Business Basics from Michael's Graphics

There’s a really important question you need to answer before your read anything else on this page:

“Are you starting a business…or a hobby?”

Starting a business requires commitment and effort. If you’re serious about starting and running a business, I encourage you to check out the information on this page along with some great resources I’ve provided. (If you already have your own business, but it isn’t as successful as you would like, it could be becausethe basic principles and concepts I’m sharing below aren’t part of your daily life…just food for thought.)

As you’re probably well aware, the internet has exploded with all types of products and services that are just a mouse click away. In today’s economy, there are more and more people starting a home-based and/or online business with the hope of supplementing their current income (or replacing lost income as a result of layoffs and downsizing).

If you’re like most of my clients, you’re first visit to my website is just one of the steps in getting started in this endeavor. With the proper preparations and commitment, this can work out very well for you. I believe you can enjoy great success and satisfaction in your business if it’s built on the right foundation.

Full disclosure: There is no possible way for me to cover every aspect of starting and running a business on a single web page and I won’t even attempt it. Let me start by assuming that you’ve done your homework and have checked out the vast resources available at the Small Business Administration (SBA). If not, please click here to make sure you’re getting started right and also complying with federal and state regulations! There are big penalties for not establishing your business correctly…even if it’s a hobby.

The principles and concepts I’m sharing are my opinions and may not be all-inclusive (and I am definitely not a legal or financial counselor/advisor), but I feel they provide the foundation and building blocks that will put you on the path to long-term success and prosperity as a solopreneur.

If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right. ~ Henry Ford

And on that note…here are some basic concepts that I believe you must understand in order to start and run a successful business:

Live and work by “The Golden Rule.” Whether you believe in God and the teachings of the Bible or not, there’s an inevitable truth that you will get what you give. If you sow the seeds of honesty and service, you will reap positive rewards. If you sow the seeds of dishonesty, selfishness and deceit, you can expect the same in return from those you work with. Edwin Markham said it in another way: “There is a destiny that makes us brothers. None goes his way alone; all that we send into the lives of others comes back onto our own.” Your business depends on your reputation and the ability of your customers to trust you. My advice…make this the founding principle in your business and your life.

Build relationships. If all you’re looking for is a one-time sale and then to move onto the next sale, your business will eventually run out of one-time sales. People are loyal to people, not products and services. (In most cases they can probably get your product or service from someone else.) It’s vital to your business that you build relationships with your prospective and existing customers. Make sure that they know you care and are looking to be a source of help and solutions for their needs. The sales will come. Just build those relationships.

You need a product and/or service. Will you be selling your own products and/or services or will you sell other people’s products and services or will it be a combination of both? I believe you should have your own products and/or services so that you aren’t dependent on other people’s success for your income. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with promoting other people’s products and services as an affiliate, but I believe you should lead with your own products and services. (Don’t forget – you can get affiliates to sell your products, too.)

Keep it simple. The less complex you make the process for your customers, the more likely they are to buy your products/services. Explain what you have to offer. Explain why they need it. Then give them a simple way to get it!

Sell something! You can run your business into the ground by over-planning and over-strategizing. If you have a product people want and you’re ready to offer it to the public, let the world know. If you wait until everything is perfect, you’ll never sell anything. You can fine tune your advertising and web pages based on customer feedback and what’s working and what isn’t. You need money to stay alive in business, so get your product out there for the world to see. I don’t want you to think that planning isn’t important. It is. But it shouldn’t be debilitating. If your website isn’t perfect, so what? Does it work? If your advertising layouts aren’t the most professional, who cares? Getting good information out to prospective customers is what’s important. Work your plan and then make adjustments along the way. Adjusting and “fine tuning” are processes you’ll continue to perform throughout the life of your business.

Build your audience. Are your products and services in demand? You’ll need to do market research to determine if people are looking for your products and services. Once you know that, you should constantly be building a “fan” base of prospective clients and striving to keep their interest with good content and helpful information. You can use SEO, advertising, press releases, “free stuff,” newsletters and social media to build your list, but it’s important to provide value and retain your customers. Also, don’t forget that “word of mouth” is a great source of advertising. If you treat your customers right, the word will spread! Use a newsletter or mailing list to stay connected with your prospective and existing customers. Remember to be yourself. Don’t be fake. People can see a fake a mile away. Don’t bombard your lists with useless emails and constant sales pitches. Find out what they need and how you can provide solutions to those needs. Take good care of the people on your lists and they’ll want to purchase your products and refer you to more people.

Celebrate your victories. You should be constantly evaluating the results of your efforts. Reward yourself for your successes, but don’t put yourself and your business in a bad financial situation by overspending. Many times, rapid success can lead to a feeling that you’ve “hit the jackpot” and have an endless stream of income. This can result in excessive (and irresponsible) spending. While there’s nothing wrong with having nice things and enjoying the “fruits of your labors,” don’t rush out and buy the Rolls Royce and move into a huge mansion that you don’t need. Enjoy your success, but be smart with your money.

Adjust for temporary defeats and disappointments. DON’T GIVE UP! As Napoleon Hill pointed out in his book, Law of Success, many people confuse a temporary defeat or setback as failure. Don’t make that mistake. Temporary defeats provide you with the perfect opportunity to look at a situation in a new light, learn from it and then adjust your efforts. Running a business has its ups and downs. There will always be things that you try that may not yield the results you’d hoped for. Learn from these, adjust and then make your next attempt a success.

Invest in yourself. When celebrating your successes and increased income, don’t forget to invest in yourself and your business. Become the expert in your field. Build your skills and talents. Never stop learning and improving. With the overwhelming amount of information and products on the internet these days, you need to stay on top of your game and always be striving to be the best in your industry. Read books. Improve your people and relationship skills. Hone your skills by attending training seminars and live events related to your industry. Not only do you learn new skills and keep in touch with industry knowledge, you meet other people that can become joint venture partners, sources of referrals and even future customers!

Mobile Ready Websites from Michael's Graphics

Make sure your website is “mobile friendly” or you may miss out on a lot of opportunities!

It’s estimated that over two-thirds of Americans have a smartphone. It’s also estimated that there are over a billion smartphone users in the world. That’s huge! If you have or plan to start your own business, I’d be willing to bet that some of those people are potential customers looking for your products and services right now on those mobile devices.

Thanks for taking the time to look over this page and its content. I hope this information has helped you in your decision-making processes. I’d also recommend that you check out my Recommended Resources page. It’s a short list of products that I’ve used and found to be very helpful in starting and running my business. If you’re not using these services (or similar ones), you may want to check them out.