Tips for starting your own business

Written by Andy Holloway

Opening your own business can be a scary prospect. So before venturing down that road, figure out if you and your idea have what it takes. Management consultant Randall Craig, author of Leaving the Mother Ship, provides these tips for budding entrepreneurs.

Do the research

Make sure there is enough demand for your product or service, and speak to people already in the field to find out what it takes to be successful.

Invest in yourself

Take a part-time business course to buff up your marketing, accounting, or whatever business skills you’re lacking.

Take a test drive

Work full- or part-time in the type of business you plan to open. Reality is often worse than the dream. At the very least, you’ll know what it’s like on the front lines.

Develop a business plan

Write down exactly how your business is expected to operate and make money. A solid business plan should have sections on sales, marketing, operations, finance, human resources, and a step-by-step road map for how you will get from where you are now to full operation.

Be frugal

Cash is oxygen for a business; conserve it however possible.

Build a buzz

Cheating can quickly kill your reputation, and just as quickly kill your business. Repeat customers and positive word-of-mouth are critical to your business success.

Develop your brand

A professional-looking logo, along with effective marketing and advertising materials are necessary, but also make sure your budding corporate culture reflects positively on your enterprise.

Engage your support network

That means talking to your family and friends, of course, but also your lawyer, accountant, banker and other business people.

Don’t give up

Is your venture not working out as planned? Find out why, and then quickly change gears. Remember, it’s tough work being an entrepreneur.

Top 10 business opportunities for 2006

1. Alternative health products

2. Biometrics or high-tech security

3. Diet/exercise expert

4. Eco-products

5. Medical tourism

6. Financial adviser/retirement planner

7. Organic or specialty foods

8. Recycling technology

9. Education services/products

10. Home improvement contractor

Top 10 home business opportunities for 2006

1. Interior design

2. Catering services

3. Cleaning services

4. Fall prevention products

5. Wedding consultant

6. Diet consultant

7. Personal trainer

8. Beauty services/kid’s haircuts

9. Life/business coach

10. Accounting

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