< Back to Tips from the Pros

Best tips to start a business

josegonzalez.jpeg

by Jose Gonzalez

Everyone at one point has imagined themselves as a business owner. Whether it is a home based business or a large scale operation, it is the dream of many! What I find interesting is why people start businesses.

People who own their own business account for 74% of millionaires. So, many people choose this route in order to achieve their financial goals. Others want to pursue a passion. A friend of mine felt her place in this world is helping people communicate with each other; she went on to start a translation service business. For me, being able to control my time led me to entrepreneur ship. Lastly, it could be out of necessity. Not being able to find a job can trigger the need to try something different.

Whatever the reason, whatever the type, all businesses need to be sustainable. It would be an honor for me if you would take a few minutes to read the following. This article is based on what I have learned on my business journey, and I strongly feel these tips will help you succeed!

1. Choose a business you truly know and love.

Ask any business owner and they will tell you they work 80 hours a week or more! One way to know if you are on the right track is ask yourself the following. Would you do it without pay? Does it feel like work? If you can answer “Yes” to these questions, you will be more likely to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals and dreams.

2. A Great Cook Will Not Always Own A Great Restaurant.

Just because you can know how to grill great carne asada, doesn’t mean you should open a taqueria. Opening a business will require many more talents. Be ready to learn about customer service, local business laws, budgeting, marketing, hiring/firing, etc. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. It is ok to not be good at everything, just take an honest look at yourself and find the areas where you will need help with.

3. Do your homework.

What is an LLC, how do I perform a market study, how do I setup the structure, how much in startup money do I need? In my opinion, this step is the hardest. Finding the right people to help guide you is difficult enough. You will get many different answers. Please take your time on this one. It can mean the difference between you having a successful business or a quick failure. The type of entity (LLC, Corp, or DBA) is easiest decision when you are clear on what type of business you will have, the number of potential employees and how you will pay yourself. A market study is an important step. You have to know who else is trying to get the same customers you are. It will help you design your business cards, menus and set your prices. The amount of money to start a business is the hardest question. My main tip is this; no matter how much money you start with…please guard it with all your life. Most people know that small business owners only have money before they open their doors, so this is when you will receive the highest amount of salespeople. They know you will burn through it.

4. Have a plan for “Health”.

You need to be healthy in a few different ways. Physically- eating right and regular light exercise. Small business owners work many hours and are more likely to have higher levels of stress. Your business will depend on you staying in good health. Socially- look around you and see who is there to support you. Maybe it is family, friends, or co-workers. Whoever it is please remember them during your good times because they will be there for you during your hard times. Spiritually- Your religion is a very important part of who you are. Make sure you are still setting time aside to practice your faith.

5. Create a support network.

Entrepreneurs are not afraid to take chances on their own. We are very independent by nature. Down the road, this can lead to problems. My recommendation is to create a “dream team”. These people are professionals whose work will be to help you grow and protect your business. A banker will help you have the correct bank accounts and assist you with financing, real estate agents can help you find the right location and negotiate your lease, business attorneys will prepare the contracts you will use with your clients, accountants will keep you numbers in order and marketing people can help you spend your advertising dollars effectively. How do you find them? Contact your local Chamber and Business Associations to identify them and be prepared to conduct interviews.

6. Marketing Money.

What is marketing? For me, it means…what do I want the world to see me as and how am I going to tell them. For example, let’s compare Hyundai and Mercedes. Two car companies, two different approaches. Hyundai prides itself on being affordable and reliable. Mercedes sells luxury. Most importantly, they place their advertising in very different places. You will see Hyundai ads in local newspapers. Mercedes will sponsor Golf Tournaments. Who will you be? Once you know, you have to tell the world. It will hurt you tremendously to spend a lot of money preparing your business to open and not have anyone know you exist. This is the most commonly made mistake, please set aside as much as you can.

7. Open a Business Savings Account.

How much is enough? First figure out your fixed monthly costs (rent, utilities, insurance, etc.). If you have a large financial support network (good credit, credit lines, other savings, other assets, friends and family who can lend you money) then you only need three months. If you are weak in the above areas, I suggest six months. If you are not able to have this in place at this time, please do your best to work towards it.

8. Learn to say NO.

Think of a good business owner, are they naive? I bet they have an easy time saying NO. Look, only you know what is best for your business and budget. From the day you put up your “Coming Soon” sign, you will have salesman visiting you. You will learn to say NO with time, it took me three years, but the survival of your business depends on it.

9. Dream big or dream small….but Dream!

Life is short and in the end most of this won’t matter. Every day is a gift and taking chances is a part of life. Personally, I would rather fail than to look back and wonder if. Surprisingly, most of the negative advice will come from those closest to you. Please don’t blame them; they are only trying to protect you. My mom would often say “Jose, go get a regular job”. I was stubborn and just kept going. Take their words into account but only you are responsible for your life!

The main reason I hear over and over on why people don’t start a business is they are afraid to fail. I understand and I don’t blame them. Statistics say one in five businesses will fail. My advice, be prepared to open five!


About The Author: Jose Gonzalez

Jose Gonzalez, a native Oregonian who lives in Salem. He is President of Tu Casa Real Estate, a small business with a big heart. "We have been helping the community with their Residential and Commercial Real Estate needs for over 18 years!". His community involvement has given him the opportunity to serve in several capacities. A few highlights are being appointed by the Governor to Oregon's Health Insurance Exchange Board of Directors, Founding President of the Latino Business Alliance, a grant evaluator for the Oregon Community Foundation and being invited to the White House to discuss Immigrant Entrepreneurship. joseg@hispanicpros.com