How To Start A Small BusinessJoshua Davis
It starts as a seedling; a sprig of an idea that flutters across your mind one day while sitting in traffic rationalizing the problems of your day. “Why don’t they just do this?” You ask yourself. “Why isn’t there a widget for that?”
And then it stings you: the creativity bug. “But I’ve never created anything before,” you continue to argue. It’s ok. You’re not alone. Millions of people stand in your very shoes each year and wonder if they have what it takes to succeed with an idea. I won’t sugarcoat it and tell you everyone will succeed but I can say without conviction that everyone can.
Although the list of things you need to be successful in an industry can be a mile long I have created a short list of a few of the things I feel are most important to traveling down your own yellow brick road (I can’t hardly wait for the new Oz, the Great and Powerful movie).
1. Write a Business Plan
According to ActionCOACH, a staggering 80% of all businesses without a business plan will fail. That’s an incredible number but not near as astonishing as the amount of time, energy, and emotion one can expect to pour into a start-up company before realizing they might be in over their heads. A business plan is the first step for a reason, because it forces you to physically sit down and research section-by-section the various aspects of your business. Which leads me to my next point:
2. Research, Research, Research
You can never do too much research. Yes there comes a point where you just have to dive into the deep end and see how well you can swim but practical application is misguided if you haven’t mapped out where your business should be going. How well do you know your customers? Who are your competitors and what will you do differently than them? What is it going to cost you to start your business and how long will it be until you make that back? Yes, these are all questions that a business plan will answer but they are also facts that should be on the forefront of every one of your thoughts from now on.
3. Have a trusted mentor
You need someone you can talk to that will be brutally honest with each one of your thoughts and ideas. This can sometimes be a spouse but what you really need is someone that will quit consoling you and start encouraging you to break out of your comfort zone and approach your business with the kind of tenacity that only the elite possess. Sometimes we surround ourselves with people that hold our hand when what we really need is someone to kick our butts.
4. Hire trusted professionals
Some of the best resources in my life are the invaluable advice I get from the very people I pay to give it to me. When I couldn’t find a quality accountant, my lawyer recommended his. When I needed a professional photographer, my accountant coincidentally was meeting with hers later on that same day. Create a network of people that love what they do like a spider web of professional wealth and watch how working relationships can grow into expert partnerships.
5. Setup a legal business structure
This includes deciding what type of business you want to become, i.e. Limited Liability, Corporation, Sole Proprietor, etc., deciding on a company name, registering with your state and local government for taxes and obtaining a tax identification number.
You’ll also want to decide on smaller details like insurance, store placement, legal implications of starting your business and employment practices. Some of the best ideas have been curtailed by not enough good old fashioned “know how.”
6. Finances, Finances, Finances
I saved this for last and anyone that has ever started a business knows why. Money is the reason you got into your industry and it’s the #1 reason people are forced to leave it. Under funding, misappropriation, and poor accounting all lead to the dreaded Going Out of Business sale. Most people abhor this last detail of business management and for good reason; a lot of owner’s aren’t good at it. If you hire a trusted accountant or have an experienced friend that can give you a hand then learn to count pennies and micromanage every last dollar that comes in and out of your cash register.
Being a small business owner isn’t for everyone. I listed each step in succession of the general path you should follow them. Begin by attempting your business plan. If you find that there are too many questions you just can’t answer, then you should pay a professional business plan writer a nominal fee to have one proofread or write one for you. When you begin to research, befriend any potential colleagues or related professionals that are willing to give you advice. After fully researching your potential business and cultivating new relationships if you decide to leap into the proverbial deep end, then do it knowing you made the right choice.
I leave you with what my drill instructor, Lawrence Washington, used to say, “There are two types of people in this world: those who believe they can and those who believe they can’t. The only thing they have in common is they’re both right.” Believe in yourself. You’ll be amazed how far you can go.
What tips would you give small business owners?