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					              How To Start and
                 Run Your
               Own Business!
                                         By

                                 Gabor Olah


                        http://IncomeAutopilot.com




DISCLAIMER AND/OR LEGAL NOTICES
The information presented herein represents the view of the author as of the date
of publication. Because of the rate with which conditions change, the author
reserves the right to alter and update his opinion based on the new conditions. The
report is for informational purposes only. While every attempt has been made to
verify the information provided in this report, neither the author nor his
affiliates/partners assume any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions.
Any slights of people or organizations are unintentional. If advice concerning legal
or related matters is needed, the services of a fully qualified professional should be
sought. This report is not intended for use as a source of legal or accounting advice.
You should be aware of any laws which govern business transactions or other
business practices in your country and state. Any reference to any person or
business whether living or deal is purely coincidental. By reading this report you
agree to be governed by the Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and Purchase
Agreement.
Introduction
Welcome! If your goal is to start your own business, you're at the right
place. What I'm going to be giving you is a process, or a blueprint if you will,
for launching your own business from scratch. You can take the steps as
quickly or slowly as you would like. The speed at which you complete them
is completely up to you and your individual circumstances.

I want to say very clearly that I am pleased that you are considering starting
your own business. I have a confession to make, I do have a selfish reason
and that is I believe as more and more folks begin their own businesses,
everyone will benefit, including me.

Why do I say that? Well, what I mean, is when people in general increase
their productivity, everyone is helped by that increase in productivity.

I'll give you an example, ok? If I had a business where I manufactured
computers, let's say they are laptop computers, and I figured out a way to
make laptop batteries last twice as long without any increase in weight.

I don't know if you have travelled much in your business (if you have or
have had a job) but if you take your laptop with you away from your familiar
environment, it is sometimes a problem to find a place to plug in. So battery
life is a big deal.

So in my example of the laptop batteries, if I can increase the battery life
and let's say I do it without any increase in cost, I have helped my
customers get more output. And that productivity boost will have some
impact on everyone they associate with in their business, especially their
own customers.

The other piece to this is the belief that most people can be more productive
working in their own business than in a job. Notice I said CAN be, it's really
up to you to govern yourself and your time and what you do with your time,
but most people realize there are huge inefficiencies in corporate America,
particularly in the typical office environment. And in my experience the same
can be said of many blue-collar type fields as well.

Your boss wants to get the most work out of you that he or she can (that's
their job), but in most cases they are not really that interested in developing
you as an individual, and of course that's why many of us went to college or
took some specialized training and also why we want to keep learning all the
time. We recognize that it's our individual responsibility to be good stewards
of the talents and skills that we possess.

The bottom line is that when you have your own business, you are free to do
WHAT you want WHEN you want, you're not hampered by company protocol
or office politics, and I truly hope that you will make your aim to maintain a
high output level.

The plan that I have laid out will work whether you are online, offline, or
both. Sometimes marketers tend to just jump right in and start selling
without dotting all of the "i's" and crossing all the "t's" as I'm going to
suggest you do. My way isn't the only way, but it is a way that WILL work if
you do all the steps. For the person that craves a methodical approach, this
should be perfect for you.

Now let's jump right in to the ten steps. Some of these may take longer than
others. They are laid out in order, to give you a methodical process for both
preparing yourself mentally and doing the required legwork that will help
ensure your success.

The steps are:

      1.    Self Assessment
      2.    Market Research
      3.    Decision Time
      4.    Business Planning
      5.    Financing
      6.    Startup Paperwork
      7.    Marketing Plan
      8.    Assemble Your Support Team
      9.    Evaluate
      10.   Launch
Chapter 1: Self Assessment
Knowing Your Situation

A.   Examine your life.

     Take stock of where you are in life. Part of this has to do with your
     age, which I'll be discussing later, but what I'm asking you to focus on
     now is your responsibilities, both current and future.

B.   Take inventory of your commitments.

     1.     Financial Commitments.

            Are you behind on your bills?

            Are you responsible to support others (spouse, children,
            parents)?

            It may be that you need to adjust your time-frame, don't
            abandon your business plans but maybe you'll need to continue
            working your job for a while, or find a job so you'll have some
            income to pay your bills.

            Can you find a job that would further your business plans, for
            example work as an assistant with someone already in your
            field?


          2. Time Commitments.

            A new business will consume your time, at least in the launch
            stages.

            Are you prepared to go the distance? Do your current
            responsibilities have any "wiggle" room in them in terms of how
            much time you need to give them?

            For all the talk about the four hour work week --espoused by
            Tim Ferris in his book by the same name-- when I look around at
            most business owners, online and offline, most of them appear
            to be working 10+ hour days, five or six days a week.
           And while what you do is ultimately up to you, also consider that
           most businesses take more time than their owners initially
           thought they would.

