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

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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

Plan Well for Success

Plan Well for Success

Dear Gladys,

I enjoy reading your columns. So far I haven’t seen the answer to my question. I am planning to start a nutritional consulting business. I will also include counseling and advice on taking vitamin supplements, and other areas that offer good health. What should I keep in mind to make my business successful?

Thanks - S.H

There are a number of things a new business owner should plan for and think about before opening a business. Some of the obvious ones I will skip over, such as proper training in the field of nutrition and vitamin supplements and of course the proper licenses required for operating your kind of business in your state.

Let’s take a look at three things that many folks overlook in business development. The following suggestions can help you to build a solid foundation under your business.

Cash flow and capital needs. More than a few businesses have failed because of lack of proper planning in this area. I sometimes buy vitamins from a small independent store near my home. Usually I have to wait for five to seven days for my order to arrive. I asked the owner about this inconvenience. She said that it was very difficult to completely stock her shelves because of lack of sufficient capital. And, of course, if she couldn’t completely stock the shelves that would have an adverse effect on her cash flow. I stopped by recently, prepared to do my usual five-to-seven-day wait. When I entered the store, the shelves were completely stocked and there was a line of people at the checkout counter. I learned that she had sold the business. Apparently, the new owner understood the importance of sufficient capital.

Market Focus. There is no such thing as a “one-size- fits-all” marketing plan; if you are going to market Baby Boomers, lay out a plan to attract that market. If Generation X or the Millennials become your target, then prepare a plan accordingly. My suggestion: Start with a target audience you are familiar with. Don’t scrimp on researching each target audience that you want to market. Also, very carefully select the location of your business. You want to be conveniently located for your market.

Clearly define your role. This is an especially essential consideration. Too often new entrepreneurs start a new venture without clearly defining their place in their business. Usually, they find themselves playing all sorts of roles, from doing all the paper work to scrubbing the floors and windows. Determine what your best assets are and use them to develop your business, and then hire people or outsource to handle the rest of the necessary tasks.

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 windows. The owner told me that she baked the pastries, made the coffee, washed the dishes and did everything else that needed to be done. I asked her how business was and she said 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 there is someone 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 work. The coffee shop owner told me that the way she saw it, she was saving money by doing things herself. This is not a practice that I would recommend.

Starting and running a business can be challenge enough when you go in prepared – and a lot more so when you are unprepared.