The US Small Business Administration reports that that there are about 26 million small businesses in the United States. This includes 20 million sole proprietors and 6 million businesses with employees
Intuit, recently conducted a survey that found 72% of Americans want to start their own business and join the millions of individuals who already have their own business. The survey found that 84% believe they would be more passionate about their work if they owned their own business and 70% regularly have thought about resigning from their job.
To encourage more individuals to turn from Dilbert like, cookie-cutter, cubicle decorating, corporate slaving humans, into business owners, Intuit is launching a new campaign, “Just Start”. This campaign will give aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to win a $50,000 grant towards starting their own business.
Check out the campaign at http://www.iwilljuststart.com
Submit your entry via video or text to enter into the contest and while you’re at iwilljuststart.com check out the aspirations and dreams of other contest entrants as well. While only ONE person will win (I’m one of the judges) the $50,000 grant, I think everyone’s a winner if you take the first step into making your dream, more than just a dream, by bringing it closer to reality on video or by writing it down for submission as an entry.
Thousands of businesses are started each year, while many fail due to lack of funds, few sales, bad original product idea or dozens of other reasons, many succeed. Some small businesses grow into huge companies such as Michael Dell’s multi-billion dollar computer business started out of his college dorm. Other small businesses, most businesses, stay small. (How many Fortune 500 businesses are there). These small businesses are the heart and soul of the American economy.
Starting your business is easy on day you. However to grow your business and ensure it remains a viable business is the hard part. Some key aspects of to bolster its success are:
1. Finance. Make sure you are closely managing cash flow – income and expense. As part of the “Just Start” campaign, Intuit is offering a free copy of Quick Books Simple Start, its accounting software for small businesses. Other accounting products to consider Microsoft Accounting and Sage’s Peachtree.
2. Marketing. If you have a great product, but customers don’t know about it, you won’t have many sales. Make sure you market your products and services as economically and strategically as you can. Online marketing is a low cost and effective way to generate sales. Of course word of mouth and other traditional sales methods are critical as well.
3. Employees. As the need to hire employees in your business arises make sure you do your best to hire the right people for the right task and that you build a culture that encourages employees to grow with your business.
4. Technology. One of the most effective ways to do more with less is not by staying up later and getting up earlier, but it’s by using technology as effectively as you can. If your competition requires 3 people to complete one sales order, you might be able to use technology to enable one person to do it. Technology is ONLY a tool and should always be used as an asset and complimentary part of your business operations.
There is a lot more to starting and growing your business, such as the legal aspects and creating business processes, than what anyone can write down in an article. However, having passion about what you do and a willingness to learn and learn from the mistakes of others are key.
Make sure you do a lot of reading and develop a close network of business professionals who are farther along in their business growth. Reading, outside of your expertise will give you insight and guidance into various aspects of your business needed for growth. Business professionals can give you hands on guidance and insight into what they have done to make their business a success.
If you’ve been secretly reading Entrepreneur Magazine in your cubicle at work and dreaming of starting your own business winning $50,000 could be the push you need to go out and do it.
Other contest you might want to consider are:
Visa’s Business Breakthrough contest – $10,000 for the winner entry of why your business needs help in technology, marketing, finance, organization or team building – http://businessbreakthrough.msn.com
Startupnation.com has a contest for the home based businesses at http://hb100.startupnation.com/