Starting Your Small Business? Get Organised

Getting organised - Think big, learn fast and adapt

Proper planning will reduce the ‘stress’ that could come with starting your own small business; an ad hoc approach is often a recipe for disaster.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when starting your own small business:

Do you have what it takes to run a business?

Ask yourself why is it you want to run a business – is it because you want to take control of your future or are you hoping for a bit more free time than your current job offers? Make sure you are going into business for the right reasons.


You will need a dose of confidence, do not think failure before you even begin and also be mindful of the fact that things will not always go as planned. Set standards and goals for yourself. Even if you decide to work from home, you need to approach your business with a level of professionalism; this could mean the difference between failure and success.

Get a notebook

Get a notebook, it will help you to keep track of the things you have done, things you need to do and people you have to see.

Get a calendar

Get a calendar alongside your notebook. Set time periods for accomplishing goals, if you have to get a permit for example, before starting your business mark a period on your calendar as to when you will get it done and do it at that time. Once you have completed a task, mark it complete and always check your calendar just to ensure you do not miss any important appointments.

Necessary tools

Consider the tools that you will need to start your business – list them. If you are unsure, take a look at similar businesses to the one you intend to start and use them as your guide.

Make it happen

Raw material

Where will you get the raw material to operate your business? Make sure you have information on more than one supplier, do not limit yourself.

Currently in a job?

If you are still in a job and are thinking of leaving to start out on your own, consider getting all the important things in place before taking the leap.

Prepare to work hard

Prepare to work hard. In the beginning there is no doubt that you will have to put in many hours to get your business going, accept this as fact from the outset.

Realistic projections

Make realistic projections about your needs. Will you honestly manage on your own at the start, or will you require assistance? What about finances, do you have enough cash to meet your projected budget or will a loan be necessary?


Do not be guided by assumptions; if you are unsure about anything find out from relevant sources or do your research.

Office at home

If you will be working at home, set up an ‘office’ there. It does not have to be anything fancy; just set aside a room or an area that is strictly for work.


You might find yourself in the uncomfortable state of ‘indecision’. Procrastination is not your friend. Set your goals, be reasonable with your decisions and just do it!

Personal weaknesses and strengths

What are your personal weaknesses and strengths? Whatever effects they had on you while you were in a job will be the same when you are operating your own business. Take note of them; capitalise on your strength and find ways of dealing with your weaknesses.


Find out about organisations or groups that offer support for your type of business.


Think of an incentive scheme to reward yourself for goals accomplished, this will be good encouragement for you. Please be moderate.

Remember things will not just happen because you want them to…make them happen!


Entrepreneur or Self-Employed

Entrepreneur or Self-employed

Often we hear the terms entrepreneur and self-employed used interchangeably, but they do not necessarily mean the same thing. So who is an entrepreneur and who is a self-employed?

Merriam-Webster defines the Entrepreneur as one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. They define a Self-employed as one earning income directly from one’s own business, trade, or profession rather than for a specified salary or wages from an employer .


While they both will operate a business, the self-employed will create a job for her/himself. They usually work long hours and sometimes do everything, as in some instances they might not have anyone else to assist them. The entrepreneur on the other hand is the inventor and visionary behind the business, but not necessarily involved in day to day tasks. They are more interested in creating new businesses and ideas.

Here are three points to take note of when deciding whether someone is self-employed or an entrepreneur:

  • visionary/creator of new businesses and ideas
  • grand architect, directing overall business, hire others to carry out vision
  • take financial risk above usual to bring an idea into reality
  • creating a job for her/himself
  • success is largely dependent on his own skills/abilities
  • usually integrally involved in the day to  day tasks

Buying an existing business – What you need to know

buying an existing business | Julian Gooden

You probably do not want to go through the process of starting a business from scratch, and therefore, might consider buying an existing business. This could be a good idea since an established business should already have built in customers, is hopefully profitable and thus likely to be less risky. However, that is not always the situation and bad purchases are often made. In order to increase the chances of making the right decision, please consider the following:

Type of business

When buying a business it is not wise to go into an area you know absolutely nothing about, think of your qualification, experience, hobbies and interests.

Do you have the money to purchase this business? If not, how will you finance this venture? Look at small business schemes – what kind of finances, if any are being offered? Also, is the owner willing to be paid in instalments, how will this be done, can you make these payments?

