Every where you look, there are classes for starting your business. Any Facebook group or job board you visit has visitors asking for work from home opportunities. Even the Small Business Administration highlights 10 steps you must take to start your business on their homepage.
But let’s face it, many of the results of these questions are filled with ads, trying to sell you a “startup kit” for their MLM or just too general to be actionable. This article is not that….any of that.
These are five steps you can do RIGHT NOW to start a business. Seriously! Start now…there is no better time than the present.
- Start with the Logistics – if you are like me. You already have a life or a job or maybe even both (lucky you!) And this new business must somehow fit in with everything else you have going on. So grab a pen and a piece of paper…and just start writing. Here are the things you need to think about:
- What time do you have available for this business?
- What supplies do you need for this business? (And differentiate between what you NEED versus what you want. And also what you already HAVE versus what must be acquired.)
- What need will you fulfill with this business? And even better, whose need will you fulfill? (This is your target audience or ideal client.)
- And finally, just do what I call “diarrhea of the mouth,” let it all out. All your hopes and dreams, all your goals and fears. Write it all down. Just write until your hand is tired and your brain is empty of the spinning ideas.
- Schedule a coffee date or three – Yes, seriously. This is an important part of starting your business. Call your closest friend(s) and ask them to meet you for coffee. One at a time, not altogether. Schedule it today or tomorrow, just as soon as you can. Grab your pen and paper from Step 1 and head out the door. Here’s what you are going to do during your coffee date:
- Tell your friend about your business idea. Ask them for their honest feedback. And then listen to what they have to say. Take notes. Why am I doing this? Your friends know you best. They know your life, they know your heart. And they probably see your strengths and weaknesses, sometimes more clearly then you do. Even if they are not business minded, they will have some nuggets that will be helpful as you flesh things out. Take notes!
- Find your team – No, I’m not saying go hire a bunch of people. I don’t know many entrepreneurs or start ups that can do that right off the bat. And even if you can, this is not when you should start spending your resources. But after your brainstorming session and meetings with your friends, you definitely have a better idea of your plan. And more importantly, the things you can do and the things you can’t. So here’s what you are looking for:
- Look for a mentor who has done this before. If not in the same industry, maybe the same situation…a small business owner who has had some success. Or a professional who has an expertise in something you need…sales, marketing, technology or ???? A great FREE resource for this is the SCORE program.
- Ask a friend to be your accountability partner. It’s awfully easy to get overwhelmed as you begin to work your business. The plethora of moving pieces can make it easy to lose sight of the end goal. Having regular check ins with a friend, rather than someone associated or dependent on the business, just to vent and talk things out can be life changing. Try it, you will see.
- Reach out to your social network, family networks for advice and expertise on things you have questions about.
- Down the road, it will be time to hire a team…I’ve had some experience with that as well. Make sure you surround yourself with the right people. It’s important!
- Buy a big calendar – seriously. Go to your local office supply store and buy a desk calendar, the big, cheap one. Grab your brainstorming notepad from earlier, your notes from your meetings with your friends and mentor and make a plan. Not just a list of to dos, but a plan with deadlines and assignments.
Just a few planning tips that I have learned in my 14 years of working as a small business consultant:
- Work backwards. If you set a firm and final deadline. Fill in the details by working back from that date.
- Write in pen. And highlight! Many say write in pencil so you can erase and re-work things. I say write in pen, make a commitment to yourself. You can do this.
- Hang your calendar on a wall where you see it ALL the time! I had mine over my bed for a long time…couldn’t go to bed without seeing it. Couldn’t get up without seeing it. Couldn’t come out of the bathroom without seeing it. Because let’s face it, as an entrepreneur, you will eat, sleep and even dream your business!
- Get down to business – you are now ready to work your business. For me, this means a daily to do list on Asana which sinks with my Google Calendar which reminds me throughout the hour, day, week of upcoming deadlines.
I’m telling you…these 5 steps will have you starting your business within days if not hours. You may be bootstrapping it, but you are starting. And once you start…well, that’s the first step right.