Tips to help you navigate the waters

By Allen Bunting
March 06, 2006
Tips to help you navigate the waters
Kindra Clineff

Study your market. It's important to consider your business'effect on the community. Respect the mechanisms already in placethat allow the community to function.

Grow slowly. Take small steps so that you don't get in overyour head.

Talk to local officials. Ask about necessary permits,applications, fees, and any laws relevant to your new venture.

Plan for the dream. Develop a business and marketing plan tohelp sharpen your focus, anticipate your customers' needs, and findyour suppliers.

Make friends with banks. Approach banks with plans to employlocals and give back to the area. Your loan officer might becomeyour biggest fan.

Find a niche market. Offer goods and services that are inshort supply.

Invest in goodwill. Donate some of your wares to a localcause or fund-raiser. This approach will encourage positiveword-of-mouth.

Learn from others. Speak with those who have made similarmoves. The more you learn about what to expect from coastal life,the better prepared you'll be to start your business.

Think broadly. Consider a business that caters to localinterests but has strong market potential beyond a single area.

Stay organized. Buy a computer program to manage invoices,customer lists, tax records, and expenses. Update this informationon a regular basis.

Promote yourself. Print newsletters announcing new stock,host gatherings for loyal customers, and make use of e-mail and Website opportunities.

Develop alternate sources of income. Most coastal towns haveoff-seasons. To ensure a constant stream of revenue, thinkcreatively―invest in rental property, or ask about rebates orrefunds from vendors.

Network. Involve yourself in local political or civicgroups. Create relationships with other business owners.

Get your hands dirty. When starting a business, you have tobe willing to perform any task, no matter how menial.

Make contacts. If working from an island, locate mainlandsuppliers and determine the most efficient way (by boat or plane,for example) to get deliveries.

Stay focused. With the water beckoning, it can be hard topull yourself away from your setting. If you need to accomplishsomething on a given day, follow through.

Find balance. Conversely, a business you love can turn youinto a workaholic. Make sure to take time off and enjoy a good bookon the beach, go sailing, or sign up for surfing lessons.