Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

Business Startups

101 posts

It’s easy to think, when you examine successful companies like Apple or Starbucks, that they were Apple and Starbucks from the start.

 

They weren’t.

 

Apple started in a garage. The original owners of Starbucks were content owning four stores until Howard Schultz showed up. What’s important to remember about these types of businesses and entrepreneurs is that they started off small…very small! It took time, patience and energy for those businesses to become big.

 

Take Richard Branson of Virgin, for example. Nowadays, the Virgin Group is huge – comprised of over 200 companies in more than 30 countries, specializing in air travel, mobile technology and much more. What you may not realize is that Virgin began as a tiny record company above a shoe shop in London and Branson had to barter his rent.

35344877_s.jpg

 

Originally, Branson started Virgin Records as a means of funding his culture magazine, Student. Virgin Records only found mild success, but it was enough for Branson to take the next steps toward expansion when he started an actual record studio. Branson took things slowly, step-by-step, but eventually bands like the Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols signed with Virgin Music.

 

One of the keys to Branson’s success is that he created multiple profit centers. That is, he paid attention to what the world needed and made a point to fill niches. That is how Virgin Records also became Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Megastores and Virgin Radio; similarly, it is why Virgin didn’t go under when digital music took over. Branson has even added space travel onto the Virgin empire, with Virgin Galactic.

 

Talk about one small step for man.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Bill Gates has a similar story. Nowadays, we automatically associate the name “Bill Gates” with massive wealth and success, but what many people don’t know is that Gates’ first company, started with his friend Paul Allen, was a dud. “Traf-o-Data” was supposed to analyze traffic patterns. It stalled.

 

After dropping out of Harvard and moving to New Mexico, Gates and Allen tried again, this time starting “Micro-Soft.” The first several years of Microsoft weren’t easy. Gates and Allen struggled to make a profit, and found themselves in a couple legal battles as well. With only 25 employees, Microsoft relocated outside of Seattle in 1979 – this is where they would eventually become successful. Gates’ mother, Mary, connected Bill to her IBM colleagues, to whom Gates would eventually sell a product called MS-DOS. It was those IBM connections that catalyzed Microsoft’s first success.

 

Before Microsoft got big, Bill Gates had to rely on family connections.

 

Or what about Martha Stewart? She is another one of the great small-to-big entrepreneurial tales. Stewart grew up in New Jersey and came from modest beginnings. As a teenager, she did some modeling to make some extra money, but eventually went to Barnard and graduated in 1962. Stewart finished her degree in European and Architectural History.

 

Martha worked on Wall Street for several years until she realized her true love was gourmet cooking. She decided to put her lucrative career aside to pursue her calling. She trained herself with Julia Child’s cookbook and started her own small catering company. It took about ten years before Martha Stewart became Martha Stewart, and notably, like Richard Branson and Bill Gates, Martha Stewart created many profit centers for her business – books, a magazine, hosting her own TV show, radio, and so on.

 

All of these anecdotes should be great inspiration to any entrepreneurial-minded folk with a big vision. As long as you’re OK with starting small, and only becoming bigger after time and hard work, then you have every reason to think that you can go out there and make your dream a reality.

 

READ GREAT ENTREPRENEURS WHO STARTED SMALL PART I

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.                                        

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

You can count me as one of those experts who paints a fairly rosy picture of entrepreneurship. I do so because I truly believe entrepreneurship can be a fulfilling, happy and lucrative endeavor.

 

But, as is the case with any positive enterprise, there are also pieces of the puzzle that one doesn’t often see. Here are my top five things that you need to know, but may not be told, before starting your own business.

 

Tips.png1. You will need more money than you think: One of the main issues entrepreneurs face when starting a new business is that it does indeed take money to make money. And the first question, of course, is where does that money come from? The usual suspects are yourself (savings, cashing out), friends and family, credit cards, SBA loans or a loan from your bank. The good news is that banks want to lend— it is their business, after all. It’s therefore your job to make your venture as solid as possible.

 

But another issue that often crops up for the new entrepreneur, as far as financing goes, is figuring out the amount of money that will actually be needed to launch the venture. This amount will likely be more than you suspect. You will need enough to open the doors, buy product, get inventory, market the business and pay yourself for at least 6 months, which is the minimum amount of time it takes to start, get the word out, get business and start the money cycle.

 

And as is the case with anything that requires a worthwhile investment— things will go wrong, mistakes will be made, unforeseen problems will arise. That is why you need to be prepared financially.

 

2. Make sure your e-presence is robust from the start: You must have a good website and a strong social media presence when you launch your business— this is not something that can wait for later, nor can it be done poorly. Nab the Twitter and Facebook domain names for your business as soon as you know what that name is. Get a good-looking website up and running before you have your grand opening party. You may even want to have some videos to post on the site and an e-newsletter ready to go for day one.

 

These days, your customers will find your company online as much as they will offline, maybe more so, so your online offering has to be top-notch.

 

3. You’ll need to use all your skills: Whatever your specialty at work is and whatever skills you’ve learned along the way, you’ll need to use those in business right from the very beginning. When you start, your resources and help will be limited, and you’ll wear a lot of hats. Whether you’ve always been good at accounting or have a knack for marketing, don’t discount your tried and true abilities even while you learn new ones.

