunjom
  • South Korean leader: Pyongyang committed to denuclearisation

Donald Trump confirmed on Sunday that US negotiators were in North Korea for talks ahead of his planned summit with Kim Jong-un – a meeting the US president said was cancelled only three days before.

Related: The North Korea farce makes it clear again: Trump is dangerous | Simon Tisdall

Continue reading...

  • President’s daughter tweets picture of cuddle with young son
  • Trump policy leads to reports of children taken from parents

An online backlash greeted Ivanka Trump on Sunday, after the president’s daughter tweeted a picture of herself cuddling her two-year-old son at the same time widespread news reports detailed children being taken from their mothers by US border agents.

Related: US to stiffen border rules and separate children from parents

Continue reading...

UN refugee agency calls for urgent measures amid spike in arrivals with hundreds dying en route

Spain’s maritime rescue service has rescued hundreds of people trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe this weekend amid growing concerns that the country is struggling to cope with the migration crisis.

The service said its crews had rescued 293 people from nine boats on Saturday. On Sunday, a further 250 migrants were rescued from eight boats, three of which were in poor condition and later sank, they added.

Continue reading...

  • President’s lawyer gives meandering Sunday show interviews
  • ‘It’s for public opinion’, he says of claims of campaign informant

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday that his repeated imputations of a supposed scandal at the heart of the Robert Mueller investigation – which Donald Trump calls “Spygate” – amounted to a tactic to sway public opinion and limit the risk of the president being impeached.

Related: Michael Cohen: inside the strange world of Trump's fixer

Continue reading...

  • 93-year-old experiences low blood pressure and fatigue
  • Spokesman says Bush ‘not in any discomfort’

Former president George HW Bush was taken to a hospital in Maine on Sunday after experiencing low blood pressure and fatigue, a family spokesman said.

Bush, 93 and the oldest living former US president, will likely remain at Southern Maine Health Care for a few days for observation, said the spokesman.

Continue reading...

German police deployed to keep anti-immigration AfD group and counter-protesters apart and avoid clashes

Thousands of demonstrators for and against the far right have faced off in mass rival rallies in Berlin, where calls of “we are the people” were met with chants of “go away, Nazis” and techno music.

Police officers were deployed on Sunday to keep groups apart and prevent clashes, as leftwing militants vowed to “sabotage” the march by the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Continue reading...

Russian defence ministry says ‘terrorists’ wounded five others in Deir ez-Zor

A clash with “terrorists” in eastern Syria resulted in the deaths of four Russian soldiers, Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday.

Russian and Syrian government troops and pro-government gunmen have been fighting members of the Islamic State group in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor where the extremists resumed their attacks against government forces and their allies in recent weeks.

Continue reading...

Charlie Rose, Mario Batali and others celebrities are planning to rehabilitate their reputations after a range of accusations

America’s entertainment industry has been left reeling from the #MeToo movement. But that hasn’t stopped many of the high-profile men it has toppled from planning their comebacks.

Related: After six months of #MeToo, the burning question is: how soon can these guys come back?

Continue reading...

Leo Varadkar vows legal terminations by end of year after huge vote for change

Ireland has voted by a landslide to legalise abortion in a stunning outcome that marks a dramatic defeat for the Catholic church’s one-time domination of the Republic.

The Irish electorate voted by 1,429,981 votes to 723,632 in favour of abolishing a controversial constitutional amendment that gave equal legal status to the lives of a foetus and the woman carrying it. The result was a two-thirds majority: 66.4% yes to 33.6% no.

Continue reading...

  • Chinese ships and aircraft sent to warn US ships to leave
  • Move comes as White House seeks co-operation on North Korea

Two US warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China on Sunday, two US officials told Reuters, in a move likely to anger Beijing as Donald Trump seeks its continued cooperation on North Korea.

Related: North Korea-US summit on track, says Moon, after candid talks with 'friend' Kim Jong-un

Continue reading...

Ilya Repin work torn in three places after man becomes ‘overwhelmed’ in Moscow

One of Russia’s most famous and controversial paintings, which depicts Ivan the Terrible cradling his dying son, has been badly damaged after a man attacked it with a metal pole in a Moscow gallery.

The canvas – Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581 – was completed by the Russian realist Ilya Repin in 1885 and portrays a grief-stricken tsar holding his son in his arms after dealing him a mortal blow, a historical incident the veracity of which some Russian nationalists dispute.

Continue reading...

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, met his South Korean counterpart on Saturday, two days after Donald Trump cancelled a planned summit with Kim.

Related: Donald Trump says North Korea summit could be back on

Continue reading...

Interior minister’s remarks condemned by opponents to Emmanuel Macron’s reforms

The French interior minister has accused protesters against Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms of “passive complicity” with people who have smashed shops and banks and set fire to cars during demonstrations.

Gérard Collomb was speaking after marchers converged on the Bastille in Paris on Saturday to show their opposition to the changes being pushed by the president.

Continue reading...

