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There is a lot you must know to be successful, yet few of us who own small businesses have the opportunity to attend a good business school. My advice:
1. Join business groups where you can take advantage of other peoples’ mistakes and knowledge. Think Chamber of Commerce and other networking groups. There is so much to learn, and you, too, have so much to teach.
2. Do not follow a lame or nonexistent marketing strategy. You might have the best of whatever but no one will know about it if you don’t get the word out. The best way to do this is through public relations. PR is so expensive, you will argue. It doesn’t have to be. Guerrilla marketing has long been an acceptable, low-cost, viable option. Go to your local bookstore and buy the book entitled Guerrilla Marketing to learn about it.
3. Make sure your legal ducks are in a row. There are a lot of eager business-law attorneys out there who can and will give you the legal structure and advice you need at a reasonable fee. Don’t pay by the hour if you can avoid it, as that encourages providers to take more time. Try to get work done for a project fee vs. an hourly rate. Times are tough, even for attorneys, and they are accepting terms these days that are reasonable.
4. Communication. I don’t know if they even teach this one in business schools but it couldn’t be more important. Poor communication between departments can bring a business to its knees. Make sure you hire good communicators and team players with the requisite area of expertise.
5. Good signage. If you are a retail shop: location, location, location. Even then, have a big, easy-to-read sign.
6. Embrace the inevitable challenges that come along. Don’t stress and get overwhelmed. Everything has a solution, so surround yourself with creative thinkers.
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