16 Tips for Business Success

Starting a business? Here are 16 important startup tips that will help you make your startup a success.

What do you need to do to start a business? There are dozens of websites including ours that have checklists that remind you of the many tasks you should perform when starting a business. Although such checklists are very useful because they help you remember important startup steps, they are just To Do lists. They tell you what to do, but don’t provide any tips about what makes a business successful.

Unfortunately, you don’t succeed in business just by completing a list of tasks. Nor will your business be a success just because you think it’s a good idea.

What will make or break your business? What determines if it will be a success?

Here are 16 tips for starting a business and making it succeed.

  1. Know yourself, your true motivational level, the amount of money you can risk, and what you’re willing to do to be successful. Sure, we all want to make millions of dollars. But what are you willing to give up to reach that goal? How many hours a week will you work on an ongoing basis? How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to stretch? How far will your family stretch with you? To be successful, keep your business plans in line with your personal and family goals and resources.
  2. Choose the right business for you. The old formula – find a need and fill it – still works. It will always work. The key to success is finding needs that you can fill, that you want to fill, and that will produce enough income to build a profitable business.
  3. Be sure there really is a market for what you want to sell. One of the biggest mistakes startups make is to assume a lot of people will want to buy a particular product or service, because the business owner likes the ideas or knows one or two people who want the product or service. To minimize your risk for loss, never assume there is a market. Research the idea. Talk to real potential prospects (who aren’t family and friends) to find out if what you want to sell is something they’d be interested in buying, and if so, what they’d pay for the product or service.
  4. Research your competitors. No matter what type of business you are starting or running, you will have competitors. Even if there is no other business offering exactly what you plan to sell, there is very likely to be other products or services your target customers are using to satisfy their need.  To be successful, you need to research the competition and find out as much as possible about what they sell and how they sell it. Competitive research is something you should plan on doing on an ongoing basis, too.
  5. Plan to succeed. If you’re not seeking investors or putting a huge sum of money into your business, you may not need an elaborate business plan, but you still do need a plan – one that specifies your goal – your destination – and then lays out at least a skeletal roadmap for how you’ll get to where you want to go. The plan will change as you progress and learn more about your customers and competition, but it will still help you stay focused and headed in the right directions. Use our business planning worksheet to help develop that basic plan.
  6. Know the Operational Needs. Most people who are thinking about starting a business focus on what they’ll sell and who they’ll sell it too.  What they often don’t consider is how the business will actually operate. For instance, if you’re selling items, how will they be delivered? How much customer support will be needed – either to answer questions about the product, or to respond to people whose shipments haven’t arrived? Will you need to accept credit cards? Will you invoice customers? Who will follow up to be sure you’re paid? Who will build and maintain your website and social media presence?  Will you be able to use a virtual assistantfor such tasks, or will you have to hire employees? Even if you’re starting a small personal service business, these are issues you should consider and plan for.
  7. Don’t procrastinate. I’ve heard some people advise would-be business owners to not move ahead with their business until they have investigated every last detail of the business they want to start, and are absolutely sure it’s all going to work and be profitable. The problem with that approach is that it leads to procrastination. No one ever really has all the pieces in place – even after they’ve started their business. Yes, you need to research the market, have a rudimentary plan in place and do things like get a tax id if needed, register with local officials, if required, etc. But if you try to make everything perfect before you launch, you may never get around to starting the business at all.
  1. Start on a small scale before going all out. Some people believe that entrepreneurs are risk-takers. But for the most part, successful entrepreneurs don’t like walking blindfolded on a limb. Instead, they take controlled risks. They test an idea on a small scale, then build on what works well, tweak what shows promise and discard the disasters.
  2. Don’t fixate on mistakes or get demoralized by them. The difference between successful people and everyone else is that the successful people learn from their mistakes and move on. They don’t dwell on failure, blame the economy, curse their bad luck, or blame other people for their fate. If the path to their goal is blocked, they look for an alternate path, or sometimes choose a different, more attainable goal.

    Free Business Startup Checklist

    Starting a business can be overwhelming! Use this free Business Startup Checklist to make sure you don’t miss any important steps. This downloadable Word document lists the steps you need to take to get your business up and running, and includes space for you to note your own comments and deadlines. You can get the checklist free when you subscribe to the free Business Know-How Newsletter.

