Small Business Tips – Decision Making Part 1: The BIG Decision to Become an Entrepreneur

Making decisions is an important part of business. In fact, the decision to become an entrepreneur is usually one of the most difficult decisions an individual can make, when moving from the “corporate” workforce.

I have had many people ask me how I made the decision to become an entrepreneur, and my answer is always that I simply felt no job out there ‘fit’ what I wanted to do in life. I had worked in various companies and been very successful, however I was not completely fulfilled nor did I feel that I was expressing my passions in life.

How to Make the ‘BIG’ Decision to Become an Entrepreneur

So how does one make the decision to become an entrepreneur? Along with my own suggestions, I have found a number of articles online that I feel can help you on your path to making the ‘big’ decision to become an entrepreneur. The fact that you are reading this article means that you already express an interest in this field, so read on for great tips and resources:

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur’s article, “163 Ways How to Become an Entrepreneur”
I found this article to be an excellent resource – these tips are quick and to the point, and very on target for what is needed to become an entrepreneur. Some of my favourite tips from this article include number 1, 3, 6, 9, 10, 33, 45, 58, 64, 84, 92, 118, 154, and so many more! Definitely a recommended read.

Small Business Canada: Thinking of Starting a Small Business?
Susan’s article has some great questions you can ask yourself in order to help you make the decision if entrepreneurship is right for you. She also includes links to a self-assessment and quiz you can do. Though there is merit in these types of quizzes, I am a solid believer of the power of intention, and urge you to consider these quizzes and any others as a guide for your decision – not a mandate. You may simply realize that you may not be quite ready to make the move, but don’t let that discourage you – instead consider it an opportunity to do some more soul searching to find your true passions is life.

Small Biz Bee: How to Decide to Quit the Day Job to Start a Business
This article is great because it really goes into detail about what is involved with the decision regarding quitting your day job. Though being an entrepreneur is amazing, challenging, liberating, and can most certainly be FUN (amongst the hard work of course), it is absolutely not an easy decision to make. This article goes through more of the emotional aspects of the decision, weighing the pros and cons, and I found it a very interesting read.

Why Become an Entrepreneur?

So why would you decide to become an entrepreneur? The following articles list a number of great reasons to make the decision to tap into your passion today:

Canada Business – 5 Reasons to Become an Entrepreneur
This article is quick and to the point, and whether you live in Canada or elsewhere, the reasons are just the same, and really the possibilities are endless!

Small Biz Bee – 5 Qualities of a Good Entrepreneur
Another great article from the Small Biz Bee website – this time regarding the qualities of a good entrepreneur. These 5 Qualities are excellent – taking risks is definitely something you do when in business for yourself, and time management and motivation is key. You are now responsible for your own success, your own boss, and you have no one to thank for your success but yourself, so why not make the most of this experience?

Lastly, I recommend you follow @tweetburst, for motivational quotes for entrepreneurs every day to get you going and keep you rocking all throughout the week!

Apart from the articles I have recommended above, my personal suggestion to you is go for it! Make sure you do your research, see if you’ve got what it takes to go solo, and if you feel a drive to be more than what you’re doing right now, pursue that dream and open yourself up to the many opportunities that await you. If you’ve made the decision to become an entrepreneur, know that it won’t be easy, you’ll probably get discouraged and face many challenges along the way, but you will also face success like you’ve never known before because this time it will be YOU running the show. Good Luck and enjoy the ride!

Small Business Tips – Increasing your Productivity

The topic of today’s blog post is about increasing your productivity for 2011. As an entrepreneur, I am always eager to learn new ways to increase my productivity – do more tasks in less time, by utilizing various tools to help organize my life. Family time is very important to me, and I really value any extra time I can get when I’m able to finish tasks quickly and more efficiently.

I wanted to share some great tips and tricks with you, that I have found online:

I recently came upon this great website called which is a wonderful source for the latest and greatest information to keep up with our digital age. Their episode on Tools for Productivity talks about 15 various software programs and applications for your mobile phone, that can help you organize your life and get more things done.

A few of the applications and programs discussed in this episode include 1Password – a handy password keeping tool, Google docs – a document sharing platform, Dragon Naturally Speaking – speech recognition software, as well as many other great resources.

Check out the episode below for more information:

iMindMap Software

iMindMap by Tony Buzan is a great piece of software that allows you to do mind mapping on your computer. This piece of software is simply amazing – it allows you to basically brainstorm in high gear – creating stunning visuals, allowing you to plan and organize your thoughts, ideas, goals, and anything else you’d like to keep track of, in this very simple to use, effective program.

