Three Solutions for Three Vexing Start-Up Challenges

You’ve deiced to start up a business.

Congratulations! Now come the inevitable questions and doubts.

+ Do I have enough cash to start up my business? + Should I take out a loan right now? + Am I qualified for this business?

These are the three powerful questions most new business owner asks. If you’re asking them right now, you don’t have to let them stop you from moving forward. Instead, address these challenges head-on by implementing the following crucial start-up solutions.

1. Do I have enough money to start up my business?

As a small business coach, I see new business owners fail at dealing with this question more than any other. And with good reason. They just don’t know how much it will cost to start up or how long it will be before their new business starts making money.

Problem: One of the reasons this is so difficult to calculate is because starting up a home-based business will have different start-up requirements than opening, for example, a cupcake store.

Solution: No matter what type of business you’re starting, these are the most common start-up business expenses that both home-based and store-based businesses need to calculate:

+ Equipment – Every start-up has some equipment needs. Make sure you compute these for up to five years.

+ Space – Whether you use your home or an office, you need business space. Even if you have a home business office, be sure to factor in an increase in phone, Internet, and utility bills.

+ Marketing – Be sure to take into account additional cell phone time, business cards, advertising, flyers, printer ink, web hosting, and paper.

+ Networking – Make sure you factor in the cost of joining and attending local and regional networking events for the next five years.

+ Transportation – Will there be a change in your transportation or traveling needs? More gas, less gas? New vehicle?

+ Filing fees – Will your business identity be a DBA, LLC, NPO, or Corporation? Does your new business call for local, state, or national licenses? In any event, you’ll have filing fees.

+ Banking – You’ll need to have a business account at a bank if you want to accept checks and credit card payments under your new business name. Don’t run your new business through your personal account.

+ Credit Card Processing – Merchant accounts, using PayPal, and even credit card swipe machines all cost money.

+ Continuing Education – What classes, training, and books do you need over the next five years to make you and your business successful?

+ Professional Services – You’ll need a CPA to get your books set up properly, an attorney to draft your contracts, and a business coach to help see you through the start-up process. Don’t skimp here.

2. Should I get a loan right now?

Whatever you do, don’t take out a loan to get your new business started up unless you have a guaranteed client or customer base to start with. Why? Because a loan is debt. And to start out your business with debt spells disaster, unless you have clients and customers waiting in the wings.

Problem: During our current recession economy, I’ve seen far too many businesses go belly-up because people relied on loans and other soft monies to start up, only to blow through that money without giving a thought to securing a client base beforehand.

Solution: Make sure you have a client and customer base in place first, before you start up. Next, calculate your start-up expenses, plus five years, based on your guaranteed sales. This way, your start-up expenses will be manageable and you won’t need a loan!

3. Am I qualified for this business?

One of the things I caution my clients against is starting up a new business that is more than two degrees different from anything else they’ve done before in their life or career. That’s because if you extend beyond three degrees it is likely that you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed with all that you’ll need to learn and do just to get up-to-speed.

Problem: You like helping people and running errands, so you want to start your own concierge business. It might surprise you to hear, though, that that may not be a close enough match to bridge easily. Certainly, being a “people person” is critical. However, you also need to know the surrounding area in which you work and all of the amenities offered. Are you good at multi-tasking? How good are your listening and communication skills? Do you have any experience owning a business or managing people? You also may need to be certified in certain areas, such as travel and hospitality.

Solution: One of the challenges of starting up a new business is making sure you have enough existing skills and experience in place to make a good fit for your new business. In this day and age you must be qualified, in the now!

Starting up a business is an exciting time when you’re filled with energy, enthusiasm, and high hopes. There are also some common temptations to watch out for during this time, including failing to properly calculate start-up costs, depending on a loan to start up, and taking on more than you’re qualified to handle. The good news is you can deal with these challenges simply and easily by implementing these crucial start-up solutions. If you do, you’ll bypass the three catastrophic mistakes most new business owners make and get off to a flying start.

