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Bates: Planning essential to starting a business

Published: Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 4:39 p.m. CDT

So you want to start your own business? Well, you should be applauded. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our nation. New entrepreneurs bring fresh vision and future business growth, employing many. Yet, small businesses need sweat, daring and support.

Below are just a few tips I have learned working with these strong-minded folks:

• Be sure to develop a business plan. It should include a break-even point, anticipated revenue and the number of clients needed to meet financial goals. Have a unit of measurement to ascertain progress.  

• Make certain you understand your expenses, product costs, taxes, insurance and other liabilities.

• Don’t do it all. Entrepreneurs are very tempted to save money here. Understand that you can be far more successful by knowing where your skills lie and outsourcing other jobs. This will free your time to do what you do best and allow you to manage the rest.

• Collect. I often see small businesses do a great job selling, but delay billing. Your work is worthy of being paid for. Send a bill immediately or attempt to gain payment upfront.

• Know your sales cycles and advertise right at the beginning of these. You can’t sell snow blowers in July.   

• Network. Not only can networking develop a client base, but also referral sources and support teams. Chambers shine here.

• Get training in areas of need. Arrange to meet with SCORE and the Shah Center. These folks are great partners and their services are free.

• Make certain your spouse is on board. You can’t start a business without buy-in from those you love.

• • •

Here are some upcoming Chamber events:

The next mixer is Nov. 19 at the Room Place. This is a great way to start building needed relationships.

The McHenry Chamber invites women to attend the WINGs luncheon Nov. 20 on “Age Matters: Trends and Tendencies of a Four-Generation Workforce” presented by Connie Fuller, professor and associate chairwoman in the Business Psychology Department at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Reserve a spot online at www.mchenrychamber.com. 

The McHenry Area Chamber’s next “Never Eat Alone” luncheon will be Friday at Plum Garden. Enjoy the all-inclusive price of $10 for Hong Kong chicken, fried rice, a beverage and an egg roll.  

Attend a Bring Your Lunch N’ Learn event on “Why Your Online Presence Isn’t Working: How to Maximize Your Efforts to Grow Your Business,” presented by 3GM Consulting, at noon Wednesday at the Chamber office. Whether you are starting a new business or already have a website and social media profile, learn how you can increase your value on social media and what successful business owners do to increase online awareness, generate leads, get recommendations and expand market reach. Register by Tuesday at www.mchenrychamber.com.

The Chamber is hosting a seminar called “Learn About Going Virtual with Microsoft Office 365 Cloud,” presented by A-PC Computers, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday at the Chamber office. Participants will learn how Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based tools help small businesses work efficiently and increase productivity. Attendees have the chance to win Office 2013 and Windows 8. Register at the Chamber’s website or call 815-759-1758.  

The next Shop In is Thursday at Aesthetics, 329 N. Front St. There will be savings galore and distinct fashions available at the store all day.

• Kay Bates is executive director of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. 

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