 

4. You will need to get customers, pronto: Before you launch, no one knows about your new business, and you don’t have a built-in base of customers. You need to let everyone know that you exist. One way to start is by contacting everyone you know. Online platforms such as your website, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can help spread the word as well. Marketing and PR are another way, as is Pay-Per-Click. I suggest you come up with a multi-pronged approach to bring in customers before you launch.

 

5. Don’t forget to be patient: As you can see, it takes time, faith and perseverance— you must keep at it every day and stay true to your plan. It almost always pays off, especially if you were ready right from the start. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your new business won’t be either.

 

 


 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Many startups and companies in the early stages of their growth benefit from the management training, office environment, marketing and other resources provided by business incubators. But what is a business incubator? In our new article, you’ll get a quick overview of what incubators are and what they can do for your small business.

Business-Incubators.gif

 

Click here to download a PDF of this infographic.

What makes someone start a small business?

 

There are plenty of traits that go into being an entrepreneur, that’s for sure. For starters, if you want to start a business, you better have a lot of initiative. The fact of the matter is no one is going to tell you what to do, or what you should do, once you start your own business. You need to be able to come up with ideas and follow through on those ideas, all on your own.

 

Which leads to the next two required traits:

 

  • Creativity: When you read about entrepreneurship, this is an often overlooked trait, but in my experience, an essential one. It takes creativity to come up with a viable business idea, marketing plans, employee retention strategies, and all the rest.

 

  • Work ethic: Yes, we are all working very hard these days, but small business owners work that much harder. The willingness to put in the time necessary and to do whatever it is that is needed is one thing that distinguishes the successful small business owner.

 

Other things that go into the small business equation include willingness to live with uncertainty, risk-taking, and fortitude.

 

But I would suggest that the No. 1 requirement is confidence.

 

To leave your job that has the comfort of a regular paycheck and benefits, to use your money to come up with a vision and then move mountains to bring it to fruition requires one thing: Confidence. Confidence in yourself, confidence in those around you, and confidence in the economy as a whole are necessary to take the risks needed to create a startup.

 

That sort of entrepreneurial bullish confidence is one of the things that make this country great.

 

And it is just that sort of confidence that we see in the Fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. The SBOR is a fascinating survey. Twice a year since 2012, Bank of America has taken the pulse of 1,000 small business owners and come away with some really interesting results.

 

In the latest edition of the SBOR, we see small business confidence on display in spades. Consider these impressive stats:

 

  • Nearly eight in 10 (78%) of small business owners are reporting plans to grow their business over the next five years

 

  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) of small business owners say they expect their revenues to increase in the upcoming year

 

  • Millennials are the most optimistic generation, with 80% expecting an increase in revenues and 88% saying they planned on growing their businesses over the next five years. And Baby Boomers are the generation “least likely” to say they plan on growing their business. But still, the majority (56%) of them say they planned on doing so. What about Gen-Xers? They are a very confident lot too – 86% plan on growing their business in the next few years

 

Consider too this amazing statistic from the latest SBOR: “Small business owners’ confidence in the national economy rose 11% year-over-year, from 45% in 2014 to 56% in 2015, representing the highest increase since the inception of our survey in 2012.” (Emphasis added.)Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

Talk about confidence.

 

To me, the one thing that indicates whether a small business owner is truly confident relates to, not surprisingly, money. The willingness to take out a loan is the surest sign I know of that someone is confident in both themself as well as the economy as a whole. Entrepreneurship, after all, requires the willingness to take a risk with money to make money. If someone is truly willing to do that, he or she is truly an entrepreneur.

 

And once again, that is precisely what this edition of the SBOR indicates. “More small business owners intend to apply for a loan in 2016 than in previous years, with one in three (35%) indicating intent to apply for a loan in 2016, a considerable (11%) jump year over year. In addition, the number of small business owners who report they have applied for a loan in the past two years has increased by more than 50%in the last 12 months, rising from 29 to 44%.”

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

With loan applications expected to jump by a whopping 11% this year alone, and one in three small business owners intending to take on debt to grow their business, we are seeing this natural confidence of small business owners heading to new heights, and that’s good news for all of us.

 

Indeed, it’s great that small business owners tend to be a very confident group, but it’s even better that there’s a lot to be confident about these days.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

This is the time of year for making a list – and checking it twice!

 

Whether it is a list of gifts for the family or things you need to get done before festivities and vacations begin, making lists seems to be part and parcel of the holiday season. Yet, of all the lists you make this time of year, getting the digital side of your business in order should be at the top.

 

Why? Because with the holiday season, especially this e-holiday season, it’s shaping up to be the busiest ever. Cyber Monday is only a decade old, yet last year sales topped almost $3 billion, with the average order hitting $124 (source, Investopedia.)

 

According to the Fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, small businesses are poised to benefit from the holiday shopping season this year. The SBOR found that 31% of entrepreneurs surveyed are expecting Black Friday to provide a bump in sales (compared with only 17% last year), and 43% are expecting Cyber Monday to follow that up with a positive impact on their bottom line (compared to only 29% last year).

 

So the question is not whether this holiday season is going to be a super busy one, rather the question is, are you prepared to take advantage of this unique moment?

 

Let me suggest that if you want to really be ready for the holidays, it would behoove you to make one more list, and get these things checked off in the next few weeks:

 

  1. 1. Make cybersecurity a priority: The Fall 2015 SBOR contained some fascinating results, including this digital nugget: More than one in 10 small business owners report having been the victim of a cybersecurity breach. Even more alarmingly, 59% expressed concern over protecting their proprietary data.

