If you want to start a business but don't know where to start, don't worry--you are not alone. In fact, given the new economic reality of our time, more people than ever before have found the "job" they thought was waiting for them doesn't exist. Others have come to the conclusion that they would rather create work they love, constructed to fit with their own life goals. No matter what the motivation is to be your own boss, you can start today.
- Take a Stand for Yourself: If you are dissatisfied with your current circumstances, admit that no one can fix them except for you. It doesn't do any good to blame the economy, your boss, your spouse or your family. Change can only occur when you make a conscious decision to make it happen.
- Identify the Right Business for You: Give yourself permission to explore. Be willing to look at different facets of yourself (your personality, social styles, age) and listen to your intuition. We tend to ignore intuition even though deep down we often know the truth. Ask yourself "What gives me energy even when I'm tired?"
- Business Planning Improves Your Chances for Success: Most people don't plan, but it will help you get to market faster. A business plan will help you gain clarity, focus and confidence. A plan does not need to be more than one page. As you write down your goals, strategies and action steps, your business becomes real.
- Know Your Target Audience before You Spend a Penny: Before you spend money, find out if people will actually buy your products or services. This may be the most important thing you do. You can do this by validating your market. In other words, who, exactly, will buy your products or services other than your family or friends? (And don't say. "Everyone in America will want my product." Trust me--they won't.) What is the size of your target market? Who are your customers? Is your product or service relevant to their everyday life? Why do they need it?
- Understand Your Personal Finances and Choose the Right Kind of Money You Need for Your Business. As an entrepreneur, your personal life and business life are interconnected. You are likely to be your first--and possibly only--investor. Therefore, having a detailed understanding of your personal finances, and the ability to track them, is an essential first step before seeking outside funding for your business. This is why I recommend setting up your personal accounts in a money management system such as Mint.com to simplify this process.
- Build a Support Network: You've made the internal commitment to your business. Now you need to cultivate a network of supporters, advisors, partners, allies and vendors. If you believe in your business, others will, too.
- Sell By Creating Value: Even though we purchase products and services every day, people don't want to be "sold." Focus on serving others. The more people you serve, the more money you will make. When considering your customers or clients, ask yourself.
- Get the Word Out: Be willing to say who you are and what you do with conviction and without apology. Embrace and use the most effective online tools (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn) available to broadcast your news. Use social networks as "pointer" sites; i.e., to point to anything you think will be of interest to your fans and followers.