Key points to consider when starting your own business from AOL Financial Editor Hilary Kramer:
- Make sure your business idea is solid to ensure success. Test your idea with friends and strangers. Be aware of your competitors, and find ways to differentiate yourself.
- Plot your public relations and advertising strategy. An idea is one thing, but letting people know about that idea is another.
- Line up financing and have a clear concise budget and financial plan. Don’t hesitate to use tools designed to assist small businesses such as the MasterCard BusinessCard.
- Mentally prepare. Starting a small business is hard work. You are not just the boss; you are also the accountant, the janitor and the receptionist.
- Keep your business and personal life separate. Too many people have learned the hard way that if you commingle business and personal responsibilities, you won't make any real progress in either.
- Stay organized and use technology. The No. 1 reason businesses fail is because of poor management.
Once your business is up and running, how do you grow and thrive?
- Confidence and perseverance. Don’t give up easily, and don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Funding your business. Make sure you have money set aside and that you properly allocate your expenses. Use the resources available to small business owners such as the MasterCard BusinessCard.
- Remain competitive and flexible. Keep your eye on the market.
- Don’t work in a vacuum. Connect with women in local business organizations.
- Don’t forget yourself. It is easy to let your new business consume you. Take breaks. Sometimes work can wait.
- The customer always comes first. The best way to be successful is to provide a product or service that exceeds your customers’ expectations. The key to a successful, long-term business is to build a base of loyal customers who return for products or services.