Starting A Business

How to Recognize You are on The Right Path as an Entrepreneur

Beginning a new business is one of the most intimidating adventures of a lifetime, particularly when you suddenly realize that you are solely dependent upon yourself. Fear enters the picture, and promptly invites panic to join in.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, the experience can and should be highly rewarding as you climb the ladder of learning to reach new heights. One of the better initial paths to take is, “Only focus on the work you enjoy doing most.” Otherwise, your business will not advance as well as it should.


Most entrepreneurs begin solo, but it soon becomes apparent that other teammates are a necessity. For example, you might have created a marketing strategy company, but are in need of someone who knows how to fix software issues and update websites, or of someone familiar with selling services. Aligning with people who have similar values to your own, are willing to provide their best effort and insights, and who are dependable when need arises, are essential qualities to seek out in order for everyone to move forward successfully.

Real Life Example

You may have heard an author speak at a book signing or at a conference. The passion about their work may be heard and seen as they share with audiences the effort that went into producing the piece and the importance it held to transform the initial concept into reality.

Given the passion seen and felt, it is understandable why those authors continue to possess motivation to develop new products and services complementary to the initial book. The joy and motivation continue to feed one another for the person to continually learn and create. In turn, new connections are made and doors of possibility open wide.


Take time each week to reflect on the past week’s activities to answer the following questions asked of yourself:

Off all the activities, which weren’t worth the effort?

Did I receive recognition on something specific?

Which results made me the most proud?


Another component is to factually monitor activities. As each new strategy is implemented, monitor the success for each. Or begin monitoring the areas that you enjoy most to see if they are contributing to your bottom line. So many analytical tools are available, it will be wise to ask your peers which one they use along with reasoning, so that you may select the ones best suited for you.

It will soon become evident where to spend the majority of time and on which to collaborate for those tasks you least enjoy.


Take the challenge to focus on your favorite part of work. Is it possible to leverage that piece into a larger vision with the promise of it becoming highly rewarding?

In your quiet time, create a file with the one word that describes the endeavor you most enjoy. Next, add all of the synonyms and related keywords to build the idea out. With the list complete, are you able to see a trend for where you truly wish to be headed?  Your personal brand may become known as “the motivated one”.

Begin charting your new course now to find the Smooth Sale!

Author: Elinor Stutz, CEO of Smooth Sale
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10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Location for Your Business

Before you start shopping for business space, you need to have a clear picture of what you must have, what you’d like to have, what you absolutely won’t tolerate and how much you’re able to pay. Developing that picture can be a time-consuming process that’s both exciting and tedious, but it’s essential you give it the attention it deserves. While many startup mistakes can be corrected later on, a poor choice of location is sometimes impossible to repair.

Be systematic and realistic as you consider the following 10 location points.

1. Style of operation.

Is your operation going to be formal and elegant? Or kicked-back and casual? Your location should be consistent with your particular style and image. If your business is retailing, do you want a traditional store, or would you like to try operating from a kiosk (or booth) in a mall or a cart that you can move to various locations?

2. Demographics.

There are two important angles to the issue of demographics. First, consider who your customers are and how important their proximity to your location is. For a retailer and some service providers, this is critical; for other types of businesses, it might not be as important. The demographic profile you have of your target market will help you make this decision.

Then take a look at the community. If your customer base is local, does a sufficient percentage of that population match your customer profile to support your business? Does the community have a stable economic base that will provide a healthy environment for your business? Be cautious when considering communities that are largely dependent on a particular industry for their economy; a downturn could be bad for business.

Now think about your work force. What skills do you need, and are people with those talents available? Does the community have the resources to serve their needs? Is there sufficient housing in the appropriate price range? Will your employees find the schools, recreational opportunities, culture, and other aspects of the community satisfactory?

3. Foot traffic.

For most retail businesses, foot traffic is extremely important. You don’t want to be tucked away in a corner where shoppers are likely to bypass you, and even the best retail areas have dead spots. By contrast, if your business requires confidentiality, you may not want to be located in a high-traffic area. Monitor the traffic outside a potential location at different times of the day and on different days of the week to make sure the volume of pedestrian traffic meets your needs.

4. Accessibility and parking.

Consider how accessible the facility will be for everyone who’ll be using it—customers, employees, and suppliers. If you’re on a busy street, how easy is it for cars to get in and out of your parking lot? Is the facility accessible to people with disabilities? What sort of deliveries are you likely to receive, and will your suppliers be able to easily and efficiently get materials to your business? Small-package couriers need to get in and out quickly; trucking companies need adequate roads and loading docks if you’re going to be receiving freight on pallets.

Find out about the days and hours of service and access to locations you’re considering. Are the heating and cooling systems left on or turned off at night and on weekends? If you’re inside an office building, are there periods when exterior doors are locked and, if so, can you have keys? A beautiful office building at a great price is a lousy deal if you plan to work weekends but the building is closed on weekends—or they allow you access, but the air conditioning and heat are turned off so you roast in the summer and freeze in the winter.

Be sure there’s ample convenient parking for both customers and employees. As with foot traffic, take the time to monitor the facility at various times and days to see how the demand for parking fluctuates. Also make sure the parking lot is well-maintained and adequately lighted.