Breaking Down Business Planning Roadblocks

Kicking & Screaming

Most business owners and department managers know they “should” have a plan. Yet in all my 25 years of helping business owners and managers grow their businesses, just four of my clients possessed a written plan, and only one was actually using it. Why do so many business owners skip this crucial step? Some common explanations I’ve heard go something like:

“I don’t need funding, so I don’t need a business plan.”
“My plan is going to change anyway, so why should I waste my time creating it?”
“It will take too much time.”
“I started to and found it overwhelming.”
“I didn’t start a business to do the types of things I did when I worked for someone else.”
“I don’t want a big company. I don’t want employees.” (I just created a J.O.B. for myself.)
“I don’t know which planning program to use; there are so many out there.”
“It’s expensive to plan and I need to spend my money on other things.”
“I don’t need to plan; I just want to work in my business.”

Does any of that sound familiar? For the most part, “winging it” from day to day works-until it doesn’t. Many business owners learn this the hard way. Whether at the $60,000 per year income level or at the $30 million level, without a plan, a business or its owner will eventually crash. Owners or managers will often agree to use a plan if someone else creates it for them. That’s a BIG no-no in my book. It’s important for business owners to gain the experience of the planning process. At least once, they must tackle the questions they’ve put off answering. Otherwise they run the risk of never gaining real clarity regarding the direction of their business.

The Care and Feeding of Business Owners & Managers

As the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Clients who come to me for help with their strategic plan are often feeling a “pain”. It is a common experience, often necessary to compel them to take a “drink” from the strategic planning process. Here are a few common “pains” my clients have reported:

They’re not attracting their ideal clients and are sick and tired of working with jerks.
They need to be making more money.
Their spouse informed them that if they don’t spend more time together, they’ll file for a divorce.
Their spouse wants them to get a “real job”.
They’re retiring from a job in “x” years and want to have an immediate income at that time.
They’re retiring in “x” years and want all the work, time, and money they invested in their business to be their nest egg.
They’ve discovered that a business isn’t just a place to work, but an entity to grow.
“Someone” told them they had to create a plan.
“Someone” told them that their marketing is “all over the place”.
They need help managing their company or department.
They became an “accidental” business owner or were promoted suddenly, and need help fast.
They’re turning 50 and want to examine the next 30 years of their business with someone who isn’t as vested in the business as they are.
They want to work one day per month because they want to start a non-profit.

These and many other possible “pains” or problems will hopefully lead a business owner to re-evaluate the need for planning. But where to begin? The task of planning can seem monumental. Luckily, there is a one-page process which makes planning not only exciting, but simple and straightforward.

When the Light Bulb Flickers

When someone seeks my services, they often need more clients, better clients, or more money. In determining what is hindering their growth, we find they have no vision, mission, objectives, or strategies written down. They usually have no action plan, marketing plan, or financial plan, either. Here are some reasons they’ve given for finally taking the planning plunge:

“My original business vision was thrown to the wind and all I’ve been doing is looking at ‘today’.”
“I realized that the business I envisioned is not what I have, and I don’t like the business I have.”
“I read Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited and realized I need systems.”
“I’m getting older. I want to get top dollar for my business in (5, 10, or 20) years, and I know I need to have a turn-key business. My business is anything but turn-key.”
“I’m getting bored of running my company, and want to get it ready to sell/hire a CEO.”
“I have tried to grow my business for the last two years and what I’ve done isn’t working.”
“I want to start my business right; I know I need a plan.”
“I want to earn more money.”
“I’m frazzled. I network and market all the time and am not seeing the results I once saw.”
“I am creating a new position within the company. I need to bring the concept to my boss in an organized way.”
“Although I work for a company, I’m paid on commission, and I need a plan to expand.”
“I want to open a branch office, but I can’t see having two unorganized offices. I need the first office organized, and systems created before I start the second.”
“I don’t like my business model but don’t know what to change or how to do it.”
“My business does not have an inner brand, niche, or focus.”

Back in 2000, with a year-old business of my own, I had the opportunity to attend a one-day planning program which helped me to create a plan on a single page. This plan would encompass all of the plans mentioned above. As a participant, I realized the importance of planning strategically before attempting execution or implementation. Today, my clients use that same methodology to bring greater success to their businesses. And when someone wants me to create the plan for them, I do it with them. My clients are present during the process, learning a system that can be reused in the future to make their lives easier-and more profitable-in the long run.

Who Wants To Know About High Profit Low Cost Business Ideas

Low cost business ideas are fun to find. Once you find your ideal idea you know you’re in for a quick turnaround of profit in your first year in some cases, and in others even on your first day of business!

