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Question added to topic FranchisesDecember 1, 2010

What makes for a successful entrepreneur?

I would love some general tips to start a good business.
That's a pretty open-ended question, but there are some general principles I can outline for you. First, you need a good vision for what you ultimately want your business to be, and that requires a certain amount of specificity and detail.

It's important to ask yourself these questions:

How big do you want your business to be, in terms of team, revenues and profits?
Does the industry or category you are entering support that vision?
Are you truly passionate and committed to your vision? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it?

Next, you need a product or service that people want to buy, and those people need to have the resources to actually buy it. Finally, you need to know the numbers for your venture.

How long will it take you to break-even?
How long before you start generating positive cash flow? Profit?
Do you have a systemized way to generate qualified leads?
How do you plan to get repeat business?
Do you know the pitfalls of discounting?
What's the "value" of added-value?
Are you willing to learn and be coached by people who actually know what they are doing in business, versus what you think you know about business?

Remember, more businesses fail from a lack of knowledge than a lack of capital. You can always make up for a lack of money with a good strategy, creative cashflow plans or good relationships with your vendors, suppliers and customers. But you can't make up for the lack of knowing how to make those things work to your advantage.

So be open to new ideas, work with a mentor or a coach and make sure the market is both willing and able to buy what you are selling. From there, it's just a matter of working toward your vision and your goals -- and having some fun along the way.

Brad Sugars is the founder and chairman of ActionCOACH. As an entrepreneur, author and business coach, he has owned and operated more than two dozen companies including his main company, ActionCOACH, which has more than 1,000 offices in 34 countries.

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