Financial statements
You want to look at the company’s detailed financial statements, over several years, preferably at least five (5) years. Match what is reflected on the statement with what is happening in the industry. Has the business been making a profit, if so, over what period of time? Look at the taxes paid and compare them with income reflected.


A company’s payables history can tell a story. A company that is really viable is able to pay its current liabilities as they fall due. Look at how long the company takes to pay its suppliers or other short-term creditors. Thirty-to-sixty (30-60) days are acceptable, but ninety (90) days and over are too long a period, this business could be struggling.

Do a credit check on the company’s major debtors. How long are their receivables outstanding for? Also, bare in mind that for the purpose of the sale the receivables figures might be inflated, check invoices. You will want to determine how likely it is that some receivables may become ‘bad debts’ (unrecoverable).

Look at current employees, how critical are they to the business’ success? Are there employees that are more liabilities than assets? Which employees will you need to keep, which do you let go? Take into consideration their overall performance and what customers think of these persons.

Is there a close relationship with the current owner and customers? Will they leave or stay if you take over?

How does this business stock up against the competition? What has been happening in the industry, is it growing? Have sales fallen, if so, why? Have competitors been leaving the industry? If so, why?

Corporate Image
Does this company have a good corporate image? Is there potential to improve the image? You do not want a company that is riddled with scandal or that people in general have negative views towards as this will undoubtedly affect future growth.

Trade secrets
Does this company have trade secrets, are such secrets protected? How are they protected?

Ask questions
When you meet with the seller ask questions and make sure you are satisfied with the answers given. Always ensure that your doubts are addressed and NEVER push them aside.

Where is the business located, is it a good strategic point? Sometimes location may not be important, but depending on the type of business you intend to operate, location could be critical.

Evaluate the seller

Would this person ordinarily be someone you would do business with? Do a credit check on the person.

Have there been any lawsuits filed against the business, if so what were the outcome? Are there any pending? You don’t want to walk into a liability.

Taxes and expenses

Check to make sure that taxes and other major expenses are paid and are not left for you to undertake. A prudent business will ensure that its taxes and important expenses are paid when due such as sales, corporate income and property taxes.

You could add more checks as you go along but these would uncover a lot of important information. If you are unable to soundly analyse the information, enlist the help of an experienced accountant or businessperson who could assist you in understanding what is happening.

Also, it is advisable to always seek the services of a lawyer before undertaking such a venture.


Why Not Create Your Own Franchise?

Popular franchises

Ever thought of creating your own franchise?

If you have a secret family recipe that gets all your friends drooling, keep it your secret, start your own small restaurant and franchise your business. Maybe it is not a family recipe; it could be just about any idea, from accounting to writing! There are many people out there like you who are looking for an opportunity to invest in an idea started by someone else, that someone could be you.

Of course the routes will differ depending on the nature of your business…always do your homework.


Choosing A Business Structure

Business structures

Before you organise your operation, you need to identify a business structure that best suit your needs and the demands of your business. You might want to take into consideration issues of complexity in setting up, availability of capital and the tax advantages and disadvantages of each. Today we take a look at the soletrader and partnership structures.
Which business structure


The sole trader or sole proprietorship business structure is by far the easiest to set-up and is favoured by many entrepreneurs. This business is owned and operated by one person who might employ others to work in the business. It is unincorporated, meaning there are no legal formalities involved in setting up. However, depending on what your business will be, you might need to obtain certain licenses to operate, for example, if you decide to sell liquor you must first obtain a liquor license. With this structure you can use your own name or coin a business name that suits you. Sole trader businesses are mostly labour intensive as technology is often too costly and sole traders usually have limited capital available.


– There are very few formalities in setting up, except for necessary licenses or permits.
– You incur all the business profits.
– Even if you employ a few workers, you are the major decision-maker.
– Personal satisfaction and pride in owning and running your own business.
– Books are not audited by the Inland Revenue or Tax authorities.
– You are your own boss.
– You can provide personal assistance and attention to your customers because of the ‘smallness’ of the business.


– You will have unlimited liability, therefore, if the business fails, you stand to lose even your personal possessions in order to pay off its debts.
– It is usually hard to obtain capital and so you will probably have to rely on savings or borrow from family and friends.
– Your prices may be higher because there are no economies of scale (advantages of large scale production) available, as is the case with larger producers who benefit from mass production.
– Usually you have to rely on your own experience and expertise when it comes to decision-making.
– Your working hours will probably be very long, especially in the initial stages of operation.
– It might get lonely at times, especially if you are working alone and have no one to share your vision with.



