One of the many perks of being an entrepreneur is having the freedom to define your own level of success. The ability to be able to essentially create your own destiny is appealing to most, scary for others for fear of failure, while exciting to some, because…well, you never lose when you bet on you! I’m hoping that this blog post will help you to learn to walk confidently, with boldness, into the direction of your entrepreneur journey, to provide you with clarity on how to set the goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur and to provide you with the necessary tools and resources to be able to do so. Whether you've set a short-term goal to "fly solo" or starting out solo, with the goal of expanding your team and business, here's a few tips on how to get started:
IT STARTS WITH YOU!
With today's advanced technology, innovative tools, and easy access to invaluable resources, running a successful business is achievable. The first step is to write down a list of your skills. This will help you for a couple of reasons; One, it will help you to seriously take inventory of your skills, strengths, talents, and areas you may fall short. I say the latter part because it will help you to determine what type of service to offer based on your strengths and talent. And two, this exercise is an opportunity for you to truly be honest with yourself. I believe in self-improvement. The possibility of developing in areas in which you’re not strong in by way of education and certification courses, will make you that much more valuable, insightful and essentially, more successful!
What we find changes who we become.”
― Peter Morville
Research is an integral part of starting a business as it helps you to clearly define who you are as an entrepreneur, brand identity, what service and or product (s) you’ll offer, and what direction you want your business to go into. What should I research? It depends on your business. For example, if I’m starting a personal chef business, I’d want to know if I already have an existing client and referral base, I.E. will my friends and family support my business endeavor? Can I rely on them for networking purposes? How will I network outside of my friends and family? Who is my target audience? My ideal client is ________(fill in the blank)? What types of dishes will I prepare? How often will I prepare those dishes? Who are the successful personal chef’s in my area? Who are their clients? How much will I charge for my services? Do I plan on expanding into a full service catering company or will I remain a personal chef? This process will help you to clearly outline your vision, purpose, set realistic, achievable goals, more importantly; crush them! Don’t forget to research any tools, resources, educational courses and books that may be helpful for your business.
The next step is to create a business plan. There are literally thousands of templates available online to help you with formatting and what pertinent information should be included in a business plan. Your business plan is like the “blue print” of your company. It’s the “architectural design” of your business. In order for you to know and or understand what direction you want your business to go into, you MUST have a solid foundation. One thing about a business plan is, you can keep it simple, add and take away from it as you go along, but create one and use it as a starting point.
STRUCTURE, LEGALIZE, PROTECT, STABILITY
BUSINESS STRUCTURES: Learn about the different types of business structures, and which structure best fits your business needs. The types of structures include S Corporation, Partnership, Corporation, Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, and Cooperative. Most people will start out with sole proprietorship, as this is the least inexpensive structure to start a business quickly as a self-employed individual. You can always change the structuring of your business later.
CHOOSE AND REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS: Choose and register your business name in order to establish your brand identity while protecting it as well. Check the trademark tool to ensure that the name you choose isn’t already being used. Register your business name through your state government. There are multiple services one can utilize to assist with registering and business structures, such as Rocket lawyer and Legal Zoom. Of course an attorney is always best to consult with before starting a business.
BUSINESS LICENSES AND PERMITS: Depending on federal and state requirements, you may need a license or a permit to run your business legally. A good source for more information is the sba.gov website, as well as your state licensing offices site.
PURCHASE BUSINESS INSURANCE**Not all but some states requires certain businesses to obtain business insurance for liability purposes.
OBTAIN A TAX ID NUMBER ***NOT APPLICABLE FOR SOME STATES-Check with your state and federal agencies to determine if a tax id number is required.
OPEN A BUSINESS BANKING ACCOUNT: Opening a business account helps you to separate your business and personal finances. This will allow you to track expenses, manage day to day transactions, and most importantly for IRS filing purposes and deductions.
Having an online presence is critical to the growth and success of your business. According to internetlivestats.com, "around 40% of the world population has an internet connection today. The number of internet users has increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013. The first billion was reached in 2005. The second billion in 2010. The third billion in 2014." Get the picture? Worried about the costs associated with building a website? There are several budget friendly website providers to choose from to fit your business needs, which include beautifully designed templates, hosting, domains, ecommerce, 24/7 customer support and a free email account. Here’s few website providers to choose from:
· Go Daddy
· Square Space
Even though we’ve moved into a modern aged society where technology rules, business cards are still an essential “old school”, yet effective tool. Ever have a conversation with someone who tells you about their business, you’re so compelled to either utilize their service or purchase their product and they turn to you and say “you know what, I don’t have a business card on me”. That unpreparedness sometimes leaves your potential client and or customer with a bad taste in their mouth. Always be prepared and bring your business cards, no matter where you go! You never know when you’re going to meet your next client and or customer so always have a business card readily available.
If you want to be taken seriously as a business owner, drop the Gmail and Yahoo from your email address. There are several service providers that either offer free email accounts and or providers that have affordable, low monthly payments for an email account. Check your website provider as many of them will offer free email service as part of your package.
There are an estimated 2.307 BILLION active social media users in the world! (Global social media research summary of 2016) Let that sink in…. Facebook, FB Messenger, Instagram, Twitter and Google Plus are the top social media sites, add other platforms such as Periscope and Snap Chat to the fastest-growing, latest trend and you have yourself access to a market just waiting to use your service and or purchase your products. Take advantage of the opportunity to grow your business by way of social media. Which platform should I choose? That depends on your target audience, where your comfort level is in terms of how user friendly each platform is, and which platform turns out the best results based on your business goals.
Plan, but also take action!
It's perfectly fine to take your time because you want to ensure that you have a well thought out plan, however take action! Once your business plan is in place, set daily, weekly and monthly goals in order to complete certain tasks, while also holding yourself accountable to have them completed. For example, if you're at the early stages of starting your business and need to write a business plan, give yourself a week or two to complete it.
Don't over think it!
Often times, those who have decided to take that leap of faith into entrepreneurship will begin to over analyze their decisions, which essentially prevents them from moving forward into the next step. This hesitation stems from fear which leads many discouraged and others feeling overwhelmed. Entrepreneurs aren't "super heroes", nor do they possess "super powers". Honestly, it's perfectly fine to have those feelings as I'm sure every successful entrepreneur has had them at some point in time, especially when starting out on their entrepreneur journey however, Trust, in you! You have the skill set, knowledge, the know how and drive to accomplish anything you set out to achieve. Remember, it's YOUR vision, YOUR purpose, and YOUR mission! You have permission to succeed and you will!