Proprietor and Boss: Running Your Own Business

I run my own business. I have a Spanish tutoring service. If you like what you are doing, it can be a rewarding endeavor. There are many advantages to being the boss. You can provide a valuable service to the public, and depending on the type of business, your time is more flexible.

As proprietor however, an awful lot falls on your shoulders. The most important fact is the ultimate success of your business relies on one person–you. Overseeing all aspects of the operation will change the scope of responsibilities of a normal job. You must have business acumen that translates to leadership abilities, good time management, accounting and negotiating skills, and just plain common sense. A little bit of patience is great, too, as you watch the business blossom and grow. If you have been contemplating making the move from employee to business owner, here are a few helpful suggestions to get you on your way.

Check Out the Competition–investigate other businesses that will be in direct competition with you. Research their services: type, frequency, and quality of service; prices, and operation. This information will be helpful when forming your enterprise. Look for areas in which you can improve on the competition and be even better. Make sure the market isn’t saturated and there will be a piece of the pie for you.

Create a Plan–Many businesses write a three or five-year plan. A business plan is a complete, comprehensive description of your services. It includes details on your company’s products, market, clients, marketing strategies, and financing. A business plan will help you to see and understand all the aspects of the operation, as well as enable you to avoid pitfalls. It can also assist you in securing necessary funding. It allows you to see the future for your enterprise.

Set Objectives–Where do you want to see your business two years down the road? In five years? Objectives give your endeavor purpose and meaning. Refer to them when the going gets tough; review them to keep you on track and inspired.

List and Advertise
–Getting your name out there is a lot easier these days with the Internet. Creating a website, listing on Google and other search engines (SEOs) is an essential part of doing business. You will also need business cards, stationary, and I like pamphlets. Flyers work nice, too. The amount of cash you have will dictate how much and how extravagant your advertising will be.

Operate Tight and Sharp–Service is the key to growing your client base. Prompt, efficient, quality service is what I am talking about. Stay on top of things. Answer calls, emails, all request as soon as possible. Be on time. Follow through on commitments, promised dates of delivery, and appointments. Don’t spread yourself too thin–that is to say, don’t promise what will be impossible to deliver. Resolve problems quickly; always aim to please. And, remember, the customer is always right!

Keep Good Records
–This tip goes along with running a tight operation, but its merits cannot be emphasized enough. You need clear, accurate, and complete records for yourself, and for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Watch the Money–Finances are one of the most important aspects of running a business. Sometimes, it takes time to turn a comfortable profit. I took a couple of finance courses at night at a local college because I knew money management wasn’t one of my best assets. Over the years now, I have gotten pretty good at it. Keep track of the money! Even if you hire an accountant. (Review the books regularly). Spend sparingly and wisely.

Network–Get out and meet people. Pass your business cards out. I grab a few, stick them in my cardholder whenever I go to any affair, even if it’s an outdoor concert or to the gym. You never know who you will strike up a conversation with that may soon become your next client. Join business organizations like the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, and other professional organizations. Its another good way to advertise and get your name out there.

Stay Fresh–Remember I mentioned attending classes at a local college? Its a great idea to gain more knowledge, get more skills, and and stay abreast of issues, new techniques, new methods, and additional training in your field. Keep your licenses current.

Be the Best–Always look for ways to improve your business, kick it up a notch, expand customer services, revamp or modify. Look for ways to tell your clients and customers you appreciate their business to keep them coming back (Complimentary tee shirts, mugs, and key chains with your business name). Reward employees for work well-done. Volunteer in your community by donating free services for a worthy cause.

Follow Your Plan–Don’t just draw up that business plan, then file it away. Refer to it several times a year; follow it like a rod map; review it every year and make appropriate revisions, if necessary. Don’t hesitate to try something new if the old way isn’t working. Circumstances change over time that may warrant changes in your business.

Believe–Life does not always go according to plan. It is the same in the business world–it can be unpredictable. If you like what you do and believe you have a great product to offer to a sizable market, then stay focused and trust your instincts. Visualize yourself as competent and successful. Believe that hard word, integrity, and excellence in business practices will produce good results. Then, go for it!

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