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Fortune Hunters: 10 tips for building a small business

Monday, November 03, 2008 > 10:56:38

(Source: cbc.ca)


10. Match passion with practicality

Passion helps open doors and build relationships when you’re in a start-up phase. Sure, it’s essential and comes with the territory when you’re an entrepreneur, but it’s not enough! You need to have that yin and yang – vision won’t get you anywhere without the proper execution.

9. Be prepared to make sacrifices

Entrepreneurship is not for slackers. At the end of the day, it’s your business and making it a success isn’t always as easy as it looks. Just as a bad economy forces you to make changes in your lifestyle, running a business requires a few sacrifices. Get ready for some long nights if you want that big payoff.

8. Timing is everything

Being in the right place at the right time can be the difference between success and failure, especially in an ailing economy. People want more bang for their buck in troubled times, but there are things they’ll need no matter what condition the economy is in. In real estate, they say it’s all about location, location, location. Well, cashing in on a trend is all about timing, timing, timing.

7. Be decisive

Once you’ve got your timing down, go for it. As a wise man once said, it’s better to take a chance and miss than not take a shot at all. Being an entrepreneur and making decisions go hand in hand.

6. Be willing to take risks

Being a smaller company means entrepreneurs have the opportunity to try things that the big guys wouldn’t touch without doing piles of research. So go for it – make a bold move and make it happen. But as our experts advise, risks have to be calculated so that the odds are in your favour. You should minimize risk in any economy, especially in an economic downturn.

5. Expand with caution

Big dreams are something all entrepreneurs share. But making those dreams a reality is a lot more difficult than it may seem. There’s a big difference between two locations and 20, so take your time and carefully craft your grand expansion. For example, in franchising, experts say it’s smart to stick close to home at first and then move out concentrically when it's time to expand.

4. Take advice

Being an entrepreneur means having to make a lot of tough decisions all the time. No one is an expert on everything, so talk to people who’ve been there before and ask their advice. Having a mentor or an advisory board to help you through major decisions can be a major asset.

3. Stay on budget!

Even the most successful businesses capitalizing on the hottest trends can risk bankruptcy if they overspend on their initial budget. Make sure you carefully analyze the cost of what you’re spending against how much you can realistically make. If you’re seeing a lot of red on the balance sheet, it may be time to rethink the plan. And don’t forget to leave some wiggle room for unexpected hurdles – with the uncertainty in today’s economy, who knows what’s coming your way ...

2. Know your market

Knowing what your customers want and need is crucial to success. Take some time before you start a business to carefully research the market and find out what your competition is up to. Finding an untapped niche can help you make a big splash in a crowded marketplace.

1. Know your own strengths and weaknesses

Let’s face it – you’re not Superman (or Wonderwoman) and you can’t do everything yourself. Knowing what you do well and acknowledging where you need help can make a major difference for your company — and ultimately make or break it. Bring in employees or advisors to complement your own talents. Don’t waste time struggling with your weaknesses when you should be focusing your time on keeping your company afloat in today’s unsteady economy.


CBC's Fortune Hunters is focused on the powerful shifts in human behaviour and in economic activity that define today’s world. It explores these trends through the lens of moneymaking – discovering how people eager for self-employment are exploiting new opportunities.

The staff of Fortune Hunters has spent a lot of time with people who are creating companies and trying to cash in on popular trends. Taking examples from the entrepreneurs who have appeared on the show, and combining their experiences with some insight from super-successful expert guests, the Fortune Hunters team has come up with a list of the top 10 things learned in the course of researching and producing the show. They've been boiled down here into a quick checklist — and a reality check — for budding entrepreneurs, whether they're trying to decide whether to launch a venture or trying to figure out ways to take an existing business up a few notches.


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