  3. Learn from others. Find mentors, join groups with like-minded people, learn everything you can about your industry and what it takes to get from where you are to where you want to be. Attend industry conferences. Take training courses when they are available. Buy courses offered by experts. You’ll save a tremendous amount of trial and error by learning from people who have been there before.
  4. Think of what you do AS a business. Keep track of income and expenses, keep business money separate from personal funds, find out what regulations your business needs to abide by.
  5. Understand the difference between working for yourself and building an ongoing business. If you want to build a business, you need to develop systems and methods that allow you to hire other people to DO the work of the business while you plan it. You limit the potential for growth if you don’t bring in other people to work for you.
  6. Get to know investors. If the business you are starting will need investors to grow, do what you can to find out what investors are looking for and where to find those who might invest in your kind of business. Local angel and venture capital groups are a good place to start – attend meetings they hold or meetings that investors are speaking at.
  7. Put yourself out there. Ask for what you want (in a polite way.) I started my online business by participating online on GE’s GEnie online service. When I was ready to send them a proposal to run a small business area, I could not only talk about my credentials in general, but point to places I was already contributing to their service. I became one of the early content providers to America Online because I picked up the phone and made a cold call. I wound up with a new consulting client after I struck up a conversation with a woman sitting next to me on an airplane. Remember, people like to do business with people they know. Get the ball rolling, and keep it rolling by continually reaching out and introducing yourself to new people.
  8. Embrace Digital Marketing. Even if you’re running a local business, you need a comprehensive digital presence. At minimum you need a professional-looking website, an email list that lets you communicate with customers and prospects on a regular basis, and presence on the social media channels that your customers frequent. While you may get many of your customers by word of mouth, referrals or networking, you still need a strong digital presence. The reason: prospective customers are likely to look you up on the web before they decide whether or not to contact you. Coupons, special offers, and practical information sent to your email list can encourage customers and prospects to buy from you or make repeat purchases.
  9. Never stop learning and trying new things. What’s profitable now, won’t necessarily be profitable next year or 10 years from now. So, don’t let yourself fall into the “this is the way I’ve always done things” rut. Keep your eyes and ears open for new things. Are there newer or better ways to market your products and services? Are customers asking for something you’re not offering? Is there a different type of customer you should be targeting? Get answers by reading everything you can about your industry and listening to your customers.

© 2018 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter and on LinkedIn

Member Spotlight – Spirit Mountain Casino & Lodge

Spirit Mountain Casino was created to enhance economic self-sufficiency opportunities for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, its members, and surrounding communities. They strive to promote economic diversification by the Tribes, and to support a variety of housing, educational, and cultural programs under the direction of Tribal Council. Once you’re at Spirit Mountain Casino, you can enjoy an expansive selection of gaming, entertainment, and great food. They have a variety of accommodations to choose from, from standard rooms to deluxe suites to fit everyone’s needs.

Our dining options feature great variety as well, offering one of the best casino buffets in the Pacific Northwest, as well as a first-class service restaurant and a full-service bar and lounge. And with 90,000 square feet of gaming space full of blackjack tables, roulette, slot machines and more, you won’t find a more inclusive, all-around enjoyable casino to visit. Think you’ll become a loyal customer here at Spirit Mountain Casino? So do we! Join our Coyote Club rewards program and experience exclusive member benefits and amenity discounts.

Member Spotlight – MV Advancements

Founded in 1966 by Margaret Reavis Larsen as Mid-Valley Workshop, our primary focus was job-training. Under Margaret’s guidance, care and leadership Mid-Valley Workshop expanded its services to include housing and community activity programs. In 1993 the organization was renamed as Mid-Valley Rehabilitation to reflect this breadth of services.

Today we are MV Advancements, and we continue to provide supportive environments and programs for our clients. Together, we strive to create life-long fulfillment and growth.

For more than 50 years, we’ve helped adults with disabilities through our innovative approaches and caring responsive staff which allows us to serve hundreds of clients through an ever-evolving set of services. In our Employment Services, we match business needs with individuals’ strengths and capacities, resulting in a long-term win-win for both the employer and the employee. In Residential and Community Inclusion, we support individuals to meet and exceed their own personal goals of growth and development so they can live a fulfilling life.

MV Advancements is overseen by a dedicated group of community members, business leaders, and educators. The board’s vision is to continue to honor the intentions of founder and pioneer Margaret Reavis Larsen.

The Board of Directors meet monthly, and Board seats are up for renewal every three years.

Member Spotlight – S & T Support, LLC

Whether you’re a startup, struggling or established company, your business depends on realistic strategy. Success starts with S&T Support!

As a team S&T Support will help you develop a dynamic written plan including goals and a budget, a network team, a map for growth and profit potential and so much more!

