By: Javi Calderon
on Sunday, November 07, 2010
10 Tips for Starting Your Own Business
Starting a business is a risky, time consuming and stressful endeavor. It can also be incredibly liberating, exciting, rewarding and fruitful! But, just because you have passion and you put the time in doesn’t necessarily mean that your business will be a success. What you need is a plan. So here are ten quick tips to consider if you’re thinking of starting your own business.
1. Identify your talents and passions!
Everyone says it, but it couldn’t be more true – work is so much easier when you do something that you love. Especially if you’re going through the hundreds of hours it is going to take to start your own business and make it successful. Make sure you choose something that you’re good at and you love to do. You’ll be more passionate and energetic about your work and more willing to spend the time necessary to make your dreams a success.
2. Make a business plan.
It doesn’t matter if it’s short and crude at first as long as you’re willing to amend it as you go along. Before you get very far you have to know your budget and your overhead. What services will you need to get your business going? Understand how long it will take before you can start making money, and understand exactly how you are going to make money. Many businesses fail because they get in over their head and can’t afford to simply pay the bills because they hadn’t done the math before they got started. Good business management starts with intimately understanding the financials behind your business.
3. Research, research, research!
You will obviously do a lot of research while creating your business plan, but that’s just the start. You also have to become an expert in your area and you’ll have to find out who are the best and most affordable providers of the services you’ll need. Join professional associations to learn more about your craft and to make important networking connections. And, of course, heavily research your competition. Find out what they’re doing well and mimic it, find out what they don’t do so well and do it better!
4. Save up money before you start.
You’ll probably have to save for a few years before you can launch your business. The bills will pile up quicker than you anticipate, so save every extra little bit. If you can avoid debt and business loans it will help you and your business tremendously. Your business won’t be profitable right off the bat so taking out a business loan and expecting to be able to start paying it back immediately is foolish. Managing your finances correctly is a big part of managing your business.
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5. Start your business while you’re still employed.
This will mean many long nights for a while after you’ve started your business. The fact of the matter is that you can’t expect to make a profit right off the bat so you have to have some income coming in.
6. Protect your personal assets.
Often times when you start an own business you become personally liable for any debts that the business incurs. If your business goes bankrupt you could possibly lose your home or car. If you know your business will be running in the negatives before making a profit, consider incorporation
to protect your personal assets. You should open a separate bank account for your business to help you calculate exactly how much profit is coming in and how much you’re paying in expenses.
7. Identify clients/ customers before you start.
Don’t wait until you open for business to start targeting your market. You really can’t start marketing too early. Make sure you’re networking and making contacts before you open. If your area is lacking a particular service that you can provide then you’re on your way to a successful business. On the same note, make sure your service is in demand in your area. Silly example, but you might own the coolest surf shop with all the best brands and products, but its not going to do very well in the middle of Arizona
8. Start small.
Don’t purchase more than you’ll need at first. Don’t buy a huge space and hope to grow into it. Don’t hire more employees until you can keep them busy. Don’t buy excess supplies or hardware. You’re bound to make mistakes, so the smaller you start the smaller your beginners mistakes will be. As your clientele and income grow you can expand as necessary, its worse to be paying for a building you can’t fill and employees you can’t afford than to be a little bit cramped and over-busy. If you can, work from home and start making a profit before you expand into an office.
9. Don’t do it alone!
Not all of your ideas will be good ones, and you won’t automatically know the right things to try or what will work. Find friends, acquaintances or even a mentor who has started a business that can give you advice, or at least lend a willing ear. Certainly you’ll have insight as to your service or product; the most invaluable information will be advice on how to manage people and how to manage a business. That’s knowledge you don’t gain until you’ve experienced it. Knowing how to manage people is crucial to running a successful business.
Don’t try to do things you’re not qualified to do – if you need a lawyer to write or review contracts, then hire one. If you need an accountant
to balance your books or do your taxes, hire one. You’ll waste time and money otherwise.
10. Be prudent with paperwork.
Make sure you understand your legal and tax responsibilities before you open your business. Make sure you have the proper licenses needed to provide your services. Be aware that states have different requirements. The laws in Texas
might not be the same as those in California
where you now reside, for example. This is another reason why it’s a great idea to consult a lawyer before starting your business. Build up positive credit by paying your bills early and your taxes on time.
Do what you love, love what you do, be your own boss and work to make your dream a reality instead of someone else’s! Being your own boss can be challenging, exciting and a big boost to your income. If your current job isn’t fulfilling, take these ten tips to heart and take the leap.