Learn From My Experience – First Year Tips For Small Business Entrepreneurs

The Number One first year tip – it’s ALL about finding customers and keeping them happy

Whether you are at the feasibility, seed, or launch stage, you need customers!

If someone is showing interest but is not asking about prices, then you may have a new hobby, which is nice, but not a business.

Why? Ideas and plans are a dime a dozen. Cashflow is King. A potential customer is proof positive you may have found a genuine demand or gap in the market – but only when they start talking price.

A vision means squat without a plan for customers.

“A customer base equals capital”

Attracting investors will be much easier if they can see you are already generating a cashflow.

Also customers will attract people interested in working with you – and eventually you will need a team to go anywhere significant.

A customer means you are not dreaming!

Don’t wait for qualifications

You could be forgiven for thinking that in the 2010’s you need a string of qualifications and / or an MBA before making a move. It’s not the case. Examples abound and if necessary you can hire to cover the gaps. Rather, try to emphasise product, ideas and team.

Which book learning are we skipping over here? What are some of the nice to have’s you might defer?

In the initial stages of a business there are marketing skills – be content with seeing the original gap and creating a product to fit. Then finance skills – skip high finance and stick to the basic organisation of personal and business finance to cover risks, and finally time management skills where the essentials can be mastered quickly.

Later in the development phase we have operations – leadership, management, IT, property, culture/psychology, teamwork, loyalty, communications and regulations – the list goes on.

While it may seem heresy to some, the fact is there are many successes in business who started young with no management training.

Beware Franchising

Starting out under the protection of a franchise is a seductive option. Beware! While it may be a way to start-up with less risk, pay particular attention to:

· The franchise sale

Franchise operators are very good marketers – of their franchises. Be wary that you are not sucked in too much by the promises and pictures. Seriously, it’s their job to sell you, just make sure they have a viable plan and you can sell their product.

· Your independence

The bottom line is that you have decided to become an entrepreneur, for reasons which quite likely include working for yourself, and by signing up with a franchise you have immediately given that independence away.

Will you be happy working for a head office? How much input to the business do you really have? Have you just bought yourself a job?

Take a real close look at your marketing plan

How are you going to find and reach customers? Your first job is to run like mad just to find them:

First, are you in an active sector and do you have a ready path to market? Where are you sourcing your leads – today?

Watch out for your own psychology. When starting out you may want to just go with the first half decent opportunity you come across. Relax; try to look at things objectively.

Beware of the “1% of the market is huge” syndrome. Yours may be a billion dollar market, but how do you get any of it? What do you think the competition is doing right now?

Any idea of the cost of acquisition of a new customer? Will your model develop repeat customers? If not you will be forever selling, and this is not a good place to be.

Most forms of marketing except word of mouth are very expensive. When starting out there is no doubt the best marketing model is word of mouth.

Branding. Despite the hype it’s nothing new. Don’t even think about mega-brand style exposure. A start-up is about a reputation, person to person sales and keeping a handful of customers happy.

What is the shelf life of your idea? How are you going to protect it in the internet age?

How smart is the business model?

A business model is the way we do things – how we find and reach customers, differentiate the business from the pack, price, sell and deliver our product.

But there is more. Other desirables include a residual structure, one that compounds growth, and which is leveraged either in time (employees) or money (loans).

Is it going to be a dynamic business or a job?

Realistically – are your finances strong enough for the first year or two?

Being an entrepreneur is a gamble and you must be prepared for the worst if it happens. How do you view losing money? Perhaps try investing on small bets in the stock market and see how it feels before investing in your own ideas.

Don’t get into debt you cannot handle. We should be bold but not take risks. Avoid betting your lifestyle, limit the investment to what you can “afford to lose”, then do everything to make sure that does not happen.

Entrepreneurs should always have backup plans. Not everything will work by any stretch of imagination.

How many hours are you working?

Have you really planned your diary? How will you fit everything in? Not all of us can survive on 4 hours sleep per night.

Remember the working rule – hard and smart.

And if you do work all hours, what is your effective hourly rate? Planning any time off?

Do you have a good business partner?

If you aspire to anything other than a micro business, you will have to think “team”. The synergy gained outweighs potential downsides. While a committee of one gets things done, eventually you need others in your corner.

Are you ahead of trends?

No business can ignore trends. Try to have an eye on the picture three to five years ahead.

Downtown Accommodation and Inns – Oakland, RI

Downtown Oakland is the core area of the central business district in Oakland, California roughly bounded by Jefferson Street on the northwest, Harrison Street on the southeast, 6th Street on the southwest and Grand Avenue on the northeast.