           That means a couple of things to me: first, if I'm going to have a
           different experience than the norm, I'm going to put some
           concerted effort into doing some things differently structurally
           than most: checklists and so forth and constantly be analyzing
           my businesses processes, and second, it's going to behoove me
           to choose my business wisely.

           It doesn't have to be something I'm in love with, but it has to be
           something I can learn to love because I'll likely be spending a
           great deal of time in it.

           If you have children, consider getting them to work with you in
           your business. Up until very recently, this was how most children
           learned to work: either from their parents or by apprenticing to a
           professional chosen by their parents. We have gotten away from
           this model but I think it has much to commend it.

           The family business model is an excellent one and if the
           particular business is chosen wisely, the children will receive
           experience in a variety of tasks. And this may take some of the
           sting out the time required to run the business.


C.   Future Plans.

     Of course, even if you don't have big responsibilities right now, what is
     on the horizon for the near future? Will you be getting married? Having
     a child? Factor those realities into your plans as well.

     We can't plan for every single contingency, but by thinking about the
     big potential conflicts ahead of time, you will be less likely to give up
     when the inevitable problems arise.


Knowing Yourself

A.   Your Age.

     Are you 18, 48, or 68?
     Youth has the advantage of more time available. You have more time
     to make mistakes and take it slow if you want to. I think many young
     people should consider the apprenticeship model, as I alluded to
     earlier. You can literally have someone pay you to learn by working as
     an assistant to someone else.

     And today, you can even do this from anywhere, as a Virtual Assistant
     or VA. And you can be making connections all along the way.

     Another benefit is that you will essentially be in business for yourself,
     so you can take many of the tax advantages available to business
     owners.

     Of course, anyone can work as a VA so I didn't mean to single out
     younger people, but I do want to impress upon you that you age
     should factor into your plans. Exactly how will depend upon you and
     your outlook.


B.   Your Past Experiences.

     Here is where the not-so-young have an advantage. We have simply
     lived longer and have seen and experienced more. Presumably we are
     wiser because of it.

     Do you have some unique set of experiences in your background that
     can be capitalized on in the marketplace?

     People tend to discount their own background, experiences, and skills.
     Not everyone has seen and experienced what you have. And that
     makes you unique.


C.   Your Education.

     Frankly, formal education is becoming less and less important in
     today's economy, though it should be considered. Take stock of your
     formal education, informal education such as conferences and
     seminars, and self education.


D.   Your Work History (if any).

     It almost goes without saying that you should examine your own work
     history when assessing a business to start. Many of us have gained
     some unique set of skills in one or more jobs, and we tend to discount
     them.

     "Everyone knows how to do what I can do", we think. Well, the reality
     is just the opposite. There are many people right now who want to
     know what you know, and will pay to get that information.

     People pay for all kinds of information, including specialized
     information that will save them time or just satisfy some need they
     have to learn more.

     People pay for information about baseball cards, for information on
     bird watching, for all types of self improvement information and, of
     course, for business-related information.


E.   Your Natural Strengths and Weaknesses

     This one is a little harder for most people to discover on their own.
     What you may want to consider is asking several close friends to list
     four or five things you are really good at doing. And prepare one of
     your own too. When you have several lists completed, compare them
     and see what keeps appearing on most of the lists.

     You want to capitalize on your strengths, and find ways to overcome
     your weaknesses. By overcome them, I mean that you should do
     whatever you can to make sure they don't make for your undoing. For
     example, if you're not a detail person, get someone else to do your
     accounting.


F.   Consider Taking a Formal Test.

     There are many books and tests available that will walk you through
     the process of understanding yourself, and I have been through many
     of them myself.

     If I were to pick just one, I would say to take the KOLBE test. The
     KOLBE test was recommended to me by my mentor and I’m so glad
     that he did.

     You can find it at KOLBE.com. The last time I checked, it was $50. I
     took it as did my wife, and there is a youth version that my older
      children took as well.


Phew!

This chapter is a little longer than most of the lessons will be, but it is a lot
of foundational material that you should get out of the way early.

On the next page you’ll find this week’s assignment.
                   This Week’s Assignment

Your lesson this week is to answer the following questions. You may either
print out this sheet or write them out on a separate sheet of paper or on
your computer.


     •   Are you behind on your bills?


     •   Are you responsible to support others (spouse, children, parents)?

     If so, do you have savings set aside (or another source of income) to
     cover you for a time while you get established?


     •   How much time do you have each week to devote to your business?


     •   Do you have any expected responsibilities that may require your
         attention in the near future?


     •   What is your age? (this question is only important insofar as it
         impacts our life goals, our strengths and our limitations)

     •   What unique background, experiences, and skills do you have?


