For many Americans, the thought of starting and owning a business is a lifelong dream. The sad fact, however, is that many of these dream businesses never materialize into anything more than just that—a dream. With a little preparation and research and a lot of hard work, you can turn your lifelong dream of business ownership into a reality.
Most successful businesses start as a passion, hobby, or skill of the owner. People work hardest and are most successful at things they love to do. With this in mind, choose a business that involves a specific passion, hobby, or skill of yours that will enable you to adequately perform the tasks related to your business on a day-to-day basis. Keep in mind that this business will be your life. You will be spending countless hours developing, building, and nurturing your business, especially in the beginning stages. Be sure to choose a business that will keep your interest and be fun for you to engage in.
After you have a reasonable, smart idea for your business, become an expert in that area. Check out books about your business area at the local library, do research online, subscribe to newsletters, and do everything else you can to gain further knowledge of your area.
You may also benefit from contacting established professionals in your line of business. Invite them to meetings and lunches and ask for their hints and tips. If you listen carefully, you can also get a sense of industry standards. Most professionals are happy to share their knowledge with newcomers. Remember, the more you know about your field, the more comfortable and successful you'll be down the road.
Now that you have established a solid idea and gained some insight into your chosen field, it's time to make your business a reality. Start by developing a specific business plan. There are tons of websites that publish templates and forms that you can use to draft your business plan.
Your business plan will serve as the official "map" of your company. It should set forth your goals, your intentions, the methods you will use to achieve those goals, the timeframe in which you expect to reach your proposed goals, and where you'd like to see your business headed in the future. Not only will a plan serve the operation of your business, but it's also a requirement with some banks and financing institutions when applying for small business loans.
Almost all new businesses need help from outside sources. Whether it's borrowing from a family member or applying for business financing from a bank, you will need funding for your initial stock of supplies and other necessities. Some business owners use their personal assets, savings accounts, or credit cards. Whatever method you use, make sure you gather enough capital to keep your business afloat until revenue starts rolling in.
Do It by the Book
Before starting your business, check the local, regional, state, and federal requirements for operating a business in your area. Obtain any necessary business licenses. Do your research and determine if a sole proprietorship is right for you or if you would be better off as an incorporation, a limited liability company, or another business entity. No matter what type you choose, thoroughly research the requirements for setting the entity up and be sure to file all the paperwork necessary to become legally established, such as articles, bylaws, EIN applications, etc. Check out LegalZoom's business services for simple ways to complete these requirements.
Growing Your Business
Once you've established a legal business entity, it's time to actively build the foundation of your business. No matter what industry or what stage your business is in, one thing is universal: You need good marketing to grow your business. You may want to purchase ad space or use other traditional marketing tactics as well, but the best advertisement is happy customers. A happy customer tells friends and family members about your valuable services, sending more potential customers your way.
Don't wait any longer to make your dream a reality. There's a lot to do, so get started today!