Dal LaMagna, a Poulsbo, Wash.-based entrepreneur, says anyone can do it – if they go about it the right way.
He speaks from experience. LaMagna launched personal beauty-tool company Tweezerman in 1980 with $500, built it into a multimillion-dollar international company and sold it in 2004. He is also the author of Raising Eyebrows: A Failed Entrepreneur Finally Gets It Right.
A microbusiness is a business with one to five employees. A sole proprietorship is technically a microbusiness. The best part is it can be started with a few hundred dollars if overhead and operating costs are kept low.
Thinking of giving it a go? LaMagna offers the following helpful tips:
Pursue something you love and that also offers lucrative market potential. If a strong market doesn’t exist for your product or service, it may not be worth the effort.
Balance efforts three ways. Think of your business as a triangle consisting of three important functions: Sales, production, and control of your business. Spend equal amounts of your time, energy, and resources on each of these three functions. From January through April, it might be prudent to aggressively beat the bushes and build a solid client/customer base. May through August, concentrate on fine-tuning your services and mining your market niche. And September through December, concentrate on setting up accounting and computer systems in order to monitor workflow. Whatever systems you create, the idea is to set achievable goals that build the business.
Find free or inexpensive equipment. Many items needed to start and run a small business are available for free or at minimal cost. Friends or former colleagues may have a computer or printer they want to get rid of or sell at a fraction of what they paid.
If purchasing equipment or technology, consider refurbished products. Refurbished (also called reconditioned and remanufactured) computers are as good as new ones right off the assembly line. When it comes to buying technology products, the prevailing myths are that new means best, state-of-the-art, and often top-of-the-line products, and refurbished means tarnished, second-best and mediocre. Unfortunately, consumers and small business owners believe these myths, which is a testament to the incredible job legions of copywriters have done in brainwashing buyers.
Every year, companies introduce new desktop and laptop lines. Yet, the changes are minor and mostly cosmetic. The notion of upgrading technology yearly to boast owing the newest technical gadgets on the market is ridiculous, not to mention an outrageous waste of money.
Typically, refurbished computers are less than a year old, which means they’re practically brand-new. The difference in buying refurbished over new translates to huge savings – sometimes price tags are cut in half.
Technology equipment is refurbished for a number of reasons. Possibly, the computer was returned because it didn’t work properly. Often, the problem was nothing more than a cosmetic defect, such as a small ding on the monitor or the computer’s housing. Or it could be that a customer received the wrong model but had already opened the box. The computers are refitted with different parts, if necessary, and tested and approved for resale by the manufacturer.
Get it in writing. Clients often assume that they don’t have to sign an agreement or contract with a very small business. This simple step not only makes you look professional but it also avoids hassles if there is a disagreement or misunderstanding about the precise nature of the work performed, along with when payment is expected.
Stay focused. Concentrate on doing what you do best. If you specialize in a specific industry, stick with making a name for yourself within that industry. Once a reputation is built, consider branching out in new directions.
Dana Wilson is a freelance writer.
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