Like any other major endeavor, figuring out where to start in launching a business can be the toughest part. Of course, the path to successful entrepreneurship is long and winding with innumerable steps, but just getting started can be enough to build the momentum you need. Here are, in no particular order, the first five things you can do to get ready to strike out on your own.
1. Evaluate Business Ideas
Some would-be entrepreneurs know exactly what business they want to start, others have no idea but just want to work for themselves. Either way, it is essential to realistically assess your ideas and options before you spend money on it. Do some cursory research into the market and competition. Think about what you would need to get the business started. Talk to others (family, friends, networking contacts) about your ideas and listen for useful feedback. The more background work you do in evaluating your business ideas, the easier it will be to hone in on the best opportunity for you.
2. Make a Commitment
If you are serious about taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, you need to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself. Set a deadline for taking the next step (choosing which business to start, beginning the business planning process, opening date) and figure out what needs to be done to get there. In most cases, finding the time to do the planning is difficult, so work on clearing time in your schedule to focus on your goal of entrepreneurship. Figure out what will keep you motivated to stay on track and set yourself up for success.
For example, gather some pictures or symbols of why you want to be an entrepreneur and place them prominently where you will see them frequently. It sounds cheesy, but can be very effective reminders to get you through the tedious aspects of starting a business.
3. Save Up
Bootstrapping a startup is a good way to keep costs under control, but it doesn’t make it free. Every business requires some capital to succeed, and the cash usually comes straight from the owner’s pocket. Even if you are planning to find investors or loans, you will need to show that you are risking your own assets before they will hand over theirs. Don’t count on finding grants for your startup – they are few and far between for new businesses and those that do exist usually have significant restrictions on how they can be spent. At a minimum, try to save between $3,000 and $5,000, more if your startup requires commercial facilities or inventory.
4. Get Organized
Before you dive into planning your business startup, get organized for success. In most cases your business planning will happen in a workspace at home. Select an office space with limited distractions and the tools you will need to work (desk space, internet connection, good lighting). Gather up basic office supplies and stock your workspace. Start using a planner to schedule your days so you are in the habit of managing your time.
Take care of any lingering projects around the house so you will not be tempted to avoid the tedious parts of your startup. Take a good look at what you currently do with your time and evaluate ways to open up some blocks of time for your business. The more organized you are before you start planning, the easier it will be to stay on track.
5. Start Talking
Talk up your plans with friends & family and whomever else you find yourself chatting with. Making this effort now does several things to help you succeed. First, telling others about your plans can “seal the deal” are likely to be more committed to making progress and they will provide support and encouragement as you go along. Second, you may be surprised at what you hear when you talk to others about your startup. Many will have knowledge or skills you were unaware of (which could turn out to be a great help), and listening to reactions to your business idea can help you modify and refine your plan to greater success. Third, talking about your plans to people you know will develop your networking skills. Whatever your business idea, networking with other entrepreneurs, customers, and suppliers is an essential key to success. The sooner you become comfortable and confident in talking about your business the better.

By Laura

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