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The thriving American cottage industry includes the smallest businesses of all, ones that can fit into a spare room, basement or garage. But even a business small enough to fit on a kitchen table has to keep impeccable records, function efficiently within its allotted space, and keep its overhead as low as possible. If you are a work-at-home entrepreneur, you get to make the rules, but if you want your business to expand, there are a few resources you will need in order to run a legitimate business.

Licenses, Certificates and Tax I. D. numbers

If you plan to cash checks or other remissions made out to your business, you will need a D.B.A. (Doing Business As) certificate. For tax withholdings purposes, a Federal I.D. number is required for all businesses with payroll. Entrepreneurs may also need state and city business licenses or I.D. numbers, in order to comply with tax requirements. If your business is selling a product that involves another product in its manufacture or shipping, you will need a Resale number to avoid paying sales tax on the auxiliary product. You can find out how to obtain all of these certificates on line or by phoning the entities involved in their issue. If you have a personal accountant, they can also give you information about what you’ll need in this area.

Computers and Internet Access

You will need a fast running computer (the newer the better, for speed and efficiency) and a high speed internet provider in order to communicate with your vendors and customers, manage your inventory, and keep accurate records of your sales. A good computer will be a lifesaver when it comes to organization and documentation. Whether you have a desktop or laptop, this will be where you keep all your records and important papers—the days of having a messy desk or bursting file cabinet are over. A scanner, printer and label writer are also indispensable to the at home entrepreneur, and can often be included as business expenses.

Organizing your Books

As mentioned above, everything is done digitally now. Luckily, there are plenty of software programs available to help you stay digitally organized and accurate. Your electronic records now take up a lot less space in your tiny home office and are instantly accessible to you. You will need a bookkeeping program like Excel to keep track of your sales and taxes collected. You will need a database such as Filemaker Pro, to store customer information, such as street and email addresses, credit card numbers, buying history and notes. You will want to have files devoted to vendors you deal with, places you advertise with, records of your correspondence, in short, everything relevant to your business, at your fingertips at all times. Do not attempt to do your bookkeeping in reverse—do it as you go, and you will save yourself a headache later down the road.


If you are an entrepreneur creating your own product from home, you likely have machinery, equipment, and supplies that you rely on. If you are relying on a specific machine to reproduce the product you are selling, you may also want to keep a backup machine on hand, in case the first one fails. This could mean the difference between next day shipping and two week later service. If you require large machinery to produce, store, or move your inventory around, the professionals of Arpac who specialize in warehouse equipment in Calgary suggest that you rent this equipment for the time being until you have more money or your own warehouse.

Office and Warehousing Space

You will have to set aside space for creating your product as well as desk space to manage the related paperwork. Storing data should be a no brainer, whatever can be electronically stored should be carefully entered in your computers and backed up in several places. Storing inventory is the biggest challenge when space is at a premium. Inexpensive, hard plastic shelving can turn garages and extra rooms into neat, well-organized mini warehouses. Some warehouses will allow you to rent a portion of their space for a lower price which is a great option as your business expands—you might not need an entire warehouse to store your inventory, but eventually your product is going to overrun your home.

Materials and Supplies

If you plan to ship a product directly to your customers, a Costco or Sam’s Club Small Business account will offer the best prices on all the packing supplies, shipping envelopes and heavy duty storage shelving you will need for your stock. If you are acting as your own supply chain, other helpful shipping equipment may include a shrink wrap machine and postage meter. Remember the Resale number, so you don’t have to pay sales tax on these supplies.

Once you have jumped through all the hoops and received the proper licensing, you are well on your way to creating a successful home business. Some entrepreneurs are content with running their business out of their garage forever, but if you want to expand your business and one day run a legitimate operation, you need to be professional and legitimate from the start. Sure, it can be tough to act professional when your office is your basement or the guest bedroom, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?


New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera poses for photographers with his trophy after being named MVP of the 2013 All-Star Game following Major League Baseball's All-Star Game in New York

Article Contributed by Dr. Joey Faucette 

The All Stars align for the National and American League All-Star Major League baseball teams this week. So how are they chosen? And what can you learn about how you can positively be an All-Star in your business?

Here are 3 Ways you can grow your business so you will positively be an All-Star:

Be Engaging

Major League Baseball selects its starting lineups for both teams by fan voting. Fans go online, have 25 votes per person to cast, and select their favorites.

Your customers/clients vote for you, sometimes in ways of which you’re unaware. Sure you see their votes as they walk in the door, call, purchase online, and sign a contract—all of which show up on your P&L.

What about when they refer a friend over lunch? Or, tell a coworker in the break room?

Engaging your customers/clients seeds loyalty. Loyalty’s fruit is referrals. Your harvest grows.

How do you engage your customers/clients so that they vote for you?

