From Employee to Entrepreneur: How to Get Ready

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owner of a small business store showing her tasty cakes
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Do you long for more independence or wealth? Maybe you should start your own business.

A successful business can open up opportunities, options and freedom like very few jobs can offer. Starting a business will take time and require you to re-examine your priorities. The only thing we all have the same amount of is hours in the day. High-income business owners use their 24-hour allotment differently than employees.

Small businesses are a huge factor in the growth of the U.S. economy. True, the recession hit wannabe entrepreneurs hard. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the rate of new start-ups went down 12 percent from 2007 to 2010.

Getting the Money

Most businesses are started with a large investment -- made with owner equity, borrowed funds or both -- in goods, space, equipment, labor, marketing and other factors.

When you think of borrowing money, banks of course come to mind. Find out what banks specialize in your type of business. Network with others in your industry and find out who is helping them with financing. To get a loan, be prepared with a business plan, personal financial statement, an explanation of your experience in this type of venture, additional collateral, relevant industry facts about growth rates and demand and other pertinent information.

Finance companies and venture capital firms might be a better fit. Be very wary of companies wanting large upfront fees to simply review your application. Files for many small business ventures can be reviewed and underwritten with very little upfront costs other than an appraisal.

The Unique Selling Proposition

The most important part of any business is getting many people interested in what you have to sell. One critical point is a "unique selling proposition" that can separate you from most of your alleged competition. Some famous examples are Domino's (DPZ) "Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it's free" and Subway's promotion of healthy subs with its Jared weight loss campaign.

A USP should quickly tell prospects what's in it for them, and it should be used in all of your marketing messages. The USP is not necessarily a slogan but could be a mission. One of mine is helping families all over the country create tax-free generational wealth. It is simple and to the point, and many prospects want to know more.

Potential Customers Are Online

Thanks to the Internet, you have a worldwide marketplace at your fingertips. But how do you get just a tiny fraction of the billions of people online to check you out and do business with you?

A website is an absolute to be taken seriously. A website needs to be "sticky" (meaning the content urges people to stick around) and should generate leads by giving away something of quality. All prospects need do is to give their name and email address to get this free item. Most of your leads are not ready to do business with you right away, but if cultivated inexpensively over time via email and occasional snail mail, they can be worth a fortune to your business.

Internet marketing can generate leads to a targeted group of people. Google (GOOG) AdWords and Facebook (FB) marketing can be quite successful for entrepreneurs who take the time to understand how they work.

To start a successful business, spend time researching with the U.S. Small Business Association and elsewhere. Spend money on business training. Make it a priority to make your dreams of business ownership and financial possibilities come true.

John Jamieson is the best-selling author of "The Perpetual Wealth System." Check out his Video of the Week.

From Employee to Entrepreneur: How to Get Ready

Securing a favorable interest rate is a prime way to maximize savings. On a major loan repayment like a mortgage, a little upfront effort can save you considerable amounts for years to come. To cash in on this frugal hack, you need to get your credit in shape. That means checking your credit history, making payments on time (and in full), and reducing your debt to available credit ratio as much as possible. It means paying down your balances on all your credit card accounts. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest payments and the higher your savings.

Adjust your withholding exemptions so that your payments to Uncle Sam match your actual tax liability, and you won't wind up with a big refund come April. As exciting as it is to get that big check in the mail, that's money you've been loaning to the government for free rather than having it grow in your own savings and investment accounts. As of the start of April this year, the average tax refund was $2,831. That's $235 a months' worth of money that could be working for you.

Just 10 to 20 minutes on the phone with your cable company, cell phone rep, or any other service provider can result in recurring monthly savings through old-fashioned negotiation. If you're not getting anywhere after asking for a lower rate, ask for the cancellation (or retention) department and see what offers start to come in. If you're unable to haggle down to get the savings you want, you can always shop providers to get your service elsewhere -- probably with a new-customer discount rate, too.

While bulk buying can sometimes lead to unnecessary purchases and overspending, it's a great strategy for savings on nonperishable items like paper products, cleaning supplies and alcohol. When you stock up, you save on the unit price and the trips to the store to restock.

Other than the obvious benefits of reduced health care costs over time, exercising and living a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle can provide some more immediate savings on your insurance premiums.

More stuff equals more to maintain, clean and devote time and energy to. From the size of your home to the size of your clothing collection, more "stuff" generates more expenses. Downsize and watch your savings soar.

For each year after full retirement age that you delay taking Social Security benefits, you accumulate a permanent increase in your benefits of 5 to 8 percent until age 70. This one strategy can increase your Social Security retirement income by more than 25 percent. It would take a lot of penny-pinching to add up to that kind of income boost.
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