     •   List your educational achievements (formal and informal).


     •   List the jobs you have held.


     •   List any volunteer positions you have held.


     •   What are my natural strengths and weaknesses? (Enlist the help of
         friends or family members and/or take a formal test).
Chapter 2: Market Research
Knowing Your Market


A.   General Economic Conditions


     Be aware of the economic cycle we are in right now. In periods of
     economic downturns, as we have experienced for a few years now,
     people's spending habits are different than when the economy is
     booming. Unnecessary purchases are cut back. That doesn't mean you
     should rule out any particular market based on the economy, but you
     may have to work a lot harder to get the same sales you could if
     things were brighter. Marketing and positioning come into play here.


B.   Specific Market Research


     By now you should have some idea of potential market that you want
     to explore, based on your work history and other interests.


     If you are not sure, you want to be in a market where people spend
     money. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Don’t get caught up in the trap of
     trying to “create” new markets; i.e. manufacture demand where
     people are willing to spend money where they were not before.


     One easy test is to check a local magazine rack to see if there are one
     or more magazines on the topic. OR if you want to start a brick and
     mortar business...just look around and see if there are other people
     doing what you want to do.


     Come up with at least 3-4 potential markets and get an understanding
     of who the market is and their demographics. How often do they buy,
     how much do they spend… and ultimately, what motivates them to
     buy in this market? This knowledge will help you later when crafting
     your sales messages and may also be a guide to joint venture projects
     to join and create.


     If you get stuck in the research phase, there are numerous places
     online to do market research... eBay, Amazon, other book sellers,
     Google trends, and many other places that are in most cases free.


     Once you narrow down your choice to a handful of markets, consider
     actually participating in that market as a consumer, if you have not
     already. Buy a product and take note of the sales process, and learn
     all you can.


C.   Competition


     Competition is another form of market research. You can learn a great
     deal from what other people are doing to serve the same market.


     If there are no competitors, then you may want to consider that your
     marketing idea is not the best because there are very few untapped
     markets today. In other words, there may not be enough business in
     that market.


     It is not a hard and fast rule, but especially if you are starting out, you
     should work where you know people are buying.


     When you find competitors in your niche, you should study your
     competitors carefully and look at how they communicate, and observe
     the sales process... if they do upsells and down sells, and related
     services, coaching and extended programs. What they do and how
     they do it will teach you about what works, if they are successful.


     Ideally, you will find a market with lots of demand and you then
     identify some segment that is underserved. For example, there are
     thousands of people every day that are looking for dog training
     information, and many sellers of that information. What you could do
     is serve a segment of that market and be the best at doing so. You
     might focus on a certain breed of dog or a certain type of training.
                  This Week’s Assignment

List 3 markets you are interested in serving, and study the competition. Feel
free to start another page if you are studying more than 3 markets.




Market #1 Name: _____________________________________________


What I learned about this market (buyers and prospects):




What I learned about the competition in this market:




Any underserved opportunities:
Market #2 Name: _____________________________________________


What I learned about this market (buyers and prospects):




What I learned about the competition in this market:




Any underserved opportunities:
Market #3 Name: _____________________________________________


What I learned about this market (buyers and prospects):




What I learned about the competition in this market:




Any underserved opportunities:
Chapter 3: Decision Time
A.   Target Market


     In the chapter, I suggested that you pick 3 or more markets to study
     in depth...now select one that seems to be the best bet for you and
     has the most viable market. You may need to narrow the market
     down. Especially if you are marketing online you may need to focus on
     a narrower niche. As an example, if you chose bicycling, you should
     look at mountain biking, or biking over 50, or bike racing and the
     reason is that the tighter the marketing niche, the more clearly you'll
     be able to understand their needs and desires.


     This is important because your goal should be to become a trusted
     advisor for your customers. The more directly you can speak to their
     real or perceived wants and needs, the more they will trust you. This
     task is much easier to accomplish if you narrow your niche.


B.   Develop your USP


     USP stands for “Unique Selling Proposition”.


     What makes you unique, standing out from everyone else? The
     average person is hit with thousands of marketing messages every
     day, through the various media they encounter. But your prospect only
     cares about his or her wants and desires.


     That is how it should be!


     The best way to get and hold their attention is to communicate exactly
     how you will benefit your prospects, in terms that make sense and
     matter to them.


     There's a lot of helpful material available on the issue of crafting your
     USP. Jay Abraham teaches extensively on the subject, as does Mark
     Joyner in his book The Irresistible Offer.
C.   Company name


     When choosing your company name you should look at the following
     criteria:


     1.    Do you want your own name in the company? If you plan to sell
           the company later, probably not.


     2.    If you want your domain name to be the same as your company
           name, then you will have to check to see if the domain name is
           available. If so, then buy it before you register your company
           name with your state, or your domain name may be gone.