 

That is real cause for concern as we head into the holiday season because the online threat to your business is very real, too real. According to the National Cybersecurity Institute, “Cybercrimes [in 2015] are not decreasing. Rather, more crimes will be committed. Recovery [for the small business] will be painful and disruptive.”

 

What can you do? The easiest and best thing is to purchase a cybersecurity software suite. An online search will reveal numerous excellent, respected online cloud services that can protect your vital business info 24/7/365.

 

Get one today.

 

  1. 2. Give your website an audit: As the SBOR finds, with people increasingly shopping online, more and more are going to be visiting your website. Even if you don’t engage in e-commerce, folks will be finding you online. As such, it is incumbent upon you to make a great first impression when they get there.

 

What can you do?

 

  • Add some fresh content
  • Make and post a video or two
  • Update your About page – make it current, friendly
  • Take down and post some new pictures

 

Aside from simply making your site more attractive to customers, doing the above will have the added benefit of upgrading your site in the eyes of search engines.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss


  1. 3. Hire a techie: In terms of technology and computers, too many small business owners plod along, getting by with computers that almost work right, cords that look too messy, websites that are a tad clumsy, spotty wireless connections, and all the rest. Especially during the busy holiday shopping season, you don’t want that.

 

And it is just so easy these days to get the tech help you need. For example, Craigslist in your area has a list of very affordable techies who can help you sort through your issues.

 

  1. 4. Try out a different social media platform: If you use Facebook, consider giving Twitter a try. If you use Twitter, check out Instagram. Potential new customers are out there on these different platforms.

 

You don’t have time or the ability to do that right now? That’s OK, that’s what interns and outsourcing are for. Again, a lot of people have mastered social media and they stand ready to help you.

 

The last bit of good news is that if you check just these few things off of your digital holiday to-do list, you will also be sure to be better prepared for managing the digital side of your business.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

The fact that we are living in an era when technology dictates much of what we do with our small businesses is not news. We are living through one of the most fundamental shifts in business ever. So the question is not whether technology is changing your business, because of course it is.

 

Rather, the question is, how can you best and most easily harness technology for your benefit? Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

The number of options when it comes to technology can be overwhelming. Let me suggest four easy things you can do today to, if not get ahead of the technology curve, then to at least stay up with the times.

 

1. Update your website: There was a time not long ago when I would have told you to “get a website!” But fortunately, that moment has seemed to have passed; most entrepreneurs understand that they must have a website.

 

But that begs the question: When is the last time you gave yourself a website audit? Take a look at your site:

 

  • Does it still say “© 2012” at the bottom? (It better not!)
  • How does your “About” page read? (It needs to be current.)
  • Do you have video on your homepage? (You should.)

 

Your website really is your window to the world these days, and the good news is that getting a new one or updating your old one requires neither a lot of time nor a lot of money. But it will yield a lot of results.

 

2. Dive into a new social media site: By the same token, many small business owners seem to have gotten the memo that social media is truly a unique and valuable opportunity. Even if they have not mastered exactly how to get it to impact their bottom line, many entrepreneurs have hopped on the social media bandwagon and at least mastered one of the platforms.

 

If that describes you, one easy way to use this technology revolution to your benefit is to take the time to learn another social media platform. If you are posting specials on Facebook, maybe Instagram might be a good addition, or Twitter, or Pinterest, for example.

 

The point is, there is a segment of your audience on these other sites right now, and if you begin to lock-in on them at platforms they are using, you likely will create a new profit center for yourself.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss


3. Upgrade some tech: At my site The Self Employed, we used to have a hosting plan that made sense when the site was launched. But after a few years, we were having tons of problems. The site had grown so much and was getting much more traffic and serving up a lot more pages, so it started to load slow and then eventually crashed.

 

But the cost of a server upgrade was not appetizing.

 

Too bad for me.

 

Eventually, we had to get a significant server upgrade. And boy are we glad we did. The site is a huge part of my business, and it runs like a champ now. So the question of course for you is, what part of your technology package could use an upgrade, and what sort of difference might it make?

 

4. Learn something new: There is simply so much new information that comes down the pike every day that it would be impossible to give one recommendation over another. For instance, I recently learned about a new product called Sway that really makes presentations pop. Learning about it will definitely improve my business.

 

What about yours?

 

Do a search for apps and products that strike your fancy or fit the bill. Check them out. I can guarantee there is something out there right now that you don’t know about that will either make your life easier, your business better, or both.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

Jill-Headshot_SM.pngBy Jill Calabrese Bain

 

As a sponsoring partner of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend the annual NAWBO Women’s Business Conference on behalf of Bank of America last month. It was an honor to celebrate a special 40th anniversary of an organization that is the voice for more than 9.1 million female business owners nationwide. During an enlightening and interesting few days, I learned from notable speakers such as Bonnie St. John, Muffy Davis and Leigh Anne Tuohy, as well as a diverse and knowledgeable group of business owners. A few takeaways throughout the conference resonated with me personally.

 

It’s apparent that small business owners make sacrifices every day, from working long hours, delaying their own raises and using personal funds for the success and betterment of their business. For many, it can be difficult to find the ideal balance of personal and business success. We were interested to learn how the findings from the latest iteration of the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report compared to the responses from NAWBO attendees on three specific areas many small business owners struggle to manage.

