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Is a startup your best bounce-back option?
By Jim Kendall | Columnist
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Published: 9/23/2010 12:00 AM

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You could be right. The best bounce-back response from the job you no longer have could be to start your own business.

But do some serious thinking before you rent that storefront or turn the extra bedroom into an office:

• Start your startup process with both an accountant and an attorney who specialize in small businesses.

Even if you understand balance sheets and your spouse is a QuickBooks star, you need an accountant to talk with you about, initially, taxes and corporate structure - whether your fledgling business should be an S-Corp. or a sole proprietorship, for example. Also get the accountant's input on budgeting, cash flow, financial projections - all the number stuff you should leave to a pro so you can concentrate on your business.

The attorney should help with contracts that assure you get paid and set up a dispute resolution process in case you don't; 1099 issues if you plan to use independent contractors; leases; and trademarks and other intellectual property concerns.

• Assume finances will be a problem. There are no federal grants. Startups rarely get bank loans. Investors aren't often interested. Do you really want to tap family members, who may be struggling as much as you are?

• Ask yourself the following questions: What, exactly, will I be selling? Who will buy it? Why would a prospective customer buy from me?

Once you've answered those questions, answer another: How will I reach prospects with my sales message? Your sales message will evolve with the answers to the first three questions; so will the tools you use to deliver your selling proposition.

When you know who and where your prospects are - the purpose of the first three questions - reaching them becomes a matter of matching marketing and sales tools to your marketplace. Assume a website and related e-mails, but also consider such options as newspaper ads, door hangers, coupon books and local cable spots.

• Budget money for good marketing and web design assistance.

Spend your first marketing-sales promotion dollars on your website. Buyers of whatever you want to sell will check your business out on the Internet, which means your website is critical to your young company's credibility.

The site must be easy to find. The combination of graphics and words must assure site visitors that they've found the right place - and must sell your product or service.

Work with your web designer to assure that your site is easy to navigate. First-time visitors to your site - and everyone is a first-time visitor to a new business' site - will rarely click more than three times to find the information they want.

• Send questions, comments to Jim Kendall, JKendall © 2010 121 Marketing Resources, Inc.