As a start-up business, where do you turn to for advice?

You are a start-up entrepreneur. You are motivated and hungry for success. You have an insatiable appetite for knowledge that will help you grow, but you don’t know where to turn for the answers. Experts, forums, blogs, articles, Q&As, business consultants, friends, fellow business owners and your own entrepreneurial instincts hurdle information at you at lightning speed as your brain struggles to single out the best possible solution.

You are experiencing information overload.

Take a deep breath…It is true there are a myriad of resources for start-ups and small businesses providing an extensive amount of information geared to point you in the right direction. With minimal searching, entrepreneurs can find answers to virtually any question about how to go about starting, expanding or enhancing their business. The problem therein is that the ratio of Qs to As is almost always disproportionate. The considerable variety of answers/solutions to question/problem makes it hard to choose which one to follow and hinders the decision making process.

According to Rosalind Resnick of the Wall-Street Journal, one of the top ten mistakes that start-up entrepreneurs make when starting a company is that they ask too many people for advice, resulting in delayed or half-hearted decisions from contradicting recommendations. Related to this blunder are #9: not having a business plan, and #10: over-thinking your business plan. The best advice for start-ups in this ever-expanding information era is to seek out a business incubator for counsel and development services. A business incubator provides resources and advice related to HR, marketing, financing planning and budgeting, credit establishment and ways to enhance productivity and image and partners with professionals that can aid in website hosting and management, tax preparation and bookkeeping and legal services.

Requesting the guidance of a consultant at an incubator will help set boundaries for the amount of information you are given (and your brain can ultimately process). Concise business advice will help expedite decision making and save your start-up crucial time.

Reducing Overhead in 2011 – A Caveat for Small Business Owners

Most small business owners perceive the most basic of costs (office space, utilities, phone, computer) as fixed expenses that they can do little to minimize. As an alternative to leasing office space with a long-term financial obligation, working from home seems to be the only choice. However, how does this setting affect the professional image of your business when you need to meet with clients? Is it a faux pas to use a home address on your business card? It definitely depends on the size and the industry, but using a home office may hinder your target customer’s perception of your business and its legitimacy or capability.
An alternative to consider would be a renting space at a virtual office. Compared to a traditional lease on office space, these facilities can be used on an “as-needed” basis and are fully-furnished with desk, chairs, computer, phone, internet, etc. Being able to work from a full-service physical location with a professional mailing address and pay drastically less than for a full-time suite is a huge cost advantage in itself. On top of that, throw in the added benefit of not having to pay for utilities or internet. Some virtual office centers even provide packages that include administrative services (faxing, copying, mail forwarding) and small business consulting.
Once you have done all you can to minimize your fixed costs, you can focus your attention on reducing variable expenses in other areas that may consume more time such as negotiating prices, bartering for products and services, buying used equipment, etc.