 

  • Utilizing personal funds for business purposes. Have you ever jeopardized your personal assets in order to carry costs for your business? You’re not alone – about half (53 percent) of NAWBO attendees have carried business costs on their personal credit cards (37 percent of female entrepreneurs nationally have, too).

 

  • Rewarding ourselves with fair compensation. When was the last time you gave yourself a raise? For our NAWBO attendees, 31 percent have never given themselves a raise, compared to nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of women small business owners nationwide.

 

  • Failing to find the right work-life balance. How often do you look at the clock and realize you’ve stayed at work far longer than expected? It’s common among female entrepreneurs, more than half (52 percent) of NAWBO attendees and about 56 percent of women business owners nationwide are working more than 50 hours a week.

 

The NAWBO Women’s Business Conference further illustrated the passion, dedication and hard work female business owners put into their organizations. This year’s conference theme of ‘inspire the change’ really stuck with me. It’s amazing to see such extraordinary women inspiring change each day by being leaders in their businesses, communities, and role models for future generations of female entrepreneurs.

 

The conference provided the opportunity for many of us to start an open conversation. What are you doing to reward yourselves? By rewarding yourself, you’ll not only see the benefits in your personal life, but in your business as well.

Steve Strauss

Writing a business plan

Posted by Steve Strauss Mar 16, 2015

I’ve got some news for you: you need to write a business plan.

 

I know you don’t want to. I didn’t want to either. Really, no one does. But the fact is, whether we want to or not, all entrepreneurs and small business owners need to create a business plan. The only way to get one is to sit down, crunch the numbers, analyze the data, review the competition, map out your strategy, do the work, and pound it out.

 

Here’s why:

 

Your business plan is your roadmap to success. It tells you, and others, how you plan to get from Point A to Point Z. Ask yourself this question: Would you ever get in your car before a long road trip and put a bag over your head before heading out? Of course not. With a bag over your head, you would never know if you were headed in the right direction, if you had enough gas, if a red warning light comes on, nothing.

 

Writing a business plan allows you to take the bag off of your head and see clearly where you are headed and how you plan on getting there. It is your blueprint for how you will get to where you want to go. It will allow you to really think through your enterprise, set goals, create benchmarks, and figure out what resources you will need to get those things accomplished. For that reason alone, a business plan is a valuable tool for anyone in business – whether they are just starting out or are a seasoned pro.

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

But even beyond that, a business plan is a necessary and valuable tool if you ever want to get outside funding for your enterprise. A banker will definitely want to see your business plan, as would any sort of angel investor.

 

So, how do you actually write a business plan? There are all sorts of ways to get one done. You can Google it, of course, and find many samples, but better than that, I suggest to use some business planning software that will walk you, step-by-step, thought the process. I am partial to the products put out by Palo Alto Software, especially their online site and tools, Bplans. I think they make it as easy and painless as possible.

 

What will be in your plan? Essentially, it should cover the following areas (note: while your actual business plan will probably be around 30 pages, we have added in some excerpts below so you can get an idea of what each section might look like):

 

Executive summary: This is the “greatest hits” of your business. What is your secret sauce, why is your business special, why should someone be interested in what you are doing, how will you make a profit? Put your best foot forward here.

 

As a specialty coffee retailer that will be providing hot and cold beverages at drive-through locations throughout the metro area, The Daily Perc (TDP) will tap into the growing trend for specialty coffee. Using only the best beans and ingredients, as well as daily specials, TDP will drive sales by targeting both daily commuters as well as the casual coffee drinker.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

Business and industry overview: Tell us about your business in more detail, and how it fits into the marketplace and competitive landscape. Is this a thriving industry? What are you bringing to the party?

 

The coffee industry has grown by tremendous amounts in the U.S. over the past decade. Starbucks, the national leader, had net reveue sales in excess of $14 billion last year, and even across-the-board coffee sales generally have increased.

 

Competition and competitive advantage: Explain here who your competition is and who you think it will be in the future, and how you expect to deal with them and gain market share.

 

There are four major competitors in TDP’s drive-through market. They are the national chains of Starbucks and Panera, as well as two local businesses. The advantage that TDP will offer is that we will have Starbucks’ quality at grocery store prices.

 

Customer acquisition and marketing: In this section of your business plan, you will think through whom your customers will likely be, how you will market to them, and your strategy for capturing their attention, and dollar.

 

Additionally, because digital is so important now, you will also outline your Web strategy here, any social media marketing plans, and so on.

 

The Daily Perc will penetrate the commuter and casual coffee market by deploying a two-fold strategy. First, our locations will only be found in highly trafficked locations, and our distinctive blue and gold motif will draw attention to the stores. Second, we will be hiring a local digital marketing company to spearhead a robust social media marketing campaign

 

Financials: For most entrepreneurs, this is the tough stuff. In this section you will need to outline your startup costs, operating budget, cash flow, break-even analysis, income and expenses, profit and loss statements, and so on.

 

How do you know this information if you are a new startup? The answer is the same as with the rest of your business plan – research. No, you don’t know exactly how much you will make in Year 1 (let alone Year 5), so all you can do is estimate to the best of your ability. (A word of caution – do not exaggerate. Experienced business people can see through puffed-up numbers in a flash.)

 

The Daily Perc’s financial picture is quite promising. Initial cost outlays will be reduced given that the two planned locations have already been secured and were previously remolded as drive through locations.

 

[Add financials here.]

