Thursday, December 28, 2006

Five Top Tips for Starting Your Business

1. Define your business by .
I'm amazed at how many people continue to start and/or operate a business without one. Then they wonder why they are failing. Guess what's more amazing. Business owners who think they can attract investors without this important step.

2. Find a mentor or two.
You can ask an old buddy or call a local office of S.C.O.R.E. or a Small Business Development Center. from a veteran in your field. You really need someone to be honest enough to "smack you up the side of the head" when you are out of touch with your market. Check your ego at the door and get an expert's help.

3. Get business insurance.
We are such a litigious society, that it's become a requirement of doing business. You're a consultant and you think you don't need it? Come on! Who knows how someone will interpret your omission of key information, even if it occurred after the fact? Cover yourself. Get insured.

4. Network, network, network.
Join the local Chamber, business clubs and national associations. No one ever became rich in a vacuum. No matter what your age, gender or business model, you need to listen to and talk to others to bounce ideas and share resources. Besides, you'll save yourself a ton of legwork if you know who and what to ask. And you might even find a future business partner. Imagine that!

5. Share your knowledge with others.
Give back to the community. Speak at conferences and local business meetings. Spend time with an undergraduate business student or even a high schooler involved in Junior Achievement. It's what good citizens do. If you can't do it for others, do it for yourself. You never know when someone you help today will be in a position to help you tomorrow.

Want more ideas? Visit JumpUp, a new site for small business owners and start-up entrepreneurs. It's operated by Intuit, makers of Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax. I work for Intuit on the JumpUp team. Visit my JumpUp profile for some helpful links under "My Saved Bookmarks."

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