Engage them and be their All-Star. Solve their problems. Make their lives easier. Create an experience.

Be Exclusive

All-Star voting is by position.

What exclusive position do you play in your customers’/clients’ minds?

When they think of you or your business, do they search all over the field? Or, do they go immediately to your position?

There’s a direct connection between how they think of you exclusively and your level of engagement with them.

Perhaps they think of you around your unique selling proposition (USP). Is it based on value? Or, exceptional customer engagement? Or, ease of use?

Or, are you more exclusive than that? Have you clearly identified your niche? Sure, everybody should do business with you, but more often everybody’s business is nobody’s business. For example, do you engage customers who are dog owners, and prefer Morkies?

The more exclusively you identify your customers/clients, the more they know what you do, how you do it, and refer you to their friends; thus positively growing your All-Star business.

Be Excellent

The selected players are great at their positions and hitting a baseball. They hold records and help their teams succeed.

Such excellence often takes years to develop. They arrive early and stay late, hustle and work hard. They learn and grow through repetitive practice.

What do you do daily to improve your business skills?

The pace of change increases weekly, affecting your business in all kinds of ways. Evaluation and skill development produce excellence over a lifetime.

Lots of business people intend to be excellent. Fewer act in strategic, measureable ways that over time lead to excellence.

As Jim Rohn was fond of saying, “There’s very little traffic on the extra mile.”

Be excellent by doing excellence daily in your business. As you do, you positively become an All-Star business.

About the Author

Dr. Joey Faucette is the #1 Amazon best-selling author of Work Positive in a Negative World (Entrepreneur Press), coach, and speaker who helps business professionals increase sales with greater productivity so they get out of the office earlier. Discover more at

5 Success Tips for Entrepreneurs – Green Smoothies, M&Ms and the Challenge of Being Real!

I’ve been pondering the secrets of successful business and why some entrepreneurs are wildly successful while others are just plodding away and ‘getting by’.

As my day unfolded and I observed some of my very own crazy behavior, I realized that it was a very cool mirror for this very question. The answer has to do with being ‘real’, being authentic; successful people and successful businesses tell real stories well.  It’s as simple as that.  And the day showed proved it to me.

This is pretty much how my day went.

I took a cup of fresh spinach, a banana and a pear, a full glass of water and made my first ever green smoothie. It looked gorgeous; deep color, smooth texture and a gorgeous flow into the glass.

It tasted like grass and earth. Ugh!  I poured half of it away and added more fruit.  Then, I have to admit, it tasted pretty good.

I went back to work feeling healthy and extraordinarily self-satisfied!

A few hours later, while icing a cake, I dug into the chocolate icing and a handful or three of M&Ms.

A yummy, healthy salad for lunch was followed a few hours later by a huge chunk of break with a very generous helping of butter…oh and some honey too.

In the midst of all this, I posted to an amazing group of like-minded and like-souled entrepreneurs (in Facebook) – HELP – any cool tips to get back on track, I’m out of control! And the response? Well, wait a minute, I’ll tell you about that soon!!!

So what do you think?

Is this the record of a crazed, addicted and guilt-ridden sugar fiend?

Or a maddening, unbelievable weakness of a health freak?

Or perhaps it’s just that strange and rarely found animal called ‘real’.

Yes, it’s real for me to love healthy food, but also have days of craving sugar and salt and all things unhealthy.

The response I got from my Facebook posting was to be inundated with comments and suggestions, tips and ideas; brilliant, supportive and seriously helpful.

Here’s what I learned from all this that I believe is critical to your business success!

  1. ‘Real’ is okay to admit; actually it’s more than okay, it’s super important
  2. People connect to ‘real’ and usually respond with compassion and support.  This is how community and tribes are created.
  3. It’s important to take people up on their offers of support (asking and receiving help are advanced business skills, seriously!)
  4. Life and business are full of paradox and imperfection – accept it, no celebrate it!
  5. Being ‘real’ (a.k.a. authenticity) is the new language of successful business; practice your realness by telling your stories.
Lisa Bloom

About Our GE Network Expert - Lisa Bloom

Lisa Bloom is a highly professional and accomplished Storyteller, Professional Certified Coach (ICF) and Training & Development Expert with more than 20 years experience working in public and private sectors, high-tech and financial services environments. Lisa helps entrepreneurs de-stress the marketing, build their business with confidence by finding their success story at


Article Contributed by Lauren Downey

If you want to succeed in business there are certain things you’re going to have to do the same as everybody else, such as getting your name out there and, yes, paying your taxes on time. There are other things, however, that you should go out of your way to do completely differently, to buck the trend on, in order to secure your place in the history books of successful business owners of the twenty-first century.

