WANT TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS? HERE ARE A FEW HELPFUL STEPS TO FOLLOW
The American Dream is alive and well, if not in actuality, then in our collective minds where imagination reigns supreme. We have all witnessed successful entrepreneurs realizing their dreams, read books on the topic, and who has not gone to sleep at night wondering how things could be different if only I would act on my ideas? We are slowly coming out of the deepest recession in memory, and the timing could never be better to start a new enterprise and ride the proverbial “wave” to paradise and prosperity. So what are you waiting for? Are you still questioning your “gut” that is telling you to get started? Starting a new business venture can be a daunting task, but it is not an impossible one. There are a few simple steps that you can take now, before you make any major commitments and “bet the ranch”, so to speak. There are also many useful websites and an abundance of state-funded support agencies that will guide you through the process, as well. Here are a few helpful hints to consider up front:
OK, it’s time to get “real” about your emotional wherewithal and business capabilities. You do not have to be the next Steve Jobs in the making, but there are a few critical points that must be addressed at the outset. Do you relish dealing with people “24X7”? Communication skills are required for family, employees, suppliers, bankers, investors, and, yes, customers, too. Are you passionate about your idea enough to do whatever it takes to make it a reality? Maintaining a positive attitude while dealing with the minutia of every aspect of your business is what owning your own company is all about. What are your personal skill sets? Know what they are, and then hire or find the resources to fill in the gaps
It’s now time to commit your idea to paper, listing every detail in what is euphemistically referred to as a “Business Plan”. Much has been written in this area, and there are many templates that can guide you, but the effort involves both words and numbers. Research is key in the process, but detailed financial projections will tell you what you need in terms of initial capital to build your first “prototype”, make your first client happy, and then expand your sales and marketing efforts. Make sure to check and double check, as financial spreadsheet errors have been very costly in the past. Outside investors will not fund your activity until you can prove that your “solution” solves someone else’s “problem” and that they are willing to pay good money for it. You may have to borrow from friends and family to get started or sign your life away to your community banker for a collateralized loan, but if these people will not invest in your idea, then why would someone that does not know you?
Lastly, check the market for the viability of what you are proposing. Is the product or service in demand? How are similar products and services priced in the marketplace and can I make a profit within these parameters? Who would be your likely “target” customers? Do you need a “brick-and-mortar” retail outlet or will the Internet be your only distribution channel? Once again, there is a great deal of helpful information to be found on the Internet or at your local library.
At this point, you have only invested your time and maybe a few bucks to get helpful advice, but now you are prepared. If the light is “Green”, it’s time to get cracking! Good Luck!