The downtown area is expanded to refer to the residential and industrial Jack London warehouse district and Jack London Square areas, Lakeside Apartment District on the west side of the Lake Merritt, Oakland’s Chinatown, Civic Center district as well as the south end of Oakland’s Broadway Auto Raw area.

The Jack London Square is a famous tourist attraction on Oakland, California’s waterfront.Owned by Port of Oakland and named after Jack London, it houses hotels, restaurants, stores, a ferry dock, an Amtrak station, a movie theater and the Hienold’s First and Last Chance Saloon.

Downtown Oakland houses a condominium and apartment dwellers, tall modern office buildings, numerous retail businesses, shorter mixed-use historic buildings, the hubs of BART and AC Transit.

Downtown Oakland Airport Inns

Executive Inn and Suite is one of the popular inn hotels near the Oakland International Airport.The hotel is about 5 minutes away from Downtown Oakland’s Historic and Business District, Chinatown, Convention Center and Jack London Square entertainment venues and restaurant.The property provides courtesy shuttle services from the hotel, Oakland airport, Alameda, Jack London Square and Downtown Oakland itself.This property also provides a complimentary 24-hour business center with printers and computers.Other hotel amenities include meeting rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, banquet facilities, spa tub, fireplace in the lobby and Internet access in the public areas.

The hotel offers 224 furnished guestrooms and suites.All rooms include video-game consoles, microwaves and compact refrigerators while suites include safes, large desks with ergonomic chairs, separate sitting areas and 32-inch cable televisions.

The hotel’s complete address is 1755 Embarcadero in Oakland, California.For more information, call them at (510) 536-6633 or fax them at (510) 536-6006.For reservations, you can also call (800) 346-6331.

Best Western Airport Inn and Suites is a 3-storey hotel situated close to many of Oakland’s tourist sites.Attractions close to the area include the McAfee Stadium, Alameda Beaches, Oakland Zoo, the Jack London Square, San Francisco Convention Center, Great America Theme Park and the Six Flags Marine World.The hotel is just a mile away from the Oakland International Airport, 15 miles away from the San Francisco International Airport and 30 miles away from the San Jose International Airport.The hotel provides a complimentary continental breakfast which is served every morning, an indoor swimming pool, exercise facility and courtesy shuttle.

Other hotel amenities include meeting facilities, banquet facilities, a business center, fax services, photocopy services and high-speed Internet access.Guestrooms at this hotel feature cable satellite televisions, in-room movies, microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers and work areas or desks.Other room amenities include irons and ironing board, AM and FM alarm clocks, hair dryers, dataports and high-speed Internet connectivity.The complete address of this hotel is 170 Hegenberger Loop in Oakland, California.For additional information, call them at 510-633-0500 or fax them at 510-633-1040.

Information on Becoming an Internet Business Entrepreneur

This shifts control of all resources needed to run the business to self and there is a big chance of messing up for lack of discipline. Early in the path of becoming a thriving Internet business entrepreneur, one must embrace the art of being inquisitive and develop passion to be an apprentice who can grasp anything fast. Dealing with websites is not easy if a person lacks the basic knowledge of using a computer or Internet for research and other things and as time progresses a need arises to take up the work of a web designer to reduce the costs.

That is translates to added efforts to learn basic HTML language, creating graphics, uploading files, tracking accounts and keeping records using software products and so on. Of course this knowledge should be gained secretly and diligently while consulting the employed expert and as soon as it happens one can then take on management of the business fully. When it is just beginning, overspending is inevitable yet it is a threat when the Internet business cannot breakeven or leave some surplus profits to pay salaries and expansion. In short, becoming a real Internet entrepreneur is taking a risk to appear like just a fool, failure or anything in order to gain knowledge and tricks needed to run the kind of online business niche. 

Although an entrepreneur is supposed to be a risk taker and an aggressive opportunist, it is prudent to realize that it is easier done offline, as people talk orally as opposed to online. Take caution on the kind of business deals or contracts to sign since this is one area where numerous offers that turn out to be scams exist. High risks deals may at times result to very high profits but should not be picked randomly yet at all times it is imperative to value personal dedication and sacrifice while avoiding such time wasting and costly shortcuts.

Get organized so as to value scheduling of every task for a particular day, check customer comments, enquires or anything and file them for reference and so on. Wasting time is not part of being a successful Internet business entrepreneur and this is highly likely to happen without screaming bosses around therefore one must note this. Avoid techniques that are sometimes thought to attract traffic such as loads of unsolicited email messages because this amount to Spam in most cases instead of website visitors.