Marketing Q & A
Marketing Q&A
By Al Jabaly

Al Jabaly is a certified marketing and business consultant with over 20 years of small business experience. Email your questions to All questions will be answered via e-mail. Some of the most interesting questions will be posted in this weekly column. For further information, Al can be reached at 1-888-899-3190



Ensure your new business is set up properly! You can start a Sole Proprietorship, an LLC (Limited Liability Corp.) or a Corporation. Each has its own pros and cons. I strongly suggest you consult with a lawyer and an accountant on the merits, and disadvantages, of each set up. Also talk to your accountant and seek his or her help in setting up your accounting system before you start. You will avoid a lot of headache and wasted time later on!

Have enough capital! If you do not have enough liquid capital to cover the initial set up and 6 months of overhead, please do not start! Most new businesses start on a shoe string, thinking customers will line up outside their premises from day one, and they will be profitable from day two! This does not happen in the real world and under-capitalization is the main reason why 90% of new businesses fail within the first 1-2 years from starting up!

Important things to do before you start your business! The first thing that successful entrepreneurs do before setting up their business is extensive research to make sure they understand the market, the competition, and what needs they can meet. These individuals know that they cannot effectively provide a service without knowing what challenges they are up against and what opportunities they have to succeed. Good entrepreneurs do their homework. They create business plans, set goals, and lay all the necessary groundwork before taking the plunge.

Promote your name, even if it means working for free! Many entrepreneurs got their businesses of the ground by taking on volunteer projects in their communities. Doing this gave them the opportunity to add to their portfolios, make connections, and begin the all-important networking process. A graphic design firm owner in Indianapolis, got her business started by volunteering to do design projects for her children's school and other organizations with which she was involved

Keep a sharp eye on good opportunities that can come up at any place and any time. Sometimes opportunities present themselves when we least expect them. Successful entrepreneurs learn to keep their eyes and ears open for these opportunities at all times. You never know where business will come from. The key is to always be planting seeds. You never know what is going to grow, but the more you put out there, the better chance you have of something great popping up. This means being ready to talk about your business anytime and in any place. The secret is to keep yourself tuned to potential opportunities and not be afraid to sell yourself when they arise.

No orders are too small. Sometimes business owners spend all their time looking for the big fish and ignoring smaller opportunities. It is much easier to grow relationships than to start new ones. Therefore, they take on projects even when they are small, complete those projects with flair, and then proactively works to turn those little opportunities into big ones.

Enthusiasm and hard work are very important. It's no secret that becoming a successful entrepreneur is hard work. Business owners tend to put in long hours when they are starting out, and often find themselves working on their business - or at least thinking about the business - all the time. That's why it is vital to love what you are doing. Most entrepreneurs say that they more time into their business than they did when they worked for another company, but they don't mind because they truly enjoys their work. Other successful entrepreneurs agree. Starting your own business is a challenge, but it is well worth it if you have the opportunity to fulfill your career dreams on a daily basis.

Personal networking and referrals are the best kinds of marketing. Entrepreneurs agree that the best kind of marketing is not paid advertising, but personal connections. You can spend money advertising or developing marketing materials, but you get much more bang for your buck just by networking. This means participating in community organizations, joining local business groups, and attending events to meet new people.

Always be flexible and be ready to adjust! If something does not work, stop it. Keep a sharp look on your products, inventory, help, and above all your expenses. You have to be able to adjust to events on short notice. Good luck!