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Have you been looking at the ads in your local newspapers, offering you free reports that will help you make thousands of dollars in a month? Have you attended presentations where you are introduced to a business opportunity, which will transform your life, enabling you to own a mansion in the location of your choice, buy your dream car and have cash in the bank? Are you bombarded with information, and don't know what opportunity to choose and whether that opportunity is the right one for you? Before you sign up for that wonderful opportunity, you need to know what pitfalls to avoid, and what steps you need to take to increase your chances of success. The following are some of the pitfalls you should avoid:

1. If it's too good to be true, it is
After listening to the presentations and reading the literature that has been provided, are you convinced that the business idea is sound and that you will be able to make a success of it? Take out all the hype out of the literature. If the idea works, you should be left with a solid of core made up of a good product, an excellent business plan, an accessible market in need of your product and excellent business support. Be wary of someone who offers you less.

2. Lack of commitment to the business
Are you committed to your business? Are you willing to see it through the bad times that are likely to characterize the first few months? Or are you hoping that your business will be an instant success and will therefore move onto your next bright idea if this one does not pan out fast enough? When you first start your business, it will need you to give more than the usual 4-hour week. Persistence: that is what wins the day in business. The winner is the guy who is still standing long after the others have folded.

3. Lack of focus
You probably know the guy I’m about to describe. Every six months or so, he sends you a letter announcing his new business. Last year, he was selling health products. This year, it’s imported clothing. In a few months, you know you’ll hear form him, and he will be selling something else. None of the businesses he starts have ever been successful, and you’ve got to grant him, he never gives up. Given his determination, why doesn’t he succeed?

First of all, no one knows what this man sells, least of all him! Secondly, he does not have any credibility with potential customers. We all buy from people whom we trust will be here next year, providing us with the same product and/ the necessary customer service we need. No guarantees, no sale. Third, this man likely has brilliant business ideas, but he never implements them properly. He also doesn’t give himself the time to build a client base, so that the business can start to comfortably earn him a living.

4. Lack of passion
One of the reasons a business fails is because the owner is selling a product she is not passionate about. You may find that they are in the business because someone told them that the product is a guaranteed cash cow, so they sign on, invest their time and energy in the business. And yet, when they describe their products to you, there is a definite lack of enthusiasm in their voices. In fact, if you listen properly, you may very well hear the unspoken reservations they have about their products.
If you are passionate about a product, you are happy to discuss it, and to put the long hours required to build a solid customer base.

5. Lack of planning
Many businesses fail because of lack of planning. The owner has a good idea, and knows where she wants to take her business. However, she has no clear plan on how she will implement those ideas, where the resources are going to come from, allocating the current resources and what time frame will be used to implement the plans. So she flies by the seat of her pants, and if she’s lucky, she makes some money. But she doesn’t know what makes her business successful, and therefore, can’t repeat it to ensure future success. Sooner or later, this lack of planning will affect the business, and it will fail.

6. Lack of capital

The business idea was excellent. Your planning was impeccable. Unfortunately, you don’t have enough money to implement some of your plans, or to hire the qualified staff that will help make your business a success. Maybe you start on a shoestring, hoping to plow back every cent that you can into the business. Sometimes, that works. Unfortunately, there are times when it doesn’t: the bills start to pile up, your phone is occasionally cut off, you start to avoid calls form your bank manager, and your partners starts saying things like ’They are looking for a bookkeeper at the office. It’s only part-time, but God knows we could use the money.’

Before you start your business, take the following points into consideration. They may very well help you make your business a success:

1. Your personal skills, background, experience and interests

Take inventory of your personal skills, background, experience and interests. For instance, if you enjoy woodworking, then try to establish a business involving woodworking. You could make wooden novelties; birdhouses, wind toys, crafts or doll houses.

Start with your hobbies to find a potential business opportunity that you already enjoy. If you do what you enjoy, the money will come, unless there is no market.

2. What is the perfect business for you?

The 'perfect' business in my view is one that you enjoy and is fun rather than work. It is the business that allows you to use your untapped talents to start and build an income generating venture. Start by making a list of your hobbies and interests for getting ideas. When you do what you love, it is fun and not work!

3. Never start a business you don't understand
As someone who is looking for a business opportunity, you are bombarded with so many offers! The people advocating these offers tell you that their opportunity will transform your life; that they offer you the very business opportunity you have been looking for, for a very long time. Sounds tempting, doesn't it? But is it the right business for you?

4. Create quality products
You can either sell products that you buy from a wholesaler at discounted prices, or you can invent your own products by improving existing products.

Once you know what product to sell, investigate your suppliers. Ask to speak to some of their distributors. If the factory/head offices are close by, go and see them. Look at the products; talk to the people.

5. Don't believe the get rich quick hype
Building a business, even on the Internet, takes time, effort and money. A lucky few did and do make lots of money fast, but they don't tell you how much it really cost them and how many other false leads they followed to achieve success. You may be one of those people, but don't you want to increase your chances of success by being well prepared?