Starting Your Own Business

Thinking about starting your own business can be an exciting, exhilarating, though daunting task. Where do you start? Do you have enough money and enough know-how? All the questions can pile up and leave you intellectually paralyzed, unsure what the next step is, you might be unwilling to take that step at all. With all the information available to you through the internet and community, there is no reason to allow this to happen. Below, you will find advice to help you start down the path to business success.

Is this right for you?

Consider the following question before you begin thinking in terms of big money and freedom. Why do you want to start a business? Then consider your answers and whether you are willing to do what it takes to get to that point. Most people want to make as much money as possible while working the least amount. It is human nature to have this desire, but, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Money often costs too much”. The fact is most of the start-ups that become wealthy are built on the backs of those willing to make very little money while working long hours in the hopes of something better in years to come. Given the amount of money involved in starting a company, it is best to be honest with yourself when considering whether or not you are willing to do what it takes to succeed with your own business.

Business Startup Checklist – By the time you finish this checklist, you will be ready to turn a profit and succeed.

Are You Really Ready… - Often we say there is no manual for life, but following this manual can definitely make your life easier.

Who will mentor you?

Given the competitive nature of business, it is remarkable that there are people and organizations that are willing to mentor new and future business owners. This person is invaluable because he or she has been down the path you are walking. The experience they exhibit as well as the guidance they provide is priceless. There are government-sponsored organizations, such as SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and more, willing to mentor the new business owner, saving you from some of the mistakes they have made. Once you have found a mentor, always be prepared when working with them. These people have volunteered their time to help you earn the money of the very same people the mentor may serve, so wasting their time is not a good idea.

SCORE – A non-profit dedicated to helping small businesses grow through mentoring.

Do you need a business plan?

To answer the question above – yes. You do. If not in an effort to get loans for start-up capital, then to keep yourself organized, working toward a single goal, focused. Without a clear business plan, it is difficult if not impossible to get credit from a bank, from suppliers, and to market your products or services. Basically a business plan is to your business what a blueprint is to the building in which it is housed.

They are not difficult to write, but they are difficult to master. The trick is not finishing a business plan, but making it stand out among the rest. Remember, you are not the only person in your community trying to start his or her own business, so standing out among all the business plans a bank might see is key to success. This should not stop you from writing one, however. There are many resources online, books, and mentors willing to help you accomplish this feat.

Business Plan Outline – Follow this outline to help your business plan stand out.

How can your community help you?

There are often local business associations willing and able to help new and existing businesses. These organizations are key because their knowledge of local law and demographics can improve both your business plan and marketing plan. Knowing your community is knowing your customers, and knowing your customers can lead to sales.

Local Resources – Finding support close to home is easy using the US Small Business Administration.

How can you establish your business in your community?

Once you have decided to start a business and you have a developed a clear concise business plan, it is time to consider how to establish your business within your community. This is not just a matter of marketing and ensuring the community in which you hope to open it has a demand for your service or product. Rather, it is a matter determining what permits you need, what the business laws are for business in that city or town, and considering the business statistics of other local businesses.

Local Laws – Use this site to find local business licenses, judicial departments, regulatory boards, and more.

How do you get people interested?

The best bet for getting people interested in your goods or services is developing a good marketing plan. Regardless of how good your marketing plan is marketing your goods and services will cost money. Probably lots of money, and for this reason a marketing plan is key to success. It is easy to spend more money than it is possible to recuperate with the sales the marketing might create, so having a plan will help you save any money you did not plan on spending. Hiring a marketing firm or department is entirely dependent on the budget found in your marketing plan.

Marketing a New Business – A valuable resource for the new business looking for new customers.

How do you get loans and other funding?

Depending on the type of business you are looking to start, the initial investment might be sizable, more than you can handle on your own. This does not mean that your dream of opening a business should end, but rather that you might need to receive financial help in the form of loans and other funding. Small businesses simply apply for a loan with an SBA loan application. Though this is not the only source for these types of loans, it is a good place to start. It is important to keep in mind that qualifying for loans is a matter of credit, so taking the time to build the score might be worth your while.

It is also possible for entrepreneurial companies that cannot receive loans using the methods mentioned above to receive money via venture capital. These types of investments, rather than loaning money and charging interest on that loan, venture capital investments give money in exchange for shares in the company and a say in the direction of that company.

How to Raise Start-Up Capital – This advice from successful entrepreneurs can tell you how to start a business using the minimum amount of out-of-pocket expenses.

What is the law of the land?

Law is the area in which many businesses falter because it is an arena in which most citizens are not well versed. While most people have some experience with money, with personal budgeting and financing, few of them have experience in the courts, and even lawyers of another specialty would have some trouble in business law. The best bet when opening a new business and hoping to stay out of the courts is to hire a lawyer to represent your company and be a consultant. While your questions will cost you money, the amounts will be much less than paying the lawyer to represent you in court.

The Internal Revenue Service – The answers to your questions regarding federal law.

How can you best prepare financially?

A good business plan is key to having an idea of how much money starting a new business will cost. This will also help you prepare in that this knowledge will help you convince lenders that the money you are looking to borrow is worth their while, that they will see a return on their investment. Furthermore, the amount of out-of-pocket money involved in starting a new business may make it difficult to turn a profit for at least a year. Be prepared for this eventuality. Have enough money to support yourself for a time without income. Finally, build your credit. Business credit is built on personal credit, so taking an extra year or so to raise your credit score could pay big dividends later.

Preparing your Finances – This article from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development features advice which reaches far beyond state lines.