Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Existing Business Owners Are More Willing to Help Than You Might Think

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SurePayroll's Main Street Insights Survey finds that 91% of small business owners are open to advising a recently laid-off individual on how to start a business.

It's hard out there and giving back is important.

In this down economy, hundreds of thousands of Americans are unemployed and looking for work, but many have decided it's time to start a business of their own, rather than seek another job.

While there are many sources of assistance for new entrepreneurs, a recent study by online payroll service SurePayroll has determined that new entrepreneurs ought to consider asking business owners of existing businesses for advice.

"The best advice an entrepreneur can get is from an entrepreneur who has been in business for a number of years," says Michael Alter, President of SurePayroll. "Books and consultants will only get you so far. New entrepreneurs who speak with existing business owners prior to starting a company have a much higher chance of avoiding common, and maybe not so common, pitfalls that may hinder success."

According to Alter, the results suggest that people are more willing to help each other out during hard times. SurePayroll's recent survey of nearly 300 small business owners found that approximately 91% of respondents would be open to potentially advising new entrepreneurs who are starting a business.

Empathy appears to be one factor driving entrepreneurs' willingness to offer free advice. Indeed, 8% of respondents indicated that a lay-off by another organization had previously played into their own decision to start a business. The idea of reciprocity and having had a mentor of their own was also a common thread among survey participants.

Comments from business owners willing to help included the following:

---"I truly believe that small business is the way to make money and help others out at the same time."
---"An individual starting out is likely to have some energy and perspective on accomplishing what they are setting out to do. If you help them they may succeed and you've established a solid network connection which may pay back later."
---"It's hard out there and giving back is important."
---"I like to support small businesses and local businesses, and would love to see more of them. So, I'm happy to help new entrepreneurs."
---"I have already been there and know that you need a strong network of people to help you succeed. I'm also in a small town and the more businesses that stay in the town the more it helps my business."

Business Advice for New Entrepreneurs

Small business owners who completed the SurePayroll Main Street Insights Survey offered these suggestions to new entrepreneurs:

---Do the research about your industry: "Read a lot of books and talk to others who are already successful at it."

"Have a back-up plan."

---Enhance your customer service: "Understand that independent business people do not always have customer service as their strong point. I think that is the reason for the high failure rate of most start-ups (as well as undercapitalization).

---Control your growth: "Get some accounts, get used to the work load, then get more accounts, get used to the work load, etc. Many companies that grow too fast go out of business because they can't handle the work load."

---Be frugal: "Think about what you are going to cut back on and what you need no matter what the economy is doing to help make your decision."

---Think about financing: "Make certain you have enough start-up cash to survive one year."

"Don't underestimate the cash flow needs of a new business. Make sure, especially in today's environment, that you have sources of capital available."

"Contact sources such as tax advisors and business start-up agencies who may know about different grants/loans."

---Distinguish yourself: "Make sure that you are providing a service that is unique amongst other competition."

---Get advice: "If possible, have a mentor who is level-headed and will be honest and frank with you; they will be a fantastic resource, especially if they are neutral and promise to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Get a CPA you trust!!!"

---Be passionate: "Consider whether your new venture is something you are extremely passionate about. You must take a few hits before success happens. This economy would be a real test of your perseverance."

---Negotiate: "Office space is relatively cheap at the moment, so negotiate very hard on the cost for your business location. That can save a lot of money as you try to grow your business."

---Hire carefully: "Hiring good staff people is the most important thing you can do. Then let other companies like SurePayroll take care of the things you are not best at to free you up to do the things you are good at."

---Obtain liability insurance: "In harsh economic times people look to cash in on ways they normally would not think about. Be sure you protect yourself with insurance."

About SurePayroll:
Voted Editor's Choice for best payroll service by PC Magazine, a Top 100 Product by Accounting Today and finalist in the Best Customer Care and Best Product categories of the 2008 American Business Awards, SurePayroll is America's largest full-service online payroll service and honoree of the of the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Businesses award two years in a row.

SurePayroll is passionate about small businesses and their payroll. The company is dedicated to providing an extremely friendly and simple payroll experience - at a price small business owners can afford.

In addition to its payroll and ClickFREETM tax file and pay service - which allows a user to complete the entire payroll process in minutes - SurePayroll offers a suite of online services designed specifically for small business, including HR and compliance resources, 401(k) retirement solutions, health insurance and workers' compensation products.

SurePayroll also offers a private-label and co-branded payroll service to accountants and banking partners to offer payroll processing to their small business clients.

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Lauren Eichmann
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