Tips for Entrepreneurs

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Written by: Megan Rendell (@MeganRendell)

There is a lot to consider before you take the steps to go into business for yourself and live the dream of being your own boss. What is the best location for an office or storefront? Who should you bank with? How many clients/customers will follow me from my current organization when I make the shift? What if nobody follows me? Will I be able to make ends meet the first year? Will I ever sleep again? While I may not have all the answers to these valuable questions, I’ve compiled some tips and tricks I’ve collected along the way from my experience working with entrepreneurs who have been in the same shoes you may be finding yourself in. Knowledge is power!

Finding the Bank that is right for YOU:

Find a bank/banker that you feel a personal connection with, get to know the bank and make sure their organization’s marketing strategies align with your needs and values. The personal relationship between banker and entrepreneur is much more important than the name of the bank.

Review entrepreneurial focused magazines written by banks, they see more industry trends day-on-day than most.
Attend bank-networking sessions for free advice and to make new connections. Don’t feel like you have to commit to a bank just because they have given you free advice, that being said, its not a good idea to overly abuse free advice or people’s kindness. Keep karma in mind.

An Accountant: Every business needs one; hire a good one. The cheapest may not be the best. Also, it’s NOT a wise idea to take a friend of family member on as your accountant, regardless of how good they are. If you have a friend or relative in the field ask them to recommend someone they know.

Once you’ve found YOUR Bank:

Reduce your credit impact by downsizing credit car counts and limits. Do this before you visit your bank for a loan.

Apply for NO FEE credit-cards for business use, not only will this help you differentiate personal from business expenses but will save on book keeping costs down the line.
Consider a US dollar account if you have more than 2 U.S. transactions per month. Believe it or not, this can save on costs significantly.

Consider electronic funds transfers (EFT) as it will speed up your cash-flow cycle so you’ll spend less time wondering if cheques will clear, will receivables be collected, etc.
Enquire about small business grants/loan offered by Banks, there are many out there that you could qualify for, just got ahead and ask.

Check your credit rating in advance. Canadian banks commonly use ‘Equifax’ or ‘TransUnion’ whose searches can be conducted easily online. Something as minor as an undue bill sent to an old address can negatively impact your credit score and inhibit the amount of money your Bank can loan to you. Credit checks are fairly inexpensive and can be worth the money. Limit the amount of times you check your credit, however, the searches are recorded and you don’t want to appear to be shopping around for credit.

In Tough Times – In the event your business runs into financial trouble DO NOT hide from your banker. The best bankers are there for you in both good AND bad times and will want to help you as best they can. They cannot help someone who does not work with them or is hard to locate.

Marketing 101:

Before you start your business, get to know your target demographic. Once you know exactly who your consumer is go after them using both traditional and non-traditional marketing techniques. If you have no idea where to start or what this means, solicit advice/expertise from someone who does. We are out here and more often than not are happy to meet and help you.

If you are not online, you will be dead in the water. With information at the world’s fingertips it is important to be active online and accessible for people to find you.
Google Adwords, although a smart and effective way to spend your marketing budget, make sure you know what your “keywords” are and aren’t. If you don’t, your costs could be running higher than they should and lead to consumer confusion.

Find inexpensive mediums to market your business – Social Media is a MUST! Just don’t forget to disconnect from the computer and meet people face-to-face.

Network, network, network!! It will be your most powerful tool. Meeting like-minded people will not only expand your client base but will also make you more useful to others. Make an effort to get to know the right people but don’t write a contact off just because you don’t see them as being “relevant” to your business, they may refer you or your business to someone who is your target consumer.

There are countless organizations in the city that offer excellent networking opportunities.

Check out some favs:

@thebuzzevent for Young Entrepreneurs (thebuzzevent.com);
@networkinginvan for information about Vancouver Networking Events;
@BoardofTrade Vancouver Board of Trade, great calendar of events;
@FWEBC Forum for Women Entrepreneurs BC; and
@YWIB Young Women in Business.

Starting your own business is a lot of work. Be prepared that you may not be profitable in your 1st or 2nd year of business but don’t give up. Set short & long-term goals for your organization, review them regularly, and celebrate each accomplishment when you reach it. It is important to have a vision of where you want your business to go and goals help you maintain your focus. No matter how big or how small, never underestimate the power of goal setting!

Image: The Netsetter

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