Steps to Starting a Business
Few things in life can provide as much satisfaction as being one’s own boss. We all can appreciate the opportunity to set our own schedules, work at something that is fulfilling and enjoyable, or create something that is bigger than ourselves.
New businesses are another type of twinkle in the eye – the spark of life that springs from either creativity or necessity. Great businesses such as Google, Microsoft, eBay, Amazon, and many other household names all began as the inspiration of one or just a few people who brought their visions to reality. For many of us it is the culmination of a lifelong dream.
So how does that dream turn into reality? What are the steps to starting a business of your own? Fortunately the path to a new business is well worn and easy to follow.
Here are some of the most important steps to starting a business:
- Write a business plan. Just as you can’t easily get to where you’ve never been without a map, starting a business requires a plan as the map to your destination. Happily, it will be a map that you have written! It doesn’t need to be elaborate – a few pages is often enough – but it needs to outline your objectives, your strategies to achieve them, and defined steps you will take to get to those objectives.
- Make a budget and manage your finances. You’ll need to make a realistic list of what the cost of getting your new business going will be, and keep track of both your income and expenses along the way. You don’t necessarily need to form a corporation, LLC, or other entity right away (though it’s a good idea) but you should keep your business funds separate from your personal accounts. Open a Doing Business As (D/B/A) at your local bank, and fund it with a loan from yourself. Then use a simple computer program like Quicken, Money, or Quickbooks, to keep track of your expenses and income (it WILL happen!), reconcile your bank statements, and make tax filing much easier.
- Find a location. For many who are following steps to starting a business, a spare bedroom will suffice. But don’t let the world know that. A “virtual office” address at a local serviced office facility like Liberty Office Suites will allow you to put a prestigious business address on your business card and have an impressive location to meet clients, vendors, and prospective employees. It will also allow you to maintain the same address and phone number when you are ready to move out of the house and into a “real” office.
- Get some marketing help. This is critical. No matter how brilliant your idea may be, it won’t get out of the garage without being seen. A good marketing consultant can help you test sales, develop a website, implement a marketing strategy, and otherwise see to it that you get proper exposure without committing “random acts of marketing”.
- Roll up your sleeves! No destination can be arrived at without the effort of taking steps. Similarly, if everything worthwhile could be achieved without effort, everyone would be a great entrepreneurial success! Expect a lot of work, some false starts, and a few disappointments. Few new ventures succeed in a linear line straight up. But keep your dreams and vision in view. Maybe pin a post it note with some thoughts on what you envision success to look like to your mirror. Read some books – The E Myth by Michael Gerber is one of the best – (about the difference between working at your business and working on it) and some entrepreneurial publications and websites.
Stay inspired. You’ll find the journey can be as satisfying as the destination if you follow these steps to starting a business and keep your vision in mind.