The return of a 135-year-old market is part of a citywide plan to revive local communities, but some worry the tourist hordes will soon arrive

Thousands of residents of the traditionally working class Barcelona neighbourhood of Sant Antoni thronged their local market this week as it reopened after a nine-year, €80m (£70.1m) refit. The celebrations continue over the weekend with live music, dancers from China and Bangladesh and poetry readings.

“It doesn’t surprise me that so many people came on the opening day,” says Pere Escofet, standing at his brand new cheese and charcuterie stall. “This market is very symbolic and there was a lot of expectation.”

Continue reading...

The city of Helmond is trialling a speed sensor with a difference – motorists who observe the speed limit earn cash for local projects

A Dutch city is hoping to target speeding motorists by rewarding those who keep to the limit with cash for their community – car by car, and cent by cent.

A “speed-meter money box” was installed earlier this month on a stretch of road notorious for speeding in Helmond, a city in North Brabant province in the Netherlands. Each vehicle that was observing Dijksestraat’s 30km/h (19mph) speed limit as it passed added €0.10 (£0.09) to the monetary figure displayed, to a maximum of half a euro per vehicle each day.

Continue reading...

From badminton to bonsai pruning to a precarious nap, it’s all going on high above the packed streets of Kowloon, Hong Kong. This series by Romain Jacquet-Lagrèz is a record of life in one of the world’s densest neighbourhoods

Continue reading...

Full funeral rites from the monks of Bangkok’s Wat Krathum Suea Pla temple used to be for humans only – until a new and lucrative market emerged

Fou Fou always liked the good things in life. The pomeranian puppy had “a heart of gold” and a taste for expensive grilled pork. Varunthip Manthin loved the tiny dog as much as any of her sons.

When she discovered him dead in the road having been hit by a motorbike, she was inconsolable. Despite her grief Manthin knew one thing: she would give him a funeral worthy of her own child.

Continue reading...

With husbands, sons and fathers dead or missing, women have been unwittingly thrust into the spotlight. Their resilience and innovation could point a way forward

The plight of approximately three million civilians encircled by hostile forces in Syria’s north-western Idlib province is growing worse by the day, according to UN officials, aid agencies and advocacy groups who fear a looming humanitarian catastrophe.

For many Syrian families, Idlib is the refuge of last resort, after their forced displacement from homes in other parts of the country. But it also risks becoming a sanctuary without exits – what activists have termed a “kill-box” from which there is no escape. The Syrian army, backed by Russian and Iranian forces, is entrenched to the south and east.

Continue reading...

  • Edgbaston lashed by equivalent of a month’s rain
  • Drivers told to avoid Birmingham

Flash floods have caused mayhem on roads in parts of the Midlands when storms and torrential rain broke out after a weekend of humid weather.

The equivalent of a month’s rain fell in one hour in parts of the region, leaving a submerged stretch of the M5 and other roads closed. Vehicles were left swamped in flood water up to 5ft deep.

Continue reading...

Regime critic Andargachew Tsege was seized during stopover in Yemen in 2014

A Briton who has spent four years on death row in Ethiopia after being abducted at an airport in Yemen has been pardoned.

Andargachew Tsege, an opponent of the regime in Addis Ababa, first came to the UK in 1979. He holds British citizenship and was sentenced to death in his absence nine years ago. His wife, who has not seen him in four years, told the Guardian that she expected him to be back at their home in London this week.

Continue reading...

Iván Duque, a fierce critic of the peace accord, will face-off against former mayor of Bogotá Gustavo Petro in second round

Colombians have failed to elect a president outright, setting the stage for a bitter runoff between two frontrunners from opposite ends of the political spectrum, while a peace process with leftist rebels hangs in the balance.

Related: 'Of course he can win': leftist defies odds in Colombian presidential race

Continue reading...

Survey shows fall in popularity for Bill Shorten and majority support for company tax cuts

Labor has increased its lead against the Coalition in Newspoll to 52% to 48% in two-party-preferred terms, despite a fall in popularity for Bill Shorten and majority support for the government’s company tax cut package.

The Newspoll, released on Monday, found that 63% of voters support a 25% rate of company tax ahead of a two-month campaign for five Super Saturday byelections on 28 July, in which Labor is running hard against the government’s plan to extend that lower rate to larger companies.

Continue reading...

More than a tenth of children in South Africa have foetal alcohol syndrome. Now volunteer mothers are fighting back

In a dusty township in South Africa’s sun-drenched wine country, Charay Afrika says only one thing helped numb her through a turbulent relationship and two pregnancies: alcohol.

She drank all day, every day, throughout her full-term pregnancies – unaware of the effect alcohol could have on her children.

Continue reading...

Solicitor acting for parents of Mawda Shawri raises questions over shifting nature of official response to fatal shooting

Police in Belgium who have admitted that one of their officers was responsible for firing the shot that killed a two-year-old Iraqi Kurd girl last week have been accused of mishandling the investigation into her death.

A day after the officer responsible for the shooting appeared before an investigating judge, and with more details about the incident emerging, the solicitor acting for the grieving parents of Mawda Shawri told the Guardian he had grave concerns over how the case was being handled.