     3.    Try to convey some benefit to the prospective customer in your
           company name (try using your USP in the name). A good
           example of this is the company Guaranteed Resumes. From the
           name, I can tell they provide a resume service, and in some
           sense offer a guarantee for their service.


D.   Domain Name


     You should have at least one website, describing what your company
     does and giving customers and prospects a way to connect with you
     on the web. A domain name can be purchased for about $10, and once
     you have found the one you want, you should buy it even if you're not
     ready to put up your website. Otherwise, someone else may buy it in
     the interim.


     If you already have one or more domain names picked out and are
     comfortable with the process of selecting a domain name, great? If
     not, I’ve included some pointers to guide you.


     These are some tips that I have picked up by experience. None of
     them is unique to me but I think it's helpful to review them because if
     you're just starting out, you might not be aware of all of them.
First, in almost all cases, you will want to choose the .com name.
There are three reasons for this.
   A. Some browsers will automatically put in the .com if the person
      types a domain without the extension.
   B. Many people put in the .com unconsciously, so if you choose a
      different extension, you will be sending traffic to someone else's
      site.
   C. Some experts argue that the .com has a slight search engine
      benefit.


There are some exceptions, the main one being if you are doing
business in another country and you primarily sell to people in that
country, then you will likely want to choose that country's extension.
For example, in the United Kingdom, the extension is .co.uk. In
Australia, it's com.au, and so forth.


Now why are people sometimes tempted to use something other than
the .com? Well, the reason is that many of the good .com names are
taken, and so people look at the .net, .org, or other extension. While
that might be acceptable for an informational type site or if you're not
a commercial enterprise, for your company's main web site you should
go with the .com.


The second factor in choosing a domain name is you want it to be easy
to spell. In other words, you will want to avoid words which have
multiple ways of spelling, or are easily confused with other words.
Examples of these words would include the word, "to". Is the word "t-
o", "t-o-o", or "t-w-o"? If someone types in your domain name but
gets even one character wrong, the traffic will not go to your site and
may even end up at another person's site. So you can see that
selecting a name with easy to spell words is a must.


The third factor in choosing a domain name is you want it to be easy
to say over the phone. If you're talking with someone on the phone, or
you have a radio ad, or a recorded interview and you mention your
domain name, the person will have to write it down or remember it
later if they are going to visit your site. Therefore, easy to spell words
are important, as I just mentioned, but also consider things like having
words that end in the same letter that the next word begins with, like
SamsSports.com. This can be confusing for the end user, is there one
     "s" after "Sam" or two? Also avoid the use of dashes for the same
     reason. It's difficult to convey to someone unless in print.


     The fourth factor, and this is a little harder to get a handle on, is the
     domain should be memorable. If you can include some alliteration,
     anything to make is stand out, it will be to your advantage. A great
     example is Ralph Wilson's site WilsonWeb.com.


     And that is also why domain names that are too long can be a
     mistake; they are often simply too difficult to remember.


     Now I've spent a lot of time on domain names, and it's important
     because the domain name is your real estate on the internet. It's
     where you are located. It's been often stated for a brick and mortar
     business that the three most important factors are location, location,
     location, in other words the actual real estate where you are located.
     And on the internet it is no different.


     There are many tools available to help you select a domain name, and
     one that I like is domaintools.com.


     One other point about selecting names, and this refers both to domain
     names and business names, there are professional naming companies.
     There really is a science to it and while I wouldn't recommend this step
     for everyone, it may be worth consideration if you’re willing to pay the
     fee.


E.   Location (If Physical Business)


     If you will a brick and mortar business, obviously it needs to be
     housed somewhere. Even if you will only be operating virtually--on the
     internet or via mail order-- your office will need to be located
     somewhere.


     Will it be in a spare bedroom, or dedicated office space in your home?
     I can tell you from experience that this is a challenge with young
     children in the home.
     One way around that challenge is to discipline yourself to get up
     early--before the kids do-- and get as much work done as you can
     before the kids get up.


F.   Business Entity


     Your choice of business entity is an important one, and has at least
     three aspects: legal, tax, and image.


     The legal aspects mainly have to do with liability management. You
     want to have liability protection to counteract the effect of someone
     suing you unjustly. A properly structured business entity will protect
     your personal assets even if you business loses everything.


     The tax aspects refer to reducing your taxes to their absolute
     minimum. I have in mind here Federal taxes, though you will also
     probably have state and local taxes you must pay.


     I recommend doing some research on your own, and then going to an
     attorney and CPA or Enrolled Agent for advice on your choice of
     business entity.


     An attorney will be more interested in the legal aspects of your choice,
     unless they also specialize in taxation, and many do. The CPA or
     Enrolled Agent will be more in tune with taxation issues. Some
     attorneys are also CPAs so bear that in mind as well.


     I'm going to recommend that you get several recommendations before
     seeing professionals on this issue, and then try and get some sense of
     how much they are going to charge to give you the advice, and
     whether they are amenable to having you file the documents yourself
     if you choose.


     Another strategy is to decide which tax preparer you are going to use,
     and ask for their recommendation on a local attorney to advise you on
     the entity issue.


     The third aspect, image, may or may not be important to you. The
prestige of a corporation is important in some markets, and in others it
doesn't matter.
                    This Week’s Assignment

What is the target market you’ve selected?




What is your USP?




What company name have you chosen?




What domain name have you chosen?




Where will you conduct business?




Which form of business entity have you selected?
Chapter 4: Mission Statement/Planning
A. Mission Statement


Here's a helpful definition of a mission statement:


A Mission Statement defines the organization's purpose and primary
objectives. Its prime function is internal - to define the key measure or
measures of the organization’s success - and its prime audience is the
leadership team and stockholders.


A mission statement is what you place on your wall, to remind you of what
you are doing and why.


B. Business plan, including costs


A business plan is often required if you go to a bank for financing, and we'll
be talking about that in a later section, but in reality it should be completed
for any business...whether financing is required or not. All of the research
you conducted and the decisions you made will be reflected in your business
plan. There are many guides available to help you with your business. One
resource for U.S. residents is your local SCORE chapter, where you can get
help with your business plan if necessary.


In essence you are putting to paper what your business is, or will be, what it
will be doing, what are the challenges you will probably face, and what will
be the result of your operations? It doesn't have to be long, convoluted
document.


A well written business plan can help you stay on track if you lose track of
what you're supposed to be doing. If you bring on employees for key
positions or even joint venture partners, your business plan can help to
communicate what your business is trying to achieve.
                   This Week’s Assignment

      Locate a good resource for writing a mission statement, and prepare
      one.



Similarly, write your business plan, using a guide if required.
Chapter 5: Financing
Identify potential sources of funding if needed


It may be that you will be financing the startup yourself. If so, that will
simplify your life immensely.


If you do not have funds required to finance your startup, other options
include:


   •   Personal loan from family or friends


This is an area in which you will want to tread lightly, if at all. Many
relationships have been soured by misunderstandings and broken promises
when friends and relatives borrow money. If you decide to go this route,
keep the transaction as businesslike as possible.


Don't assume that anyone must loan you money just because they are your
friend, father, brother, what have you. Remember, the money they possess,
they have probably worked very hard to earn it. Whatever you do, don't
adopt the "entitlement" mentality. They don't "owe" it to you.


Have an agreement written. It doesn't have to be as detailed as a bank loan
agreement, just state how much you are borrowing and what the terms are,
including penalties for late payments.


   •   Investment by family member or friend


A similar option is for a family or friend to invest in your business. Give them
a percentage of your company. I wouldn't recommend this option for most
people, again due to the potential for misunderstanding. There may be
differences of opinion as to how much involvement the investor should have
in your business. Be aware of those pitfalls before proceeding.


You will also want to ensure that the business you select will be amenable to
this arrangement, especially if you will be allocating expenses, revenues,
and profits on percentage other than the shares in the company.


   •   Bank loan


Of course, a bank loan is always an option too. If you have done a good job
with your business plan, it will make the process much smoother.


For many small businesses, what we are talking about is an SBA loan. What
is an SBA loan?


An SBA Loan is a business loan that is made by a local bank. The loan is
guaranteed by the United States Small Business Administration. If the
borrower doesn't pay the loan, the SBA steps up and pays back the bank for
a portion of the loss. The SBA guarantee encourages the bank to make loans
that is would not make, if the guarantee were not in place. As you might
expect, there's a number of qualifications and hoops you must jump
through.


The positive side of programs like this is it gets experienced professionals to
look at your business or business plans, whether that makes you
comfortable or not.


Whatever option you choose to finance the startup of your business, any
funds of your own that you can include will induce confidence in your
business. If others can see that you believe enough in yourself to risk your
own money, they will be more likely to do so too.


There are numerous examples of people who have borrowed money for their
business startup and had it backfire, whether borrowing from more
traditional sources such as banks or from family or friends.


One positive example is Debbi Fields, the creator of Mrs. Fields' cookies.
When looking for startup funds for her business, she was discouraged from
even trying by her family, and almost all of the bankers she approached
wouldn't touch her business. This was in the late 70's. One banker did finally
agree to loan her the money, at 21% interest.


That was clearly a gamble, and in her case, as we all know, it paid off. She is
probably a multi-millionaire today due to her tenacity in doing whatever it
took to get her business off the ground and running successfully. Today, she
could have started an internet-based business, for very little money and
used the funds from her business to finance her cookie business.


I want to be clear: I think the best scenario is not to have to borrow money
at all. If you must borrow, negotiate the best terms you can, and do
whatever you must to pay it back.
                  This Week’s Assignment

Do you require funding for your business?



If so, where will you seek these funds?
Chapter 6: Paperwork
Not only must you have sufficient funds in place to begin, there is going to
be a great deal of paper work in the beginning.


A.    Initial startup paperwork: City/County/State/Federal


      I'm assuming that the first step in this process has already been
      completed; namely the creation of your business entity. If not, that
      should be your first step in the startup paperwork process. There are
      at least two reasons for this, first, in the process of creating your
      entity, you or your representative will have selected a name that is not
      a duplication of another business name within your state, and second,
      you will report this business name and entity type to the IRS when
      signing up with them.


      The creation and naming of your business entity is filed with your
      Secretary of State or equivalent.


      Also, at the state level:


         •   You will probably need to get a license from your state
             department of licensing.


         •   If you have a state income tax, you will need to create an
             account through which to file and pay your business income
             taxes


         •   If your state has sales tax, you will need to apply for a resale
             certificate if you'll be manufacturing goods or purchasing for
             resale, and create an account with your department of revenue
             or equivalent, to whom you will pay any collected sales tax.


      By the way, I recommend setting up a liability account in your financial
      system for "sales tax payable". Whenever you receive sales tax, make
      an entry for the sales tax that you owe to the state, and don't spend
it! Keep track of the total payable so that you don't spend money that
doesn't belong to you, and not have it when it's time to pay it.


If you have employees, you will probably have to file documents for:


   •   Industrial insurance
   •   Unemployment insurance


If you will hire minors, there are often special work permits you are
expected to obtain.


In addition, depending on your type of business, there may be
additional licenses or permits specific to your type of business. How
does one find out about them all? It's not always easy.


You may want to use some or all of the following methods:


   •   Retain the services of an experienced accountant
   •   Ask others in similar businesses
   •   Call the various agencies and ask questions
   •   Research online or at your local library


At the federal level, you will need to register your business and obtain
an Employer Identification Number or EIN. Now there's a few cases in
which an EIN is not required, generally if you're a sole proprietor with
no employees, but I'm going to suggest you obtain one for privacy
reasons. Often there are forms that require a federal tax ID, and if you
don't have an EIN, you're stuck with using your Social Security
number.


You may also need a business license from your city or county, and
one or more permits to perform certain functions. No one likes to have
to obtain these, but they are a cost of doing business.
If, for instance, I owned a brick and mortar store or operated heavy
equipment, I would have to deal with my county to get required
licenses and permits. You will want to check with your own city and
county to find out what they require.
     A good accountant can handle most or all of the above paperwork for
     you, although you will generally need to sign the applications.


B.   Ongoing paperwork: City/County/State/Federal


     Much of this ongoing paperwork will be related to taxes. You will have
     taxes at the federal level, in most cases at the state level, and possibly
     the county and city level. Not only must you factor in paying these
     taxes, the process of computing them and filling out the required
     returns is not always simple. Here's a couple of tips to help you get a
     handle on them.


     First, create a calendar on which you list all of the required returns.
     This can be handled in different ways. I like to use Google calendar,
     it's very easy to set recurring items that repeat every week, month,
     year or whatever, and I can share my calendar with whomever I
     choose. Many people like to use the scheduling feature in Microsoft
     Outlook.


     If you want to go low tech, you can just keep a schedule in a 3-ring
     binder and fill it out once a year, adding to it as necessary. For
     maximum effectiveness, you will actually need two entries for each
     return, one for the actual due date and the other for the date you will
     be doing the work, because you don't want to fill them out at the last
     minute.


     For example, your Federal income tax return will be completed once
     per year, though your estimated tax payments will be due once per
     quarter. If you have employees, you will have a 941 tax return to
     complete once per quarter. This is how you document your withheld
     Federal payroll taxes and the employer's side of Social Security and
     Medicare tax. Your federal unemployment tax return, if required, will
     come due once per year.


     Be aware that Federal taxes generally must be deposited on a more
     frequent basis, either estimated in the case of income taxes, or actual
     in the case of employment taxes.
At the state level, you will probably also have an annual income tax
return, and if you collect sales taxes, you will be reporting and paying
those once per month or quarter. If you have employees, all states of
which I am aware will have industrial insurance returns to file and pay,
along with state unemployment tax.


I've just hit the highlights here. Unfortunately, there may be other
ongoing requirements as well.


No one likes paying taxes, but they are a cost of doing business. If you
ignore them, you will pay dearly in the long run. So do whatever you
can to reduce your taxes legally, and make it your aim to get them
paid on time. If you follow my advice in this section, I believe you will
find keeping up with them much easier.


The second thing you can do to keep up with ongoing paperwork is
create checklists and informational sheets if you or someone on your
team is completing these, versus an outside professional. An outside
professional will generally know what do without your help and also
remember that they do many of these returns on a fairly frequent
basis. The reason for this is simply to save time and aggravation.


Some of these returns will be filled out only once per year or every
three months, and often there will be one or two steps that are difficult
to remember. By creating your own personalized checklists to follow
each time, and including reminders about problem areas as you
discover them, you will be miles ahead of the person that has to re-
create the wheel each time.


The third recommendation I have for keeping up with paperwork, is
put all of your startup paperwork in a 3-ring binder for easy access.
You will receive a notice from the IRS with your Employer
Identification Number, and each state and local agency will have
something similar for the various accounts and records you are
responsible to report on. Keeping it all accessible in one location will
make your life much easier later. I personally like to use sheet
protectors for this purpose, plastic sleeves that you slide pages into.


While taxes and record keeping is required, it's not going to keep you
in business.
                  This Week’s Assignment

Who have you selected to take care of the startup and ongoing paperwork
for your business?
Chapter 7: Marketing Plan
The next step is creating your marketing plan and doing test marketing. Now
we're getting to the reason you are in business in the first place. It's not to
pay taxes or to comply with government regulations, but your purpose is to
provide something useful in the marketplace, something that consumers
value and are willing to spend money to acquire.


A marketing plan is simply the methods and media you plan to use to reach
your prospects and future customers. You will probably have more than one
method, and the exact mix and frequency of contact is going to be different
for each business. To be effective in this, you must do two things:


First, you must know your market, you must know what drives them,
what causes them to take action... and you should always be increasing your
knowledge by doing research. Are your customers predominantly male,
female, or an equal mix? Are they homeowners? What is their income level?


Second, you should test to determine which marketing methods and
media are valued most by your prospects and customers.


Here are some of the media that are available to you:


   •   Website
   •   Video
   •   Email marketing
   •   Affiliate marketing (paying others a percentage of every sale they
       bring to you)
   •   Direct mail (letters, brochures, postcards, samples, trial offers)
   •   Teleseminars
   •   Informational local seminars
   •   Cold calling (in person or telephone)
   •   Radio
   •   Television
   •   Billboard
Methods or techniques would include:


   •   Money back guarantee (almost a must in many markets)
   •   Trial offers (a limited time or quantity for a small amount of money or
       free)
   •   Free support or coaching to accompany a related product or service
   •   Upsells
   •   Down sells


Now some explanation on the latter two. Upsells and downsells are used
commonly on the internet, but they are not restricted to online sales. When
the McDonald's employee asks, "Do you want fries with that?" they are doing
an upsell. You've already decided to buy and they are asking if you want to
buy more. A down sell is where you decline the offer, and some less
expensive option is offered. This technique is often used in telemarketing,
and can be used in many direct selling environments.


Test marketing:


Here is where the "rubber meets the road" to use a worn out cliche that is
nonetheless very appropriate to the topic at hand. Once you have a pretty
good handle on your demographic and the means by which to reach them,
now is the time to see if you can connect with representative members of
your market. You need to know whether people are willing to pay for what
you are offering.


If you're offline, you can try pitching your offer to people who are in your
demographic. You may have to get creative to do this. Here are a few ideas:


Find some public place where your target market frequents, and get
permission from the business owner to leave a fishbowl or box where people
can leave their business cards or fill out an informational card (if your target
is not business people). Offer some free service that encompasses part of
what you are offering, and also promise that one person will receive a gift
certificate to the restaurant, hardware store, or whatever is appropriate.
This step will increase the chances of the business establishment's owner
saying "yes" to your plan. Collect the names for two to four weeks, draw a
winner (have someone at the store do the drawing, do it with as much
fanfare as possible), and then start calling the names with your free offer
and pitch.


See if you can get interviewed on a local radio station, and see if they'll
allow you to make a special, limited time offer to listeners.


Local newspapers will often print news about new businesses that people
have started. Follow the radio interview advice above.


Do a free one or two hour informational seminar and see if anyone shows
up. This can be a great option; you can audio or video tape the event for
future marketing promotions, and you can make a short offer at the end.


Online, you have other options, and many of them will not cost you a penny.


If your target market frequents forums, become an expert in that forum by
contributing helpful posts, especially if you can promote your products and
services in your forum signature.