 

Benchmarks: Throughout the plan, you will list what you will want to accomplish, and by when. Benchmarks might be income, profit, Web traffic . . . it all depends.

 

By the end of Year 1, the two locations will have generated 288,000 tickets, resulting in $588,000 in revenue. Sales are expected to grow by nearly 400% in the second year due to the addition of two more locations. On the marketing front, our social media campaign should result in 50,000 Facebook Likes by Year Two, and Website traffic of 10,000 pageviews a month.

 

As you can see, a business plan is a valuable tool for all sorts of reasons, but the main one is this: It reduces the risk of your enterprise. By thoroughly thinking through your venture, you lower the odds of making a big mistake; by taking the bag off of your head, you will see things more clearly.



About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

http://www.smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/people/Steve%20Strauss/content

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here


About a month ago, I shared a story about Dr. Spencer Silver of 3M who invented a unique type of glue that wasn’t very sticky. It took him and his colleagues almost a decade to eventually figure out how to turn the unique substance into a profitable, useful idea. The company eventually developed Post-Its, one of 3M’s best products ever.

 

The point of the story is that the big idea is often the easiest part of innovation. Who hasn’t had a great idea or seen a product or business and said, “I thought of that!”? We all have. But how many of us brought our genius idea to market? Not many.

 

While big ideas are great, the real trick is the next step, the part after you have your “Eureka Moment” – the actual manifestation of that idea into a viable, commercial product, service, or business. Thomas Edison had it right when he said that “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

What do you do after inspiration hits? Here are the steps:

 

1. Get feedback: I will reiterate this point from Part 1 because I think it is very important. As entrepreneurs, we tend to be an optimistic, enthusiastic, rose-colored-glasses group. But that can also be our blind spot and downfall.

 

Before investing a ton of time, energy, or money into your visionary idea, make sure that other people like it too. No, they may not see what you see (that is the nature of having a big, unique idea), but you still want to make certain that people whose opinion you trust agree that it is an idea worth pursuing, and that it is commercially viable.

 

2. Make a prototype / test it: The next step depends on what type of idea you have:

 

  • If it is an idea for a business, you will want to test it with a small group to see if it will work on a larger scale. There is a very popular book out right now which explains how to do this, called The Lean Startup.

 

  • If it is a product that you want to make, then you will need to make a prototype. Tiffany Krumins went on the first episode ever of Shark Tank to pitch her product,  Ava the Elephant –

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss


3. Protect your idea: First, you will want to protect your idea by obtaining a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). An NDA is a legal document that tells people that you will be sharing confidential, proprietary information with them and they cannot use it in any way without your prior written consent. You can find and tailor an NDA to your needs fairly easily online. One place you could check out is LegalZoom.com.

 

Next, and this part is not as easy, you will need a copyright, and maybe a patent. Copyrights protect writing, designs, logos, brand names and more. You can apply for a copyright online at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

 

Patents protect products; if you have a unique product that you want to legally protect, you will need to get one. This will require the assistance of an attorney and can be costly.

 

4. Get your business funded: Needless to say, you will need capital to get your new business or product off of the ground. A small business loan or other funding mechanisms will help you receive legal assistance to protect your idea fund the prototype, which allow you to get your business up and running.

 

5. Bring it to market: A product will need to be produced and distributed. A business will need to launch and find customers. This is the critical step. Everything else was the foundation for getting to this place.

 

6. Analyze, and pivot if necessary: The invention or business you originally thought of may not be the same as the one you bring to market. Great businesses see what works, and what doesn’t, and then make changes as needed.

 

7. Throw a party! Very few people get to this place, so be sure to celebrate your perseverance, smarts, vision, and good fortune.



About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

http://www.smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/people/Steve%20Strauss/content

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here





In 1968, a research scientist named Dr. Spencer Silver with the 3M Company experimented with different configurations of compounds in an effort to create a sticky glue. One day, the scientist ended up with glue that was practically the opposite of what he was trying to create – it wasn’t very sticky at all.

 

However, Dr. Silver’s new glue was unique since it stayed somewhat sticky, even after repeated use. Dr. Silver knew that he had created something interesting and potentially valuable, but wondered what it could be used for. Since he was unsure of the full potential of this glue, he conducted internal demonstrations within 3M, hoping someone could figure out a use for the glue.Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

That someone turned out to be fellow 3M employee, Art Fry. Fry happened to be a singer in his church choir. He often marked his hymnal with paper bookmarks. One day while at church, Fry mistakenly tipped the book upside down and all of his bookmarks fell out. It was then that he said to himself, “I sure wish I had a sticky bookmark.”

 

Eureka!

 

Fry realized that Dr. Silver’s sort-of-sticky glue would be perfect. While it would still take several years and lots of work, in the end, the Post-It became one of the most successful products in 3M history.

 

The problems faced by Stuart Silver and Art Fry were not unique. Lots of people have great ideas, but the real question then is, how do you capitalize on it?

Several years ago, I wrote a book on this very subject called
The Big Idea: How Business Innovators Get Great Ideas to Market. The book looked at everything from Post-Its to Silly Putty to the Xerox machine – all ideas that were ahead of the curve. The question for these innovators was the same one that Silver and Fry had, and the same you or I would have after coming up with a big idea. That question is:  “What’s next?”

