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==== ==== Here are your business tips to help increase your profits. ==== ====

There is no perfect skill set for a successful business owner and the 'cookie cutter' approach some people take is wrong. Businesses vary and as a result, the skills needed to own and run them vary also. That being said, there are some general traits that successful business owners should have. Optimism: You must be an optimist because at some point, you have to see beyond the hard times to see the better times. Optimism and confidence tend to go together. You, as the business owner, must be able to make it through the tough times because you know in your heart that it will get better. Able To Sacrifice: Being in the bottom spot on the totem pole is something that you are going to encounter as owner. Your business takes precedence over just about everything else. You most likely will not be taking any vacations in the beginning or even time off either. Your financial needs are the last ones to be met. You only get paid after you have paid all the help, the expenses and the vendors. If there is any profit at that point then you can take some salary. But if you want to continue to grow you will probably have to reinvest the profits and take little or no money. At least that will be case in the beginning. Driving an older car, living in an older house and postponing vacations are just a few of the sacrifices you must be willing to make. Ability to Manage: I did NOT say management experience because people tend to think that means the ability to manage people. What I'm talking about here is the ability to manage everything. Things like accounts receivable, accounts payable, vendor problems, advertising, vendors, customers, the banker and your lawyer all have to be managed. And the most important thing you have to manage in the beginning is your family. They have to understand what you are doing and know that it's going to be tough in the beginning. Interpersonal Skills: Running any type of business, even an Internet business, requires interpersonal skills. If you run any type of business then you have to be able to 'get along' with more people than you realize. Some people go into business for themselves because they can't get along with their boss. These same people are surprised when they find out that getting along with their previous boss was a piece of cake compared to getting along with irate customers (even if they are wrong, they will think they are right), demanding employees and quirky vendors. You will be a referee, a judge, a boss a cohort and a friend.

Have Common Sense: You don't need a Harvard education to run a successful business and you don't need a college education to come up with a good business idea. What a business owner must have is the ability to anticipate problems and take steps to prevent them. Successful businesses look to outsiders like there are rarely any problems. What they don't see is a business owner that is keeping his/her finger on the pulse of the business and the industry. When they anticipate changes coming, they take steps to prepare their business in case it comes about. That preparation and willingness to change can make the difference between success and failure. Done well and it's just about invisible to anyone except the business owner. Be Organized: This is a real problem for some people. If you can't juggle lots of things at the same time, then you shouldn't go into business for yourself. There is NEVER just one thing going on when you own a business. There are customer problems, there are vendor/supplier problems and there are competition problems. As a business owner, you have to be able to quickly know and understand which problems need attention first. You have to be able to prioritize your problems and know that those same priorities may change on a moments notice. Be a Leader: People, especially your employees will always be looking to you for answers. Answers about your products, your market, your competition and just about everything else. As the owner you are expected to be able to answer any question relating to the business or the industry. It's human nature to want to be led and to want someone to explain why something happened or didn't happen. If you can't handle being pulled in a lot of different directions and all at the same time, then you should rethink your desire to go into business for yourself. Business Experience: This is one of the biggest reasons for failure, in my opinion. There are lots of people who are great at their jobs. Maybe they are the best carpenter, or the best painter, or the best salesperson or the best cook. There is a tendency for people to believe that just because they can do their current job well (maybe better than anyone else they know) that means they would be a great business owner. The best mechanic I ever knew decided that he should open his own shop. To my knowledge there was no one smarter than him when it came to troubleshooting a problem with a vehicle. He was absolutely brilliant. So he saved his money and opened his own shop. Then he realized that he knew nothing about accounting or keeping the books, he didn't know anything about advertising or how to get new customers, he didn't know anything about how to negotiate the best prices for his equipment. And because he didn't know about those things he kept doing what he knew best, repairing vehicles. He was like an employee in his own business. His business slowly died and he ended up losing his life savings. He is now a mechanic for a local new car dealership. Conclusion:

Study the list and give yourself a honest grade for each category. Where are you the strongest? Where are you the weakest? Remember this, a strength in one area does not offset a weakness in another area. You have to be able to handle all categories. If you are being honest then you most likely will have to give yourself some low grades somewhere. It's important to be brutally honest with yourself. Here's the good news. If you don't possess all the traits then you can hire people with the necessary traits. Or maybe you can partner with someone who possesses the strengths that you do not have. In the beginning, if you are like most people, you will not have the money to hire full time people to help. That's okay because once you have identified your weaknesses, that recognition will make you more receptive to asking for help. You can't fix a problem until you recognize it as a problem. When your company grows, if there are certain areas that you are weak in or just don't like to do, then you may hire people to do those tasks. It takes more than one player to make a team. Build your team so that there is strength in every category and know that you don't have to do it all.

H.R. Smith has been a successful business owner since his early twenties. He has started, grown and sold businesses throughout his career. Two of his companies were sold to Fortune 50 companies. Today he continues as a trainer and business consultant and owns a number of websites, which he refers to as 'virtual real estate'. You can see one of his websites at The site is designed to help companies and individuals find a used sheet metal brake for the business or their home shop.

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==== ==== Here are your business tips to help increase your profits. ==== ====

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