Start Your Own — Page 2 of 2


Let me put it this way: as between an entrepreneur with $10 million in the bank and a brilliant business plan but without the necessary discipline, on one side, and a disciplined entrepreneur with $5 in the bank, on the other, there is no contest. The disciplined entrepreneur will almost certainly build a profitable business while the wealthy would-be entrepreneur will almost certainly lose all his money and go deeply into debt without ever seeing a profit.

So the question of capital is really a question of discipline. Do you have the discipline to do what it takes to get the profits flowing before you use up your capital? The way to ensure that is not to trust to your ability to buy the talent to magically transform your business plan and capital into a profitable business but rather to commit yourself to doing what is necessary to take your business to profitability. The plan and the capital are merely tools.

3. Make Sure Your Business Is Based on Service

The most common type of businesses owned by Asian Americans are in personal and business services (44%). By contrast, only 1.4% of businesses are of the manufacturing variety. Retail, the second most common business type at 21.4%, can really be seen as a service business in disguise. After all, service and convenience are the key components on which retail success turns.

Why start a service-oriented business? Trying to start a product-oriented business forces you to compete against established companies already set up to deliver quality and quantity cost-efficiently. Service, on the other hand, turns on the degree of skill, care and attention that can be brought to each transaction on a one-on-one basis. An enthusiastic young entrepreneur actually has an edge over employee number 31,456 in delivering a higher level of service.

Another important advantage of starting a service business is the relatively modest capital investment required. Typically startup costs are limited to that incurred in receiving the training and experience needed to qualify you to perform the required services, plus a minimal amount to equip a functioning office. You can keep even these costs down to a minimum by basing your first office out of your home.

The most popular service businesses include credit and finance, insurance, investment, legal, medical, personal care and real estate services. Entry into some of these fields is made easier by the willingness of large, well established companies to sign up qualified entrepreneurs for partnerships that provide training, possibly office overhead and even client referrals in exchange for agreements to work exclusively with their branded products and services. For example, companies like Allstate and State Farm can help qualified entrepreneurs establish themselves as insurance and investment agents.

4. Consider Buying An Existing Business First

An attractive alternative often overlooked by eager young entrepreneurs is buying an existing business. This option offers several key advantages that more than make up for the higher up-front cost of buying a business. The most important is eliminating the uncertainty of the length of time to reach profit point. Another is that an existing business provides access to banks loans and seller-financing which may let you get started with a smaller up-front cost than if you were to start from scratch. Finally, buying an existing business can save you several years of taxing effort that may never provide a financial return.

If you are considering the financial services sector, prospective corporate partners like Allstate and State Farm may even help you locate existing agencies for sale.

5. Dedicate Yourself to Being Accessible to Your Clients

The most important lesson that entrepreneurs learn is the importance of doing everything possible to become accessible to their clients and prospective clients. Taking this lesson to heart right from the start in planning your new business can save you many months or years of painful, costly experience on the road to profitability.

Marketing studies have shown that, all else being equal, the most important factor in choosing one business over another is accessibility. That is why your focus should never stray far from ways to make you and your business as easy to access as possible. Make sure your clients have easy access to free parking, handy access to your name, address, phone number, business hours and website URL, and most importantly, the easiest possible access to you in person. These simple steps are worth more than hundreds of thousands of dollars of costly advertising and promotion.

6. Make Sure Your Customers Come Back

Providing great service may be the end of one transaction, but it should also be the start of the next. Getting your customer to come back is the best test of your success in delivering great service. Without a high percentage of repeat business, your dream of building a profitable business will always remain just that.

Establishing relationships that ensure repeat business demands many of the same effort you made to get them in the door the first time around. The most important is keeping yourself accessible. When you are done providing your services, be as available to address follow-up questions or problems as you were in trying to land the business. Welcome and encourage any contact that keeps your relationship alive, even if they seem time-consuming and unproductive. As long as you remember that new clients are silver but old clients are gold, your business will keep growing. Prev

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