Many people want to go into business for themselves but are not sure of the steps involved or how to get started. Often, this uncertainty or lack of knowledge leads to unrealized dreams and stalled plans. I suggest that aspiring entrepreneurs really ask themselves what their goals are and what the true purpose of the business will be. Answering these questions will form the starting point of a well-drafted and executed business and marketing plan. This plan will help with revenue forecasting, marketing strategies, and forces one to really think through the support and foundation for the business (the skeleton). I have found that those who don't take the time to flush out the details of their business are far less successful when setting up shop. The world of the “business owner” is a risky one. It can be filled with immense rewards and fulfillment; however, it can also bring just as much chaos and turmoil.
Thinking through the “details” includes giving some thought to the following:
- What business structure do I want? Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Corporation?
- What is my product or products?
- Who are my target customers?
- Who are my main competitors?
- What makes my product/service different from my competitors?
- How much risk am I willing to take?
- How much initial funding to I have and where is it coming from? Will use of these funds disrupt my normal day to day life?
- What is my overall budget for each month and the initial year?
- Will I need staff in addition to products?
- Will I need physical space or can I work virtually and with an on-line presence only?
- Do I need any additional training?
- How will I get supplies and from where?
- Will my current location (community) sustain this type of business? If yes, why? If no, why?
- Can I realistically live without income if the business generates no revenue in 6 months? 12?
- How will I reach my target customers to let them know about my business/products?
Once you have addressed these questions and have become comfortable with the idea of launching a business, you should draft your business plan. While incorporating the answers to the questions above, a strong business plan will also force a bit more financial analysis as well. The plan will assist you in determining whether or not your business or product idea makes sense, business sense and financial sense. Once complete, a smart entrepreneur will refer back to the plan to ensure that the business is on track. If not, it should be easy to determine where the problems are so that they can be addressed. A good business consultant and/or attorney can help you develop a well-drafted business plan and assist you in properly structuring your business. If you're reading this, and you're serious about launching the next “big” thing, then it's time for you to get busy!