Every business starts with an equal chance of success. A Successful business is one that avoids those mistakes, which causes financial disaster. This paradigm is created from practices typically followed by small business owners. Follow your passion. A successful businessperson loves what they do. They believe in their business. They do not start a business to pay bills. The natural businessperson loves working with people, loves the challenge, has an eye for color and design, feels energized when faced with a challenge, and takes pride in their achievements. Learn how to run a business. You do not need a degree to run a successful business. However, you do need to do the job right. Ecommerce is not a stagnant industry. It has a life of its own. It changes constantly. Constant learning is as important as business plans or hiring the right employee. Write a Business Plan. The most common mistake made by new business owners is in believing that a business plan is only required if they need a loan. This is wrong. A business plan is a blueprint of your company. It outlines today’s budget and tomorrows plan of action. Without a plan, a business will never grow beyond meeting this month’s bills and stocking this season’s products and hoping that things will improve. Start preplanning while still employed. The research and planning stage can take a few months to a few years. Smart business owners take the time to create a complete business on paper before they start building the real business. Many business people continue to work for other companies after they open their doors to customers. They do this and then reinvest the profits back into the business until it is strong enough to pay both the company’s and their personal bills, even in slow times. Know your customer. I have read many case studies where business owners describe the euphoric feeling of opening their doors on day one, anticipating a crowd for their grand opening sale, only to spend the next few hours staring into an empty store. Joining business-networking groups, attending trade shows, and becoming involved in local organizations offers a chance to introduce yourself to the community, creating a buzz for your business. Find a mentor. There is not enough time in the week to complete every task efficiently. It will not take long before important jobs remain undone and your enthusiasm for self-employment dies. Join business groups, and find coaches, consultants, and friends who are willing to offer advice and suggestions. I personally belong to a small group of business people who gather to brainstorm and share ideas. Visit the Chamber of Commerce and hire a Business Lawyer. They can prevent legal and tax issues before you incur costly fees, fines, and even lawsuits. Manage your time and hire help. Most small business owners cannot afford to hire professional help from agencies and established businesses. However, the world is full of freelance professionals who are just as educated and experienced as their employed counterparts, but their services cost must less. Time is premium for small business owners. It is not free. Each hour has a monetary value. Taking time to learn how to write contracts, act as secretary, learn how to run bookkeeping software, create an advertising campaign, and manage employees can be far more expensive than hiring a virtual assistant (secretary that freelances from his/her home) or a freelancer to take over these tasks. Never borrow money to pay operating expenses. Debt weight and interest can sink a business before it has a chance to succeed. A good rule is to save six months of operating expenses before opening to the public. Do not shop until the start-up capital is in the bank. Bankruptcy sales and liquidations are hard to ignore. All that display equipment, cash registers, security equipment, and miscellaneous items going for pennies on the dollar. Buying equipment at a discount price and storing it is a great idea. However, it is possible to spend so much money on equipment that nothing is left to stock the store. Allow two months for renovations, purchasing, and hiring. The ecommerce industry is ripe with stories of stock that arrived three days after the opening sale, disasters caused by a rushed hiring process, or a new owner who greeted customers on opening day with a hammer in their hand and the odor of paint in the air. The ecommerce industry is a volatile one. The first step toward success is building a strong foundation for your business.