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

One thing I learned while developing the book is that the next step is to make sure other people think it is a great idea too because not every big idea is a great idea. If you have ever watched the TV show Shark Tank, you know what I am referring to . Different entrepreneurs come on the show with exciting, innovative, commercial ideas and products that the Sharks love and want to invest in. Other times contestants have invested time and money into a product idea that should never have been pursued.

 

Yes, entrepreneurs are dreamers and visionaries, but there is a fine line between vision and myopia, and the latter can be dangerous.

 

So the first step after the big idea is to make sure other people think it is a great idea too; you don’t want to invest a lot of time and money into an idea that only you think is extraordinary. Share your idea with your spouse and speak with business associates. You want to see whether others share your enthusiasm and understand your vision.

 

Specifically and importantly, you want to gauge whether the idea is commercially viable.  Will people actually pay money for it?

 

After that, the next initial step is to analyze what resources you will need to get from Point A to Point Z. The process of actually manifesting that idea is usually not an easy, quick, or inexpensive one. George DeMestral looked at some burrs in his sock under a microscope and had a vision for what would become a new fastener – Velcro. But this took a decade and he almost went bankrupt twice before the idea became one of the most successful products in history.

 

So those are your initial steps – analyze and then clarify the idea.

 

After that, it is a matter of logistics – making a prototype, legally protecting your idea (though this could also be done earlier in the process to protect your idea prior to sharing it with business professionals), receiving funding, and then introducing it to market.

 

That’s what we will look at in my next article. Stick around!


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

http://www.smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/people/Steve%20Strauss/content

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here






With the kids back in school, summer vacation is a warm memory and the leaves on the trees are beginning to change color just a bit; fall always seems like a new beginning and a good time to think ahead.

 

While business planning is well intentioned, it can leave us with ideas that either go unexecuted or fit into a deliberate business strategy.

 

So let me suggest a process that is easy, quick and will be sure to not only keep you on track, but make the most of the valuable time you spend planning that is most likely taken away from your “day job”. I learned this process from real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, from Shark Tank. Barbara famously took a $1,000 loan from her mother and parlayed that into a New York real estate empire worth millions.

 

Impressive of course, but the thing to remember is that she started small.

 

So, how did she grow her business big? Barbara says that every year, she would ask herself and her team a few simple questions.

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

The first had to do with the direction of the business:

 

“Where do we want to be in one year? In five years?”

 

How easy is that? Yes, it takes some forethought and time to answer, but it crystallizes everything into one basic sentence. It is the sort of question that could be answered in a few minutes if you really know where you are headed, or it could take a few hours to hammer out. Either way, you can see that the answer is quite valuable.

 

Let’s say you own a cupcake shop. Undoubtedly, you spend the majority of your time baking, taking orders, delivering cupcakes and all the rest. How much time do you really have for a brainstorming and business overview? Probably not much.

 

But that is why this first question is so great. It should not really be that tough to answer, and yet the answer can become a compass for your endeavors. If you want to open a new cupcake shop in the next year, and two more in the next five, then having that in the back of your mind will help guide your daily activities.


Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

Barbara’s second question is:

“Given the answer to the first question, what resources do we need to get there?”

 

And, boiled down, that’s all we really need to know, isn’t it? You might say, “Well, to open a second cupcake shop, I will need to get a loan, and also find a great location.” And that, in turn, should give structure to your efforts over the next twelve months. Of course, you will need to bake and sell, but having answered these two critical questions, you can now gear your daily efforts towards realizing your goal. There is no long, complicated process necessary.

 

Most small business owners are just so busy with their business that they really don’t have a lot of time to focus on the big picture. That is why Michael Gerber famously advised in his book The E-Myth that we should try and spend more time working on our business than in our business.

 

And that is what you might want to consider doing too, with this simple exercise:

 

1. Where do you want your business to be in a year?

 

2. What resources do you need to get there?


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

http://www.smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/people/Steve%20Strauss/content

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here



Starting a business is part of the American Dream, isn’t it? For many people, becoming your own boss ranks right up there, along with owning a home, making a good living, and living a life of freedom.

 

But it’s not for everybody.

 

I have known quite a few people who have put a lot of time, money, effort, forethought, and energy into becoming an entrepreneur only to find that they didn’t like the gig too much after all. They were surprised, of course. When you plan to take on something as big as starting your own business, you expect that you’ll like it. But, for various reasons – the time involved, the ups and downs, the lack of structure, finances – it doesn’t always work out.

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

Some people are athletes, some are musicians, some are better at being employees, and some people are meant to be entrepreneurs. We are all different, and you need to be sure entrepreneurship is right for you before you jump into the deep end of capitalism.

 

Here’s some food for thought that can help you begin to answer that question: Think about your job. Think about your boss, your paycheck, your benefits, your co-workers, the work you love, and the work you hate – everything – and then think about leaving all of that behind.

 

Does the thought make you more scared or excited?

 

If leaving gets you more excited than scared, then you are on the right path towards entrepreneurship. You will notice that I did not say that you should not be scared at all, anyone in their right mind should be a little nervous at the thought of leaving the security of a job for the uncertainty of a new business. But for the entrepreneur at heart, the excitement outweighs the fear.

 

Beyond that, there are several other things to consider before starting your own business.

