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10 Tips for Small Business Owners

Barbara Corcoran’s credentials include straight D’s in high school and college and 20 jobs by the time she turned 23. It was her next job that would make her one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country when she took a $1,000 loan to start The Corcoran Group. She parlayed the loan into a $5 billion real estate business and sold it in 2001 for $66 million.

Here she shares 10 of her best tips for small business owners:

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Big Mistakes. All the best things that happened in my business happened on the heels of failure.  Don’t be afraid to fail; it’s proof that you are meant to be a successful entrepreneur.  The only difference between people who are hugely successful and those who aren’t is the time it takes them to get back up after getting knocked down.
  2. Little Companies Always Move Faster.  The big guy may have the corner on money but the little guy usually has the corner on creativity.   Take some time to sit down and figure out how your big rival is promoting their brand and plan something smarter and more creative for yours.
  3. Take Full Advantage of all the Free Social Media Out There. Before you go out and blow money on advertising, capitalize on the free online access that leads you direct to your customers.   Blog, Tweet with humour, and make as many friends as you can onFacebook. You can quickly build a huge following of customers willing to try your new product without spending a dollar on advertising.
  4. Choose Only Really Good People.  Make sure you pick good people to build your business with, as they’ll determine 80% of your success.  The best people are honest and have lots of enthusiasm.  Don’t worry too much about their level of experience when you’re interviewing, as the right attitude always delivers much more than just experience.
  5. There Are Only Two Kinds Of People In Business — Know the Difference. There are really only two kinds of people: expanders and containers.  Learning to separate them quickly into the right category will save you a lot of time.  ‘Expanders’ like to push the envelope, take risks, make new friends, and test how far they can go!  They also like to spend your money.  ‘Containers’ like to keep things in order and stay on top of the details.  They keep you from losing your money.  If you match the right person to the right position that takes advantage of their natural talents you’ll build a powerful team of workers with all the strength needed to build a huge business.
  6. Focus On What’s Already Working For You and Do More Of It. When you look for ways to expand your business, the real pot of gold is usually the same stuff that’s already proven successful.  So before you move on to the next exciting project or a new strategy, s-l-o-w down.  Do a lot more of what’s already working and then do the new stuff.
  7. Stop Putting It Off! Procrastination is the enemy of success.  The time you waste on stalling breeds guilt, and guilt deflates energy and sometimes even leads to depression.  When you feel stuck and can’t seem to move ahead, always remember that you don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going!
  8. Make a System for Everything You Need To Do More Than Once.  My mother ran her house like a boot camp.  She had to – she had 10 children!  She set up two sock drawers in the kitchen – the boy’s drawer with all blue socks all in one size and the girl’s drawer with all white socks, all the same size.  I learned from my mom that to run a growing business you need to set up a system for everything.  If you take the time to set it up once, you’ll build your business faster and avoid wasting time and handling customer complaints.
  9. Make Sure You Know What Not To Do.  Everyone should have their own ‘Not To Do’ list.  I sit down regularly and make a list of all the things I have spent time on that have amounted to nothing.  It’s smart to post your ‘Not To Do’ list where you’re bound see it so you’re reminded to do more productive things that give a better return on the time you spend at work.
  10. Shoot the Dogs Early!  If you spot a complainer and if you have the authority to do it, fire them right away.  Complainers are like thieves, robbing you and your company of its good energy.  Your whole team’s outlook will shine brighter once you’re rid of them.
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