Time is money. Spend it moving forward. S&T Support will provide extensive assistance in organizing your business processes to enhance your progress. They will also guide you through building successful business habits and identifying business roles and time management practices to help you make the most of your time.

Prepare your business for its growth season. S&T Support provides guidance through the following:

Operations Manuals: simplifying into writing a clear understanding of business processes for effective employee function.

Human Resources Guidance: enhancing employee development work performance guidance and measurement and employee retention options.

Hiring Assistance: developing interview questions, assistance in interviews and training.

Developing position descriptions: identifying expectations of employer and needs to be met, and creating written position descriptions to assist in hiring and retention of dynamic employees.

Member Spotlight – Pfaff-Karren Insurance

In 1947, John Pfaff opened John Pfaff & Co in downtown Independence. John had a reputation for his commitment and amazing personal service that he gave his clients and friends. As the agency grew, he took a partner: Thomas Karren. In the mid-1970’s, John’s son Tom joined the agency. John would retire in 1978, and Tom Pfaff and Tom Karren formed the newly named Pfaff-Karren Insurance. The agency moved into the brand new Central Plaza in 1980, where it’s still located today. Tom and his family are legendary supporters of both our community and Central High School sports. After 40 years in the insurance agency, Tom Pfaff decided to start his retirement process and sold the agency to Karen Frascone and Kristin Thomas.

We pride ourselves on having many 3rd and 4th generation clients, which speaks volumes to the continued commitment and personal service John Pfaff believed in.

Karen grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Both she and her husband Joe graduated from the University of Wisconsin, then spent a year hitchhiking through Europe. They came to Oregon in 1979, and settled in Dallas. She worked for the law firm of Shetterly, Irick and Shetterly in Dallas until 1998, and became a licensed life and health insurance agent in 2000. She joined Pfaff-Karren Insurance in the fall of 2010.

​In the process of building her client base in the early 2000s, Karen tried using colorful business cards and became the “lady with the purple business card.” She has been a member of the Salem Chamber of Commerce since 2001, and has served as a Chamber Ambassador. She has been appointed to the Board of the Monmouth Independence Chamber, and have assisted with fund raising for Partnerships in Community Living. Karen is one of two agents authorized to offer Sons of Norway insurance products in Oregon, and she is actively involved on the board of Thor Lodge, Salem Sons of Norway, as well as the Eugene Sons of Norway Sonja Lodge.

Karen and Joe still live in the first home they bought in Dallas in 1981. She loves to work on the yard and plant as many flowers as possible. They are passionate travelers, especially to Europe and anywhere tropical.

Kristin was raised in Polk County, graduating from Dallas High School. Before entering the insurance industry, Kristin worked for the State of Oregon. She became licensed in Life & Health and Property & Casualty in 2009, purchasing TNT Insurance Services LLC in 2014. She moved to Pfaff-Karren Insurance in June of 2016 with her assistant, Alondra Hernandez., The next year, she purchased Pfaff-Karren Insurance with her partner, Karen Frascone.

​Currently, Kristin lives in Dallas, and is the mother of 5 wonderful children, and loves being a grandma as well! She is active in her community in regards to improving the access and availability for human services. As a business owner, she is involved with Polk County Community Connect, Polk County Family & Community Outreach, and personally participates in the Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition.

We encourage you to stop in and say hello. As always the coffee is on and our door is open.

Member Spotlight – Pacific Power

At Pacific Power, we proudly serve more than 764,000 customers in 243 communities across Oregon, Washington and California.

We’ve been serving customers for over 100 years, and while a lot has changed during that time, our commitment to innovation has only grown stronger. That’s why we’re partnering with customers to help turn their aspirations into reality and create a better energy future for all of us.

Through grants, volunteerism and clean energy solutions, we strive to help communities and organizations turn their aspirations into reality.

We take seriously our responsibility to provide safe, reliable and affordable electric service to customers.  We’re also committed to providing accurate and timely information to communities, news media and others.  If you’re looking to move or expand your company — whether it’s to be near materials you need for manufacturing, or closer to end users of your product — we can help. We have spent the past century building relationships throughout the West.

Member Spotlight – NW Natural

Serving Northwest Communities for 160 years

In 1852, H. C. Leonard and John Green moved from Astoria to Portland. A few years earlier, after emigrating from the East Coast, they had founded a store serving the frontier community. But believing that Portland was the city of the future, they moved upriver.

Among other businesses, they founded a gas company. Their purpose was to bring gas lamps to Portland’s streets, homes and businesses. On Jan. 7, 1859, they obtained a perpetual franchise from the territorial government to distribute gas. Weeks later, on Feb. 14, Oregon became a state.