 

For starters, do you have the support of your family? Entrepreneurship is tough enough, but it is doubly difficult if your partner is not on board. When I left the “security” of the big law firm, my wife was pregnant with our second child, yet she signed off on my dream to start my own law firm because she knew that 1) I was not cut out to be an employee, and 2) it was, in fact, my dream to be self-employed.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

Do you have the resources needed to do it the right way? Of course, there are times when you have to go off on your own when the circumstances are less than ideal – you got fired, for instance – but it is far better if you can do it the right way. That means having enough money to start the business, lease an office or store, buy inventory, and be able to live for at least six months. I say six months because that is the amount of time it will take, generally speaking, to open up shop, get customers, do some work, invoice, and get paid.

 

Starting a business on a shoestring is doable, and in some ways smart, but you also must be smart and prudent. If you are going to be giving up your steady paycheck, you have to have the resources on hand to be able to absorb that hit for a while.

 

Are you able to live with uncertainty? One of the great things about working for someone else is that there is built-in structure. Someone else is the rainmaker and brings in the money and the work. You get a regular paycheck. You have colleagues and people with whom you work. Even something as simple as supplies are handled by someone else. But, this is not the case when you become the boss, especially at the beginning when it will necessarily be a small venture and you will have to wear many hats.

 

If you read my articles regularly here at the Bank of America Small Business Community (or at USATODAY.com), then you know I am an unabashed advocate for entrepreneurship. But that said, I also know it is not a path to be undertaken lightly. So be sure to consider all of the ramifications, both good and bad, before you start your journey.


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

http://www.smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/people/Steve%20Strauss/content

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

 

 




Seniors start more businesses than people under the age of 30! I know, I was surprised, too. It may surprise you even more that the ones started by seniors have a greater chance of success than those started by the young. These two facts taken together should show you that you are never too old to start your own business, and should also suggest that there may be more opportunities for seniors looking to fund a new business.

 

Here then are 6 tips to help you get started:

 

1. Pick something you are passionate about. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon of a product or service that is supposed to be “the next big thing,” instead, pick something you are passionate about. A new business will take a lot of time if you do it right, and you want to spend that time doing something you love.

 

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

It is also true that if you are passionate about something and you know that area well, then that experience will be a big leg up. It is also a major reason why senior entrepreneurs are so successful.

 

2. Don’t take a big risk when funding the business: When you are older, you have less time to make up for financial mistakes. Because a startup is, of course, somewhat risky, one way to hedge against that risk is by being prudent where

possible.

 

So, for instance, don’t look to take out a second mortgage on your home to finance your venture, and you shouldn’t tap into your retirement account. Instead, consider these options:

  • Talk to your state Department of Commerce and see what grants and loans may be available to senior entrepreneurs; you might be surprised.
  • Also, consider crowd funding sites like Kickstarter. If you have a unique idea, getting friends, family and the public to fund it is a more preferable way to go.

3. Come up with a strategy and/or business plan: Even if your plan isn’t to become a major global corporation, you need to treat your business venture as a serious proposition. This means that you need to sit and come up with a plan and a strategy. Your business plan doesn’t need to be elaborate, but you do need to have a strategy for how you plan on getting from A to B to C.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

4.  Learn to love the Internet and social media. Like it or not, the internet and social media networks have become the place for word of mouth marketing and business promotion. Forget placing ads in print magazines or making flyers, because that is yesterday’s news. You will get a far better response using, for instance, a Google or Facebook ad. So, take some courses online or at your local community college, and research just what is available to you in internet marketing.

 

5. Embrace the mobile revolution. I was recently at an Internet marketing event and they said that 60% of all email is now read on a mobile device. Similarly, almost half of all searches now are done on a mobile device. Whatever business you start must be searchable and findable by a mobile device.

Mobile is not only the future, it’s also the present.

 

6. Become a lifelong learner. One of my favorite business authors (Barbara Winter, author of Making a Living Without a Job), says that one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur is that you have to become a lifelong learner. If you develop the habit of always learning about business and what is coming down the pike, you will be well prepared to serve your customers.

 

The bottom line is that as a senior, you have valuable experience that translates well into the world of entrepreneurship. Use it wisely.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

http://www.smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/people/Steve%20Strauss/content

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 


 

 


If there was one business mistake that I saw far too often back when I practiced law, it was the entrepreneur who failed to choose the right legal entity for his or her business.

 

It seems like no big deal, right? I mean after all, does it really make that much of a difference if you choose, say, a partnership over a Limited Liability Company (LLC)? You bet it does. It’s a huge deal in fact. It could, for instance, mean the difference between keeping your house and losing it.

 

When many entrepreneurs start out, they begin their venture as sole proprietors and the reason for this is simple: this form of business is easy and cheap to create. All you need to do is obtain a business license and a bank account, and away you go. No expensive lawyer to retain, no complicated forms to fill out. And no legal protection (but I will get to that in a moment).

 

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngThere are, essentially, four different forms your business can take:

 

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
  • LLC

 

There are pros and cons to each, so let’s take a look.

 

Sole proprietorship: This is the proverbial ‘hanging out a shingle’ approach. It takes but a few forms to create a business this way and that is because it is not really a separate business. It is considered “doing business as” or a dba. Sheila Bookman is doing business as Sheila Bookman Enterprises.

 

The problem for Sheila is that, because she and the business are one and the same, if anything goes wrong with the business, Sheila is personally on the hook. If the business gets sued, Sheila is the one being sued. If the business goes under, it is Sheila’s personal debt.

