Opening a Small Business

Opening a small business. Simple. Think of something that solves someone else's problem. Sell the product or service for enough money to make a profit. That's it. Sounds easy, doesn’t' it? Well, it's not always as easy as it sounds. Unless, of course, you have a plan.

I know - I tend to harp on the subject of business plans a lot. But they are so important when opening a small business! How do you know what you are going to sell, who you are going to sell it to, and how much you are going to charge if you don't have a plan? Network marketers - how will you decide who to present your business opportunity to? How will you know that this person would be a great business partner and that one will make a great customer for your products? How many contacts do you need to make a week and where will you find your leads?

Convinced yet? Great! Let's get started. Answer the following questions, put it all together in a nice little package and you will have your business plan.

1. What products or services are you going to offer? If you don't know the answer to this question, you are not ready. That doesn't mean you should give up opening a small business. It just means we have a little more prep work to do before we get to this stage. For our example, let's say you are going to open a cleaning service.

Network marketers - same question. What products or services does your business offer? Since I am so familiar with Melaleuca, we'll use them as our example. So, Melaleuca offers nutritional and weight loss products, pet products, beauty products, cleaning products, hair care products and several others. It also offers people the chance to open their own home business.

2. What problem does your product or service solve? The cleaning service can solve several, depending on your target market. If you are cleaning homes, you can solve the problem of busy home owners who don't have the time to keep up with the housework. Cleaning offices solves the problems of busy business owners who don't have time to clean their office space and don't want to hire a full time janitorial staff. Maybe you want to specialize such as cleaning up after flood damage.

Network marketers - same question. Network marketing opportunities solve the problem of people wanting to open their own business but don't have the money, time, or knowledge to invest in starting from scratch. What problems do your products solve? At Melaleuca we have products that solve health problems, weight problems, pet health problems, skin care problems, fitness problems. Look at your company's product offerings and ask what problem do they solve; what need do they meet?

3. What is your target market? When opening a small business, it is critical that you know who your potential customers are. In the case of the cleaning service, it could be professional women. Or it could be men. How many busy single dads could use a housekeeper? How about the baby boomer market? Many boomers lead active lives and would love to not worry about the housework. (Call me, I'm in the market!)

Network marketers - What is the target market for your business opportunity? People who want freedom? Freedom from time clocks and bosses? Moms who want to be able to stay home with their children but still earn some income? Retirees who want to bring in some extra money?

Who are your potential customers for your products?

4. Opening a small business almost always requires supplies. What supplies do you need to open your business? In the case of the cleaning service you will definitely need cleaning supplies. What type will you need? In addition to the cleansers and polishers, will you need to supply your own vacuum? Rug shampooer? Mops and buckets? Will you need a bigger vehicle to haul your supplies in?

Network marketing companies usually supply most of the resources necessary to get started. But there is always a cost to get started. And many of them require you to purchase a certain amount of the product in order to get paid. I would count that as a necessity since you don't earn money without it.

5. How will you advertise your business? Business cards are a must. Will you make flyers or brochures? Place ads in the local newspapers? Will you build a website? What about the yellow pages? Opening a small business takes more than just throwing up a website, printing some flyers, and waiting for customers to roll in. You have to let people know who and what you are.

Network marketers - how will you find leads? Will you buy them? Most network marketing companies supply a website either free or for a nominal cost. But it looks just like every other rep's. Will you build one of your own that's unique? You should also have business cards. Does the company supply them? How will you market your products?

6. Now that you have an idea of what supplies you will need and what types of marketing you are going to do, how much money will you need to invest? Opening a small business can require some financial investment. Just do the math and add it all up.

7. Where will you get the money to open your business? Do you have enough set aside to cover the costs? Will you apply for a small business loan? Can friends or family help you? Will you continue to work your present job to help cover the costs of your new business until it starts earning enough money? Do you have savings to live on while you build your business? Approximately how long will it take before you are earning a suitable income?

Now that you have answered these questions, you should be able to complete a simple business plan. And a simple plan is all you need to get started.

Ready? Click on the links for advice and resources to assist you each step of the way in opening a small business. Boomer Business Ideas Home business plan template Small Business Financing Small Business Grants Finding Your Business Model Insuring Your Business Work Your Business Help and Advice Starting Out With Way Too Little Money

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