Who wants to know about high profit low cost business ideas? We all do! I have chosen 5 core areas I believe are high potential businesses with a history of long-term sustainability, healthy growth and demand, and can be started with a low budget in many cases.

The 5 low cost business ideas I have chosen are in Jewelry, Arts & Crafts, Interior Designing, Manufacturer and Wholesale products, and SME Bookkeeping. Lets get started.

Jewelry Seller

Think you can run your very own dream jewelry business? We all know that our the love for gold and silver, and for precious stones like diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, is so age old this trade is going to last as long as there is romance on this planet of ours. You can bet your enchiladas the jewelry business is here to stay and to service that love!

While this business may sound expensive to run, you can start small by spending only a few hundred dollars in carefully selecting your merchandise at good wholesale prices.

I have a client who works for a telecommunication company who also runs a part-time jewelry business on the side. She buys pieces she adores and only from a couple of trusted gems and jewelry wholesale suppliers and on sells her merchandise to her clients. You can easily Google for these wholesalers in your local area.

Buy only from certified suppliers who can give you assurance you are buying the genuine article. Once you find reliable suppliers, stick with those. My client runs her business without a fixed shop by promoting her business to bridal shows and to expos that women and couples attend, women organizations, business owners, company executives, and at the local chamber of commerce. She does well. She also sells her more unique merchandise at high markups to other jewelry stores.

Make sure you buy pieces that have that ‘sellable’ factor, the ones that have classic designs at very competitive prices. Try to stay away from abstract designs when you start out, unless you want to specialize in certain types of looks and make.

If you are going to set up shop try checking out these ideal spots:

Shop in a busy mall
Busy city areas
Tourist hot spots and resorts
Uptown hotels
Your own online store
eBay
Bridal shows
High fashion zones

One great piece of advice she gave me was to make sure the collection you buy has an interesting mix of gems that are already set, gold and silver pieces, and an array of loose gem stones. You will need classy looking velvet boxes and pouches, and black velvet mats to place your merchandise to showcase to the customer.

One thing about this business is that it will never be without an audience of interested or potential buyers.

Interior Designer and Consultant

An interior designer usually ‘discovers’ his or her own unique decorating flair early in life. If you have a natural passion and talent for decorating and designing interiors, this might be a great business to let loose your designing skills and be paid well for it!

The reason why I feel this is potentially a very good business idea is from a recent personal experience I had. My wife and I hired a decorator and for around $400 she helped us with some needed renovation ideas. She came to our house and gave us the best 3 hours in home decorating tips and ideas. For us, it was well worth the money we spent which wasn’t that much in the scheme of things. In fact she’s been back several times to drop off a few more research she did on what we had asked her about. We got a new lease of inspiration for our home that we couldn’t have achieved ourselves and she got our life long recommendation.

By the way, we were referred to her when we were looking at color schemes at our local paint shop. So go and make sure you network at places that spins off from what you do such as the paint shop, the hardware store, the curtain place, the local real estate office and so on. You get the idea.

There will be so many situations and places that will require a service like this if you stop to think about it. Here are some you can start your list on:

Businesses with reception areas
Practices such as doctor’s waiting rooms
Private residences that are going through renovation
Government offices
Luxury boats and yachts
Commercial premises
Factory offices
Portables such as classrooms and temporary offices
Tired-looking business establishments
Businesses that have just moved in

It would help your business success greatly if you have evidence of experience, testimonials and perhaps a relevant qualification. A nice website would be advisable to showcase your work.

Arts & Crafts Market Business

Ah this is an evergreen. No matter how futuristic life gets we will always need the works of interesting arts, paintings, and hand-made crafts to bring that touch of life and joy into a place.

This is another lucrative business idea and it can be started with a few hundred dollars for products and material. By observing the constant announcements of art shows, craft fairs and market days held in streets, shop fronts, galleries and open car park spaces across the country and in every suburb you can tell this is one thriving industry.

If you are good at creating something that people have said they’d give you money for, the arts and craft business might be a business to consider seriously and get paid for what you love doing. If so, here are some things you can do to get a feel of the potential before you start out:

Check out a few arts and craft shows and markets yourself
Get a feel of how you might run your business
Investigate the various costs to hiring a booth or a stand
Factor in transport costs, packaging, and signage
Apply for a credit card machine
Get a permit if required
Call your local council and make some enquiries
Learn some good customer service techniques

If it is convenient to do so (I don’t see many operators do this) try to collect contact details of your customers to build a dedicated mailing list. This is going to come in handy to make your business hum with profitability.

