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The Solitary Secret To Running A Successful Small Business Eludes Many Entrepreneurs

Sep 16, 2008
There is no shortage of tips and techniques about how to open and manage a business of your own. Be cautious about following much of the advice from self appointed business gurus, many of whom have never owned or managed any kind of small, independent business themselves.

Most can talk the talk but few have ever actually walked the walk.

Frankly, going it alone is not for everyone. The reality is the life of an entrepreneur can be unkind, tough and too often, short.

When you open your own business you will need to slay all manner of dragons that constantly rise up to crush rookie business owners. Making it on Main Street requires more than strong mojo.

Motivation is important but the real key to making it on your own is to clearly define (on paper!) what is (or will be) truly unique about your business and exactly who your target market is, where they hang out and how you can cost effectively reach them.

Far too often, people plunge into business based upon what they know and what they want to do. People who love to cook open restaurants. Above average mechanics launch vehicle repair shops. Number crunchers start accounting businesses. This is the Ready-FIRE-Aim approach.

Once the euphoria of the launch is over, reality sets in - Hey, this is one heckuva lot of work for not so much money. That is when the new business owner realizes that perhaps they missed something in all of the blood, sweat and tears invested in starting their enterprise.

The survival statistics for new business start-ups remain grim in spite of the hard work and preparation done beforehand: detailed business plans; pro forma sales and expense projections; business formation documents; location and signage issues; leasehold improvements; permits and licenses; attending entrepreneur classes; hiring staff . . . as a PARTIAL list!

The cycle is all too familiar. A new business opens. Sales soar then taper off. The fledgling business advertises to bolster sales. Ads fall flat. The pruning shear comes out: trim overhead, cut services and possibly prices. Bring expenses in line with real revenue rather than initial projections. Work harder. The American Dream is at stake here.

Some hang in. Many do not.

Here is a hard cold fact regarding starting, managing and sustaining any small business: get in and stay in the MARKETING GAME from day one.

Write this simple description down: Small business marketing is about identifying people with specific needs and challenges and getting these people to notice you, like you, trust you and buy from you. That is the solitary secret to small biz success.

Silver bullet theories come from many directions. There are no magic potions for small business success. The best way to succeed is to sop up and act out the above definition of small business marketing. Ready, AIM, fire.

Resist handing off your marketing strategy to an in-law or acquaintance that used to do some public relations for a Fortune 500 company or an employee who once upon a time sold ads for The Daily Bugle in Toledo. Before you do that or in the event you have already made that kind of mistake, stop now.

Identify exactly what is unique about your company (as opposed to your competitors) and precisely who your specific target market is or will be. Sound simple? It is not.

How do I know?

90 per cent of small business owners and managers have not, cannot or will not get their arms around the basic marketing concept stated above. I am not sure why this is so. What I do know is that doing it right . . . from the start . . . beats doing it over later on.
About the Author
Bob Schumacher presents real world insight, tactics and strategies to small business owners and managers written in plain coffee-shop English. His website http://www.20do80.com includes 74 complimentary small business marketing and advertising articles plus a free book on creating effective ads.
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