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Your Business: It's time to get schooled

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Steve Strauss
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
The kids here in Portland go back to school today, and with my youngest starting high school, it occurred to me that some of the advice we routinely give our children could just as easily be given to each other.

Isn’t the following true for your small business? It is for mine:

Get involved: There are more than 300,000 small businesses in Oregon, and given that nationally more than 70% of all businesses are one-person shops, that means that there are more than 200,000 people in Oregon who work primarily by themselves every day.

The ones who handle that isolation best are often the ones who follow the advice to get involved. They join their local chamber. They sponsor youth athletic teams. They meet new people.

Try something new: When I gave my daughter this piece of advice at dinner tonight, I meant that she should join some clubs, try out for a show or a team, that sort of thing. But the same holds true for our businesses as well. It is when we try something new that things get exciting and new possibilities open up. Try a new ad. Stock a new product. Find a new supplier. Call a new acquaintance. Find a mentor.

Do your homework: For the small business person, homework is no less vital to success than it is for the good student. Negotiating a new lease? Doing your homework allows you to discover whether your landlord has other vacant properties. That would be good to know, no? Are you looking to expand? Doing your homework means you will discover what other companies did right, and wrong, when they expanded. Homework equals knowledge, and in business, that often leads to success.

And of course, don’t ever forget these sage words: Make sure to have some fun!

Steve Strauss is the small business columnist for Oregon Business.

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