By Robert Stitt
According to Rolling Out, an online magazine, the number of U.S. small businesses increased nearly 50 percent since 1982 with over 8 million new jobs being created by small businesses since 1990. What does this mean for you? It means millions of other people just like you have made the New Year’s resolution to get on the entrepreneurial train, and they kept their resolution. Now, it’s time for you to take a leap of faith and keep yours. But before you do, consider these things:
Is your personal life ready for the change? Starting a business takes a lot of time and commitment, not to mention energy. You may not be around your family and friends as much as you’d like. Is this something that you are willing to go through at this point in your life?
Do you have the needed skills? This sounds tough, but be honest with yourself. Most businesses fail because of the “Oh, I could do that. How hard could it be?” philosophy. Do you have any gaps in your skills that need to be filled prior to starting your business? Along those same lines, do you have backups in place in case you need advice? Think along the lines of attorneys, accountants, bankers, and so forth. It’s never too early to cultivate these relationships.
Have you prepared your business plan? Almost every successful entrepreneur you talk with will swear by the importance of a business plan. It does not have to be followed to the “T” and should be somewhat fluid, but the foundational elements need to be addressed. Consider the following:
- What is your name and where will you be located?
- What are you going to sell/what service will you provide?
- Is your business brick and mortar, virtual, or a combination of both?
- Do you have all necessary permits? Do you know what permits you need?
- Who is your competition? What makes you different?
- What’s your marketing plan? How will people know you are there?
- Where will your startup capital come from?
Do you have a solid grasp of your finances? When you meet with investors, you need to know what you have, what you need, and can present your plan concisely.
While you should seriously consider jumping in with both feet, it helps if you know you can swim. By taking the time to prepare your foundation, you increase your odds of being one of those small businesses that makes it.