Many people enter the world of small business ownership with doubts and fears. Being your own boss sounds great, but ultimately it can be intimidating. To avoid doubt, you need to think about the answers to some important questions, such as:
- Can you put in the necessary long hours?
- Can you get along with all different personalities and work ethics?
- Are you passionate about your product or service?
- Are you organized?
- Can you manage your own finances or will the help of an accountant be necessary?
- Will you work from home or is an office space?
Writing down your fears in the form of an answerable question can help you determine if starting your own business is something worth all the hard work you will put in into it.
Am I in the right business?
Precisely define what business is and draw up a clear business plan. Needing to define your business might seem self-explanatory, however you need to focus your investment and energy in the right area of your field and not lose focus on what you are offering. A business plan will help maintain that focus and essentially serve as your company’s resume. Included should be your goal, current balance sheet, marketing strategy, cash flow analysis, and income statement. Business plans are generally public knowledge and allow investors to see precisely what you hope to achieve and how you are doing towards reaching that goal.
Should I take on a partner?
A partner might seem like a good idea, and they can help shoulder the financial or personal burden of starting your own business. However, a few things need to be kept in mind when thinking of taking on a partner. First, what role will they take -active in the daily running of the company, behind the scenes financial backer, or more of a managerial/bookkeeping role? Clearly defining roles in partnerships will help to eliminate confusion when the company is in need of your focus and attention.
If hiring employees, how many will I need and what will my financial burden be?
Recognizing where you have holes in your workforce will help you figure out how many employees you need to hire. Wages must be set in advance keeping in mind your business balance sheet. Your employees won’t want to work for free! Keep in mind your state’s minimum wage laws and the withholdings and contributions business owners are responsible to keep, such as: federal and state income taxes, disability insurance, unemployment, and social security.
How can I get a loan for start-up?
Go to the lender with information available as to the amount needed, your ability to repay the loan, and how the loan will be used. You will be asked to produce a clear business plan as well as projected financial statements.
What about marketing?
Remembering the “4 P’s” of marketing is essential to getting the word out about your company. If nobody knows about you then you can’t sell your product or service. The 4 P’s are: Product, price, promotion (how you will advertise), and place (your distribution channels). Don’t forget to research your customers and market area as well as using different avenues to promote your product.
How do I make myself stand out?
You are your own brand. Selling yourself is as important as selling your product. Don’t be afraid to hit the phones, put out flyers, create a webpage, and hand out those business cards. Know your competition and make yourself and your company unique in the industry. Offering a service or product that others need, and doing it better than the rest will make your “brand” a household name. Strive for excellence in all that you do!
How do I plan for growth?
This goes back to the business plan. Having goals set will help to have a plan in action for adding employees, seeking bigger office space, or increasing marketing funds if the business calls for such actions. Many companies have initiated the S.M.A.R.T. way to set goals. In order for goals to be S.M.A.R.T. they have to be Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time and resource restricted. When you keep these measures in mind, goals can easily be set for success.
How do I keep my business and information safe?
Consider taking seminars on computer security, preventing shoplifting, or planning on a disaster. These have a cost, but the investment will pay off in the long run. A good computer security program, security system in the store, alert and knowledgeable employees, and accident insurance will be safeguards well worth taking.
Should I hire family members or friends?
It might sound like a good idea; I mean they should be your most loyal supporters. And that might be the case; however, they can also be your most vocal critics. If hiring family is a necessity then placing boundaries between work and home is essential to this type of relationship.