 

Partnership: If you have a partner, then your business can be a partnership (or a corporation or LLC as explained below). But, as with a sole proprietorship, a partnership does not afford the partners any legal protection. The good news though is that you will have a partner, and not unlike a marriage, your partner is equally responsible for the business’ debts and obligation so in that regard it spreads the risk around.

 

Another option is something called a limited partnership. This means there is one “general partner” (you, for instance) and several limited partners. The general partner runs the day-to-day operations of the business, while limited partners are essentially passive investors with limited liability.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

Corporations: S and C corporations (S and C are subchapters of the tax code) are another option that solves the problem of liability. Once incorporated, the business becomes a separate legal entity and is liable for the business’ debts and activities. If something goes wrong, it is the corporation, and not you individually, that is liable.

 

Becoming incorporated offers other benefits as well, including:

 

  • The ability to issue stock, and thereby attract investors
  • The chance to offer employees shares of the business
  • An opportunity to  enhance credibility since people tend to take a business more seriously if there is an ‘inc.’ after the name

 

To get these benefits requires the owner(s) to follow the rules and procedures for starting and maintaining a corporation. This may require the assistance of an attorney, an accountant, or both. You will need to file the right documents with your state, keep records, hold directors meetings, and, do all of those things that a proper business is expected to do.

 

Additionally, there are tax consequences to choosing the corporate structure, and these must be reviewed with your team so that you can make the right decision for your business.

 

LLCs: Limited Liability Companies are like a cross between a corporation and a partnership. Like a partnership, they are less formal, but they still provide the limited liability that makes the corporate structure so attractive. That said, there are also a few downsides to the LLC structure:

 

  • Taxes: Single-member LLC owners are treated as sole proprietorships for tax purposes and must pay self-employment tax on income generated by the LLC (unless it chooses to be taxed as a corporation). With multi-member LLCs, the profits and losses are generally treated as individual income for each LLC member.
  • Investment issues: Because corporations have been around longer (LLCs are a fairly recent phenomenon) and investors are used to them, an entrepreneur may find the corporate structure more conducive to outside investment.
  • Lack of structure: The very nature of an LLC, with its looser structure, may be problematic unless clear lines are laid out from the start.

 

However, these drawbacks do not usually prove to be too significant, and unsurprisingly, LLCs are the structure of choice for many entrepreneurs.

 

Choosing the right form for your business does not need to be overly difficult or time-consuming, but it is something that requires some thought and effort. You should definitely speak with your lawyer before making this decision. It is Business 101 to choose the right form, and is business malpractice if you don’t take this choice seriously.

 

So, let’s pass the first test and make the right, smart decision.

 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and interviewees.  You should consult a qualified professional to assist you in determining the most effective business structure and/or tax structure for your business.

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

http://www.smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/people/Steve%20Strauss/content

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

I have a good friend who started a bed-and-breakfast with his wife five years ago. It had long been their dream to ditch the rat race and become their own boss. Understandable, especially since they seemed to have a great relationship. But I must confess that we (my buddy’s pals) didn’t love the idea. It was not that we didn’t like his wife – we did, very much. We just felt that too much of a good thing might become a bad thing.

 

But here they are five years later, and business is booming. When I asked him how the being-married-to-your-business-partner thing is going, he responded, “The good news is that I see Rachel a lot. The bad news is that I see Rachel a lot.”

 

All joking aside, he is very happy with his choice but cautions that it is not for everybody. Having spoken with him, and a few of the other people I know who have worked with their spouse, I have compiled five suggestions that should help anyone considering the same approach:

 

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

1. Playing the game is different than watching the game. Running a business is like being on a team together. When working together, spouses will play the game on the same field every day. You will not have someone cheering you on from the sidelines. So ask yourself: would you rather have a teammate on the field with you or in the stands cheering you on?

 

Additionally, on a day-to-day level, this also means you will be working the daily grind with your partner. He or she will not ask you how your day was when you get home, because they already know.

 

2. Divide and conquer. Running a business is not the same, not by a long shot, as being in a relationship. Just as you would with any business partner, sit down with your spouse and assess your weaknesses and strengths. One of the best parts of bringing in a business partner, be it your spouse or not, is that they add to the skill set of your business. As an entrepreneur, you undoubtedly have your strengths and weaknesses. When choosing to work with your spouse, be sure to divide up the duties so that you play to each other’s strengths.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

3. Set some ground rules. When you work with your spouse, it is always personal. Figure out the best way to work together, and write down a few written guidelines that each of you will try to follow. But remember this too: rules are made to be broken. Guidelines are just that. They will change as you and your business do. When in doubt, communicate.

 

4. Take time away . . . alone. As with most new entrepreneurs, expect to work hard and get little time off with your new business. As such, that makes whatever time you do have to get away important. And this is even truer when you work and live with your business partner. So be sure to take a break, even if it’s only for coffee, a walk, or a night out with friends. It’s smart to carve a little breathing room for yourself, and it’s healthy for your marriage and your business.

 

5. Fake it ‘til you make it. Anyone who says they know the secret to running a business successfully with your partner is probably wrong. Sure, ask for advice, but remember you and your partner know your relationship and your business best. What works for someone else may not work for you. Know that it usually takes a while before you ease into some comfortable roles in your business.

 

In the end, the best advice is to take the tips and advice that you like and make them your own. Running a business with your spouse is an adventure. Enjoy the ride.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

http://www.smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/people/Steve%20Strauss/content

 

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

Filter Article

By tag: