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The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

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									The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

1-Before You Get Started ................................................ 5
   Take a Personal Inventory ........................................... 5
   Look for a Niche............................................................. 7
   Market Analysis.............................................................. 8
2-Top Ten Business Mistakes .......................................10
3-Start-Up .........................................................................20
   Naming Your Business ...............................................20
   Types of Business Organization ...............................24
      Sole Proprietorships ................................................25
      Partnerships ..............................................................26
      Corporations .............................................................28
      Subchapter S Corporations ....................................29
      Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) ........................29
   Records .........................................................................30
      Bank Account............................................................31
      Licenses and Permits ..............................................32
      Risk Protection .........................................................35
      Record Keeping........................................................35
   Merchandise .................................................................36

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

      Zoning ........................................................................39
4- Finances.......................................................................40
   Assets and Liabilities...................................................40
   Start-Up Cost Estimates .............................................41
   Monthly Expenses .......................................................41
   Getting the Money You Need ....................................42
      Obtaining a Loan ......................................................43
      Writing a Loan Proposal..........................................44
      Types of Business Loans........................................45
      Help Available ...........................................................46
      Understand and Projecting Cash Flow .................46
      Cash Flow Projection...............................................47
      The Three Parts to the Cash Flow Projection .....48
      Sales Forecasting ....................................................48
      Create a Customer Profile ......................................49
      Create a Competitor Profile ....................................50
      Estimate Your Sales for the First Year .................50
5- Developing Your Business Plan ...............................52
   Sample Basic Business Plan .....................................55
6-The Marketing Plan .....................................................69
      The Brand Plan.........................................................69

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

      Your Customer .........................................................70
      Internet Advertising ..................................................74
      Newspapers and Magazines ..................................79
      Direct Mail .................................................................80
      Radio and Television ...............................................83
      Yellow Page Advertising .........................................83
      Trade Shows .............................................................90
7-Understanding Business Management ....................94
   Personality Traits of Leaders .....................................94
   Decision-Making Skills ................................................95
      Common Mistakes in Making Decisions...............97
   Other Useful Techniques............................................97
   Customer Relations Skills ..........................................98
   Conclusion ................................................................. 105
Index ............................................................................... 106

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

1-Before You Get Started

Why are you interested in starting a small business?
What are your motivations? Before you let your
thoughts even get out of the starting gate and start
racing, you need to write down and evaluate the
reasons behind your desire to run your own business.
In addition, you should look at your own personal
characteristics, conditions, skills and experience and
determine if they are compatible with assuming the
role of small business owner. Next, look for a niche
for your business and analyze your market.

Take a Personal Inventory
Take a minute and write down the reasons you want
to own your own business. These may, but certainly
do not have to, include the following:

   Freedom from a 9 to 5 work schedule
   Not being told what you have to do any more
   Improving your economic position
   Boredom

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

   Desire to provide the marketplace with a unique
    product or service that you feel there is a need for

Next, take a look at your personal characteristics and
honestly evaluate whether you have the personality
traits and physical conditioning necessary to operate
the specific business you are considering. For
instance, are you a leader? Are you a good decision
maker – taking into account others opinions but
relying mainly on your own instincts? Do you enjoy
hard work and competition? Are you self-disciplined?
Do have the ability to see the forest for the trees – that
is, look ahead and see the end result? Do you work
well with others and enjoy the company of others?

Are you in good health? Running your own business
can require working 12 to 16 hours per day six days a
week in the beginning. Are you emotionally
grounded? Becoming your own boss will be
rewarding, but it will also be stressful. Can you afford
to lower your standard of living until your business
becomes established? Does your family understand
the consequences of the undertaking? Are they
emotionally stable enough to support themselves and
you through this difficult time? Do you understand
and accept the fact that your business may fail and all
your time and money will be lost?

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

If you are considering starting your own business, it is
a good idea to start it in a field in which you have
some experience. Have you ever worked in a
business that is similar to the one you are
considering? You will need to know enough about the
business to be able to determine if prospective
employees meet the requirements for the job
openings that you are filling. As a business owner,
you will also need to be familiar with good business
practices. Do you know what basic business skills
you will need and so you possess them? Have you
had any business classes in school? Have you ever
been in a managerial role? If you are unsure or
doubtful whether or not you possess the necessary
general and specific skills required to successfully
begin and operate your chosen business, you may
want to seek out a mentor or take some business
classes before you begin following your dreams.

Look for a Niche defines the word niche as “a place or
position suitable for a person or thing” or “a distinct
segment of a market”. In other words, you are looking
for a business that feels good to you and that you will
be happy starting and developing and you are also
looking for a specific need in the population that you
can meet. To determine if your particular idea is

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

workable, write down the answers to the following
 Provide a detailed description of the business you
   want to start.
 Name the product or service that you will be
 Describe the unfulfilled need in the marketplace
   that you are addressing.
 Describe the existing market for your product or
   service – particularly, analyzing whether or not
   demand exceeds supply.
 Determine whether or not your product or service
   can be competitive in the current marketplace
   based on its unique characteristics.

Market Analysis
After you believe you have identified a niche for
yourself in the business world, that is, you believe
your product and service can be competitive, you
need to take a closer look at the market you will be
Who will your customers be and what do they need
from you? Do you know the exact geographic area
you will be serving? Are there any particular customs
or religious beliefs that you should be aware of? Can
you offer products and services at prices that your
customers are willing to pay and will your products

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

and services are competitive in price and quality to
what is already available in the marketplace? Have
you developed a promotional program that targets
your particular market effectively? Will your business
be located in an easily accessible area and offer
ample parking for customers?

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

2-Top Ten Business Mistakes
1. Not Enough Capital

Assessing small business start up costs is tricky. Most
business owners project operating costs to the point of
breakeven. (The breakeven point is when the daily or
monthly income from the business equals the daily or
monthly expenses to stay in business.) What start up
costs should include is all the costs required to open
for business, and all the operating costs to the point of
profitability. This means instead of figuring start up
costs to the „breakeven point,‟ the point should be
when the owner estimates he or she will be able to get
paid the minimum salary required.

Estimating start up costs should include these

      Start Up Purchase Costs: Equipment, furniture,
       insurance, business licenses, etc.

      Reoccurring Services Costs – utilities,
       telephones, outsourcing, insurance, business
       licenses, etc. (Notice that some start up costs

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

       are also reoccurring costs.)

      Advertising/Marketing Costs – Here are some
       of the biggest pitfalls for small business
       owners. Even big businesses often have no
       idea how much they will need to spend in
       advertising dollars to bring in enough business.
       Most can only estimate this based on
       experience. .

      Product or Inventory Costs
       The purchase and/or financing costs of

      Holding Costs (of Products or Inventory)
       if inventory is required, housing, insuring, and
       handling inventory can become expensive.

2. Spending Too Much

While this seems to be easy to avoid, this is one of the
most common start up mistakes. One distinct
advantage of the home based b usiness is low
overhead, but many of these business owners buy
services they don‟t really need, or max out their credit

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

cards on equipment, computers, cell phones, PDAs,
copiers, printers, and other gadgets

Always be forced into overhead.
Don’t buy anything unless you know you need it.

3. Lack of Knowledge

Most people do not lack the knowledge about the
industry they start a business in, but about business in
general. Just because you know your stuff at your job,
does not necessarily mean you could succeed on your

Leaving a job to start a business even in the same
industry means:

             You wear all the hats - While on your job
              you might be responsible for purchasing,
              in your business you‟ll also have to fill all
              the other roles such as customer
              service, human resources, management,
              custodian, delegator, administrator, file
              clerk, office manager, payroll
              administrator, consultant, and CEO.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

             The buck stops with you – This one is
              huge. So many people get overwhelmed
              quickly in their own business because
              they did not account for the seemingly
              boundless obligations. At your job, your
              true responsibilities and liabilities are
              limited. Mistakes could be another
              department‟s fault, or when a client sues
              your employer, even if you were
              involved, you might have no real
              personal liability. In your own business,
              the buck stops with you. You have to
              answer to every dissatisfied customer
              and deal with every new challenge.

Define what your daily duties will be and make a list of
everything you imagine that will be your responsibility.

                    Adherence to Law – You need to
                     know what laws your business is
                     subject to. This includes licensing
                     and permits, employees,
                     insurance requirements, tariffs,
                     taxes, payroll withholdings, record
                     keeping, and more.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

There is an enormous amount of information required
to operate a business.

   Administrative Techniques – including employee,
    outsourcing, task assignment, prioritizing, and
   Advertising – types, effectiveness, costs, tracking
    methods, creation,
   Bookkeeping – record keeping
   Financial Analogy and Forecasting – profit and
    loss statement and balance sheet interpretation
   Law
   Marketing
   Personnel Management
   Product or Service
   Trends

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business


4. Not Adequately Defining the Market

A small business can easily exhaust all capital in
advertising. Whether it‟s traditional print ads or pay
per click, if the target market is not reached, the
mistake could be realized too late.

5. Mismanagement
New small business owners often start without a plan
or fail to follow their plan. Learning to prioritize,
organize, and improvise can be new to people who
have not worked in previous management positions.

6. Not Having Contacts and Services in Place

There is nothing worse than needing a contact for a
business transaction, and losing the deal before you
can find the help. Having no or poor subcontract
services can leave you scrambling to find help. This
search alone can be enough to hurt a small business.

When in a pressure situation, many owners take
shortcuts, make poor decisions, and choose subpar

7. Ineffective Marketing

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

This is mistake can include inefficient marketing, poor
content, ill timed advertising, wrong target market, and
overspending, and many more.

Learning your market and how to get business could
be the most important aspect. Having more than
enough business can compensate for mistakes or
shortcomings in other areas.

8. Failing to Rectify Mistakes

Sometimes business owners fail to recognize
mistakes, but even worse, when they do spot them,
they do nothing. This happens for several reasons.

If the business owner has come from an employment
position, many times he or she does not fully grasp
that the buck now stops with them. They are used to
someone else taking the responsibility. These owners
often become immobilized in the face of a blunder,
and do nothing. This is where a business mentor can
be a lifesaver. Every new business owner should have
one or more seasoned business owners to turn to in
turbulent waters. Preferably, this person should be a
home-based business owner who is or has been in
the same or a similar industry. Before you go into
business, mentor contacts should be established.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

9. Refusing to Delegate

Small business owners are usually „take charge‟
people. They know their businesses better than
anyone else and can do most every job. In the
beginning and as their business grows, these owners
often retain duties and responsibilities far beneath
their capabilities and not in the best health of the
business. As if the Captain of the ship refused to give
up swabbing the deck, because he felt no one could
swab a deck like him, these owners hold on to tasks.
Many a business ship has run aground with clean

As a small business owner, you must decide which
jobs would be better off delegated or outsourced.

Do not hang on to any duty, which would be better

Some people might do the job differently than you, but
effectively reach the same results.

10. Time Management

Time is money. There are so many distractions in
today‟s world of business and a home based business
is no exception. Few people manage their time
effectively. All the conveniences such as cell phones,
PDA‟s, email, RSS News feeds, the Internet, online

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

meetings, software updates, and online bill pay, can
consume your time if not used wisely. The home
based business can even face additional interruptions
from family and chores.

You have to be self motivating.
When you're an employee, you have a job description
and someone is usually telling you what to do, directly
or indirectly. You will be in charge of your own actions
as a small business owner. You can't just wait for
business to happen. Becoming self motivated, the
kind of discipline need to run a small business, can be
a tough adjustment for people coming from long term

Starting a business takes enormous energy. You can't
afford to just coast along, go through the motions, or
get burnt out. If you feel like quitting, you can‟ give a
two week notice and leave, without losing your
investment and future income. Many new small
business owners cannot even afford vacations or
holidays for several years.

You have to be a ware.
Again, the employee might not be trained to look for
new opportunities. As a business owner, this is
imperative. The chance to get new customers, move

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

into a new market, offer a new product or service,
could be missed if you‟re not aware.

You need to adjust to uncertainty.
As an employee you are pretty much guaranteed a
regular paycheck. As an entrepreneur, there's no

You will deal with the uncertainty of the fluctuations of
the economy, slow accounts receivable, surprise
expenses, loss of clients, changes in technology, and

So what‟s the good news? You can learn or acquire
the skills and traits needed to start and run your own
business. You will not have a boss; you will be calling
the shots. The successes of your business will belong
to you. The freedom to earn in relation to your input
can be invigorating.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business


When you have successfully navigated through the
sea of possibilities and have chosen a particular type
of business and a product or service that you believe
will be competitive, you must begin to consider the
financial and legal aspects of running a small
business. Let‟s start with the basics. What are you
going to call your company and what kind of
organizational structure will it have?

Naming Your Business
Many times it is harder to name a new business than
we think the process will be. It seems like you should
be able to come up with something catchy that you
like the ring of and run with it, but it isn‟t that simple.
Before you name your business you have to
determine its organizational structure. Many states
require sole proprietors to use their real name as their
business name, unless they legally file for a trade
name or some other type of fictitious name. Next you
have to determine if the name you use for your actual
business, its trade name, will be the same as its full

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

legal name. Finally, you must investigate the
possibility that someone else has already chosen that
name, and, if so, what their rights are to use that
name in the area you will be serving. Trade names
are registered through the Secretary of State‟s Office
in each state and for wider coverage through the
United States Patent and Trademark Office. The first
step in determining whether or not your proposed
name is already in use is to use the USPTO‟s online
system which allows you to search all that state and
federal trademark registers.

If your business will be operating on the Web, your
trade name might be your domain name. Domain
names are not registered with local or state
government, but are sold through a number of online
businesses. Usually these businesses will allow you
to search for your chosen domain name to see if it is
already in use before you purchase it.
Domains under .com, .org, and .net can be registered
via a number of different registrars. Check out the
prices and plans offered by the various registrars. The
registrars have recently been lowering their prices and
making the process of registering and updating
domains more convenient.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Be sure you go to a legitimate, accredited registrar.
There have been some scams and rip offs in domain
registration. Make sure you or someone in your
organization is listed as the owner and administrative
contact. A list of registrars with consumer reviews can
be found at

The cost of registering domain names ranges from
eight to forty dollars per year. Price is not the only
option to consider. Make sure they have a history of
good customer support and you understand the terms
of service.

Before registering a domain, check with your hosting
provider or ISP about what server names you need to
enter in your registration. The "DNS Servers" are the
servers which handle requests for the domain and tell
the browser where to go to find your Web site and

Web hosting providers usually offer this service, so
their servers are what need to be placed in your
domain registration record.

Most hosting providers offer domain registration
services too for additional cost.

Don‟t register a domain using anyone‟s servers
without their knowledge or permission. Their
cooperation is needed to get the domain to work,
The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

since they must enable domain name service at their
end. Many of the registrars will now let you register a
domain using their own servers if you don't have a
host. Domain names can also be reserved without
setting up a website at all, or parked as a sub domain
under another name. Be informed about all the
options your hosting provider offers and at what costs.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Types of Business Organization
Deciding on what type of orga nizationally structure to
use for your new business has far-reaching
implications and should be done in conjunction with an
accountant and an attorney. The following factors
should be considered when making this decision:
   How big your business will be
   The type of business you will be operating
   How much control you wish to have over day-to-
     day operations
   Your capability to deal with a more complex
   Vulnerability to lawsuits
   Tax implications
   Expected profits and losses
   Desire to reinvest earnings
   Accessibility of cash

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Sole Proprietorships
Most small businesses at least start out as sole
proprietorships. These businesses are owned by one
person who usually is responsible for the day-to-day
operation of the business. He or she owns all of the
assets and profits of the business, but is also
completely liable for any debts or legal actions.

Advantages                   Disadvantages
Easy and cheap               Unlimited liability
No sharing of authority      Business and personal
                             assets in danger
Can keep or reinvest         Capital may be hard to
income                       come by and may be
                             limited to personal loans or
Profits are directly         Hard to attract high quality
applied to personal taxes    employees due to lack of
Easy to disband              advancement opportunities
                             Some employee benefits
                             are not directly deductible
                             from business income tax

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

A partnership allows two or more people to share the
ownership of a business. There are three basic types
of partnerships: a general partnership, a limited
partnership, and a joint venture. A general
partnership allows partners to divide evenly authority
and liability as well as profits and losses. Equal
shares are assumed unless otherwise stated in a
partnership agreement. Limited partnerships limit the
liability of each partner to the extent of their
investment in the business, as well as limiting their
authority to the same extent. This organizational
structure tends to encourage investors for short-term
projects and is not used very often in the retail and
service industries. A joint venture is a general
partnership that is just intended to last for a limited
time period or a specific project. If the partners wish
to work together again, they must be recognized as a
specific type of partnership after dissolving and
distributing the assets of the current joint venture.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Advantages                 Disadvantages
Easy to establish          Jointly and individually
                           liable for all partners
Easier to raise capital    All profits are shared
Profits are credited       Decisions must be made
towards partners           jointly and disagreements
personal tax returns       are always possible
Prospective employees      Some employee benefits
may be intrigued by the    are not deductible from the
idea of becoming a         business income tax
partner                    return
Partners can complement    Partnerships have a
each other with their      limited life span and may
personalities and          end upon the withdrawal
manage ment techniques     or death of a partner

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

A corporation must be chartered in the state in which
its primary headquarters are located. It is considered
to be a legal entity in itself and is not connected to
those who own it for liability purposes. It can be
taxed, sued, and enter into contracts. It is owned by
its shareholders who elect a board of directors to
oversee the major policy decisions. These decisions
must be documented. It does not have a limited life
span and can continue to operate if and when
ownership changes for any reason. Small
corporations may be operated on a less formal basis,
but records must still be kept.

Advantages                   Disadvantages
Shareholders enjoy           More complex and costly
limited liability
Capital can be raised        Officers can be held
through stock sales          personally liable
Benefits for officers and    Monitored closely be local,
employees can be             state, and federal entities
deducted from business       May result in higher taxes
income tax returns           (Dividends paid to
                             shareholders are not
                             deductible and thus end
                             up being taxed twice)

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Subchapter S Corporations
This classification is available for tax purposes only
and allows shareholders to treat their earnings and
profits just like dividends and funnel them through
their personal tax returns. The shareholder must meet
the standards of “reasonable compensation” if they
work for the corporation.

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
This is a new type of business structure that allows a
company to take advantage of the limited liability
features of a corporation and the tax benefits and
flexibility of a partnership. The owners are termed as
“members” of the corporation and the duration of the
association of the members is determined upon
organization, although it can be continued upon a
favorable vote by its members. A LLC must not have
more than two of the four major characteristics of a
corporation which follow:

 Limited liability for members to the extent of their
 Unlimited lifespan
 Centralized operations
 Free transferability of interests.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Are you fully aware of all the laws that govern the
industry that you plan to become a part of? Will you
be affected by OSHA requirements? Do you use any
hazardous materials that may be subject to
regulations? Are you familiar with you state‟s
workmen‟s compensation laws? What about federal
regulations regarding withholding taxes and social
security? You will need to hire the appropriate
personnel and consult a lawyer in order to keep
abreast of all the business laws you will be expected
to obey.

A small business requires vigilant organization for
records management. Having an effective system in
place at the beginning can save you big headaches in
the future. There are customer records, invoices, bills,
purchase orders, bank statements, credit card
statements, receipts, and passwords. Aim for a
paperless office. While we have not yet quite reached
a hundred per cent digital business, you‟ll find that by
banking online, receiving e-bills, and scanning
documents to disk, using point of sale systems, and
managing databases, you can become more efficient
and conserve space.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Bank Account
While a bank account is your means of moving your
money, this is also the recording of most financial
transactions. Because of this, opening a business
bank account is one of the first things you should do
when starting a business.

A business bank account can be linked to
bookkeeping software, Internet banking, merchant
accounts, and business debit cards.

Maintaining a business bank account gives your new
business needed credibility. There are several
considerations for choosing the bank and type of
account for your small business; such as transaction
costs, maintenance fees, services available, lines of
credit, debit card options, Internet banking services
and fees available, location, merchant services,
borrowing options, and the availability of a personal
commercial banker (bank personnel trained in small
business services.).

If you are a Limited Company, Partnership,
Corporation, you must have a separate business bank

Check out Bytestart's small business banking
partners; Alliance & Leicester (2 Year's Free Banking
for Start Ups) or Barclays (Free Start Up Guide).

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Be sure you select a reputable bank.

Online banking services are essential to today‟s small
business. You can check records of transactions,
move funds, and pay bills twenty four hours a day, all
from your computer.

Licenses and Permits
Business licensing differs from country to country but
the following list displays the common issues that
must be addressed by the small business owner.

   1) Business Licenses
      This is the main document that you must
      acquire in order to perform basic business
      functions and file taxes.

   2) Occupational or Professional Licenses
      Most states require specific occupations and
      professions to obtain licensure before they can
      begin working. They may also be required to
      renew this licensure on a regular basis and/or
      enroll in continuing education classes to update
      their skills. The occupations and professions
      that are regulated vary from building
      contractors to physicians to appraisers to
      accountants to barbers to real estate agents to
      auctioneers to private investigators to bill

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

      collectors to cosmetologists, just to name a
      few. Always check with you state of residence
      to determine if your particular profession or
      occupation is regulated.

   3) Product Licenses
      Most states require special licenses to sell
      liquor, lottery tickets, gasoline, or guns.

   4) Income Tax
      If the state or locality your business is in has an
      income tax, then you will be responsible for
      obtaining an employer identification number
      from your Department of Revenue or Treasury.

   5) Sales Tax
      If you are going to be selling retail goods, you
      will also have to obtain a state sales tax

   6) Company Name Registration
      You will need to register the name your
      company will be doing business under with at
      least the state you are operating in. If you plan
      to do business outside of the state, you will
      need to consider registering the name

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

      elsewhere, including with the federal trademark

   7) Unemployment Payments
      If you employ others, you will be expected to
      make unemployment insurance payment to
      your state.

   8) EIN Number
      Most business types, excluding sole
      proprietorships, are required to file for a federal
      tax identification number or EIN, regardless of
      whether they have employees or not.

   9) Other Federal Regulations
      Most businesses do not require any other
      federal licenses or permits. However some
      industries are regulated by federal agencies
      that determine the requirements that
      companies operating in that industry must meet
      to do business. Some of these industries are
      investment advising, drug manufacturing, meat
      processing, broadcasting, ground
      transportation, and the selling, of alcohol,
      tobacco, or firearms.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Risk Protection
As you start your adventure into small business
ownership, you will need to protect yourself and your
business against such things as fire, theft, robbery,
vandalism, and accident liability. Contact a local
insurance agent for recommendations as to what
types of coverage your particular business will require.
Another option is to visit the internet site which offers a Small Business
Liability Tool. This interactive feature allows you to
choose the type of business you are interested in
starting and informs you as to the types of risk that
particular profession faces. For example, you can
type in child care center or plumber or beauty salon
and be advised exactly what types of insurance are
appropriate and necessary for that profession.

Record Keeping
You must be aware of what financial reports you are
required to prepare, how to prepare them, and who
will prepare them. Payroll records, including tax
reports and payments, must also be completed in an
efficient manner. Complete records of sales and
expenses along with accounts payable and receivable
are indispensable and must be kept accurately from
the start-up phase until the dissolution of the

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

If your new business will be selling or making a
product or products, do you know exactly what these
items will be? If you new business is providing a
service, do you know exactly what that service will
encompass? A merchandise plan must be developed
based upon estimated sales that will determine the
amount of inventory or supplies you will need upon
opening your doors for business. When you have
determined what you need and how much of it, look
for reliable suppliers who are more than happy to help
you through the start-up phase of your new business
venture. Compare the prices, quality, and credit terms
of all suppliers that you are considering.

When starting a small business, you must consider
what the optimum location for your particular endeavor
would be and come as close as possible to finding the
perfect place. Location is a major factor in the
success or failure of any business and yours will be no
exception. A good location can help a business that
may be struggling financially to survive, whereas, a
poor location can result in even a well-managed
business failing.

You must consider a location that is convenient for the
customer base you plan to serve. Once you have

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

narrowed down your search area you must look for
buildings that met your needs as they are or can be
modified at a reasonable cost. You will want to
consider renting or leasing and even leasing with an
option to buy. There is usually far more freedom in
negotiation a commercial lease that in renting a
residential space and leasing without committing
yourself to ownership may be the best choice for
fledgling businesses as they do not know whether the
location will be optimum as of yet.

You will need a lawyer‟s help in drawing up a
commercial lease, as there are no standard
commercial lease agreements. Every lease
agreement should be written and should contain at
least the following information:

 Amount of rent that will be paid by the tenant
  (possible increases and the basis for these
  increases should also be spelled out)

 Length of the lease (conditions necessary for
  renewal should also be included)

 Whether or not utilities are included in the rent
  payment and if not exactly what utilities the tenant is
  responsible for

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

 Maintenance expenses, property taxes, and
  insurance costs that the tenant may or may not be
  required to pay

 Any deposits required

 Detailed description of the area being leased
  including the square footage, parking facilities, and
  any other perks that might come with it

 List of improvements that the landlord has promised
  to complete

 Any statements made by the landlord or his agent
  regarding foot traffic, average utility costs,
  restrictions on renting to competitors, etc.

 Zoning regulations

 Restrictions or subleasing or assigning the lease if

 Terms for termination of the agreement by either

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

When you are considering where to locate your new
business do not overlook the zoning regulations that
may affect the properties that you are considering.
You can call your local planning department to ask
exactly how each property is zoned. This is important
because zoning laws may place restrictions on the
height and overall size of buildings, the percentage of
the lot they may be built upon, the kinds of facilities
that must be included based on the property‟s
intended use, and the distance between the front,
back, and side property lines that any structure must

Zoning regulations are not easily changed and,
therefore, it is best to know upfront what the
regulations are concerning its intended use.
Properties are usually zoned as residential,
commercial, industrial, agricultural, or recreational.
Changing these classifications require a period of
public notice and having the variance approved b y
various government agencies.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

4- Finances

A great number of small businesses fail each year
because of insufficient funds. Too many people try to
start their business without enough money to support
them through the first few lean months. Consider how
much money you have access to now, how much
money you will need to start your business, and how
much money you will need to stay in business.

Assets and Liabilities
Take a good look at your current assets and liabilities.

Assets                          Liabilities
Cash on hand/Other liquid       Accounts payable
Savings Accounts                Notes payable
Stocks, bonds, securities       Contracts payable
Accounts/notes receivable       Taxes
Real Estate                     Real estate loans
Life insurance (cash value      Other liabilities
of policies)
Automobile/other vehicles

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Start-Up Cost Estimates
After you have a good idea of what your current
financial status is, take a look at how much money
starting your new business will require. You will need
to write down an educated guesstimate in for each of
the following categories:

    Decorating, remodeling
    Fixtures, equipment
    Installation of fixtures, equipment
    Services, supplies
    Basic Inventory
    Legal, professional fees
    Licenses, permits
    Telephone, utility deposits
    Insurance
    Signs
    Advertising
    Unanticipated Expenses

Monthly Expenses
After you have determined how much money will be
required just to open the doors of your small business,
you need to calculate your expenses per month to
keep the business going. Upon opening for business

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

you will need enough money on hand to cover these
expenses for the first three months.

   Your living expenses
   Employee wages
   Rent
   Advertising
   Supplies
   Utilities
   Insurance
   Taxes
   Maintenance
   Delivery/transportation
   Miscellaneous

Getting the Money You Need
Now that you are aware of the financial investment
that will be necessary to start and operate your own
business, where will you find the money? First, of
course, look at your own personal savings and credit
cards. If this is not sufficient, you may have the option
of asking family and/or friends for help. They can
often provide you with interest free or low interest
loans. Your next option is to go to the bank or credit
union and try to obtain a small business loan. Finally,
there are venture capital firms whose sole p urpose is
to help companies grow in exchange for a share in
their ownership.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Obtaining a Loan
It is not necessarily true that small business people
have a hard time borrowing money from financial
institutions. This is not necessarily true. Banks and
credit unions are in the business of lending money
and that is what they want to do. However, they want
to loan their money to people who are likely to pay it
back; those that they deem a “good risk”.
Unfortunately, many small business owners come into
these institutions inexperienced and unprepared,
presenting themselves as “high risks”, and are
subsequently turned down.

To be successful in getting a loan approved you must
be organized and have a thorough loan proposal
prepared that addresses all the pertine nt questions
that your lender might have. Presenting yourself and
your ideas well is often the key to hearing the magic
words of “your loan has been approved”.

 In addition, if your lending institution turns your
proposal down, you have the option of asking that it
be submitted to the Small Business Administration
(SBA). SBA can guarantee up to 80% of a small
business loan if the proposal meets their standards:
repayment ability form business‟s cash flow, good
character, leadership capacity, collateral, and owner‟s
equity contribution. All principals who own 20% or

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

more of the business are required to personally
guarantee all SBA loans and the lender must agree to
loan the money with the SBA‟s guarantee.

Writing a Loan Proposal
A good loan proposal should include the following

   1) General Information
        A. Business Name
        B. Name and Social Security Number of
        C. Business Address
        D. Purpose of Loan
        E. Exact Amount of Money Being

   2) Business Description
         A. History of the Business (if applicable)
         B. Nature of the Business
         C. Number of Employees
         D. Current Assets
         E. Organizational Structure

   3) Management Profile
        A. Short Biography of Each Principal

   4) Market Information

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          A. Define Products and Markets
          B. Identify Competition
          C. Explain How You Plan to Compete in the
          D. Profile Customers

   5) Financial Information
         A. Financial Statements, Balance Sheets,
            and Income Sheets for the Past 3 Years
         B. Projected Balance and Income Sheets
            for the Current Year
         C. Personal Financial Statements for
            Yourself and All Principals
         D. Any Collateral You Are Willing to Put Up

Types of Business Loans
There are two basic types of business loans: short
term and long term. Short term loans have a maturity
of up to one year and are most often working capital
loans, accounts receivable loans, or lines of credit.
Long term loans have maturities that are more than
one year but usually less than seven years. Loans for
real estate and equipment can have maturities of up to
twenty-five years. Long term loans are used for
mainly for purchasing real estate, construction,
equipment, furniture and fixtures, vehicles, and other
high end items.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Help Available
There are over 12,400 Service Corps of Retired
Executives (SCORE) chapters available nationwide.
These organizations offer free expert advice based on
their vast experience in almost every field and almost
every aspect of business. Another source of available
information is the approximately 1000 Small Business
Development Centers (SBDC) across the country.
These centers provide a variety of management and
technical assistance services. These organizations
can be located at

Understand and Projecting Cash Flow
Cash flow is the movement of money in and out of
your business. This cycle of cash in and out
determines your business' solvency.

Cash flow analysis is the study of the cycle of your
business' cash inflows and outflows, for the purpose
of maintaining, managing, and forecasting cash flow.

Cash flow analysis involves examining the
components of your business that affect cash flow.
These are accounts receivable, inventory, accounts
payable, interest, and credit terms. Performing a cash
flow analysis on these separate components will help
you spot cash flow issues and find ways to make

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

One way to perform a cash flow analysis is to
compare the unpaid bills to the total sales due at the
end of each month. If the bills are greater than the
total sales due, you'll need more cash than you
receive in the next month, and this will be a cash flow

Cash Flow Projection
Cash Flow Projection is to forecast how money will
flow in and out of your business during a certain future
time period. You need to know when your
expenditures are too high, income is too low, or when
you have a cash flow surplus. As part of your business
plan, a Cash Flow Projection will give you a much
better idea of how much capital investment your
business idea needs.

Cash Flow Projection determines your credit risk.

The difference between a Cash Flow Projection and a
Cash Flow Statement is that a Cash Flow Statement
records cash flow for a period in the past. Both of
these Cash Flow reports are important business
decision-making tools for businesses, but you are only
concerned with the Cash Flow Projection for your
business plan. Your Cash Flow Projections should be
shown monthly for a three year period as part of the
Financial Plan portion of your business plan.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

The Three Parts to the Cash Flow Projection
The first part details your Cash Revenues or cash
income. Enter your total estimated income you expect
to collect each month.

The second part is your Cash Disbursements. These
are the expenses from your ledger that you expect to
pay that month for each month.

The third part of the Cash Flow Projection is the
Reconciliation of Cash Revenues to Cash
Disbursements. This section starts with the opening
balance (which is the carryover from the previous
month). The current month's Revenues are added to
this balance; the current month's Disbursements are
subtracted, and the adjusted cash flow balance is
carried over to the next month. Remember, the
Closing Cash Balance is carried over to the next

Sales Forecasting
Sales forecasting is estimating what your sales will be.
There are sophisticated formulas and less complex
methods for sales forecasting.

If you sell several types of products and services,
prepare a separate sales forecast for each one or

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Be sure to account for all the factors that can affect
your sales:

      Seasons
      Holidays
      Special Events
      Competition
      Product Availability
      Personal Issues
      Trends
      Economic Climate
      Population Changes
      Political Events
      Weather

Product Changes
Promotional effort changes
Sales Motivation
Price Changes
Shortages/working capital
Credit Policy changes
Labor Issues

Create a Customer Profile
Learn about your customers. Identify who they are,
why they buy, when they buy, how they buy, and

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

where they are. You should know your target group by
age, sex, location, interests, and buying habits.

Create a Competitor Profile
Find out who your competitors are and study their
practices. Visit their websites or locations. Analyze
everything you can; location, sales volumes, traffic
patterns, hours of operation, busy periods, prices,
quality of their goods and services, promotions,
brochures, etc.

Estimate Your Sales for the First Year
Base your numbers as realistically as possible by
estimating what your competitor are doing and what
you will be doing. Be sure to note how long each one
has been in business. Momentum builds in most
businesses and a company on equal footing
financially would need almost as much time in
business to reach the same level of sales.

Consider how well your competition is doing.
Determine what you will do different or better. Will you
offer a better location, more convenience, lower price,
be more accessible, offer better quality or better

Consider population and economic growth in your
trading area.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Now estimate what your market share will be. Use a
percentage of the total market in volume annually.
Now turn this in to the appropriate dollar amount.
Divide this total volume by the average sale you would
expect to make per customer in one year. The result
will be the number of customers you need to obtain
that market share. Does this number look feasible?

Total Market Value (in money) multiplied by the
Percentage of Expected Market Share equals Total
Revenue Forecast

Total Revenue Forecast divided by Average Sale per
Customer equals Total Customers

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

5- Developing Your Business Plan

Now that you have assembled all of this information
what do you do with it? You put it into a cohesive
business plan that will help you reach your goals. The
process of developing this plan will bring to light any
issues that you may not have considered yet. The
business plan will also be a useful tool. It will become
invaluable when and if you need to raise more capital
for your business and give you the ability to gauge
your success by allowing you to see the milestones
you have reached.

Here is a general outline for a business plan:

   1) Introduction
          A. Detailed description of the business and
             your vision for its future
          B. Organizational structure of the business
             and ownership
          C. Skills and experience you (and your
             partners, if applicable) can contribute to
             the business
          D. Edge your business has over its

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

   2) Marketing
         A. Products and/or services offered
         B. Customer demand
         C. Market size and locations
         D. Advertising
         E. Pricing
   3) Financial Management
         A. Source and amount of initial investment
         B. Monthly operating budget
         C. Monthly expected cash flow
         D. Projected income statements and
            balance sheets
         E. Breakeven point
         F. Compensation
         G. Accounting practices
         H. Alternative approaches to any
            anticipated roadblocks
   4) Operations
         A. Day-to-day management
         B. Hiring and personnel procedures
         C. Insurance, lease or rent agreements
         D. Necessary equipment for production
         E. Delivery of products and/or services
   5) Concluding Statement
         A. Business goals and objectives
         B. Commitment to success

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Your business plan should be flexible and should be
able to change as your business grows. You may
wish to review your business plan with a friend or
business associate to for content and structure before
you present it in professional situations.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Sample Basic Business Plan

                  Company Name


             Owner‟s Name or Principles





The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

 This document contains confidential and proprietary
         information belonging exclusively to
 _________________ and is intended for the party to
               which it is released only.

  This document is not to be copied or duplicated in
                  whole or in part.

This is a business plan and does not imply an offering
                     of securities.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Company Direction

Present Situation

ABC Sports Clothing, has been in the business of
screen printing and embroidering articles of clothing
for various organizations for over thirty years. We
provide a service with superior quality at an affordable
cost to our customer. We strive for customer service,
quick order turn around, and superior quality and

Market Environment

The screen printing industry has experienced
tremendous growth throughout the last decade. The
increased popularity of athletic clubs and sports teams
has contributed to this trend. What may be the
greatest single source of business is the new
corporate casual attire. Business casual dress have
opened a new venue for screen printed clothes,
allowing them to become a viable part of the working
wardrobe and increasing their demand dramatically.
Businesses have discovered a new advertising

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

medium by imprinting their logos and messages on
corporate clothing.

Athletic clubs, charity organizations, small businesses,
and advertising campaigns can all be found to use
some type of screen printed clothing for their
employees, members, handouts, or promotions.

We are preparing to expand with our growth and take
advantage of the blossoming market available to us.


Our mission statement reads as follows:

We strive to provide a positive experience to each one
of our clients, and retain their business by producing a
product that exceeds their expectations.

We accomplish this mission by:

1. Offering a personal level of attention to every

2. Ensuring a prompt turn-around time on all orders
3. Maintaining a positive work environment

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Through a long term commitment to our mission, we
shall be known as a company that can deliver an
exceptional product in a timely fashion at a fair price.

Strategic Goals

To reach our strategic goals and maintain the vision in
the manner described in our mission statement we

1. Maintain our superior staff
2. Maintain our current contract accounts
3. Continue to expand our retail operation
4. Explore our options in catalogue sales
Company Overview

Legal Description

ABC Sports Clothing is a Corporation duly organized,
validly existing and in good standing with 5000 shares
of common stock at $1.00 par value per share.


ABC Sports Clothing currently occupies roughly 8,900
square feet of retail and warehouse space.


The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

The management team will consist of Doug Bancroft
and Julie Smith..

Doug is a results oriented Operations Manager with a
proven track record in effectively coordinating and
overseeing commercial development, facility
expansion and maintenance, materials management,
and cost control activities.

His experience draws from a BS in Business
Administration and Graduate level courses in
Management Engineering at Rolla, and twenty years
of job experience at Monsanto as Facilities
Coordinator, Growth Facilities Manager, Facilities
Manager, and as a Research Services Leader.

He is an authority on small business. He has traveled
the speaking circuit teaching small business marketing
and is presently the director of Telfast Corporation.

Julie Smith is the President of ABC Sports Clothing.
Her education and experience in accounting practices
and management makes her a valuable leader.


__________‟s responsibilities include: Day to day
operation, screen printing, maintenance and repairs of
machinery, janitorial, administrative, recruiting, sales,
and marketing.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Outside Support

Accounting and Legal services are the only outside
support at this time. ABC Sports Clothing intends to
create a support network of outside consultants and
mentors that specialize in small business and


ABC Sports Clothing currently employs seven full
time and three part time employees, although there
are plans to hire one more full time employee after the
New Year.

Strategic Alliances

We have aligned ourselves with MAC Prints, another
screen printing company, to allow a greater use of our
resources. We refer customers we do not have the
recourses to handle to them, and they in turn send
customers to us.

We are presently in negotiations with two of our
significant customers concerning controlling more of
their business.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

We are presently on credit terms with over 25

Product Strategy

Current Products and Services

ABC Sports Clothing currently offers a wide variety of
screen printing, embroidery, and tackle twill. We have
developed a popular new method of puff printing.

We have kiosks at area malls, we provide contract
services to our larger clients and we are capable of
offering services to our walk in clients as well. We can
batch large orders, deal with piece work, or run
individual designs.

Service Selection Criteria

At this time we are gearing up for the Christmas
season. We have three retails kiosks at area shopping
malls that will offer our product directly to the public
during the holiday season. We are also filling orders
from our current catalogue sales.


We are regularly reviewing our operations to increase
our productivity and sales. In 2002 we plan to increase
our retail kiosks by fifty percent or more bringing us to
a total of five to seven kiosks.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

We hope to expand our operation by acquiring more
manufacturing space, and hiring a new full time
employee to work in production.

Market Analysis

Market Definition

The screen printing industry has enjoyed a steady
growth over the last ten years.

With the emergence of minor and amateur sporting
teams, and the growing trend for casual dress in the
work place, the market for screen printed clothing will
continue to grow.

Market Segment

Our market includes sports clubs, charity
organizations, marketing departments, schools, youth
organizations, corporations, and technical and service
businesses. Our geographical region consists of the
greater St. Louis region and outlying areas.

Strengths and Weaknesses


We are the only company in the area that offers
garment screen printing, tackle twill, and embroidery
at one location.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

We produce our own products sold at the kiosks. This
allows us to control product quality and enjoy higher
profit margins.

Our size gives us the ability to closely monitor quality
and timely delivery of our product. Our staff is trained
to provide excellent customer service and high quality
workmanship. Our size allows us to constantly monitor
customer contact and daily focus on the importance of
referral and repeat business.

Because we can do in house screen printing, tackle
twill, and embroidery, we have the unique ability to
return a higher quality product in a timely fashion,
whereas many screen printing companies must out
source when their order calls for more than just the
screen print.


Our weakness may well be our desire to control our
growth. Due to the overwhelming demand or our
services we must often refer work to competitive


The holiday season is a growing opportunity for us.
Our sales have increased dramatically from our

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Christmas Kiosks during the last two years and we are
ready to expand our market share.

We plan to take advantage of the opportunities
presented to us on the Internet by expanding to a Web
page thus making our product and se rvices more
readily available to the public.

Our reputation, referrals from existing clients, and
referrals from other businesses expand our customer
base daily.

Our plans for expansion will enable us to accept more
clients, process larger orders, and still maintain our
high level of service and quality.

These are excellent opportunities to develop new
customers and increase our market share. However,
our concern has been to control present growth.

Customer Profile

Any organization that has a shirt, hat, jacket, tee, or
sweatshirt with a logo or embroidered logo. Our
targets are organizations and corporations that order
team uniforms, t-shirts, hats, or sweatshirts.

Current Customers

AM Sports, TLA Soccer, United Football, Ellis
Schools, Perris College

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business


Our current competition is any screen printing
business that can be found in the Yellow Pages. Our
advantage however, is our reputation. We have been
established in the St. Louis area for almost thirty years
and we see a lot of customer loyalty and referrals.


The business risks for us include the following:

The loss of our equipment would greatly hinder the
operation of this business. In order to prepare for
equipment failure, we perform routine preventative
maintenance. In case of any breakage, the owner is
trained to repair any of these machines. If the
machines are irreparable, we have back up machines
standing by.

As a manufacturing industry, employee loss and injury
is always a concern. We carry insurance to help defer
any liability we might be held accountable for. Our
hands on owner operator, and would be able to fill any
holes left by an employee absence until a new
employee could be found and fully trained.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Marketing Plan

Sales Strategy

We sell services and products.

The customers who buy our service are looking for
quality product and a fast turn-around time. Since our
typical customer is a repeat business customer they
know that they can count on us. Our prices are
competitive with other comparable services in the

Customer Service

Our business relies on referral and repeat business.
We strive to give the best customer service that we
can to every client. We constantly reinforce this belief
with our employees through direct supervision, and

Advertising and Promotion

Our current advertising budget is almost nonexistent.
We have a complimentary one line ad in the Yellow
Pages, and we have entered our product when
solicited to local catalogues and sports brochures. We
exist on word of mouth advertising and repeat

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Advertising Campaign

We intend to intensify our advertising in several
different areas.

First, we will open a Web site that will allow greater
access to our product, and thus enable us to compete
with some of the larger area screen printers.

Second, we will offer greater coverage of our product
through catalogues by advertising a broader selection
of product in different publications.

Third, we are working with a marketing director for
Southwestern Bell to begin a customer satisfaction
and follow-up program. We are hoping to strengthen
our loyalty to existing customers and garner referrals
to new ones.

Financial Plan

Our fiscal year corresponds with the calendar year.
Last years‟ gross receipts total over $2,000,000.


Based on our reputation, highly trained personnel,
market position, customer base, and management
team, we consider our company to be a strong and
solid investment. Our future potential is only limited by
our desire to maintain our current standards.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

6-The Marketing Plan
The marketing plan section of your overall business
plan will benefit you create a business plan or not.
Marketing and advertising, in many forms, drives most
businesses. The secret to advertising is getting the
right message to the right people at the right time.

You need some basic advertising knowledge to create
an accurate marketing plan.

The Brand Plan

Your brand is basically the message you want people
to get when they encounter you business.

Business Cards

Despite all the Internet commerce a b usiness card is
still a valuable promotion tool. Whether you personally
hand, mail, or distribute your card to someone, this
simple gesture is a tangible representation of your

 In addition to providing people with the general
information about you and your business, with some
imagination your business card can be a novelty that
gets people talking. Printing your message on an
object that could receive additional attention by being
displayed on a desktop for example, could bring you
The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

more business. Magnetic business cards for example,
end up on file cabinets, desks, and refrigerators.

Develop a simple and impressionable logo. Have a
logo contest and announce this to graphic artists via
the net. You should get many to choose from. Award
the winner what the standard rate of cost. Publish this
same logo everywhere. On your Internet site, your
email, your business card, your advertising, your
product or packaging, letterhead, your vehicles, your
signs, and wherever people can see it.

Your Customer
Defining your customer is paramount to succeeding in
small business. A great place to start is with the who,
what, why, how, when, and where of your customer.
This is your customer profile.

Your Customer


      Who is your customer?
       For Example: Is your customer a business
       owner? …homeowner? …male? … female?
       …what age?

      Who does your prospect buy from now?

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

      Who will you be in your customer‟s eyes?


      What does your customer want?

      What is your product or service?

      What demand are you meeting?

      What is your competitors‟ product?


      Why does your customer buy?

      Why will your prospect buy from you?


      How does your customer find out about your
       specific industry?

       For example, if you are in the 24 Hour
       emergency drain cleaning business, most
       customers still turn to the phone book for help.
       People have drain issues at all hours, and in
       places where they do not have a computer. If
       you‟re thinking about avoiding the phone book

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

       and going strictly to the Internet, you might
       have an uphill battle.

       Remember do not try to reeducate the public.
       This includes attempting to change present
       buying behavior. Your drain cleaning company
       could certainly use a website in addition to the
       phone book advertising.

       Sending out a direct mail piece advertising
       emergency drain cleaning might also prove
       ineffective. The need for your service is
       unplanned. Sending out a direct mail
       refrigerator magnet advertising your service
       might be more productive. People will see your
       name and number regularly on their refrigerator
       and know how to reach you when the time

      How does your customer buy your product?
       Are people used to buying your product or
       service locally? …in stores? …on the Internet?
       …from direct contact?

      How are people used to paying for your product
       or service? …by credit card? …with cash?

      How much are people presently paying for your
       product or service?

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       How much will you need to sell your product or
        service for to be competitive?


Where is your customer?
Is your customer local, regional, or worldwide?
Where is your customer when they are in the most
likely place to need, want, or be reminded of your
product or service? Are they in their car, on a train, or
at the computer? Are they at home, at work, or
somewhere else?

Your advertising will need to target your customer
where they are and at the appropriate time.

When does your customer buy? When is your
customer most likely to buy? When is the best time to
reach your customer? When they are working? When
they have received their tax refund? When they are
shopping, eating, or working? Is your product

Companies spend billions of dollars researching the
who, what, why, how, when, and where of consumers.

You can research statistics online, purchase
information from data mining companies, or perform
your own research.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Accumulating and analyzing information about your
typical customer should help you develop an effective
financial strategy for marketing and an advertising

Decide what types of advertising are going to be the
most economical for reaching your customer.

Advertising you might want to consider includes:


      Website
      Affiliate Advertising
      Pay per Click
      Press Releases

Traditional Print Advertising

      Brochures
      Direct Mail
      Newspapers
      Magazines

Internet Advertising

The Press Release

Traditional press releases are information considered
to have value for the general public by the sender.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

These press releases are targeted towards members
of the news media to deliver a message.

For many years press releases were submitted via
telegraph, hand delivery, or US Mail to selected
television and radio stations, newspaper and
magazine newsrooms, and other media outlets. The
press releases would contain news and event or
product announcements.

The distribution of press releases was limited to
journalists and news organizations on the sender‟s
mailing list. These news outlets only had the ability to
dispense the message to their local audience.

Every day, tens of thousands of press releases
competed for a spot in print. Because news outlets
have traditionally assumed the role as „gatekeepers‟ of
information, the assignment editors and news
directors had o wade through the mountain of press
releases and decide which ones were newsworthy
enough to print.

Other factors, such as a busy news day or an
understaffed newsroom, also dictated whether events
or announcements made the grade. More often than
not, the majority of press releases were disregarded
or ignored. These press releases would range from
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one sentence to hundreds of words. While methods of
delivery and distribution have changed dramatically,
much of this process is still in effect today.

Online PR

The Internet press release is delivered in real time.
You can have much more control of your press
releases by sending them directly to consumers and
media distributors.

The news release distribution wires Business Wire,
Market Wire, PrimeNewswire, PRWeb ,and U.S.
Newswire have developed sophisticated marketing
services for press releases.

You can increase distribution with tools such as RSS
feed, tracking, Keyword Optimization, social media
tagging, and enhance your press release with audio,
video, and interactivity.

Online Press Releases can get you more attention
than what most advertising generates.

The advantages over traditional advertising are
numerous. Print advertising, for example, takes more
time, effort, and money. Newspaper and magazine
advertising can be targeted locally, but is usually more
costly, is not live, and tracking results is difficult.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Primitive Tracking of Print Advertising

Most of the time, there is no way to ever know how
many people saw, who saw, or when they saw your
ads. The few businesses that track print ad
effectiveness at all do so strictly by sales. This is
often inaccurate due to the almost infinite variables,
borders on nonsensical.

There are also numerous variables for print
advertising. These include:

          The Timing – Businesses need to plan
           newspaper advertising several days or even
           weeks in advance, and magazines often
           need months of notice. There is no way to
           predict the climate, competitor‟s offers,
           environmental and political influences, or
           coinciding events.

          The Placement – Unless you pay additional
           for the service, there is no way to know in
           what section or where on the page your ad
           will run. People scan newspaper pages by
           page area making some locations more

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

         Competition – There is usually no way to
          know if a competitor is making a better offer
          in the same paper or even next to your ad.

         Size – Ad size affects attention.

         Cost – Cost comparing print advertising can
          be difficult. In order to get the best bargain,
          Often, you can only get the best deal by
          purchasing a long term contract.

         Inflexibility – Print advertising cannot be
          changed except between issues and often
          only with several days notice.

         Color – The use of color is more expensive
          in most forms of print advertising and
          therefore choices become a bigger factor in
          determining ad pull.

         Life Expectancy - The life expectancy of
          your ad in a daily newspaper is very short –
          usually only one day.

         Audience – Other than the geographical
          distribution of a newspaper or periodical, the
          only other tool of audience segregation is
          placement in a special interest section of
          the newspaper.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

However, there are businesses and situations where
print advertising still has value for business.

Newspapers and Magazines
Certain businesses still do well advertising in
traditional newspapers and magazines.

Your newspaper advertising strategy will depend on
your type of business. The first question is: “When and
in what section of the newspaper do your customers
look for your type of business?"


1. Over time, a smaller advertisement run repeatedly
will do better than a large ad run less frequently.
Your service or product might be one that people buy
when they are ready so you need to keep your name
in front of them. You also build trust with repetitive

2. People shop different days of the week. Friday,
Saturday and Sunday papers are more for weekend
shopping. A retail business will want to focus on these

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

3. The general public looks for certain information on
specific days. If your competitors are all running their
ads on Wednesday, there is a reason.

Make sure you maintain your logo (brand) in all of
your print advertising. This will keep you consistent
even though your offer might change,

Direct Mail
Direct mail is a tried and true advertising medium.
There are several advantages to direct mail:

1. Direct mail is measurable. When customers walk
through the door with your mailer in hand, you can
easily measure response. Some direct mail outfits will
track this data for you.

2. Direct mail is inexpensive. When you are
conducting a direct mail from a targeted list, this is a
cost-effective use of your advertising dollar. You are
getting your message to those who are genuinely
interested. Each direct mail campaign should get
better than the last. Using response analysis data, you
should be able to analyze each promotion become
more effective.

3. Direct mail is targetable. Rather than sending a
generic message out to the general population, direct

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

mail targets your audience. A direct mail company
can help you gather information about your target

4. Direct mail is timed and planned. Direct mail is also
the only advertising that can be guaranteed to reach
its audience.

5. Direct mail is private communication. Secret -
between you and your prospect.

There are several advantages of direct mail but unless
you are very experienced with this type of marketing,
this is not a do-it-yourself project. Success is typically
forty per cent dependent on the list, forty per cent on
the offer, and twenty per cent on everything else
(creative, layout, paper stock, etc.). Gain the
assistance of a reputable direct mail firm, and enjoy
the rewards.

      Make sure everyone has seen the artwork
       before you go to print. This includes the direct
       mail service. They will check all postal

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

       regulations to save money and avoid costly
       mistakes in size, bar coding etc.

      If possible, use letter-size mail to save money
       on postage.

      Automate your mailing lists to take advantage
       of postal barcodes. This improves speed of
       delivery and allows you to take advantage of
       postal discounts.

      Make your sales message personalized and
       targeted to each individual as much as
       possible. This will greatly improve the response

      Keep your mailing list updated to delete
       duplicates and bad addresses. This will reduce
       your postage costs and the number of returned
       mailing pieces.

      Print "Address Correction" endorsements on
       your envelopes to help maintain your mailing

      Send a post card to your entire mailing list once
       a year via First Class postage. The U.S. Postal
       Service will inform you of undeliverable
       addresses free of charge. This is an

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

       economical way to help update your mailing

Radio and Television

Radio and television stations have relied on ratings by
groups such as Neilson and Arbitron to make their
pitch. Though convincing, there are no guarantees of
who, or if even anyone, will hear or see your
advertising or information.

Print advertising and the older electronic medias still
have their place, but Internet advertising is quickly
becoming a strategic form of more effective results
oriented marketing.

Yellow Page Advertising

The first time the term yellow pages was ever used
was in 1883 when a printer working on a regular
telephone directory ran out of white paper an used
yellow paper instead. The first actual Yellow Pages
directory was produced by Reuben H. Donnelly in
1886 and featured business names and phone
numbers organized under headings according to the
products and/or services they provided. Since this

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

first publication, the Yellow Pages have become the
one constant in print advertising.

Unlike other media, people are driven to use the
Yellow Pages by major life events instead of
entertainment purposes or because they are
convenient. Thus, the Yellow Pages fulfill a need in
the marketplace and in this way ensure their longevity.
According to a 2006 Simmons National Consumer
Survey, the single biggest event that increases Yellow
Pages usage is a first time financial investment, which
increases usage by 165%.

The next biggest events and their corresponding
increase in usage are as follows: youngest daughter
gets married – 160%; youngest son gets married –
140%; oldest child entering school – 124%; change
jobs – 120%; expecting first child – 115%;
separating/divorcing – 109%; youngest child
graduates college – 94%; refinance home – 84%.

According to the Yellow Pages Association, 99% of
adults in the United States are familiar with the Yellow
Pages; 49% refer to it in a typical week; and 87% are
likely to make a purchase after consulting the Yellow
Pages. No other form of advertising can claim such a
high follow-through.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

The Yellow Pages Association also tells us that
people who are most likely to use the Yellow Pages
are affluent, well-educated, technologically savvy, and
willing to try new brands if they have the right
information in front of them. They are also value
shoppers who are willing to spend more to get more
value. Isn‟t this the kind of consumer that most
businesses wish to attract through their marketing

The Yellow Pages extend the reach of other
advertising media making them an essential part of
many advertising campaigns. According to a 2006
Media Impact Study conducted by TNS, 12.5% of
consumers utilized direct mail. 2.5% used direct mail
and the Yellow Pages and 17.6% used the Yellow
Pages alone. Thus, by combining different types of
advertising, a business can reach a much larger
portion of the population. This is true for other types
of advertising as well, as shown below:

A comparison of annual spending by users of the top
Yellow Pages Headings versus all consumers for the
same businesses revealed that those who found the
business in the Yellow Pages spent 25% more than
those who found the business through other means.

There are over two hundred Yellow Pages publishers
in the United States and they have traditionally fallen

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

into two categories: telephone company-related or
non-telephone company-related. These lines,
however, are beginning to blur.

Businesses today should not ignore directories that
are not associated with phone companies and assume
that these directories are thrown away or just not
used. Not all consumers rely on the same sources of
information and many of these directories do find their
way into everyday use.

There are even different types of Yellow Pages
directories being published today. An area-wide or
overlay directory combines areas that are currently
served by multiple directories into one larger directory
area. A suburban or neighborhood directory serves a
specific geographic area that is already covered by a
larger directory. A special interest or niche directory is
targeted at specific consumer markets. Business-to-
business directories cater to the purchasing needs of
business customers. Knowledge of the existence of
these different types of directories allows businesses
to target their advertising more effectively.

Yellow page ads are sold on an annual basis and their
price is based on the advertising space you choose
and the circulation size of the particular directory. A
basic one –line listing comes free with your business
telephone service. However, you can upgrade your

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

listing ranging from just using bold-face type in your
one-line ad to purchasing a full-page advertisement
with color. Ads are arranged under each heading in
the directory from biggest to smallest based on
seniority. Therefore, the first full-page advertisement
that you see in each section is the advertiser who has
had their full-page ad the longest. This is the same for
the ¾-page ads, and the ½-page ads as well. If at any
time you choose to upgrade or downgrade the size of
your ad, your advertisement will be added to the end
of the section.

There are certain things that you must include in a
Yellow Pages advertisement in order to make it
effective. First, your headline should identify your
company and the area you serve. Second, you need
to state as clearly and precisely as possible what your
business does. Make sure that you include any
products or services that make you unique among
your competitors. Third, advertise your incentives to
customers, such as free estimates, free maintenance
checks, or money-back guarantees. Fourth and last,
make sure that you include all pertinent contact
information. This may include the business‟ address
and phone number, your hours of operation, and what,
if any, credit cards you accept.

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Make sure that you have proofread your ad multiple
times and that you ask others to do so as well. This
ad will appear exactly the way you write it for an entire
year. If you are unsure about your ability to compile
an effective advertisement, there are plenty of
advertising agencies that are exclusively devoted to
creating Yellow Page advertisements and placing
them in the appropriate directories.

According to publishers, over sixty per cent of people
consult the Yellow Pages regularly. It has become a
conditioned response. Even with the advent of the
internet, people are still more likely to pick up that
handy book by the telephone instead of turning on
their computers for specific business types. Thus,
Yellow Pages advertisements work well for these
businesses. They are proven to generate calls and
produce sales. However, there are several common
mistakes that small businesses make concerning
Yellow Page advertising.

1) A company will avoid advertising in the Yellow
Pages even when their type of business is proven to
be more successful when listed in the directory.
Categories with proven results include: restaurants,
auto repair and service, attorneys, beauty salons,
insurance, plumbing contractors, and florists.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

2) A small business advertises in only one directory in
their marketplace, ignoring the others.

3) A business owner believes that everybody already
knows him and his business and that advertising
would be just a waste of money.

4) If an enterprise does not keep track of where their
customers are finding out about their products and
services, it can easily deny the effectiveness of Yellow
Pages advertising.

5) A business does not advertise to the extent
necessary to meet their growth goals. For instance, a
small ad will work for you if your competitors are all
relying on regular listings, but it will not be effective if
they are utilizing display ads.

6) A business can also spend too much on
advertising and not see a big enough return for their
investment. Make sure that your advertising is in line
with your goals, negotiate with the sales
representatives selling the ads, use the right size ad
for your heading, and use color wisely. Studies have
shown that color ads do not have any more power
over consumers than those in black and white.

7) Make sure that you handle phone calls generated
from your advertising efficiently. You must respond
quickly and when possible personally. Do not use
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answering systems to direct your incoming calls.
Studies show you can lose more than fifty per cent of
your potential customers when they hear a computer-
generated voice instead of a human one.

Trade Shows
A trade show is a gathering of companies that are
marketing similar products or companies that market
different types of products but serve the same

These shows allow companies to introduce their new
products, meet customers, learn about trends in the
industry, and attract new customers. At a typical
national trade show, there will be 1000 companies
exhibiting and 10,000 people attending the show. An
exhibitor can realistically have 200 visitors to their
booth per day.

Obviously, this is a great way to network with other
businesses and increase your consumer base. You
have the opportunity to create the all important first
impression. You will not always have the opportunity
to go into detail about your products and services, but
you will get your proverbial foot in the door.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Trade shows are a great way for you to break away
from the home office and interact with competition,
consumers, and industry associates.

 Simmons Market Research Bureau study of trade
show attendees reported that 91% of them rated the
show as an “extremely useful” source for information
about products. This percentage was higher than that
from any other source, including on-site visits from
company representatives. The study also reported
that 50% of the attendees surveyed had purchased
products or services at the show.

Over 9000 trade shows are held every year in the
United States and they offer businesses a great return
on their investment. However, since these shows can
be quite expensive to participate in, how do you
decide which trade shows to attend?

First, you have to determine why you should attend a
show. You need to set specific goals that you wish to
accomplish by attendance. Answering these four
questions can provide clarification.

1) Why are you exhibiting? (Trying to improve
relationships with existing customers, introducing a
new product, positioning your company within the

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

market, generating leads for new sales, countering a
competitor‟s claim, etc.)

2) Who is your target audience?

3) What is the message you want to convey?

4) What do you want to get out of the show? (Bring
home leads, sell your products and/or services,
improve or create a company image, etc.)

Now that you know your purpose for attending a trade
show, you can begin trying to locate the best ones at
which you goals can be accomplished. Start with your
industry‟s associations and trade publications. Next,
check out the Internet. Sites like,, and provide directories of
shows around the world in various industries.

The key to finding the best shows for your
organization is finding out which shows attract the
biggest number of decision makers in your industry.
To find out who attends a show, ask the show
management for a demographic profile of their
attendees. Check out the exhibitor list from last year.

You can also contact former exhibitors and ask for
their impressions of the show. Make sure you ask
show management how they plan to promote the
show. Of course, you can always attend a

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

prospective show yourself and form your own
conclusions before committing to it for the next year.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

7-Understanding Business

Now that you have you business plan in order and
your finances in place, make sure that you have the
skills necessary to lead your fledgling organization. In
the past, a manager has been expected to maintain
the status quo – in effect, to “keep a good thing
going”. However, in today‟s ever-changing market,
managers have to be leaders. They have to be willing
and able to continue learning and to come up with
new ideas on a regular basis. Today‟s business
executives must be forward-thinking teachers in order
to keep their organizations competitive in today‟s

Personality Traits of Leaders
One of the most important contributions made by the
field of psychology to the business world has been the
determination of the key traits of an effective leader.
Raymond Cattell, an expert in the field of personality
assessment, studied a group of military leaders in
1954 and came up with the following traits that they
seemed to share:

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

                                         Emotional
                                         Dominance
                                         Enthusiasm
                                         Conscientiou
                                         Social
                                         Tough-
                                         Self-
                                         Compulsiven

In addition to these traits, experts have found that
today‟s leaders must also be able to motivate others
and entice them to follow them in new directions. This
ability seems to rely on a high energy level,
intuitiveness, maturity, team orientation, empathy, and

Decision-Making Skills
As a leader of your company you will be called upon
to make decisions on a regular basis. Here are some
tips on making wise choices that will benefit you, your
organization, and your bottom line.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

   1) Decide exactly what the decision is that needs
      to be made. Is there even a choice in the
      Is this your decision to make? If you can
      identify at least two options from which to
      choose and are convinced that this decision is
      your responsibility, then you will want to answer
      the questions of when the decision needs to be
      made by, why the decision is important, who
      the decision will affect, and what personal
      values are involved in this decision?
   2) Brainstorm for options and write them down.
   3) Consider where you could find out more
      information about your dilemma. Possibilities
      include friends, family, clergy, co -workers, state
      and federal agencies, professional
      organizations, online services, newspapers,
      magazines, and books.
   4) Look at the specifics of each option.
   5) Sort through all of your alternatives and look at
      the values that come into play with the choice
      of each one. Keep the alternatives that allow
      you to use more of your values.
   6) Visualize the outcomes of each decision.
   7) Consider which options are most realistic.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

   8) What choice do you feel most comfortable
       with? Consider both the alternative and the
       outcome. Go with this choice.
   9) Get moving.
   10) Evaluate the outcome and make any necessary

Common Mistakes in Making Decisions
People who are making decisions have a tendency to
rely too much on the advice of others and to discount
their own opinions. Decisions can be made in which
the decision-maker overestimates the value of
information received from others or underestimates
the information received from others. People also
tend to hear only what they want to hear and see only
what they want to see. Probably the most important
thing that you should rely on is your emotional
reaction and your gut feelings.

Other Useful Techniques
Mentoring, networking, and roundtables are all useful
activities that can help you better lead your
organization. Mentoring allows new entrepreneurs to
learn from people who have been in business for
years. Networking occurs when there is an event held
with the primary goal of connecting business people
with other business people. This can be an excellent

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

way to market your business with the advantage of
being extremely inexpensive. Roundtables are
informal group discussions that are set up to allow
business people to interact and share information and
resources with each other.

Perhaps, the most important thing that you can do to
keep your business headed in the right direction is to
stay informed about the newest developments in your
industry and in the business world in general. You
must learn the most effective techniques to keep on
top of new developments and also to sort out the
useful from the useless information.

Customer Relations Skills
Customer service is of utmost importance to the
success of any small business. In today‟s business
world studies have shown that it can costs six times
more to obtain a new customer than it does to keep an
old one.

Seems that with customer service departments being
outsourced, telephones being answered by
computers, and email, customer service has become
quite impersonal. This is where you can have an
advantage over larger companies.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

So how do you show your customers how important
they are to you and insure their return? Treat people
the way you would like to be treated. Single out the
companies you have enjoyed doing business with and
make a list of the specifics of the experience.

Another good approach is to act like you are the only
contact the customer will ever have with the business
(and in the case of a small, home-based business you
may well be) and the company‟s image rests solely on
your shoulders. Also pretend that each customer is
your most important client. If the customer responds
well to you and feels appreciated, then you have
probably gained their loyalty.

Adjust your viewpoint. If you view customer service
as an interruption to more important tasks that you
must accomplish, the customer will sense that and will
probably take their business to a place where they feel
valued. Establish a rapport with your customers. Get
to know people. Ask them about their health, their
family, their job, etc. You cannot persuade someone
to buy or do something if you cannot relate it to their
life. You have to be able to show “what‟s in it for

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Don‟t view complaints as a bad thing. Recent surveys
have shown that only 4% of unhappy customers
bother to complain, while that other 96% just leave.

When you are listening to a customer‟s complain, do
not interrupt, and just let them vent their frustrations. If
you stop them too soon, they will not be ready to
consider your solutions. If possible offer alternative
solutions to the problem, this will make the customer
feel like they have some power over the situation. If
you cannot resolve the problem, volunteer to get
someone who can.

Be reliable, responsive, and credible. When you
promise to do something, do it. When you are
supposed to be somewhere at a specific time, be
there. Go above and beyond what your customers
expect by anticipating their needs. Above all, be
truthful. Never lie or embellish when discussing your
products or services with customers.

Five Elements That Support Good Customer Service

Communication –
    1 - Provide clear communication and confirm. Ask
people to repeat back to you what you have said.
Avoid a condescending manner by stating, “I‟m not
sure I communicated that effectively, could you help
me by telling me what I just said?‟ Reverse this

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

suggestion when someone is talking to you. “Let me
make sure I have this right,” is a great way to repeat
what you have heard for confirmation.

  Email is a mine field for miscommunication. While
your message might seem perfectly logical to you,
vocabulary and language, can easily be misconstrued.
Conducting business with various cultures around the
world can compound this issue. Before you hit the
send button read your message a second time. When
possible, have an independent third party read your
letter and reiterate your meaning. This practice can
help you develop better communication skills.

   2- Provide professional and polite communication.
While trends have led many in business to be
sarcastic, comedic, or even caustic when emailing,
stay on the high road. Remember email is a
representation of you and your business.

Response – Respond to inquiries, questions,
complaints, and messages as soon as possible.
Beginning in infancy, people have been conditioned to
response. Agitation and aggravation can be
dramatically reduced when people receive quick
attention. If you don‟t already, learn to keep your calm
even when others are agitated.
Inquiries and questions should be handled

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

immediately. Set up an auto responder on your
website to answer generic questions and collect
contact information.

Expectations – Establish clear expectations by:

      Spelling out your project and services in detail.
      Asking questions, such as:

   Is there anything else you are expecting in addition
   to what we have discussed?

   How do you see this project working?

   What are you

Action – Show customer that you take action.
Being a small business owner requires a decision
maker who takes action. Keep a sense of urgency
about everything you do. Studies have shown a
sense of urgency was one common characteristic
among most all self made millionaires. A sense of
urgency will infiltrate your attitude when dealing with
customers. They will appreciate your deliberateness.

Time - Manage time your time. Respect other‟s time
by responding to them, meeting deadlines, and
communicating when you cannot meet a deadline.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Customer relation skills boil down to good manners
and people and social skills.

A recent survey of consumers ranked these as top
desirable customer service skills:

Good Customer Skills

               Exceeding Expectations

               Acknowledging Needs

                 Anticipating Needs

                  Active Listening
                 Admitting Mistakes


                 Common Courtesy
                Expediting Requests
                 Explaining Actions


             Able to Provide Alternatives

            Taking Suggestions Positively

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

 Setting and Explaining Healthy Business Limitations

                  Problem Solving



                 Expressing Thanks

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

Being aware of the knowledge and skills you‟ll need to
run a successful business will help you plan. If there is
an area you feel weak in, take a course to get you up
to speed. Preparing a business plan, understanding
the roles you will fill, making support connections, and
having financial sustenance, will give you the
confidence you need going in.

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business

bank account, 31               Press Release, 74
Business Licenses, 32          Record Keeping, 35
business plan, 47, 52,         registrars, 21, 22
   53, 56, 69, 94, 104         Reoccurring Services
Bytestart's, 31                   Costs, 10
corporation, 28, 29            Risk Protection, 35
Customer service, 98           SCORE, 46
Decision-Making, 95            Simmons Market
Direct mail, 80, 81               Research Bureau, 91
Estimating start up            Small Business
   costs, 10                      Administration, 43
Holding Costs, 11              sole proprietorships,
Limited Liability                 25, 34
   Corporation, 29             Start Up Purchase, 10
Limited partnerships,          Start-Up Cost, 41
   26                          Subchapter S, 29
magazines, 77, 79, 96          television, 75, 83
newspapers, 79, 96             trade show, 90, 91, 92
niche, 5, 7, 8, 86             yellow pages, 83
Occupational or                Yellow Pages, 66, 67,
   Professional                   83, 84, 85, 86, 87,
   Licenses, 32                   88, 89
partnership, 26, 29            zoning regulations, 39
Personal Inventory, 5


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