Welcome to T.E.A.M

Learn more about our focus on education, assistance and access to financing for minority and women business owners.

Read more

Guest Blogger

Managing Social Media Marketing from Your Mobile Device.

Aliza Sherman is a new media entrepreneur, author, women's issues activist, and international speaker.

Read more

Tip of the Week

The Pros and Cons of Hiring Temps

Read more

Business Information by Gladys Edmunds

Business Information by Gladys Edmunds
At age 15 Gladys developed a travel service that would prosper for more than 30 years. She is a national award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, author and columnist. Visit her at www.gladysedmunds.com

Focus for Success

Focus for Success

Dear Gladys,

I read your columns each week. So far, I haven’t seen the answer to my question. I am preparing to start a nutritional consulting business. I will also include counseling and advice on vitamin supplements and other areas for good health. What are some of the important things that I should keep in mind? I want my business to be successful. What do you suggest?

Thanks – Sean

There are a number of things that a new business owner should plan for and think about before opening the business. Some of the more obvious things I will skip over, such as: Proper training in the field of nutrition and vitamins and of course the proper licenses required to operate your kind of business in your state. I will skip them because I feel certain that you have already taken care of these important details.

However, there are three things that I think many entrepreneurs overlook in business development. Check and re-check the following suggestions to build a solid foundation under your business.

Planning cash flow and capital needs. More than a few businesses have failed because of lack of proper planning for capital and cash flow needs. I frequently purchase health supplements from a small independent store near my home. Usually when I would stop by to buy something I had to wait for three to five days for my order to arrive. I questioned the owner about this policy. She said that it was very difficult to completely stock her shelves because she didn’t have the money. And of course, if she couldn’t stock the shelves that would have an adverse effect on cash flow. I stopped by recently prepared to do my usual three-to-five day wait. When I walked into the store, the shelves were stocked completely and there was a line of happy shoppers at the checkout counter. I learned that she had sold the business. And the new owner understood the importance of having sufficient capital to be able to stock the shelves.

Market focus. There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” marketing plan. If you are going to market to the Baby Boomers, lay out a plan to attract them. And if senior citizens or generation X is your target, prepare a plan for each. My suggestion is to start with a target audience that you are familiar with. Don’t scrimp on researching each target audience that you want to become your regulars. Also, very carefully select the location of your business. You want to be conveniently located for your customers.

Clearly defining the role that you will play. This is the last suggestion, and it really should be first. Too often new entrepreneurs start a new venture without clearly defining what role they will play in their business. Usually, they find themselves playing all of the roles in the company, from doing all of the paperwork to scrubbing the floors and washing the windows. Determine what your best assets are and use them to develop your business and hire or outsource the rest.

Recently, I stopped by an independently owned coffee house. When I pulled into the parking space I found the owner outside washing the windows. And her bookkeeper was sweeping the sidewalk. I teased them by telling them that I thought only McDonald’s required their employees to cook, serve, sweep and clean the windows. The owner told me that she baked the pastries, made the coffee, washed dishes and did everything else that needed done. I asked her how business was and she said that things were slow.

Getting caught up in busy work can deprive a business of the proper management and creative business development that is needed to bring success to a business. My thinking is that it is important to be able to see the entire picture of a business if you want it to be successful. It is very hard to do that if you are trying to do everything yourself.

I wondered to myself why she thought it necessary to attempt to do everything. I’m sure that there is an entrepreneur who is in the business of baking pastries who would be happy to make goodies for the coffee shop. As well, there must be dozens of cleaning companies looking for new work. The coffee shop owner told me that she considered herself saving money by doing it herself. This is not practical. And, it can rob you of the time needed to build new business.

Starting and running a business can be a challenge when you go in prepared and more of a challenge when you are unprepared. Take time to address the three issues mentioned. It can help you to build a solid foundation for your business.