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Small Business 101: Deadly Ignorance
American small business is again in transition. Many employees,
now working from home, are no longer tied to a geographic office
and the woes of commuting. This is a relatively new phenomenon
with hints of explosive sector growth in the days ahead. As this
turbulent economy has forced downsizing, offshore restructuring
and closures in large companies, many new entrepreneurs have been
born. These are people, who instead of tirelessly attempting to
find new employment and possibly enduring the same fate as previously
experienced, are now starting small businesses and enjoying the
benefits and perils of self-employment.
There's an old story telling of an Admiral's decision to fight
a battle against overwhelming odds. It seems that he was approaching
the coast of an enemy land, with a larger naval force closing
in from behind and a great army approaching from the land ahead.
He prayed and then addressed his men. He announced that their
battle weary forces would land on the beach ahead, dig in and
prepare for the upcoming battle. There was no turning back and
no other alternative. He ordered their ships burned after they
landed. Their only choice was to fight to win or perish. They
defeated their enemy because he eliminated any other escape route.
They were fixed on the goal of survival and none other.
That is the same attitude we as entrepreneurs must take. We can
not afford to be denied. We must grow and prosper or our business
will surely perish. We must constantly be looking for ways to
cost-effectively market our business and increase sales. We must
control costs and have sufficient cash flow for daily operations.
Each of us must be persistent, relentless and vigilant. As CEO,
we are the manufacturer, the sales team, the marketing department,
legal office, accounting office, human resources manager, IT manager,
the webmaster and so on. We can't afford to be all these positions.
Our job is to sell! We must locate cost effective resources to
help us grow and protect our investment in our business.
The growth of the internet has changed our marketplace as well.
Years ago, a small business owner decided upon a geographic chunk
of the market and set up shop. Today, that shop is typically located
in an office at the entrepreneur's home. The marketplace is now
the world. The costs of marketing products and communicating worldwide
are so low that almost anyone can take part in this revolution.
Sophisticated voice mail, cell phones, email and effective ecommerce
web sites now provide the illusion of size and grandeur for even
the smallest home-based business. The end customer typically has
no idea whether their supplier is local or across the world. He
may be dressed in a shirt and tie or in his pajamas! All that
typically matters is that the exchange of product and services
is successfully made for a profit.
It is critically important for the small, home-based entrepreneur
to be aware of resources available to her as she makes this great
leap. Too many people leap prematurely into business only to fail
because of poor planning and insufficient financial resources.
Do not get caught in this trap. Don't quit your day job until
you have enough cash on hand to pay the bills for at least a year
into your new venture. Become aware of and develop the resources
available to you. You want everything possible going for you as
you make this leap of faith into the entrepreneurial world.
Here in South Carolina, we have the outstanding Women's Business
Center (http://www.scwbc.org), a division of the SCMEP, South
Carolina Manufacturers Extension Partnership (http://www.scmep.org),
one of the best kept secrets available to businesses at all levels
in our State. Other States have similar programs modeled after
ours. These are incredible resources, partially funded by the
State and private resources, available at little to no cost to
entrepreneurs, with the purpose of aiding the successful growth
of small business. Some additional national resources are:
There are also numerous magazines devoted to small business, home-based
business, marketing, sales, accounting, etcÖ Get tuned in to these
and other resources available to you. Read your industry publications
to stay abreast of competition and other facets of your business
A single legal issue, FACTA problem, accounting error or marketing
miscue can put you out of business. In the case of FACTA, insufficient
security or poor record-keeping these days could find you legally
responsible for a single employee's identity fraud issue, which
may end up being very costly. A single lawsuit or vendor dispute
can shut you down. Many entrepreneurs are ignorant, ill-prepared
and under-schooled with regard to these and other issues. Do not
get caught in the deadly ignorance trap.
There is more opportunity available today than ever before for
the wise entrepreneur. Get all you ducks in a row before you make
the fateful leap into the new world marketplace. Be smart, learn
all you can as quickly as possible and take action on your ideas.
Like the Admiral, be determined to win in the face of what may
appear to be overwhelming adversity.
About the author:
Daniel Sitter is the author of the breakthrough e-book, Learning
For Profit, the revolutionary how-to book providing simple, step-by-step
instructions to teach people exactly how to learn new skills faster
than ever before. Itís currently available from c|netís download.com,
the authorís web site www.learningforprofit.comand
a variety of online book merchants. Mr. Sitter is a contributing
writer for several online and traditional publications. His expertise
includes sales, marketing, effective learning techniques, self-improvement
and general business interests.
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