The dream of owning and running your own business is nearly universal. No boss, no one telling you how your business should be run and having the control of your own fate is the ideal occupation for many people with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Of course there is a ton of hard work, the hours are terrible and if everything goes sideways there is no one to blame but yourself, but it is still the dream for many, many people.
The most difficult part of starting your own business, though, is actually starting it. All of the dreaming in the world won’t put a nickel in your bank account or a customer on a receiving list. Starting up a business is a big deal.
To move past the dreaming stage you need motivation, determination and a degree of courage, but you also need a solid plan to create and run your business. As the old adage goes, ‘those who fail to plan, plan to fail.’ Creating your business plan – and then sticking to it – is a major step in creating a successful business startup.
Step One: Focus on your business
Starting up a successful business isn’t a part-time job. It requires you to be committed to your business and to avoid getting distracted by trends. To create a successful startup, you have to choose your business knowing that it will absorb a large amount of time, energy and money. You have to be willing to stay the course even when things aren’t working out.
Step Two: Knowledge is fundamental
If you have never worked in a restaurant, the odds that you will successfully create and run one are slim. Work experience counts, so chose a startup that you are familiar with – that is in a field that you have worked in – or you can expect an early, and disastrous, end to your business.
Step Three: Write down your business plan
The amount of money you need to start your business will necessitate the depth and information in this plan. If you are self-funding your startup it can be just a list of goals and benchmarks that you feel are appropriate and important to accomplish. If you are borrowing money for the startup, however, the complexity and information in your business plan will need to be expanded exponentially. Banks and venture capital firms like clear and concise plans that show depth and understanding of both business and your specific field.
Step Four: Find the money
You will need to not only find the money to finance your startup, but to live on during the period when the business is not making money. Most startups take a lot more time to become profitable than expected and you have to eat and pay bills during that period. Ensuring that you have enough money to survive and start your business is a necessary step.
Step Five: Seek out mentors
No one is an expert at everything and it doesn’t matter how much experience you have in a given field, there are people around with more. Surrounding yourself with intelligent and experienced people for professional advice, updated information and counseling isn’t an admission of weakness; it is an understanding of the limitations of you.
Step Six: Build a team
Not just your mentors, but also your own business staff. You cannot do everything yourself and having a staff will allow you to shift some of the work off of your shoulders so you can remain focused on your goals – which, at this point, should be getting your startup running. Whether they are full-time employees, part-timers or unpaid interns you will need to build a team that you can rely on to do the jobs that you cannot personally do.
Step Seven: Hire an accountant and lawyer
You should hire a good lawyer and accountant at this stage. They will become part of your team the same way as employees do. The cost of retainers is significantly less than the cost of accounting mistakes or violating laws without knowing it. These two positions are vital for the long-term success of your business.
Step Eight: Keep ‘you’ important
Without you, your business won’t succeed. That means making sure that you don’t get burned out or overloaded with work. Spend time with friends and family, take trips and vacations, but make sure that you are rested and ready to keep building your startup.
This, of course, isn’t a comprehensive list because every person and every startup is different. You will need to decide what is important to you and when you should do it. Common sense goes a long way in the world of business startups, but it isn’t the only factor.
Developing a workable plan and then sticking with it through the startup is the only viable way to create a business. If you do not have the determination and drive to maintain your business, after creating it, then it probably isn’t the right one for you. However, for the people who do, the rewards can be considerably better than working for someone else your entire life.