Are you looking to start a new business, but aren’t sure if it’s the right time? According to small business expert Susan Solovic, ‘there’s no perfect time’ but the present. Susan was kind enough to join me for an interview this morning to share the secrets to starting a profitable new business, and how modern technology is playing a part!
Candace Rose: When’s the perfect time to launch a new business?
Susan Solovic: “Well, actually, there’s no perfect time. It’s the time that’s right for you and I think one of the things that small businesses do (or people who want to start small businesses) they often look around and think ‘now’s not the time.’ I’ve seen that a lot in this past economy that we’ve had with an economic downturn.
Some of the greatest brands in our country today started in a down economy. All you have to do is think of people like Steve Jobs and Apple computer, or Federal Express. They all started in down economies. If you have a great idea you can bring value to the market, and you’ve tested that market and you can make money with it- it’s the right time to start a business.”
Candace Rose: Are there certain businesses that are easier to operate from home?
Susan Solovic: “Well, certainly there are some businesses that are more conducive to being a home based business than others. But the great thing with technology today, really you can start and build nearly any type of business from the comfort of your own spare bedroom or your garage. I would say you can go from the garage to the globe thanks to technology. But even more important than that is the fact that small businesses are really embracing mobile technology.
So what we’re finding is companies like AT&T are providing a host of small business solutions via mobile applications. One of my favorites happens to be mobile payments. I sell books when I’m on the road so now I can take credit card and debit card payments right from my smartphone and my tablet computer. Other companies that are smaller and are selling their wears at a summer festival, they can take those payments right on site. It’s helping you be more profitable.
There are also GPS systems that track their fleet to be more productive and fuel efficient. And then also, field service management tools that help you track your inventory or your customer relations all from the ease and comfort of the palm of your hand.”
Candace Rose: What would you say are the most common mistakes made when starting a new business?
Susan Solovic: “I think one of the most common mistakes is not understanding how to focus on your core business strategy. A lot of businesses get started and they try to be all things to all people, and they really lose the concept of what am I, and what am I about? So you need to really define your core business and then define your market to the value to the market. What is it that you bring to the marketplace that you can’t get anywhere else so that customers will switch their buying habits.
Today I happen to be coming from Breadwinners Cafe in Uptown, Dallas, Texas. This is a family owned business that’s been around for 18 years. People line up to get in the doors when they open in the morning. That’s a great success story because the majority of small businesses fail after just three years in business. But it’s also a great example of a company in a very competitive marketplace- the restaurant business that’s defined a value that has built this loyal customer base and I love that example.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any advice on how to stay productive when you’re on the go and away from the office?
Susan Solovic: “Yes, absolutely. Once again, mobile applications are a huge advantage. You don’t have to be going back to your office and doing all that back office stuff when you’ve been out with customers or selling or working on your products and services, go to mobile applications to manage that while you’re out and about so you can be doing business anywhere.
I want to mention that when you’re building your business- we’ve seen a lot of natural disasters these past several years, we’ve got the fires in Colorado, we’ve got major tornadoes hitting and devastating communities, hurricanes- 40% of small businesses don’t have their data backed up. Let me tell you what, if you don’t have your critical data backed up and you happen to be hit by a disaster, it’s going to be very hard for you to reopen your doors. AT&T offers Backup & Go, and that’s a system that allows you to back up your data on all your devices and they store that in the cloud. So even if you’re backing up and storing onsite at your business, if you’re hit by a disaster that’s going to be ruined too. This protects your data and ensures that you’re going to be up and going in a short period of time.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any advice on how we can best juggle our business along with our home/family and personal lives?
Susan Solovic: “It’s really tough. Work/life balance is really is a myth, I have to say. What I tell people is (particularly women) you can have it all, just not at the same time. Starting and growing a business is 150% commitment/seven days a week/24 hours a day. You realize and you want to get your family on board that there are going to be some sacrifices in those early days that’s just going to have to be. But you also have to recognize that some points and time that family needs to take priority, at other points in time, your business will take priority. Give yourself permission to balance those two things and realize that it just isn’t possible, you’re not a super human and you can’t do it all at one time.”
Candace Rose: Well, thank you Susan; where can we go for more information?
Susan Solovic: “Well, I definitely encourage everyone to go to the AT&T Small Business website, which is SmallBiz.ATT.com, and you’ll find that some of the solutions that I just mentioned along with a lot of really great technology resources and information to help you run your business better. And then if you’d like to connect with me, you can connect with me on my website, which is SusanSolovic.com.”