Being a business owner can be one of the most rewarding jobs imaginable. Everyone has heard all of the grim statistics set against the prospective business owner, but entrepreneurs can adjust those odds drastically by properly preparing before leaping into business ownership.
Seek out the local Chamber of Commerce and dig up a recent economic outlook. This should give access to all sorts of useful demographic statistics as well as information on potential niches in the local market. Stick with trusted sources that use sound methods and avoid anecdotal support.
Going it alone is a scary way to start a business. The best places to look for people who can help are at the Chamber of Commerce and the nearest Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center. The Chamber of Commerce will have membership dues, but the Small Business Development Center is a free service that is an amazing tool for any aspiring entrepreneur.
Develop The Plan
In order for a business idea to be taken seriously, it needs to be demonstrably grounded in reality and fully explained. This is the business plan. There are tons of templates available online, and the Small Business Development Center will happily walk their clients through the process. In the plan, make sure to cite all the data sources and take the time to thoroughly lay out the business model. Take this document seriously. Don’t be tempted to exaggerate or be too optimistic in the financial predictions, base the predictions on data from similar business models whenever possible. Make the plan tell the story of a sure bet and avoid selling it as a risky novelty.
Banks are rather cagey about taking risks on the hopes of a new business. Know that a bank they will want documentation, collateral, and a good history before considering a loan. If necessary, find others who share the vision and bring in investors or partners to help fund the project. If enough funding cannot be raised for the project, determine whether some of the features can be dropped from the plan or implemented at a later date. If the preliminary research was done properly and it’s showing the business won’t fly with available funding, trust it!
Assemble a Team
Even if there is no plan for employees, an accountant and a lawyer are a must. It’s also time to find a trustworthy real estate and insurance agent. If the plan is already set to go, then all of these will be needed for the next step. Once the team is assembled, use them, they will advise on the legal requirements, permits, things like general liability insurance, and tax documents that apply to the business specifically. Don’t forget to consult those friends from the Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center!
Follow the Plan
Once the above steps are taken care of, it’s time to execute the plan. There will be changes and unforeseen events that come up, but with the preparation complete, there’s plenty of room for flexibility. When it becomes apparent that a part of the plan is not feasible, revisit the document and adjust the plan accordingly. Keep the goal in sight and repeat this step as needed!