A partnership is a business owned and operated by two or more people. The maximum number of partners is twenty, but where it concerns professionals such as accountants or solicitors the numbers could be higher. Partnership has some similarities to the sole trader structure, in that, there are no legal requirements in setting up, except observing local laws as they pertain to licenses or permissions necessary for establishment. Usually the word company follows the business’ name. There could be several types of partners in a partnership, which is usually dependent on their level of involvement in the business.

Types of Partners

Ordinary partners – They play an active role in the day-to-day running of the business.
Sleeping partners – They have a financial interest in the business but do not participate in the day-to-day running of the business.
Limited liability partners – Partners who stand to lose only what they invested in the business in the event of bankruptcy.
Unlimited liability partners – They stand to loose even their personal resources if the business goes bankrupt. Be prepared to work harder if you are an unlimited liability partner because you will undoubtedly want to see things run smoothly and the business thrive.


– Business is easy to set-up.
– A group of people working together can share ideas and thus decide on the best course for the business.
– Books are not audited by the Inland revenue or tax authorities neither are they made public.
– More capital is available since partners pool resources.
– Partners share all the profits.
– You and other partners could have the opportunity to specialise in your area of expertise.
– Partners will be involved in the day-to-day running of the business
– Depending on the size of the partnership you may be able to provide personal service to customers.


– The business incurs unlimited liability so partners (except for limited liability partners) stand to lose not only what they invested in the business but also their personal belongings if the business goes bankrupt and the debts cannot be covered by the business’ resources.
– Each partner is legally and financially liable for the others. Therefore, if one partner is unable to meet his or her liability (debt) the other partners have to stand that liability.
– Profits have to be shared.
– Sometimes partnerships ‘die’ after the death or leaving of one member. Therefore, partners should consider preparing a written agreement that will ensure the continuation of the business in event of this occurring.

It is advisable that if you choose this business structure you should insist that you and your fellow partners sign a Partnership Agreement. It does not have to involve lawyers; you can all come up with a reasonable agreement accepted by all partners.

What should be stated in a Partnership Agreement?

Here are some of the basics you will need to cover:

– Structure and the internal running of the partnership The amount of capital agreed to and is contributed by each partner.
– If partners are very active in the partnership, will they be paid a salary, if so, how much and what are the terms for salary increases?

Will there be an interest charged on drawings (amounts taken from business by partners for personal use) – if so, how much?

Will there be a payment of interest on capital (amount invested in the business by each partner), if so, how much?

– How will profits and losses be shared? Usually profits and losses are shared in the ratio of contributed capital. However, consideration could also be given to the active involvement of each partner, and ration accordingly.

– What will happen if one partner leaves or dies?

These are just guidelines, but it is strongly advised that at least these issues be dealt with, it could save future headaches. Of course, more information could be added based on your concerns and those of the other partners.

Where a Partnership agreement is not drafted there will be no interest charged on drawings or paid on capital. Profits and losses will be shared equally among partners and loans received by partners will attract an interest of 5%.


Start up business list

Startup business

This is a followup to the previous article ‘Business Ideas‘. Below is a list of careers and business examples that are worth considering for startup businesses.

Art dealer
Auto mechanic
Automated telemarketer
Bed & breakfast hostel
Betting agent
Business plan writer
Computer programmer
Create puzzles / word games
Craftsman / woman
Cyber shop owner
Dating website
Day care service
Debt collector
Delivery person
Desktop publisher
Design a business system
Drapery maker
Direct mailing
E-book publisher
Electronic marketer
Engineering consultant
E-zine publisher
Fashion designer
Financial analyst
Flower arranger
Funeral home
Game arcade
Graphic artist
Hotel owner
Jewellery making
Lawn maintenance
Modelling agent
Online tutor
Pastry maker
Personal Computer (PC) repairs
Pet sitting
Pet grooming
Physician (private)
Produce book index
Real estate agent
Real estate investor
Retail shop
Salon (hair, nails, feet)
Security Firm
Shoe repairer
Software author
Small law practice
Small pharmacy
Start a newsletter
Start a magazine
Start yellow pages
Taxi operator
Tax return preparer
Technical writer
Thrift shop owner
Travel agent
Trivia question writer
Vegetable / fruit producer
Virtual assistant
Web designer
Web developer
Wedding planner
Window cleaner
Buy an already successful business