Everyone daydreams about owning their own business. You might be thinking about starting a restaurant, a construction business, a delivery service or a real estate company. Whatever your dream, there are huge benefits to running your own company.
You’re in control of your destiny. You won’t have a boss to tell you what to do or when to do it — you can set your own hours, your own goals and hire your own staff. You also have more flexibility.
The easy part about starting a small business is daydreaming about it. The hard part, although rewarding, is turning your dream into a reality. The good news is you can get your small business off the ground by following just a few steps. Each one takes time and work, of course, but they’re all achievable.
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1. Write a plan
In most cases, the simple phrase “business plan” can stop people in their tracks.
You’ve heard the stories about people spending years on a business plan. The result is a giant book filled with pages of spreadsheets, financial statements, vision statements and so much more. But don’t let that stop you!
Instead of adding information and setting it aside, create a business plan that is short and to the point.
You want to provide just enough information to let lenders or investors know you have a financial plan to pay them back. More importantly, you need to prove you have the know-how to get your company off the ground.
Whether your business plan is 10 pages or 150 pages does not matter. What matters is you set aside time to write it and you get it to the people who can help. As the saying goes, “Without a plan, it’s just a dream.”
2. Be open to every opportunity
You’ve probably heard successful business people talking about their road to success. Often, that included ditching the very business plan that got them the financial backing to get their business going in the first place.
Just think about Apple. What would the company be today if Steve Jobs was focused on Apple computers and didn’t bother with cellphones, smartwatches or tablets?
Your small business will take on a life of its own. Make sure you’re open to every opportunity that comes your way.
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3. Seek advice
Nothing puts the brakes on your success faster than “yes men.” These might be your family members, spouse or friends. They want the best for you, so they don’t want to hurt your feelings. These are the people who always say things like, “Yeah, that’s a great idea!”
Those words might make you feel good, but they’re not useful. For that, you may want to add paid or unpaid advisers to your business team (include that in your business plan). These can be retirees who were successful in your industry or former coworkers who are knowledgeable and smart.
You should also check your town’s small business administration. They often have volunteers from the business community who can advise you for FREE from starting your small business to running it. The bottom line: You need people who will challenge you to be better.
4. Watch your budget
You will know precisely how much money you have to spend once you’ve written your business plan, presented it to investors and borrowed money from them. It can be less clear how much money you have to spend day-to-day.
However, you should not let your spending get murky. Put together a spreadsheet or use a budgeting app and look it over every single day. You need to know how much money you have to achieve your goals. You also need to know how much it will cost you to pay your staff, your lease and a lot more.
5. Delegate responsibilities
You know your skills, talents and weaknesses. If you’re like most small business owners, you’ve had years of experience in the business world. So you’ve had time to figure out what you’re good at and where your skills are lacking. You might be great at public speaking, seeing the big picture and entertaining clients.
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You have weaknesses, though — we all do! So make sure you are honest with yourself and hire people who have the skills you don’t have.
If you’ve always struggled with crunching numbers, doing research, writing or something else, hire someone to do that for you. That’s how successful small businesses operate.
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