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Small-business advice: Launching a company

Dear Karen: I’m planning to open an online advertising business. Can you give me some suggestions?

Answer: It’s important to prove your concept: Can you make a profit as an online ad broker? What are your expenses and startup costs? When will you break even?

Use Freecycle and Craigslist to find equipment and supplies, said Dal LaMagna, founder of Tweezerman. “Don’t buy anything new and don’t spend any money if you don’t absolutely have to,” he said.

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“The key to launching a micro-business is to keep expenses under control and fully accounted for,” he said. A monthly profit-loss statement will show where your business could do better.

If you’re not naturally organized, learn to be. Be persistent, and don’t be deterred if you’re not a multimillion-dollar success overnight. And learn early on how to delegate tasks in your company.

• Focus on customers, not sales

Dear Karen: My sales team is coming up short because our customers are buying less or are scared to buy. Any advice?

Answer: Focus on creating trust rather than making sales, said Ari Galper, founder of Unlock the Game.

“If you have a sales approach that is authentic, even humble, that creates an attraction that brings customers to you,” Galper said.

Remove sales pressure and concentrate on solving customers’ problems. “Shift your focus away from things you don’t have control of, and shift to how you are selling versus what you are selling,” he said. “That creates consistent and long-term sales success.”

Small-business questions? E-mail Karen at smallbiz@latimes.com


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