You can download a free trial for 7 days to test out the software and see for yourself.

50 Ways to Increase your Productivity – by Kim Roach

I found this article online by Kim Roach, titled ‘50 Ways to Increase your Productivity‘ and I have to say I really like her writing style. She is concise and breaks down these 50 items in an easy to read list format, so you get a lot out of reading the article without having to search for the information. She wrote this article back in 2007, and yet it is still very relevant today. Enjoy the read!

Please comment with any tips and tricks you’ve found that help you increase your productivity and make the most out of your time.

Marketing Mix Strategies – Features, Needs, and Benefits – Tips for Small Business Owners

In order to determine the value of your goods or services to your chosen target market, you need to do some analysis. A great way to start is by determining the features and benefits of your chosen product or service.

A feature is defined as an attribute that exists in the product so it can perform its function. Let’s say you are selling physical goods such as umbrellas. A feature of an umbrella could be the fabric that covers the frame, which is ultra lightweight and waterproof.

A benefit is defined as an outcome a customer is looking for to meet their needs. With the feature we just described for the umbrella, a customer would be seeking a benefit from this fabric such as having an umbrella that dries very quickly.

If you’re dealing with intangible services, features and benefits work the same way. For example, if your small business offers your customers personalized services, a feature of the services you provide would be a customized approach to meeting your customer’s needs. A benefit of the personalized services you provide would be giving your customers more value and quality in their experience with you.

Therefore, features and benefits exist when you identify the needs of your chosen target market segment, and meet those needs with your product or service both from the customer’s perspective (by the value it provides) and your company’s perspective (by how it meets your financial and marketing objectives).

This is just a small sampling of what should be involved in your product or service strategy, but it’s a great start to identifying how to meet your customer’s needs and stand out in the marketplace.

Effective Target Marketing – Tips for Small Business Owners

Starting a small business can be one of the most rewarding experiences one can have as an entrepreneur. You may be excellent at your chosen craft, but how do you market yourself effectively towards your target market? How do you know what your target market is? What does target market even mean?

According to Guide’s Target Marketing article by Susan Ward, “Target Marketing involves breaking a market into segments and then concentrating your marketing efforts on one or a few key segments.”

Now… you may be so in love with your product or service that you want to target everyone, but the truth is, if you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t be anything to anyone.

Michael Dell couldn’t have said it better…

The idea of being all things to all people is a thing of the past.

In order to figure out who your target market is, you will need to:

  1. segment your market, which involves selecting the general market where your company will target customers,
  2. select your approach for segmentation based on demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioural variables, and
  3. assess and select which segment to target based on the particular segment’s fit to your company’s goals and objectives, core competencies, and your product/service offerings.

Once you discern who your target market is, then you also want to look at how to make your business stand out amongst your competition. This is called differentiation. What makes you unique? Special? What do you have that others don’t?

If this is something you struggle with, try writing a SWOT Analysis. A SWOT Analysis goes over your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The Strengths and Weaknesses would be internal (from a company perspective), and the Opportunities and Threats would be external. A SWOT Analysis is a great way to figure out exactly how your business compares with your competitors. It’s also a good idea to do a SWOT Analysis on your competitors – and then you can simply work on achieving results where they falter.

Here’s a good example. Let’s say you own a flower shop. Your flower shop is small, quaint, and has various giftware that people can purchase in addition to the wonderful bouquets of flowers and plants you have for sale. However, your pricing can hardly compare with the flower shop across the street, that has a huge store, and gets all of its flowers wholesale for a significantly reduced price. They charge much less for flowers than your store, but their quality is lacking and the flowers wilt very quickly. What do you do to compete?

If you can’t compete on price, then out do your competitor by providing exceptional service to your customers. Personable service paired with intimate knowledge of your product line that helps your customer find exactly what they want, usually goes a long way towards getting and retaining a customer. Remember, it is very difficult for an organization to be all things to all people. Therefore, figure out the weaknesses of your competitors, bring the opportunities to light, and be quick on your feet.

It can be common for a big chain to not have the best customer service, for example. The bigger they get, sometimes the harder it is for them to deliver quality service to their customers. For a small business, you have that going for you. You can be that to your customers. Remember, you’re an expert at your chosen craft, you’re passionate about it, you can’t stop talking about it. Share that passion! Identify your target market and go out there and tell them all about YOU and why they should do business with you.