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Starting a Small Business? Simple Tips You Can Take to the Bank

Starting a small business? It’s an exciting and exhilarating time, and a stressful one too. You can have it all lined up on paper: business plan, financing, rental agreements, blueprints, and so on and still have a tough time getting things off the ground. We’re here to help you succeed with some simple tips that will help your business run smoothly, so you can make a run to the bank to deposit all of those profits.

Be Nice

It might be a stressful time for you, but you only get one chance to make a first impression. Treat everyone you meet with respect and dignity, even your contractor, and even—yes even—if he is behind schedule. You never know when a good impression will get passed on to bring you new customers. Just like you never know how far news of a bad impression will travel, costing you customers before they even walk through the door.

Get to know your fellow small-business owners in the community. They know what’s happening with important local legislation, who will help you publicize your new business, and have other tips on how to get things done locally. For that matter, support local businesses when you can. You’ll get better service and by building quality relationships, you’ll benefit in the long run.

Worry About Your Finances

Not just the big-picture stuff like getting investors. Track all of your expenses and purchases. Save your receipts. Filing taxes for your business will likely include itemizing deductions. You may need need those receipts to calculate and later, if you’re audited, to prove the validity of your deductions. One easy way to control and monitor your cash flow is to use a small-business credit card for all of your purchases. Never, never, never use your personal funds for business purchases (or vice versa). Creating a grey area between your money and your business’s money will draw the attention of the IRS, and that’s the last thing you need.

Obviously, double-check with your accountant before you take our word for anything, but if you are going to intermingle funds, at least account for it officially. The Houston Chronicle has a good introductory article on how to put personal funds into a business account and reconcile your books. Even if you have some other methodology, the basic idea is the same: Keep everything documented, and don’t try to cook the books or hide substandard accounting techniques. The risk isn’t worth it.

Have Fun

Would you rather go to Barnes & Noble to buy a child a book as a gift or to a local book shop where the proprietor knows what’s new and different and appropriate for kids of all ages? Consumers have been conditioned by advertisers to go to big box, big name stores. You might not be able to offer the same pricing or selection, but you can offer them a far more pleasant and productive shopping experience. If you love what you do, it will show, and people will respond to it. Share your knowledge and expertise. Make working with your business something to look forward to, rather than a chore or task that must be completed. You decided to take this leap for a reason, don’t lose sight of it!

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