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Starting A Small Business

What Business Owners Can Learn From J. K. Rowling

American Express’s Open Forum blog uses J.K. Rowling as guide for five invaluable tips for entrepreneurs. This is a great list that all business owners and startups should keep in mind:

Tip 1: Don’t rush to roll out your product

Tip 2: When a great idea grabs you, grab back

Tip 3: Persevere, persevere and persevere

Tip 4: Don’t let anyone sidetrack you from your goal

Tip 5: Each of us has a unique contribution to make to the world

Narrow your target market and differentiate your business for success

Specialization is key to small-business success, writes Rhonda Abrams in USA Today, who advocates choosing a specific customer niche to narrow your target market and make the most of your resources. She gives six ways to narrow your market by segments that include geography, industry, demographics work specialty, unique knowledge and style.

To me the two most important items are work specialty and unique knowledge. As it becomes increasingly easier to source specialists from around the world at ever diminishing costs, it is important for businesses to strongly differentiate the products and services. The more unique or specialized the skill or service, the greater opportunity to maximize revenue and build pricing power.

Tips on Starting a New Business Courtesy of "Mad Men"

Season four of the hit TV series "Mad Men" sees the opening of a startup ad agency. Rhonda Abrams in USA Today offers up some great points on what the founders of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, and Pryce—and new business owners like them—did well, and where they need to improve.

Here are a few key takeaways all new entrepreneurs should remember:

  • Pull together a team. You can’t do it all. They can't. You can't. Find people who balance your weaknesses.
  • Take chances.  Come up with fresh approaches and new thinking to differentiate company.
  • To quote John Wooden, “be quick but don’t hurry.” You have to make quick decisions. When opportunity arises to start the new agency, the principals didn't dawdle. They pulled the trigger and worked nonstop day and night to make sure they got the launch right.
  • Be flexible. They understood that they might have to expand or shrink staff quickly to meet their needs.
  • Be frugal. While they did a mixed job on this aspect of the launch, they didn’t spend the money on an expensive conference table. Remember, frugal is the new cool. Especially among startups.