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----May 2015----


Tip 1 Have a firm understanding of the commitment required for starting a business. The rewards can be great, but you have to be aware of how much time and effort your business will need.

Tip 2 You may not need to raise finances to start your business but you should create a business plan, as well as a marketing plan. These are living documents and will need to be constantly updated with your progress. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

Tip 3 Make a decision on your business structure. The most common forms of business are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, the S corporation and the limited liability partnership (LLP). Because each business form comes with different tax consequences, you will want to make your selection wisely and choose the structure that most closely matches your business's needs. Not only will this decision impact how much you pay in taxes, but it will affect the amount of paperwork your business must do, the personal liability you face and your ability to raise money.

Tip 4 Compile a SWOT analysis ― What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? Sometimes this is called a SWOT matrix but it is basic to understanding the characteristics of your project that dictate the advantages and disadvantages while defining some of the threats that could occurr and the elements that could be exploited to an advantage. It is important to take some time with this and repeat the process at least once a year to keep on top of the changing dynamics that occur.

Tip 5 Make and keep a running list of your competitor's weaknesses, and take advantage where you can. Keep a close eye on what they are doing in their business and position yourself as different and unique compared to your competitors, not exactly the same.

Tip 6 Produce a financial forecast of your first year. That will include how many sales you expect to make, your expenses and the like. This is useful in goal setting and planning. Moreover, if you need to find a business loan you need to be realistic about the money your business might make.

Tip 7 Decide on how you are going to keep your books. Not everyone needs an accounting degree and most small businesses do not need a full accounting package but you will need an accounting format. Build one and stick to it, you can change it as you grow. If you're not going to do it yourself, ensure you have a good accountant!

Tip 8 Open up a business banking account. This helps keep personal funds and business funds separated. This can be critical in litigation and dealings with the government.

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