This article belongs to Running Your Own Business column.

I ran my own business for thirty years (still am) and I've learned a lot. Some of it by making mistakes, some of it by osmosis and some from the advice of friends and consultants.

I'm presenting this article to you in the hope that:

a) it will help you avoid some of my mistakes

b) it will assist you in making some good decisions about your own business.

c) you can benefit from the advice of my friends and consultants, without paying for it.

First and foremost, you need a basic philosophy. I'm not talking about a "strategic plan" or a "business case" or some kind of pro forma accounting estimates. I'm talking about three basic decisions. Simple and straightforward decisions:

1. What you really want to do
2. what you're not really excited about doing but you'll do for a buck
3. What you won't do under any circumstances

I'll use my business as an example
1. I wanted to do advertising and marketing consulting, writing (ad copy), sales and management training.

2. I wasn't excited about contracting out as a sales or marketing manager but I did both part time for the money.

3. Under no circumstances would I contract out as a retail copy writer or salesperson. (unfortunately, I made this decision after I had done it a couple of times and lived to regret it in a major way)

Try to apply this to your business and see what happens. I think you'll be surprised.

The same thing applies to clients. Pick your market segments. Do your research. Try to find a niche. Mine was companies with 50-500 employees and I had to be able to talk directly to the decision maker.

Again, something I learned the hard way. When I worked through advertising or marketing managers who were not empowered to make the final decision, I invariably wasted huge amounts of time.

Next time around, I'll talk about getting your business out there in the public eye.
If you build a better mousetrap, the world will not beat a path to your door unless they know where your door is and when it's open.