Marketing on eBay is a tried-and-true method of doing test marketing, and it
still works in many markets.


If you're willing to spend a little money, Google Adwords is a great way to
test. You can include as many ads as you like, and make them compete with
one another. You only pay for ads that are clicked on. You can drive the
traffic to a survey page, offering something for free if your prospects fill out
the survey and give you their email address.


If you have a list of email addresses, you can become an affiliate for
products similar to the one you are selling, and take notice of which offers
and products your prospects buy most. You can ask that list to fill out a
survey. Or you can simply offer them a special deal on *your* offering,
provided they tell you what they think people will pay for it.


If you have a relationship with someone who has a list of names of people in
your market, see if they will interview you or do a review of your product,
send the interview or review to their list, and give them an affiliate
commission on any sales.
                 This Week’s Assignment

What have you learned about your target market, and how will you reach
them?
Chapter 8: Assemble Your Support
Team
Your support team is going to be vital to your success. There are many
businesses today with their owner as the sole employee, and the only way to
be successful is to build a support team.


In truth, you could be building your support team from day one, and you
should start in earnest now.


I'm going to suggest that your support team will exist on multiple levels:


Employees - now this is not going to apply to everyone but if you do have
employees, they will become part of your support team, especially those at
the highest level.


Independent contractors and suppliers - you may depend on local
services to carry out needed or vital functions for your business, or they
might live across the country or on the other side of the world. Either way,
you must have some confidence that they will do what they say they will,
and do so on time. This includes businesses which supply raw material,
components, or wholesale complete products that you resell.


Professional service providers and advisors - these are paid
professionals, such as accountants and attorneys, that you depend upon not
only to provide services, but to advise you in terms of "what if" scenarios, to
give you options when problems arise, and to be proactive about letting you
know about pitfalls further down the road. It may also include technical
consultants, marketing advisors, or others depending on your specific
business.


Peer groups - if you can join a networking group, offline or online, you will
have a resource to turn to when necessary. If you don't know of one, start
one! Online, there are thousands of groups devoted to every topic
imaginable, and if you can't find one, it's easy to start one on Yahoo groups
or Google groups.
Mentors - finding someone who has gone before you can be a fantastic
resource. They are often available to ask questions and to help you solve
problems. Often you must pay several hundred dollars per month for the
privilege, so you may not want to engage a mentor right away but you
should consider doing so in the future.


Collectively, all of the above: employees, independent contractors and
suppliers, professional service providers and advisors, peer groups, and
mentors, are your support team.


John Donne said, no man is an island, and it just as true today as it was in
the 17th century. You need people around you who can be strong where you
are weak, who have specialties you don't possess, and who have seen what
you have not seen.
                  This Week’s Assignment

What support team members have you assembled, or do you need to
assemble?


Employees:




Independent Contractors:




Suppliers:




Professional Services Providers:




Advisers:




Peer Groups:




Mentors:
Chapter 9: Evaluate
Consider the effectiveness of your test marketing. Take note of what you
have learned from the extent of the support team you have gathered thus
far. What appears to be working, and what doesn't?


This is the "point of no return" so to speak, where you take in all of your
knowledge to date. Has anything come to light which causes you to
reconsider this particular type of business?


We don't expect that anything has gone seriously wrong but if it has, now
may be the perfect time to change course. Perhaps there is far more
government regulation than you anticipated, or the business would require
more travel than you originally thought.


If any new information has come to light that would have affected your
decision if you knew it in the beginning of this process, consider carefully
whether you should move forward or not. If you decide in the negative, all is
not lost; the market research you have done can probably be salvaged.


Maybe you want to serve the same market but with a different type of
product in that market. Or a similar market; possibly a subset of the original
target market.


Even without any major problems, now is the time to make minor course
corrections and adjustments as necessary.
                  This Week’s Assignment

What have you learned from your test marketing?




Do you still want to proceed with the same target market?
Chapter 10: Launch!
Once all the pieces are in place for your product or service, your marketing
plan, your startup paperwork, and the beginnings of your support team,
start putting the pieces together for your launch. Order business cards and
stationery (if they are customary for your business), any forms you might
need.


Take note of any elements crucial to your operation that are missing.


Do several press releases, direct mailings, joint marketing agreements with
other merchants, whatever it takes to get the word out. If you have
collected a set of names in the test marketing stage, contact those
individuals and let them know what you are doing.


Then, at the appropriate time, hang out your shingle if you have not already
done so, and let the world welcome your business!
In Conclusion:


These ten steps are the steps you need to take to start your own business,
and as I stated in the beginning, can also be used whenever you decide to
start your second business or enter a new market. If you're experienced,
some of the steps can be completed in a matter of minutes. Others may take
longer. Just don't get discouraged; it's not a race.




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