With more and more people becoming self-employed and starting their own companies, the competition is stronger than ever before. Rather than letting that deter you, you should see it as a challenge, as something to thrive upon. Sure, you’re unlikely to get anywhere if you follow the same old rules and regulations. But if you choose to do things just that little bit differently to everybody else, success could be just around the corner.

To help you along your way, below are four thing you should start doing differently in your business, right now, to help ensure your success for years to come:

1) Focus on Customer Service

Regardless of what field of business you work in, focusing on improving the level of service you offer your customers will have an enormous impact on the popularity of your business, how many of your current customers become repeat customers, and how many of your customers start referring you to their family and friends.

For an example of a company that thought differently about customer service and, as a result, became one of the largest online shoe retailers in the United States, look no further than Zappos. Zappos (who’s tagline is ‘powered by service’) were bought by Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion — and the reason for this acquisition, more than anything else, was due to the extreme focus Zappos place on customer service.

It’s absolutely within your power to do the same. Assuming you’re running a smaller business than Zappos, you don’t have to match the monetary levels their customer service representatives go to to keep their customers happy, but you do have to make the effort to treat your customers like they deserve to be treated.

2) Invest in People

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘investor in people’ thrown around a lot over the last few years and wondered exactly what it means. You’re not alone. When it comes to doing things differently in your business, one of the best things you can do is invest in (hire) the very best people — people who are already brilliant at what they do, and who show potential to go even further, bringing your business along for the ride.

As a small business owner you may feel pressured into hiring family members or unemployed friends whenever you need to take on a new employee. Although this is an entirely noble thing to do when hiring for unskilled labour positions, when you’re looking to hire somebody to help lead your company alongside you you’re obliged to hire the very best person for the job; an innovator, somebody who knows what they’re doing.

3) Start Thinking Like a Big Business

One way to succeed in business is to start thinking you’re bigger than you are sooner; getting yourself into the mindset of a big business owner. There are many ways you can do this, with one of the easiest (and most convincing) being to rent a large office space as soon as possible, even if you don’t need all the space. When you’re working from (and paying for) a large space you’re going to undoubtably start working harder because you will:

Want to fill the empty space with employees as soon as possible.

Begrudge paying for space you’re not using, and therefore work harder on the grounds that the harder you work, the sooner you can employ more individuals to work alongside you.

4) Consistently Re-Evaluate Your Progress 

This point is absolutely crucial.

One thing business owners tend to do all the time is constantly move from one idea to the next, one marketing strategy to another marketing strategy, always looking for their next move because they believe the path they’re currently on isn’t working. In truth, the path you’re currently on may not be working, but you should give yourself the opportunity to re-evaluate your choices over time so you can:

Give every strategy a fair chance: Changing your mind on a business strategy after not giving it a fair chance is not only foolish, it could cost you money.

Steer clear of obstacles: Re-evaluating the progress of your business once a week, for example, will allow you to notice obstacles early on, giving you the leeway to steer clear of them

Be open to new opportunities: Similar to steering clear of obstacles, if you’re currently on a path that seems to be working, but a new, exciting opportunity comes up, when you’re frequently re-evaluating your progress you’ll be able to recognise this opportunity and decide whether you wish to take it.

In conclusion, success in business resides in you doing things differently to your competitors, whether that be focusing on customer service above all else, investing in the right people, thinking like a big business (and renting a larger office than you immediately need), or constantly re-evaluating your progress.

About the Author

Lauren Downey is a freelance writer from Regus UK, a global workspace provider. Aside from writing, she enjoys cooking Asian foods and travelling across with her husband.


New Webcomics series brought to you by #entrepreneurfail and Enjoy!

“With no marketing budget I resorted to techniques I would have never considered – cold calling, cold emailing, cold presentations, and crashing networking events, amongst others.” 

To spread the word to customers in a big company, the marketing department gets the big bucks to make sure the sales team is out there busting down doors to grow the business. And since chances are the brand or product already has recognition, the marketing helps reiterate and boost the brand in the market. The huge marketing budget pales in comparison to the return on the investment.

In a startup on the other hand, every employee – from founder to developer to gopher needs to be a marketer and a salesperson. The thick skin each employee will develop after hearing constant rejections will only make the value proposition stronger.

This article by Anita Newton goes deeper into the comparison! It’s a good read especially if you are making the transition from big company to small, or vice versa.

Key Startup Lesson: Use inexpensive methods of marketing and PR that all team members can use help grow the business.

Tell us about your experiences marketing in your startup in the comments below. 

This comic and post is from the book: Cheating on Your Corporate Job: A Comic Look at the Startup Dream. Read the review on You can get the book on Amazon Kindle or PDF. Use the code “fifty” to get a 50% discount on the PDF.

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About is a small business blog dedicated to providing business advice and resources to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs. Our specially hand-picked panel of Network experts regularly contribute entrepreneurial content and professional tips for small business owners worldwide.