"I want to do the work that's my core business, not spend my time marketing."
17. As a business owner, there's no way for you to completely avoid marketing. If you really don't enjoy the process, hire or contract with someone who does. But even if you're going to delegate the marketing and sales functions, you must participate in the planning and pay attention to how things are going.
"I don't know how to write a marketing plan."
18. Your marketing plan doesn't have to be great literature; it just has to be a comprehensive program to help you meet your goals. It's a good idea to read some books on creating a marketing plan. You should also study what techniques did and didn't work for others in competing and complementary businesses. Cherie Kerr, an author of communication skills books and a public relations consultant in Santa Ana, California, says marketing includes three basic functions: advertising, public relations and promotions. Each should be integrated into your marketing plan.
19. Map out and commit to your strategy for at least the first full year of operation; then track your results as you go. Be flexible--if something isn't working and you've given it a reasonable chance, adjust your plan.
"I don't have very much money to spend on marketing."
20. Kerr says when it comes to marketing, public relations usually provides the biggest bang for the buck. Put together a solid press kit and send out news releases about your company. If you don't know how, get professional help--if you can't afford it, find out if your local university or college has a marketing or communications student who will help you.
21. Network! It costs practically nothing and pays off big, says Kerr, so give your business card to everyone you meet. She suggests this technique for building a database of prospective customers: List everyone you know (your Christmas-card list is a good place to start), then send a note or make a call to five of those people every day, telling them about your business and asking them about anyone they know who might be a potential customer. If you accumulate just five leads per day, you'll have a database of more than 1,200 names in six months.
Knowing a solution before the problem occurs can mean the difference between a smooth start-up and a rocky ride. Your best bet for a long-running business is to anticipate what you'll have to deal with, and have plans in place before you need them.
Jacquelyn Lynn left the corporate world more than 13 years ago and has been writing about business and management from her home office in Winter Park, Florida, ever since.