Continue reading...

Before civil war erupted, Old Fangak was home to about 5,000 people. But since December 2013, the remote town in South Sudan’s Jonglei state has become a refuge for people fleeing the fighting, swelling its numbers tenfold

All photographs by Frederic Noy for Médecins Sans Frontières

Continue reading...

Noura Hussein, whose case has been taken up by Naomi Campbell and Emma Watson, vows to help other women forced to marry

The lawyers for a young Sudanese woman sentenced to death for killing her husband as he tried to rape her have formally appealed the ruling as a petition calling for her to be spared reached a million signatures.

The legal team working on behalf of 19-year-old Noura Hussein, whose case has become an international cause celebre, had until Thursday to file an appeal to the death sentence handed down by a Sudanese court 15 days ago.

Continue reading...

Amnesty investigation alleges ‘horrendous abuse’ by Nigerian military in camps where thousands reportedly died of hunger

Thousands of women and girls who believed they were being led to safety from Boko Haram by Nigerian security forces were instead systematically abused in exchange for food and assistance, an Amnesty International investigation has revealed.

The shocking claims were made by more than 250 people interviewed over a two-year period. Some allege they were raped by members of the Nigerian military and Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian JTF), while others say they were starved. The troops ordered civilians out of their villages and into satellite camps, where thousands of people, including children, have died of hunger, the report claims.

Continue reading...

What parents – and their children – face as Ice agents seek to punish undocumented people is beyond cruelty

As a parent, there are few things that haunt your nightmares more than the idea that you might somehow lose your child. That they would be taken from you, and that there would be nothing that you could do about it. The ability to protect your child – to make them feel safe – is as vital as oxygen.

And so I can’t imagine what parents are facing as the US government forcibly separates families in an attempt to punish undocumented immigrants. It’s beyond cruelty – it’s torture. Particularly when you think about what young children, who don’t speak the language and who are in a new country, must be feeling as they’re treated like criminals.

Continue reading...

Cancellation of the historic talks by Donald Trump leaves North Korean leader unscathed

Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a planned meeting with Kim Jong-un is a gift to North Korea in many ways, according to some analysts.

Kim has worked for months to craft an image of a senior statesman and peacemaker, hoping to break decades of hostilities with a country North Korea has called its “sworn enemy”. Trump cancelling the summit further reinforced the narrative Kim is willing to talk while the US agitates for regime change.

Continue reading...

Washington and Pyongyang were talking at cross purposes, and the debacle began and ended with gut decisions made by Trump

The short, turbulent history of the Trump-Kim summit, from its surprise announcement in March to its abrupt cancellation on Thursday, is the chronicle of a trainwreck foretold.

The debacle had been predicted by just about anyone with an experience of negotiating with North Korea, and experts who repeatedly warned that Washington and Pyongyang were talking at cross purposes.

Continue reading...

Brussels has shown concern about the rhetoric of M5S and League, but the ragtag coalition has domestic worries of its own

Italy’s unlikely new coalition partners, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League, disagree on so much that the new government will have a “conciliation committee” to settle its internal differences.

But on some things, most notably an avowed desire to stick it to Europe, the two rival parties agree, and if they follow through on their promises Italy will be set on a collision course with the EU. The question is: will they? Much suggests they will not.

Continue reading...

South Korean president addresses the media following his surprise meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He reveals the cordiality of the meeting and indicates that Pyongyang remains committed to the US-North Korean summit scheduled for 12 June.

Continue reading...

Leo Varadkar, the prime minister of Ireland, hails 'a quiet revolution' as voters return an overwhelming decision to legalise abortion in the country's historic referendum. The Irish electorate voted by 1,429,981 votes to 723,632 in favour of abolishing a controversial constitutional amendment that gave equal legal status to the lives of a foetus and the woman carrying it. The result was a two-thirds majority: 66.4% yes to 33.6% no

Continue reading...

Pro-choice campaigners celebrate after Ireland votes to liberalise abortion law

Continue reading...

People celebrate after Ireland calls for an end to the country's anti-abortion laws, with two-thirds of voters choosing to repeal the eighth amendment to the constitution. Orla O'Connor, co-director of the yes campaign, said it was 'a monumental day for women in Ireland'


Continue reading...

As the exit polls predict mass support for the repeal of Ireland's ban on abortions the Together for Yes campaign celebrates. O'Connor, co-director of the campaign, says: 'This vote is about a rejection of an Ireland that treats women as second-class citizens'

Continue reading...

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in meet again. The pair discuss their commitments to peace and the potential meeting with Donald Trump. They met in the 'truce village' of Panmunjom. The surprise meeting showed inter-Korea relations were in a far better state than those between the US and Pyongyang


Continue reading...

Lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano flows down a street during the night, igniting whatever it touches. Some 2,200 acres (890 hectares) of land have been torched by lava since 3 May and the number of homes and other structures destroyed has leapt from 50 to 82.

Continue reading...

odrnews.com ©