In a down economy, thoughts of self-employment spread like wild-fire. This may be especially true if you are not currently employed. Starting your own business and being your own boss can be incredibly satisfying and fulfilling, however, here are some important things to consider before jumping in (or quitting your day job).
1. The idea. For every good idea you have, there are hundreds of people out there who have the exact same idea…did someone else already beat you to the punch?
– A prudent approach is to research your idea from top to bottom looking to see if your idea already exists. If it does, it’s certainly not the end of the world. Simply ask yourself if you can find a unique angle or a different, better approach to the idea.
– Investigate the economics of the idea. Is there a good business case or model? Are other people that are pursuing the same concept making money?
– Finally, you will want to know if the idea is legally protected. Is there a patent issued or pending?
2. The plan. Create a business plan. Many people skip right pass this step and end up backtracking. Creating your business plan at the beginning will help guide your vision and direction as you continue along you entrepreneurial journey. Think of your business plan as your blue print…you wouldn’t just start building a house without a plan would you?
3. The business entity. Deciding how to legally structure your business can become very tricky. They each have their pros and cons and it’s best to talk to your lawyer or CPA to decide which is right for you.
4. Who’s on your bus? Jim Collins said it very eloquently, “You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going. You have to decide where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and who’s going with you.” Can you drive the business alone or do you need employees?
5. Customer appreciation. Who is your target market? Before you can even begin creating a marketing strategy, you will need to define your target market. Your target market is the specific group of people that your company has created products and services for.
6. www.yourcompany.com. Creating your website is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Whether you are creating a brick and mortar store or an online business, the website is your virtual storefront, your online salesperson and the first interaction a potential customer might have with your company. You want it to be an accurate representation of you and your products or services.
7. Your Debut. What is your go-to-market strategy? How will you get the word out and create buzz? Start with the basics and build from there. Understanding the basics of marketing is essential in getting your name out and gaining clientele. If people don’t know your products exist, their benefit t or where to get them, how will they ever buy them?
8. Financing. How will you fund this fabulous business of yours? How will you get paid and do you know how to maximize your tax benefits? Finances and accounting can be one of the most tedious and intimidating aspects of running your business, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowledge is power so start reading up on how others have done it and research the tools that are available to help you!
9. Are you a know it all? The number one piece of advice we hear from successful entrepreneurs is that they wish they had known that they didn’t need to know everything before they got started. Starting a business is a fluid activity. Unexpected things are bound to come up, so do yourself the favor of checking things out before you jump in but be prepared to deviate as needed and go with the flow.
10. Where is the nearest emergency exit? An exit strategy is very important and will help drive all of your goals and aspirations. If your business becomes a huge success (of course it will!), do you plan to sell it to make a large profit? You need to operate your business from day one with the mindset that you could potentially sell it later. That means documenting everything, keeping good records, getting signed contracts whenever possible and keeping up good relationships with clients and vendors.
These 10 things to consider are to help you grasp what you’re about to dive into but the most important thing to remember is that you can do it. Not in a cheerleader sort of way (although who doesn’t love a little cheer) but in the sense that with all of the tools available to you, you can make the successful leap to entrepreneurship and owning your own business!