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May 2, 2002

"Anticipate the good so that you may enjoy it." "Ethiopian proverb


Writing in Black Enterprise magazine (January 2002), Rafael Garcia, president of Rafael Architects, Inc., the largest Hispanic-owned architectural firm in Missouri, offered this advice to small business owners...

* Surround yourself with experts in various fields. If you don't know any personally, then ask for advice from friends, family members, neighbors, parishioners, etc. Offer to take your new contacts to lunch in exchange for a half hour of advice. By offering to exchange lunch for advice, you're sending a clear message that you're eager to learn, you value their time and advice, and that you're serious.

* Don't procrastinate. When you own a small business, you will find that tasks and paperwork pile up. Avoiding them is similar to piling up debt; eventually it can overwhelm even the most proficient business owner.

* Never ignore the competition. Customer loyalty has consistently dropped in recent years. Customers go where they can find the best products and services, even if that means terminating long-term business relationships. Monitor your competitors and don't be ashamed to duplicate their ideas.

* Avoid sloppy or ineffective marketing. Market your product or service effectively and diligently. Solid marketing keeps your products selling and keeps money flowing into your business.

* Never ignore customers' needs. Once a solid customer base is formed, savvy entrepreneurs must work hard to maintain it.

* Look for competence. Hire only the best and most skilled workers. Happy employees are good, productive workers.

* Be versatile. Successful business owners tend to be adept at a number of tasks and can offer diverse services and products to clients.

* Watch your cash flow. Keep careful track of the money coming into and out of your business. Monitor spending and learn how to create cash flow.

* Keep an open mind. Read books and magazines about small business, visit business-related web sites, network with peers in the business community, and continually expand ideas.

For ideas on successfully operating your child care enterprise, check out Managing Money: A Center Director's Guidebook at www.ChildCareExchange.com.


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