By building a list you can offer your customers a periodical arts newsletter and use it to announce where and when your next show or stand will be at and the specials you are going to offer. The more you interact with your list, the stronger the loyalty you will earn. Your list will eventually be worth a lot of more money than you imagined. Start by collecting email addresses and or telephone numbers of your customers and from enquiries you get.

Do the above and pretty soon you will have more people than you can manage!

Independent Sales Rep For A Manufacturer/Wholesaler

This idea may sound like a job, but its not. Yes, there are sales reps that are employed by companies to represent them but there are many manufacturers and suppliers who prefer independent sales reps who can sell for them, all at a cut of the sales or for an agreed sum. This can be a quick-earn business that you can get up and running in no time.

You can source for products to sell by visiting trade expos, industry showings, to the manufacturers themselves. Choose the kind of products you want to sell. Do your research. Find out what the market wants. Use good old Google to find a good list of manufacturers and product suppliers you can contact. They would love to hear from you. If you can prove your ability and experience they would love to load you up with goodies.

You are not tied to a fixed schedule or territory, however this might depend of the needs and demands and the specific arrangements both parties agree on.

Try to start with products you can physically transport and showcase. Although this is not necessarily always the case with every manufacturer, sometimes you can sell large machineries and equipment that normally are just not possible to access or carry. Your customers are already used to seeing these ‘heavy’ products via brochures and video presentations.

As you can see, this is a business you can start as quickly as you find a supplier who will agree for you to rep for them. If you get a hold of a product that enjoys high demand you can be turning a profit on your first sale.

Your market is dual, you can sell direct to businesses or the end user retail consumer, depending on what you are selling.

Bookkeeping Services to SMEs

If you are meticulous about balancing the account, and numbers bring a smile to your face, then you were made for this business!

Ask anyone at a party or your local businesses, chances are that they will tell you that their accounts are in a mess or that they dread pulling out their financial statements to fix them. That’s where you come in!

Here are some of the key issues that businesses and business owners suffer from that make the bookkeeping service such an attractive proposition for the right person:

They are just too busy to do their books
They dread ‘doing the numbers’
They feel inadequate to do so
They are not happy with their current bookkeeper
They struggle with keeping up to date with the ever-changing accounting laws

Depending on the depth and breath of what you offer you can charge anywhere from around $20 to $70 an hour and packaged deals or fixed fees for more specialized preparation of financial and tax statements.

Here are some things to consider before you start:

Your qualification to be a bookkeeper
Public liability and professional indemnity insurances
Permits
An office or office area
Telephone to contact businesses
Stationary with letterhead and business cards
Computer and or laptop
Bookkeeping software program
Scanner and fax
Back up hard drive
Filing cabinets
Marketing budget to promote your business
An optional answering service

While its nice to hold a double degree in math, nowadays SME operators just want a good bookkeeper who can spot the numbers and provide accurate and great looking balanced monthly statements.

Most business owners and individuals require some kind of bookkeeping help and advice, and many can’t afford to keep a full time bookkeeper. The idea of an off-site on-demand bookkeeping service is great news for businesses and for individuals. It’s a boom industry for anyone who can deliver on-time accurate bookkeeping management.

In summary

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 5 low cost business ideas in Jewelry, Arts & Crafts, Interior Designing, Manufacturer and Wholesale products, and SME Bookkeeping. These were chosen for their potential to turn a profit quickly. However, its advisable that you seek guidance from a professional before embarking on any of the ideas listed here.

In closing let me list a few more low cost business ideas for you to investigate. I feel these have unique market potential and long term business growth:

Wellness & Diet Personal Instructor
Gift and Fruit Basket Business
Health Snacks Vending Machine Business
Resume and Covering Letter services
Residential and Commercial Cleaning Business
Beauty and Hair Supply Business
T-Shirt With Unusual Taglines business
Outdoor Furniture For Children Business
Garden and Organic Lawn Care Business
Band Promoter & Scout
Mobile Hairdresser Service
Private Home Tutoring Service

There’s nothing like finding your own low cost business idea that can turn a profit in your first year! Be independent. Go for it.