Before taking the plunge, take a hard look at yourself, your finances and your business ideas. Research, network and plan, plan, plan.
- Do you have the confident, take-charge personality it takes to run your own show?
- Does your family support your entrepreneurial project?
- Do you have the tenacity to stick with it?
- Are you ready for a significant time commitment? Starting a business often involves more than 40 hours a week.
- Are you comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty and chaos?
- Are you a risk-taker?
Identify Your Product or Service
- Take the time to choose. Carefully compare the pros and cons, the risks and benefits, of each type of business.
- Look for a business that allows you to specialize and fills a growing need.
- Learn the business by working for someone in the same business first.
- Pick something that you will enjoy doing.
Know the Financial Risks
- Don’t use your retirement income to start a business. Consider a small-business loan to get you started.
- Know that you have the resources and cash flow to cover a start-up period of a year or more.
- Consider “moonlighting,” that is, starting a business in your off-hours while still working. But avoid all possible conflicts with your existing job.
- Beware of self-employment scams.
Develop a Good Business Plan
A business plan shows why your idea is workable, how your business will operate, and how much your income and expenses will be.
The 20 Questions for Starting a Business checklist from the Small Business Administration is a good place to start. It helps you assess your situation, identify a niche, analyze the market and organize your finances.
It’s not enough to have a good product. You must know how to market and sell it. How will you reach your targeted market? What will make people buy your product?
Contact SCORE — Counselors to America’s Small Business — for free, confidential counseling on starting up a business.
The Riley Guide has links to many sources of help for setting up your small business.
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