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What tips would you give a new business owner who wants to get their business off on the right foot?

There are many issues that a new business owner must tackle during startup.  These items generally fall into 3 categories.
  1. Things that must be taken care of now (either because they are legally required or must be in place before the next item can be handled).
  2. Things that need to be taken care of soon, like creating show term marketing plans, creating a unique selling proposition, ideal customer profile and goals
  3. Longer term issues like creating operating procedures, having a growth plan, detailed marketing plan, an employee handbook and more are last on the list.
Obviously my startup list is very short and leaves out many items that must be addressed. The focus of this article is not about all the myriad of items and details a new business owner has to tackle. No, this articles purpose is to guide a new business owner in finding help and support that will expedite their businesses growth. That’s right, growing their business and getting help at the same time. We will be killing two birds with one stone.

Every New Business needs a team.

Business Professionals of AmericaBusiness Professionals of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Every new business needs a team of professionals to help them get off on the right foot. They need legal advice, accounting help, plus banking, marketing, and insurance advice. You name it, they need it. A great way for a new business to get this help is to join a successful networking group in their area. For most areas in the world, this means joining a BNI chapter. This is not to say that there aren’t other networks a business owner could join. As a matter of fact, almost every city and town in the US has a Chamber of Commerce ready and willing to help. In Jacksonville, where I live and work, we have about a dozen viable and successful network organizations that a new business owner can join. I point out BNI because it is one of the oldest, most successful and profitable organization for its members. BNI is not for everyone, but for those businesses that like structure, a well organized leadership team, a punctual timetable and growth through referrals, BNI is hard to beat.

So when asked?

P questionP question (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So when asked the question, “what do I recommend that a new business owner do to get their business off on the right foot”, I always say, join a BNI chapter. It’s the fastest way I know to build your credibility in a new location. If they are new in business and new to an area, joining the Chamber and a BNI chapter is a must. It’s extremely important to be proactive if your business is new to an area. Building credibility in your new community starts with meeting lots of other business people and members of that community. They must see and get to know you first before they will trust you.

I like to steer business people towards BNI because I feel it provides the most benefits for the money and time they will invest. Becoming a BNI member provides them with several benefits.
  • First they can build a referral partnership with the members of their chapter. Everyone knows that referrals are the best kind of business you can get, and BNI is all about referrals.
  • Second they will receive training on how to improve their word of mouth marketing skills, a valuable skill needed by all business owners. 
  • Third, they will gain access to the BNI members’ clients, thus expanding their influence and customer base.
  • Forth they will become a member of a much larger organization connecting to much more than just their chapter. BNI connects you to thousands of members worldwide.
Because of the bond they have as members of BNI, they will be able to connect and meet with any BNI member in their region. A BNI member’s common culture and camaraderie are second to none. If you ask any BNI member what is the motto of the organization, every member will immediately say, “Givers Gain”. Name another organization where every member immediately knows the organization's motto! This corporate culture of “Givers Gain” makes connecting easy for BNI members throughout their region, indeed even throughout the world!  In the Jacksonville area, there are more than 600 BNI members. This means you have access to a large group of businesses to network with immediately.

Hidden benefits

PerkPerk (Photo credit: The Stakhanovite Twins)

The last benefit of BNI is almost a hidden one. A new business would gain access to the expertise of the members in their chapter. As they build trust, credibility and yes friendships too, they will also learn from their referral partners. They will learn lots of useful and necessary business skills that will help them grow their business. They will find business people they can trust to get things done right.  They're fellow referral partners can help their new business in a multitude of ways. They will find all the professional help that a new business normally needs when starting.  They will find; CPA’s and accountants, payroll specialist, website builders, computer technicians, marketing specialist, insurance agents, sales trainers, legal counsel and much more. These are the professions that every new business already needs help with, yet in BNI they get so much more. It’s great to get referrals to grow your business, but it’s also great to get help to grow it the right way too. This is why I say joining BNI is like killing two birds with one stone.

Yes, my first advice would be to join a BNI chapter and take advantage of all that it has to offer. When I have recommended this to proactive business owners in the past, they have always ended up thanking me. This is not to belittle any other organization that can also help. Nor am I trying to slight the many important matters that have to be taken care of during startup. It's just my opinion that joining a BNI chapter is a great place to start, find help and achieve real growth. It’s also a place where proactive entrepreneurs stay and prosper. I have been a member for almost 19 years and can’t think of a better organizational decision I’ve made during that time. If you’re not a member of BNI, check out a chapter and see if it’s for you. If your area doesn’t have a chapter be proactive and start one. It will be the best growing experience you can get without having to pay a consultant.

That’s my opinion, I want to hear yours.

Hector Cisneros is a writer, has been an entrepreneur for more than 30 years, is a veteran of BNI for 19 years and was a BNI director for over five years. He is still an active BNI member and follows the philosophy of Givers Gain. He is the owner of several businesses in Jacksonville, Florida. He actively coaches business owners in the fine art of Online advertising, Business Networking and Word of Mouth marketing. He is the president of Website Know How, Inc. a holding company for his business ventures that include online advertising, word of mouth marketing, real estate holdings, non-profit training/support, book publishing, health and wellness product sales and Adventure sports. Hector's new book 60 Seconds to success, teaches business owners how to get the most from word of mouth marketing by using great 60 second introductions. To learn more about Hector Cisneros, Social Media, Online Marketing or Word of Mouth Marketing visit the Networkers Apprentice workshop or my book website at
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