5. Competition.

Are competing companies located nearby? Sometimes that’s good, such as in industries where comparison shopping is popular. You may also catch the overflow from existing businesses, particularly if you’re located in a restaurant and entertainment area. But if a nearby competitor is only going to make your marketing job tougher, look elsewhere.

6. Proximity to other businesses and services.

Take a look at what other businesses and services are in the vicinity from two key perspectives. First, see if you can benefit from nearby businesses—by the customer traffic they generate—because those companies and their employees could become your customers, or because it may be convenient and efficient for you to be their customer.

Second, look at how they’ll enrich the quality of your company as a workplace. Does the vicinity have an adequate selection of restaurants so your employees have places to go for lunch? Is there a nearby day-care center for employees with children? Are other shops and services you and your employees might want conveniently located?

7. Image and history of the site.

What does this address say about your company? Particularly if you’re targeting a local market, be sure your location accurately reflects the image you want to project. It’s also a good idea to check out the history of the site. Consider how it’s evolved over the years.

Ask about previous tenants. If you’re opening a restaurant where five restaurants have failed, you may be starting off with an insurmountable handicap—either because there’s something wrong with the location or because the public will assume your business will go the way of the previous tenants. If several types of businesses have been there and failed, do some research to find out why—you need to confirm whether the problem was with the businesses or the location. That previous occupants have been wildly successful is certainly a good sign, but temper that with information on what type of businesses they were compared to yours.

8. Ordinances.

Find out if any ordinances or zoning restrictions could affect your business in any way. Check for the specific location you’re considering as well as neighboring properties—you probably don’t want a liquor store opening up next to your day-care center.

9. The building’s infrastructure.

Many older buildings don’t have the necessary infrastructure to support the high-tech needs of contemporary operations. Make sure the building has adequate electrical, air conditioning, and telecommunications service to meet your present and future needs. It’s a good idea to hire an independent engineer to check this out for you so you’re sure to have an objective evaluation.

10. Utilities and other costs.

Rent composes the major portion of your ongoing facilities expense, but consider extras such as utilities—they’re included in some leases but not in others. If they’re not included, ask the utility company for a summary of the previous year’s usage and billing for the site. Also find out what kind of security deposits the various utility providers require so you can develop an accurate move-in budget; however, you may not need a deposit if you have an established payment record with the company.

If you have to provide your own janitorial service, what will it cost? What are insurance rates for the area? Do you have to pay extra for parking? Consider all your location-related expenses, and factor them into your decision.

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What I Learned From Being an Accidental Copycat

Last week, I read a blog post about being plagiarized and how terrible it is. I immediately messaged the author to praise her and commiserate over how hard it’s been on me. I felt so dignified in my rage (don’t we always?). Being plagiarized or copied in any way feels horrible; I’ve had it ruin entire days.

In fact, I can’t count how many times in the course of my business I’ve been convinced I was being ripped off. I’m not kidding: I have some sort of meltdown about it at least once a week. Once a week! That’s a lot of time and energy that I spend completely certain that someone looked at my brand and then decided to do something just like it. And I get really angry and feel really justified in that anger.

After I sent this message, not a full day later, a question came through our website about a special bag we had created, asking if it was made by another company. Essentially, this customer was calling us out for making something too similar to another product.

She was right; it was similar. But it gets worse. The hard truth of the matter is I had sent the exact bag she was referring to in an email to our designers with the words, “I love this bag let’s make something like this.” So while the print and end design felt totally original to me, the bag itself clearly wasn’t. My intent was not malicious. But that doesn’t matter, I felt called out and embarrassed (and yes, we are discontinuing the bag now).

But there I was doing the exact thing I judge so harshly. I could walk you through all of the reasons I thought it was OK when I did it, but the important fact is that I’m not different. Maybe I’m justifying my behavior, but I don’t think any of us are innocent. And ultimately I got a lot out of this realization.

Don’t let it happen again.

It sucks. It feels terrible to be caught doing it, and it probably gives you bad karma. So let’s not let ourselves off the hook for it. I try as hard as possible to be original and not use ideas that I’ve seen elsewhere (even if I think I had them “first”). Clearly I don’t always try hard enough but this experience reinvigorated my resolve.

Get over it.

I need to stop obsessing over my copycats. The truth is lots of people are thinking of the same ideas that I am. And if they did happen to come across what I’m doing at some point and it’s influenced them somehow, they might not even realize it. We don’t live in a vacuum, and while I’m not going to make some insulting allusion to flattery, I will say I’m trying to embrace that we all have an effect on each other and that’s unavoidable.

It just doesn’t matter.

Take it from me, I’ve ranted to many trademark lawyers. Often, no patent, law or court can protect you. Sure, you have the right to protect your ideas and should maybe communicate with people you believe to be infringers but at least in our economy, tweaks of old ideas make up the basis for most new ones. Examples are everywhere – from Hellman’s to Coke and Pepsi and the bakery that launched the Cronut.

It’s not that I’ve forgiven myself for my bad copycat behavior or for my now unjustified rage at other people, rather, it’s that I I’ve learned my lesson and decided to move on. I’m not sure it won’t always at least aggravate me. I do truly believe we should protect and support each other’s ideas and at least try our best to be original. But I feel a new commitment to quieting my judgements, scrutinizing the integrity of my own ideas and then doing my best personal work.

Author: Adina Grigore 
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