Today, 160 years later, NW Natural carries on the tradition started by Leonard and Green and the Portland Gas Light Co. A business that started with 49 customers in one square mile of Portland now serves more than 750,000 homes and businesses in 140 communities in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

NW Natural employees are committed to making a difference in the communities where we live and work.

Our employees care about the people and needs in our neighborhoods. That’s why many of us spend hours volunteering for causes we are concerned about. And it’s why “Caring” was thoughtfully added to the list of our company’s core values.

NW Natural is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NW Natural Holdings, and is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. NW Natural also serves customers out of resource centers in Albany, Astoria, Coos Bay, Eugene, Lincoln City, Salem and The Dalles in Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington.

 

Member Spotlight – Home Comfort

Today’s homes and businesses are designed to incorporate ultimate levels of both comfort and functionality. Heating and air conditioning are among the most important elements for overall comfort. Beyond comfort, your heating and cooling systems use the most amount of energy and are responsible for the majority of your monthly power and gas bills. However, each year manufacturers and installers continue to improve and make heating and cooling systems more affordable and energy-efficient.

At Home Comfort, Inc., we’ve watched the HVAC industry grow and change for more than 60 years. From the beginning, our mission has been to provide quality installation, maintenance, and repair services at affordable prices for residential and commercial clients. Our team uses its decades of experience for your benefit, and we’re always on hand to help with all your heating and cooling needs.

Be sure to visit the long-time Chamber member for your heating and air conditioning needs.

Member Spotlight – The Grand Hotel

The Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce serves beyond the borders of the City walls of Dallas, Oregon.  Salem businesses have found value in being a part of our organization.  The Grand Hotel in Salem is one of those businesses.  Oversized, beautifully appointed, and newly renovated Hotel accommodations just over the bridge in Salem, Oregon.  The Grand Hotel features 193 luxurious and comfortable rooms and premier suites.  Headquarters hotel for the Salem Convention Center, they are a 100% non-smoking facility.  Their room settings are arranged perfectly for business and leisure travelers, conference attendees, small or large families and groups.  Proclaimed by many to definitely be the most elegant and spacious rooms in Salem, Oregon.  The team at The Grand Hotel invite you to transition from productivity to reward in the Willamette Valley’s most refined hotel.  The Hotel, Restaurant and Convention Center are all Earth WISE certified too, so the environmentalist in you can rest assured that while you bathe in luxury you are also helping to protect the environment.  If you are looking for a great meeting space, consider making your next meeting or event a success by using the myriad meeting spaces.  The Grand Hotel in Salem adjoins the Salem Convention Center with 30,000 square feet of meeting space, successfully hosting groups of anywhere from 5 to 1500 people.  Offering first-class catering and banquet services.  Be sure to look them up when you’re having some Salem adventures.

What does the Chamber do for my business?

It doesn’t matter what your industry is or what business you are in, support is key. Support from like-minded people can help you to find success.  There are many resources that we all tap into, like online groups or social media, but a largely untapped resource is on the community level. The Chamber of Commerce in your local community can be a huge untapped resource.

Helping Keep Small Business Alive

Every community has a Chamber of Commerce, or at least they should. The goal of any Chamber is to help to further the interests of small businesses in a local area. The activities can range from hosting events, to lobbying local representatives to charitable works for the betterment of the community.

How Can it Help You?

  • As a small business owner it is imperative that you network. The Chamber of Commerce gives you the opportunity to meet with other local business owners and network. Of course they also present business owners in a positive light to the community.
  • The Chamber of Commerce is essential to the growth and in some cases the revitalization of a local area. Through lobbying activities and grant preparation activities the Chamber of Commerce can help to find some much needed funding to improve a local area.
  • Free marketing. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce you will get free promotion. Many people use their local Chamber as an authority to find products and services. Of course that free promotion spills over to your ability to market business to business because you will have access to the list of other business owner members.
  • Exclusive advertising perks are also a benefit of the Chamber of Commerce. In many local publications members of the Chamber of Commerce are listed. It also adds credibility to your business when you are a member.

The Chamber of Commerce should be viewed as your business partner. It is a valuable tool for any small business owner and it should be fully embraced.

Located in downtown Dallas Oregon, the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce is home to a diverse community populated by unique businesses. We believe that a healthy business community results in a thriving community. It is our desire to be a catalyst for business growth and development. Learn more about becoming a member by emailing us at info@dallasoregon.org or calling 503-623-2564