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Small Business: Tips on Getting Started

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If the idea of having your own small business excites you, here are some tips on getting started:

1. Do Your Research

Before getting started, make a list of the things you like to do. Find your strengths. Consider what you would do even if you were not being paid, says the owner of LauraZB Design, a home staging and decor business serving Seattle, Tacoma and the Eastside. Once you’ve narrowed down your business plan, ask professionals in the industry about the viability of your idea. Read books, and go online to learn more about the industry.

Community colleges offer Continuing Education classes for people considering small business. Highline Community College , Bellevue College, and South Seattle Community College, for example, offer classes that teach how to run a small business, financing, marketing, taxes and much more.

2. Learn from Others

“I set up a Google Alert for the businesses in home staging and home decor in the area,” says Laura of LauraZB Design. “That way, I found blogs, events and other businesses that were like mine and I could learn from them.” Laura also suggests competitive and comparative shopping. See what the other businesses in the area are charging for their products and services. Can your business add something extra, offer a more personalized service or better price than the competition? And what about networking? Laura suggests attending industry shows and events with business cards in hand. “Not only can you find clients,” she says, “but you can meet people whose businesses compliment yours. You can refer your clients to those businesses, and in turn, they can refer their clients to you.”

3. Be Real

Be honest with yourself. Think about how much cash you have and how much you’ll need for start up costs. The US Small Business Administration (SBA) offers information on small business loans, grants, bonds and other financial assistance. You can contact them through their website or phone to find the right kind of financing for your small business.

Make short term and long term goals for yourself and your business, keeping in mind that your business may not go well the first time around. “Don’t be disappointed if you need to refresh your goals,” says Laura. “Focusing on what your customers are asking for, rather than what you want, may change your business’ focus.” And if it fails? “Chalk it up to experience, and use that education on your next venture,” says Laura.

To contact Laura, email Laura@LauraZBDesign.com.

– Written by Tama Fulton, CBS Local Seattle

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