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Posted: January 30, 2012

How to be your own great boss

Here are 10 things you must do well

David Sneed

We all dream of being our own boss, but only some of us have made it a reality. For those who haven't made the jump yet: Come on in, the water's fine.
If you want to beat the odds and have your small business succeed though, it will depend entirely on you. Here are the 10 things you have to do well:

1. Sell. Not just your product, and not just to your customer. You are selling yourself to investors, your plan to your employees, and your expertise to everyone. Unless you know how to sell ideas, you aren't ready to be on your own.

2. Deliver on time, what you promised, every time. The surest way to lose a customer is to under deliver.

3. Market effectively (and wisely). Your message is critical. What are you selling, math? So are all the other accountants. What you need to sell is convenience, or speed, or accuracy, or a friendly face. Find out what you really sell in addition to arithmetic, and make that your marketing message.

4. Prioritize everything. If you think you need to run out and buy fancy equipment, you're probably wrong. Take the accountant, for instance: all she really needs is a pencil and her knowledge. When she's made a sale, she can buy a calculator (to make the next job quicker). After the next sale she can buy a business card (to make getting customers easier). Decide what the minimum requirements are for you and stick with those until you begin making money.

5. Produce your paycheck. This depends entirely on how much you can accomplish. Find ways to be more productive without sacrificing quality. (Remember: If there isn't time to do it right the first time, you'll always find time to do it over.)

6. Spend wisely. You will be swamped with calls from people selling everything from copiers to seminars. If you stick with the essentials, you'll see you don't need most of what they're peddling.

7. Adapt. Things happen. You have to overcome the obstacles and deliver what you promised to deliver.

8. Recognize opportunity. This one takes practice. Legitimate opportunities rarely show up at your door with a sign on. They're found when you recognize a need and find a way to fill it. Say your flower shop is next to an architect and you notice a courier comes by every day to pick up plans. You have a delivery van. Go talk to them, maybe you can deliver their plans while you're out.

9. Manage time. You have work to do. Unless you can find a way to be efficient, you'll have some needlessly long days ahead of you. Priorities come into play here.

10. Sell. Have you heard this one before? Read every book on sales that you can find, and practice, practice, practice.

Self-employment can be a rewarding experience, but it can also ruin you. Prior to sinking your life savings into a startup, find out if you can do it with half as much. You probably can. Lots of successful businesses have started with $100 and an idea. That being said, a small business can be remarkably easy to start - provided you stop dreaming and start doing. And stay smart.
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David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at  David@EveryoneHasABoss.com

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

This is helpful, Thanks. I’m thinking about starting a restaurant and you've given me a better way to organize my thoughts. By Monique on 2012 01 31
Excellent advice! Couldn't agree more on the importance of knowing/learning how to sell. I'll add that one also needs to figure out his/her selling comfort zone. Cold call business development is very different than local networking/marketing/schmoozing. Best to figure out what you can/will do before you put your money into something. Don't fall for the "build it and they will come" line--that was only in the movies! Looking forward to reading your book too. By Stacy Swift on 2012 01 30
Thanks for pointing out that even if your business card doesn't read "salesperson," if you need to influence, persuade or lead others, you are most certainly selling! By Julie Hansen on 2012 01 30

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