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Questions To Ask Yourself And Actions To Take If You Are Thinking About Starting Your Own Business
By Jennifer Spears
Starting your own business is kind of like swimming in a really big pond…or maybe even the ocean. There are some really big fish, but there are more fish that are on the smaller side. Some are even teeny tiny…still darting around, not really knowing what they are doing. Every once in awhile though, one of those teeny tiny fish shows a little spark…a hunger…as if they are suddenly awakened to the possibilities that exist in the pond. Although they can only see what is in the water right around them, they no longer see what lies in the unknown darkness ahead as scary, but as exciting and exhilarating.
And with that…a small business owner is born!
You knew I wasn’t really talking about fish, didn’t you?
Not everyone is wired to run a small business, but those of us that are get to experience the miracle of being our own boss and building our own dreams, from the bottom up. It is amazing, but rarely do we get to share our passion for running a small business with other people.
Recently though, I’ve had the privilege to watch that spark come alive within a family member.
Without going into too much detail about my age…I will say that I was almost grown up when this family member was born.
I got to hold her as a newborn, and now, because life is just funny like this, we’re both married and are raising our kids at the same time. In fact, we both have toddlers about the same age!
(Shout out to all of us “older” Mom’s out there!)
Watching her fight through her insecurities and open her own home based business has been a blessing to me.
And it got me to thinking?
Small, home based businesses are everywhere…but we don’t often hear “starting your own business” as an option when discussing livelihood.
Just imagine what would happen if we, as small-business owners, kept the “shop small” attitude during the entire year, and not just during the holiday season? And what if we encouraged others to start their own small businesses too?
Wouldn’t it be amazing?
Recently, I wrote about gifts for Mom that support small business, and the response was incredible! I truly hope that the shops that were featured get some traffic from my post…but I also hope that it inspired someone who hasn’t yet jumped into the exciting world of small business ownership.
You can’t tell me that you’ve never caught yourself thinking about starting your own business.
Well you could, but I wouldn’t believe you.
Human beings naturally crave freedom and adventure. Some of us still feel that primitive “call of the wild” that makes it pretty much impossible to be happy with a regular 9 to 5 job.
Starting your own business isn’t a decision you should take lightly though.
There are some things to think about ahead of time, and some tough questions you need to answer.
1. Why do you want to start your own business?
Is it because you hate your day job, or do you have a passion that you can’t stop thinking about? Whatever your reason, it’s important to identify it and keep it at the forefront of your thoughts when things get tough. And trust me, in the small business world, things get tough sometimes.
2. Are you ready to work harder than you have ever worked in the past?
Do you want to know something unique about small business owners? They are willing to work 80 hours a week for themselves, so they don’t have to work 40 hours a week for someone else! Starting your own business is only the beginning…running your own business takes a massive commitment.
3. Is there a need or a market for the products you want to sell?
Take into consideration where you are located. Are there similar businesses in the area? Are they successful? Is there room for your business in the market? How are you different? Would you be introducing a new product or service to your area? Is it viable? Be realistic. You aren’t going to sell very many horseshoes in the city.
4. Are you committed to playing the long game?
There are few, if any, businesses that show profit right from the beginning. Are you prepared, both psychologically and financially, to work very long hours with little pay…for as long as it takes to turn a profit?
Do you still want to start your own business?
If you do, there are certain things that you can do that will be of benefit to you, and get you started off on the right foot.
1. Do your research.
We all have great ideas, but if you want to start your own business, you have to be realistic. Not all “great ideas” translate into business success. Sometimes our passions collide with our reality.
2. Get organized.
Running a business can get crazy sometimes! Make sure that you have all of the items you need to keep your work space organized, especially if you are working at home. My suggestions are:
- A system to keep track of orders coming in and out, as well as receipts and other current information.
- A filing system to keep your records in order. This will make tax season so much easier!
- A small business accounting program. If you are able to create your own spreadsheet, this may not be necessary right away, but it’s always good to know what is available.
- A system to keep track of your business inventory.
- Promotional materials. You can start promoting your business before you actually start selling. Get your potential customers pumped up and excited!
- Basic office supplies.
3. Write a business plan.
Don’t be intimated by the thought of writing a business plan. You are simply recording your goals, and making plans to help you reach them. Recently, there has been much talk in the business world about the benefits of a short, simple business plan. If you’d like a FREE worksheet to help you develop your business plan, please leave your email address below. Starting a business is really exciting, and I’d love to help you get started.
4. Find a mentor.
Seek out another small business owner who can offer encouragement, advice and, if needed, a little tough love. If you don’t know any other small business owners, look for an open-minded friend that you can at least bounce ideas off of. We all need a “brainstorming buddy.”
5. Get familiar with the tax laws in your state.
How will you collect and pay sales tax? What records are you required to keep? How often will you have to file? Answering these questions ahead of time will save you a ton of stress later.
6. Consider getting legal advice.
It’s never a bad idea to speak to a lawyer before you start your own business. Write down your questions, so you can get the most out of your consultation fee.
7. Plan your exit strategy.
This one seems harsh, but I’m only being realistic. While running a small business can be a great way to make a living, not all business ventures work out. Make sure that you won’t “lose everything” in the event that your business doesn’t take off.
Starting your own business can be the thrill of a lifetime.
Just imagine it, no one to decide how much money you are allowed to make. No one telling you that your ideas aren’t worth pursuing. And no one taking credit for your ideas and hard work! Starting your own business isn’t easy…but it is worth it!
Do you have a small business, or are you thinking about starting one? Leave us a comment and let us know about it! And don’t forget to download your FREE Business Plan Worksheet!