Okay, so you’ve decided that you want to get started on your new business, you want to take that next step. The first question is: What do you do? Where do you start? I have a few tips that will get you on the right track.
1. Become Familiar with Entrepreneurship
The first next step is to starting your own business is knowing what it means to start a business. It’s not something you will learn overnight, but there is a lot you can pick up from doing some substantive reading. You’ll have to put aside the fact that you are the best _____ (whatever business you are planning to start) the world has ever seen. Put that aside for now because that will not be enough to make a successful business. You should become familiar with (and develop a concrete plan for) marketing and branding concepts. You should also read all of those articles that say something like “10 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do,” or “5 Things that Successful People Do Everyday.” Because you will need to employ those methods to start, grow and maintain a successful business.
2. Start Following Bloggers
This tip falls in line with doing your research. In order to get a good sense of your industry and what role you will play within it, you need to know what’s going on. A great way to do that is to start following some bloggers in the field. Following bloggers in the field will give you an idea of what your intended audience or potential customers want and some pointers on how to market your idea to your intended audience. It will also be very encouraging (and sobering!) to learn about the journey it takes to get to a successful business.
3. Start Networking
Networking comes in various forms, but the bottom line is you need to get out there and start telling people what you do. Although you may have the passion for something, you will need to learn some practical tricks and trades of how to get things done, the most cost-efficient way to operate, the people or communities that will be helpful to you, etc. Here are three ways to up your networking game: Start is by going to conferences. Yes, they can be expensive, but they are worth every penny. In Episode 3 of the The Shingle Life Podcast, I give you some tips for getting the most out of your conference networking. If you’re not quite at the Conference going stage, there are tons of free or reasonably priced webinars that offer a wealth of information. Following bloggers and establishing a social media presence is also a form of networking. That’s a great way to connect with others in the industry, find out about popular conferences and webinars and above all, introduce yourself to the community.
4. DON’T Quit Your Day Job
That’s right! I said it. Don’t quit your day job (unless of course you’re very wealthy). I know you’ve fantasized about it. We all have, but start thinking like a business person. It’s not personal, it’s business.
The first thing you need to do is to shift your thinking about your current job. First, you need to keep it because you will need the income to pay your bills – those don’t go away because you have a dream. Second, you’ll need the income from your job to finance your business, because starting a business costs money.
So take away the emotional attachment from your job and look at it as your first investor pouring money into your business. When you think about it that way, many of the feelings you have about not being appreciated or not liking your difficult co-workers or boss, will go away. Because unlike before, your job will now have a greater purpose. In business, always remember, “don’t be mad, be smart!” Always ask yourself: what is the smart thing to do?
5. Start Your Business
This can take many forms. Of course, there is the formality of actually starting a business entity. This is a good first step and you should do it pretty quickly for a couple of reasons.
First, it forces you to see your idea as more than just a thought or a hobby and you have to come up with a name and claim it.
Second, for tax reasons, it makes it easier for you to start tracking and claiming your expenses if you have a business set up. There are tax rules around when you can start deducting business expenses and there are limits on how much you can attribute to start-up costs before you start your business.
Next, you should write a business plan. I know that sounds like too much work, but come up with a basic one that gives you a roadmap of where you want to go. Start thinking about how you will run your business. How will you interact with clients – do you need to come up with an invoice template? How will you collect money? Keep track of expenses? Start evaluating accounting programs for how you will keep track of and manage your expenses. Are you providing a service? What will be your terms of engagement or contract terms? These are all things that don’t come with your raw talent and will require you to be very disciplined.