5 tips to make your new small business a success

Whatever your reason for starting a new small business — to have creative freedom, be your own boss, or offer a new service or product to the marketplace — there's a lot to learn. Independent workhorses, try these ideas to help your small business succeed.

1. assemble a capable team

Your business is your dream and design, but once you begin hiring employees, the business itself is no longer your only responsibility. One of the most important things you can do early on in starting a business is apply a team structure to your plan, no matter how small your team is or will be. And even if you don't have the financial means or demand for a team currently, it's wise to devise a business plan that includes one. Going it alone rarely pans out in the long run, regardless of the industry you're in.

Rather than wearing yourself out (or your resources) by trying to power through solo, a successful company requires people to power it, so consider starting up with people, not just capital.

2. make a “not-to-do” list

When you're fine-tuning your business plan, coming up with a list of things not to do is equally as important as figuring out what needs to be done. It's great to have goals in mind when envisioning your business, but in order to achieve those goals, consider occasionally swapping your big-picture mentality for the details, like this sampling of don'ts:

  • Don't always go with your gut — sometimes what you want originally or impulsively can trump what's true about an opportunity or problem. Try to combat feelings with facts when hard decisions need to be made.
  • Don't rely on handshake deals — legitimate though the tradition may be, sadly, a simple handshake doesn't cut it in business anymore. It's important to get any deal down on paper, complete with set timeframes, signatures…things you can reference and fact-check in the future.
  • Don't ignore social media — having an easy-to-use website and blog (and all the other bells and whistles associated with an online presence, like Facebook and Twitter accounts) can help your business reach more people more easily.

3. “why?” vs. “yes”

You might want to embrace all the opportunities you can when you're first starting out. But it's important not to assume that every chance should be taken, or that saying yes to all opportunities will positively impact the future of your business. You can make more informed decisions if you begin by asking yourself what your motivation is for saying yes (and if your yes could logically pay off).

Because of the newfound autonomy that comes with starting a company, saying yes can be especially tempting for new small-business owners. If you want to succeed in a competitive marketplace, explore your motivations rather than relying on your impulses.

4. ask for help from reliable sources

It's great to ask friends and family for input because they make up an invaluable personal support system. But you can broaden your network of dependable professional resources by looking for local help through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). You can connect with:

  • SCORE: a nonprofit association supported by the SBA with 11,000-plus volunteer mentors, counseling, free or affordable workshops, and more
  • Certified Development Companies: nonprofit corporations certified and regulated by the SBA that work with lenders who in turn help finance small businesses
  • Women's Business Centers: a national network of educational centers intended to assist women building their own companies

5. get insurance to protect your business

Most new small businesses require at least a little bit of coverage. Even if you only hire one employee, that's reason enough to get protection for you, your business, and of course, your employee. If you operate a business out of your home, it might seem reasonable to assume that your homeowners insurance might be good enough, but that's rarely the case. Your homeowners insurance probably won't cover all forms of liability (at least not to the extent that you might need).

Insurance for smaller businesses tends to be affordable. See how reasonable unique coverages (like liability protection and property insurance) can be when you compare free quotes through our partner, BizInsure.

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Disposing of your e-waste
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