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10 Rules for Success as a Small Business……

Everyday new businesses are founded. Some of these businesses will succeed, but many will just fall into the abyss. Can your business succeed? Will your business join the "fallen"? Here are ten rules to make sure your business soars and stands above the "fallen". 1. Find your Market. In starting a small business, it is imperative to find your key market, or niche. A small company, in most cases, will have a limited resource pool. If you concentrate your initial efforts in a more specific focus area, you can better serve your prospective clients. This entails knowing what you do best, and becoming an expert in that given field. This approach can help eliminate direct competition with bigger competitors. For example, if you were in the home and garden business, deciding to sell everything from furniture to wall coverings would directly compete with the big chain companies. This could mean the end of your business before it ever really gets started. If you focused on a specific area, like patio furniture and accessories, you could become the expert and stand out as such. 2. Be Small with Big Aspirations. One of the first and most common questions of a new small business owner is, "How can I compete with the big competitors"? Understanding your role as a small business can make this very clear. Small businesses have built-in advantages over larger competitors. Flexibility, the ability to move and dictate your schedule around that of your clients. Ability to respond quickly to your client's needs. Personalized service, allowing the client to be the focal center. Making sure that your business maximizes these advantages, is the core strength of a small business. 3. Highlight your Products. When presenting your products or services to your clients, be sure to notate the "solution" your product offers to your clients' particular need or concern. Remember, the client has a need, or you would not be in the position to offer your services or products. Listening to and understanding your client will make this process inherently easier. Avoid imitating competitors; copycats will rarely succeed in the market. Do your homework, but avoid the trap of copying what is working for competitors. Market your products and services clearly and concisely with your distinct and original marketing skills. 4. First impressions are Key. Make sure you strive for quality and accuracy the first time around. Hence the phrase, first impression. Rarely will you be afforded the opportunity to make a "second first impression". This entails a well-laid out presentation, courteous and respectful demeanor, personable voice, and most importantly, attention to detail. Remember everyone you come in contact with is a potential client or a referral to a potential client. Make sure you are always professional , presentable, and knowledgeable. 5. Reputation is Everything. Any business hinges on reputation. Reputation is like oxygen, to a small business. It is absolutely imperative to build an excellent reputation for the quality of your services and products and the support services offered beyond. Understanding that quality in products and services are the two main goals to guarantee success. Strive for excellence in these areas and accept nothing less. 6. Improve, Improve, Improve. Entrepreneurs understand that they should not be rigid in their thinking, as it relates to their products and services. Striving to improve should be a constant focus to avoid being left behind by a fast-paced and ever changing market. If you stick to a "this is how we do it, and this is how we will always do it" mentality, you risk your competitors progressing and leaving you behind. The competitive nature of today's business market demands that you adapt your business and come up with new market solutions constantly. 7. Listen to your Clients. Attention to detail is vitally important. Be driven, be attentive and be reactive. Listen, understand and then react to your client's needs. Your client needs to understand and feel the level of importance they hold for you. Why? Because THEY ARE IMPORTANT! When you focus on your clients and gain their trust, they will not only recommend you but, they will remain loyal to you as a client. Personal recommendation and word-of-mouth are the least costly but, the absolute most effective marketing tools you will have at your disposal. 8. Planning for Success. Making the decision to start a small business involves countless time in the planning stages. Understanding the power of planning will increase your ability to succeed, help you define yourself as an entrepreneur and help you define your business. A good businees plan will allow you to build a business concept, predict future sales, estimate your expenses and control and anticipate your risks. It can help you understand where it is you are, where you need and want to be, and how it is you are going to arrive at that point. Going into business without a plan can be equated to driving in a strange city without a map while being blindfolded. It just doesn't make alot of sense. 9. Innovation is Necessary. Innovation is a constant factor in many areas of any marketplace. You have to keep pace with the changes of the market and use it as a launchpad to improve your products, procedures, services and reputation. Innovation also entails your operational side, everything from pricing, to promotion and customer service, etc. Always be attentive to the marketplace and be open to new market trends. Be ready to apply those that will improve the quality of your business and its products and services. 10. Work Intelligently As a business owner, you will need to have self-confidence, plus a sense of urgency to improve that is built much like a revolving door. If you do not believe in yourself, a prospective client will see that and follow suit. Studies have shown people who succeed as small business owners tend to look forward and accept things as they are and deal with them accordingly. These people understand the value of time management, their time and the time of the client. These people are quick to adapt business plans and move in another direction if they see their plan is not working. More importantly, they see value in their weak points and strive to move forward and improve. They build nurturing alliances and acquire skill sets necessary to put them and their business on the path to success. Understanding overall that it's never about the quantity of the work that you do but, always about the quality of how you do the work.

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