Short Tutorials on How to Start and
Build a Thriving Small Business


What Lean Startups Teach Us About How to Start a Business

This tutorial may change your mind about how to launch your startup. It lays out high-value principles from the "lean startup" movement, principles that can be profitable any encore entrepreneur looking at bringing a new company or a new product to market.

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Values, Vision, Mission — Are You Getting the "Big Three" Right?

Everyone tells you to write a vision statement. And a mission statement. But how many people show you how to integrate your critical values into the definition of your vision and mission, so that they form a cohesive whole? This tutorial introduces you to a five-step model that does just that. Follow this model and you will soon be thinking about values, vision, and mission in an entirely new way. A tutorial in four-parts.

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Legal and Finance

Do You Really Know the Best Legal Structure for Your Startup?

Every startup is unique. No one legal structure is best for all of them. So, which is best for you? Using non-technical language, this four-part tutorial describes the choices available to you and outlines what you get and what you give up with each of them. It also offers a simple explanation of how your tax situation changes, based on your choice.

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What Special Tax Considerations Apply to a Business Owned Jointly by a Husband and Wife?

When a husband and wife jointly own a business, they fall under a set of IRS regulations that pertain to no other type of ownership. These special rules have no bearing on the total tax their business pays. But the rules do impact the way the tax is paid. Moreover, tax options for husband-wife businesses have changed significantly in recent years. This brief tutorial takes the mystery out of the options. And it explains the governing regulations in terms anyone can understand.

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Does It Really Matter Which Accounting Method You Use?

Are you one of those encore entrepreneurs who never had much experience with accounting until you decided to start a business? If so, then this three-part tutorial will help you understand the basic concepts of cash accounting and accrual accounting. And it will explain the tradeoffs that you make when choosing one over the other.

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A Guide to Solo 401Ks

Most people have never heard of a Solo 401K. But for small business owners, particularly those whose company employs only the owner and perhaps the owner's spouse, Solo 401Ks are a superb retirement savings program. It offers you control over your retirement funds that is unmatched by any other tax-deferred retirement plan. And due to the way that it is structured, a Solo 401K affords you the widest range of investments that you are likely to find with any IRA-type retirement program.

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Marketing and Promotion

Should You Compete in a Niche Market? Or a General Market?

This question is your most fundamental strategic question. You need to answer it early since the answer shapes almost everything else you do. Before you dismiss niche marketing, ask yourself why the saying, "The riches are in the niches." Are niches for everyone? By no means. But this tutorial will help you evaluate whether a niche approach is right for you.

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What Is the Unique Positioning Statement for Your Business?

If there's nothing unique about your business, you give customers no compelling reason to do business with you rather than your competition. So uncovering or creating your uniqueness is essential This four-part tutorial takes you through a proven, step-by-step process of identifying the things that make you unique in your market. Then it shows you how to use select elements in that uniqueness to brand yourself in the eyes of your customers, so that they clearly see why doing business with you is the smart thing to do.

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The "Whys" and "Hows" of Using an Assumed Name for Your Business

Starting a business? Don't fret too much about getting the name right. If you find the ideal name later, your business can always assume it. And for very little money. This tutorial explains why so many businesses operate under an assumed name. And it gives you the general guidance for securing your own.

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Financial Statements: Using Common-Size Analysis to Evaluate Your Company's Health and Performance

While year-to-year comparisons on your financial statements are helpful, they don't always offer immediate answers to key management questions. For example, "Are marketing costs increasing or decreasing as a percentage of our total sales?" One tool that helps you answer these types of questions is called "Common-Size Analysis." It takes nothing more than a spreadsheet to implement it. Our tutorial gives you simple, step-by-step instructions on the process.

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SlideShare: Marketing with Online Slideshows

Even though video is prominent everywhere on the web, cash-strapped startups may want to consider the advantages of using online slideshows to convey their message. Properly done online slideshows can provide much of the bang of a video, but with far less cost in terms of production expense and time. In fact, the only thing needed to produce an online slideshow is PowerPoint. Services like Slideshare will host the slideshow for free. And once a slideshow is on a hosting site, you can embed it in web pages, blogs, and social network sites or link to it from emails, newsletters, Twitter, and even text messages. This allows you to incorporate slideshows into comprehensive marketing campaigns.

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