Eyes wide open
Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go: There is nothing unique about your desire to launch a small business. Thirty-two million small businesses already exist across the U.S. and many more are currently under development.
That’s a lot of competition to be sure, but don’t be discouraged. The 5Ws and 1H technique long used by journalists to flesh out complicated news stories can be adapted to help you structure a business and order your priorities on paper before you make any hard-core decisions you might regret later.
Generally speaking, how much do you really know about what it takes to open and operate a new business? If your answer is little to none, now would be a good time to learn. Before you get too far into your plans, seek some professional guidance. Take a college-level class related to your area of interest. Better yet, find a mentor — an entrepreneur or instructor you admire — and spend some time picking his or her brains. And never be afraid to ask all kinds of questions, even stupid ones. The toughest topics often spark the most enlightening conversations.
Start by asking — and answering — these pointed questions about the business you plan to start::
- 1. WHO Just me? Me plus 1 or 2 assistants? A staff to cover multiple shifts? Temps for busy times?
- 2. WHAT A retail shop? A professional practice? Strictly online? Catalog and/or mail order?
- 3. WHERE A storefront? A stand-alone office or suite in an existing business? My laptop at home?
- 4. WHEN Regular or flexible hours? By appointment only? Walk-ins welcome?
- 5. WHY I love this idea! Could be a real moneymaker. I’m good at this. No one else is doing it.
- 6. HOW Do I have the smarts/experience/resources to build a business and keep it going?
Commit your plans to paper STEP 6
Find a way to pay for it STEP 7
Prepare for the unthinkable STEP 8
Hire the right people