One of the great regrets of small business owners is that they made too many mistakes in getting their business up and running. Although this is all part of the learning process, they often lament that they would do it differently it they had to do it all over again. For businesses that are already up and running, there is no time luxury to go back and correct old mistakes. The owners simply have to adapt on the run and keep moving forward.
But the newly-minted entrepreneur has a certain degree of latitude before the everyday demands become overwhelming. Here are a few tips that can help you get your small business started on the right foot:
• Free help is available: There are many entities that want to see you succeed as an entrepreneur. Take advantage of the wealth of information that is available just for the asking. The Small Business Administration has offices in most major areas, and can provide insider info on getting a business started legally and efficiently in your market. SCORE is made up of mostly-retired business executives who provide free small business advice. They have mentors who can show you the ropes, provide how-to resources, and host training and workshop sessions on a wide variety of business topics.
• Know what you are getting yourself into: You may have the greatest idea since sliced bread, and just can’t wait to begin selling it to the world. But take a minute before you jump in and realize just what this means. Being an entrepreneur is a huge commitment. It will take a lot of time, effort and money. Do you have this to give, and can you afford to deprive your family of these items? Do you really want to take on everything that is associated with running a business, or are you interested in just a piece of it? In the long run, your business will either succeed or fail – are you prepared to deal with either outcome?
• Have a plan: Any of the professionals you talk to will emphasize that you need to have a well-thought out plan in place. Research your industry to make sure there is a market and that you can successfully slice out a piece of that market for yourself. Estimate your income and expenses for the first three years, and make sure you and your family can live on that amount. Scope out your marketing needs, and get a plan in place before you even open the doors. Once the action begins, it might be too late to think clearly about what you need to do to attract more customers.
It is both a wonderful and a scary thing to be an entrepreneur, but there is no joy like that of looking back and seeing that you have grown something substantial from nothing. Get your ducks in a row before you start, and you just might be one who succeeds!