Background Information
Business Guidelines

(Last updated: November 17, 2009)

This page has business guidelines for novices who lack knowledge of small business matters. By novice, I mean someone who lacks experience in planning, starting, or running a business.

I have gathered what I consider the most important guidelines. They will show you where to focus your attention.

Here are the topics:

Should you try to start your own business?
Choose a low-cost, low-risk business style
Look before you leap to a business idea
How much information do you need?
Tips on satisfying customers
Final thoughts

Before you try to start a business, I recommend that you study all of the information contained in the above topics. It would also be a good idea to review the main pages for all sections in this website.


IMPORTANT

Before using this information to start a business be sure to read the following notice: Disclaimer


Should you try to start your own business?

Before deciding to start a business, you need to have some basic business information. You need to know about possible benefits and potential risks, solving common business problems, and avoiding business failures. Then you need to make a logical decision about whether to try starting your own business.

The best way to accomplish the above is to study all the pages under the Small Business Basics section.

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Choose a low-cost, low-risk business style

I recommend a low-cost, low-risk style of business for novices. This type of business doesn't take much money to start and operate. It also avoids taking unnecessary risks.

This type of business uses mostly your own time, effort, skills, and equipment in producing and/or delivering the product or service. Examples would be a lawn mowing service or a handyman service.

So if you are able to get customers, avoid risks, and minimize your advertising and operating expenses, you have a much better chance of success in business.

The information at the following links can help you know how to start a business and make it a success. There are no guarantees of course.

Low-cost, low-risk business ventures -- This topic provides a detailed description of this type of business.

Bootstrap Methods -- This page shows how to save money when starting and running a small business.

Listing the Startup Requirements -- This page shows how to determine what actions and objectives you must accomplish before starting actual business operations. (This helps to avoid trouble with the government.)

Sales Methods -- This page explains various ways of getting customers to buy your product (goods, services, or information).

Setting the Sales Price -- This page shows how to calculate a suitable initial sales price for your services.

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Look before you leap to a business idea

Most business ideas on this website assume that you will be starting a one-person (sole proprietorship) or two or more persons (joint venture) type of business. This means that the owners will be performing all the money making activities, at least at first. The following comments are based on this premise.

If you get excited about a certain business idea, you might want to immediately start a business. The better way is to investigate the idea first. You want to be sure that the idea suits you. Thus, it should be compatible with your abilities, desires and needs, preferences, and resources. In addition, the idea should satisfy the desires and needs of your likely customers.

An idea suits your abilities when you are able to perform its money making activities. Thus if the idea requires a certain specialized knowledge or skill, you should have this knowledge or skill before trying to start the business venture. Some ideas are so simple that any required knowledge or skill can be easily acquired on the job. All that you need in this case is the willingness to learn the knowledge or skill.

An idea suits your needs if it can supply the expected profits in the current economic conditions. In some cases, you may have other desires, such as being your own boss, helping society, or proving out a particular idea. However, whatever your desires and needs are you should verify that the business idea could satisfy them.

An idea suits your preferences if the money making activities are the type of things you enjoy doing. For example, if you enjoy interacting with people then the idea should allow this. If you enjoy using your creative abilities then the idea should allow that. If you enjoy working with your hands then the idea should allow that.

An idea suits your resources if you have the equipment, property, and/or money needed to put the idea into action. Thus if you already own a fast computer with a broadband Internet access, then you could start an Internet research service. If you own a pickup truck, you might be able to start a business hauling trash, or picking up used furniture for refurbishing.

The idea should also be able to satisfy the desires and needs of your potential customers. These are people who are willing and able to pay to get their desires and needs satisfied. Of course, if you want to help society maybe you are willing to just give your goods, services, or information away. (This describes me to a certain extent. Although I would like to make a certain amount of money in the process.)

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How much information do you need?

There is a mountain of information on this website about how to start a business. So you might wonder, "How much information do I need before trying to start a business?" The answer depends on your circumstances and the business idea you select.

The less business experience you have, the more background information you need. You can begin to gain this information by going to the Small Business Basics section.

This section will also help you decide whether to try starting your own small business.

If you don't know what business idea is suitable for you, review the Start a Service Business main page.

If you would like a rapid way to review possible ideas, use the Ideas for a small business by category topic on another page.

The more time, effort, money, and risk your business idea needs, the more information you need on planning and starting a small business. Review the Small Business Startup section.

If you lack the take-charge abilities and attitudes that a small business owner needs, you may want to purchase my low-cost Magic Success Secrets Kindle ebook.

It's always a good idea to get several different viewpoints about how to plan, start, and run a small business. You can see ideas from many sources on the Outside Information and Publications page.

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Tips on satisfying customers

After you start a business, you need to keep your customers satisfied. A satisfied customer is more likely to pay your bill when and as agreed upon. Also, a satisfied customer is inclined to give you "word of mouth" endorsement. This is the kind of promotion you can't buy. The following information should help you satisfy your customers.

Agreeing on the job

It is very important that you and the customer agree on what is to be done, when and what time of day it is to done, and what price is to be paid. Use everyday language when discussing the job. When customers hear unfamiliar terms, they may simply nod their heads without understanding what you are saying. Put all these terms of the job in your written bid. Both you and the customer should sign this bid agreement.

Keeping your promises

After you and your customer have agreed on the job, be sure to keep these promises. Show up, ready to work, on the promised day and time. If you have underestimated your bid, accept the loss. (This will help you make better bids in the future.) If you have overestimated your bid, give the customer the benefit of a corrected bid.

Protecting the customer's property

If you are doing any work inside the customer's home or on the customer's property, be sure to avoid damaging the home or property.

Thus if you are painting the outside of a house, protect the doorstep, shrubs, and other nearby property from paint drippings or spray. If you are painting inside the house, cover any furniture or flooring with a large drop cloth to avoid paint spatters.

If you are doing any carpentry work on the customer's premises, bring your own sawhorses. Don't use the customer's doorstep or chairs for this purpose.

In other words, treat the customer's property as if it were your own.

Cleaning up after yourself

The mark of a professional is that you clean up any mess you create. Clean up any big mess as you go. Perform the final, detailed clean up before leaving the job. (Don't give the customer any reason to be dissatisfied with your work.)

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Final thoughts

The preceding topics are merely my opinion on what should be important for a novice business developer. After you start a business and begin business operations, you will develop your own opinion on these matters.

Good luck to you.

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