Within weeks of welcoming a new decade, our nation was plunged into uncharted territory — an economic recession brought on by a worldwide pandemic the likes of which we’d never seen before. Every day brought new challenges as once-thriving companies struggled to remain open, employees learned how to work from home and the most basic of household supplies — hand sanitizer and toilet paper — became highly coveted commodities.
With the life we knew collapsing around us, common sense would seem to suggest that this was no time to launch a new business. But here’s the thing … nationwide, new small business applications actually jumped 24.3% in 2020 — the highest-ever increase on record for a single year, according to the Washington D.C.-based Economic Innovation Group. The pandemic that closed so many businesses fueled a rise in entrepreneurship as people who had lost their jobs looked for security in creating new ones for themselves and possibly others.
Launching a brand new business is risky in any environment, but, hey, you’ve already weathered a pandemic, so what could be worse? If you’ve ever thought about being your own boss, the time to get started is now!
First Step: Create a Plan
To craft a well-rounded news story, every aspiring journalist needs a plan. And it comes in the form of a simple formula consisting of 5 W's and a single H: Who. What. When. Where. Why. How. The same formula can work for budding entrepreneurs. As you prepare to organize and launch your business, make some time to ask and answer the following questions in these six categories:
- 1. WHO Do I have the skills/experience to run this business alone? If not, who will help me? A partner? Family and friends? Should I hire employees? Who are my primary customers? Will they come to me or will I go to them?
- 2. WHAT What kind of business will this be — retail, service, manufacturing, brick-and-mortar, online? What makes me think I can succeed at this? What qualifications do I have? What else do I need to know? What plans should I make for the future?
- 3. WHERE Where will I locate my business? Where will I get the money to pay for this? Where can I get additional information? Where can I find help?
- 4. WHEN When will I know it’s time to open the doors? Have I set a target opening date? Do I have a backup plan?
- 5. WHY Why do I even want to start a business? Am I crazy or is this a good idea?
- 6. HOW How will I ever get this off the ground? How will I structure this business? How will I prepare myself to become a business owner? How will I know when it’s time to grow?
Every one of these questions deserves an answer. If you’re serious about launching a business of your own, you can’t afford to cut corners. You have a lot of thinking and planning to do. Taking time now to seriously think about each question and craft a written answer will not only give you greater clarity of purpose with regard to your business, it may open your eyes to opportunities you wouldn’t have seen otherwise and to pitfalls you would do well to avoid.