Many people hate their 9 to 5 jobs.
Every day they show up for work, accomplish the same tasks, stress themselves out…. For somebody else. And maybe that person doesn’t even know their name.
As cliche as it sounds, we only live once. You want to live a life as free, fulfilling, and interesting as possible. Sadly, being an office drone isn’t likely to bring you this.
Do you hear this little voice telling you that it’s time for a change? Yep. You know what I mean. After all, you are reading this article right now!
You need to think about starting your own business TODAY!
Starting your own business is the best way to build something meaningful, become wealthy, and be completely free! Also, it has NEVER been easier to start your own business.
Even if you have little time, money or experience you can do it! There are a lot of lucrative part-time businesses you can start with little or even no money and experience.
Once you know that you want to be your own boss, you need to get your battle plan together. Starting a business is a big decision and an intimidating task. You want to be able to strategically approach this. And the best way to start is learning a little bit more about it!
I’m here to help you. I have done it before.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through the 5 main steps you need to complete to start your own business.
Why should you listen to me?
I have a Harvard MBA. I have also started dozens of successful businesses including one I started with $2,000 and later sold for $40 million dollars. I’m one of the few people who can show you how to succeed because I’ve done it before, many times.
My website has helped millions of entrepreneurs. I truly want you to succeed and start your own business. But before you do that…
You need to nail down the first critical steps.
Starting a business is like building something. If the foundations are weak, then the whole building will later crumble.
Here, the foundations of your business are these few critical steps that you are going to follow now. Along the way, you will make some crucial decision that will impact your business forever. You will need to pay a lot of attention to them if you don’t want them to come back and haunt you later down the road.
But don’t worry, as an experienced entrepreneur who has successfully done it himself many times, I will help you understand what’s important and how to address it.
Let’s get started.
1 – Commit to your business
So you want to start a business. That’s wonderful and I’m proud of you. But wait… Do you really want it?
Let me rephrase this, are you really committed to your future business? Are you ready to do whatever it takes to succeed?
Before going further, you need to know that starting a business will require some dedication and sacrifice. You might have to work long hours, cut down your personal expenses, or take out a loan for example.
Also, you will need to truly try to make the best possible decisions on the most critical issues for your business. You need to be willing to learn what these critical issues are and how to make the best choices on these make or break decisions.
Hey! I have never said that it was going to be easy. Everybody would be a millionaire if it was the case. But it is 100% doable if you commit to your business, learn about how to start a business right, and try as hard as you can! If you have the drive, the rest will follow, believe me.
Millions have done it, I’ve done it, and you can too!
2 – Choose the best business idea for you
Alright! Once you are sure that you really want to start your own business, the next step is choosing the best business idea for you.
Wait a minute…
Let me make myself clear. I didn’t say find any business idea. A random idea probably won’t cut it. It may likely fail. You need to carefully pick the best business idea out there if you want to maximize your chances of business success.
Some business ideas are simply much more difficult to succeed at than others. And some business ideas are going to be a poor match for you.
Choosing your idea is probably the most important decision when starting a business. It is absolutely crucial and will have a direct impact on your chances of success. Many people make the mistake to think that to succeed in a big way, a business idea needs to be a brand new concept, for example an I-tech device or an App addressing a totally new need. But that’s not true!
There is an endless amount of proven business ideas that have made thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs rich before. I know because I have succeeded in more than a dozen of them including businesses as diverse as bicycle rentals to a book publishing business.
But how do you go about choosing the best business idea for your situation?
My personal advice is to generate as many business ideas as possible and then pick the one that’s the best fit for your personality, skills, and the market.
Before choosing your idea for good, don’t forget to test it and gather some outside feedback.
Don’t hesitate to spend a lot of time on this first step. Like I told you before, it is very important to make the right decisions early on if you want your business to succeed.
3 – Differentiate your business and create your strategy
Now that you have your business idea in mind you need to differentiate your business and come up with a strategy.
Differentiating your business is important. Here’s how to do it.
First, you need to answer this question: Who am I targeting and why would they do business with me instead of my competitors?
Having a clear answer to this question is crucial. A lot of entrepreneurs fail because they don’t give enough thoughts to this particular step.
To answer this crucial question, you need to research the market and the competition and find the underserved spot where you can fit in.
Here is my personal take on competitors: the best way to deal with them is to not compete with them in the first place.
For this, you need to be unique! Try to find your own target audience and niche. Identify your audience paint points and address them in a remarkable way you know they will care about.
You need a short business plan.
Once this is done, you need to put together a short business plan.
There, you should compile every key strategic decision you are making about your business.
This includes but is not limited to: your target market, your competition, your differentiation, your team, and how you will operate.
It doesn’t have to be long. For my own businesses, a one-page business plan did the job when starting out.
What’s important is that you can easily refer to your strategy and make changes as your business evolves.
Knowing who your target market is and how you are different from your competitors is extremely important. You don’t want to be one of these businesses that launches blindly in an oversaturated market. You might fail or you might not. But at best you will likely suffer from weak customer loyalty and low-profit margins, and never reach your full business potential.
4 – Get the money you need to start your business and learn how to project your finances
At this point, you want to think about your business finances. How much money do you need? Where are you going to find it? How are you going to create your financial projections?
Find out how much money you need and how to get it.
Let’s get started.
First, you need to know how much money you need to launch your business and operate it for a few months. It is important you include enough to make sure your business doesn’t run out of cash before revenue starts coming in!
If you can’t cover this amount yourself, then you need to think about getting outside financing for your business.
There are many options a business owner can consider when looking for outside funds. My personal advice is to approach your family and friends first. Then, for a startup, I would turn to angel investors.
It would be nice to get money from more traditional banks or even online lenders, but your business will usually need a little bit of operating history to get money from these sources.
Crowdfunding could work for many businesses, and venture capital is a possibility if your business has extremely high growth potential.
Before approaching any potential investor or lender, get your ducks in order! Have your business plan, including your financial projections, ready to go! And be prepared to answer the different questions that you are likely to face.
How do you project your finances?
You need to be able to project your finances to make presentations to potential investors to get money to start your business. Being able to track and project your finances will also help you run and plan your business better.
Start by learning how to put together an income statement, also called a profit and loss statement for your business.
Then, learn how to assemble a balance sheet, which is a snapshot picture of the financial situation of a business at any one point in time, including all assets and liabilities.
Next, you should learn how to create “pro-forma” which simply means “future” income statements and balance sheets.
Finally, you should learn how to create cash flow projections, showing when cash will be flowing in and out of your business.
All of this financial stuff may sound difficult if you haven’t done it before. It may take a little while to get a handle on it, but it’s not that tricky! If you can add 2 plus 2 and get 4 most of the time, you’ve got what it takes to be able to master business finance!
5 – Develop your marketing and find your first customers
Now it’s time to plan how to reach out to your target audience. You need to make them aware that you have the perfect solution to their problem and get them to buy your product. That’s where marketing and sales come in.
Here’s the one crucial thing you need to know about marketing…
Before you get excited about your brand new online ad or attention-getting publicity stunt, let me tell you what I think is the most important thing about marketing. This is something I truly wish I knew when I started off as an entrepreneur.
Marketing is hard. VERY hard. Even seasoned marketing professionals fail all the time.
What you need to do is carefully test different approaches with small amounts of money. The last thing that you want is to spend your precious cash on a marketing strategy that is generating no revenue whatsoever!
Now that you understand the true nature of marketing, you can start building your plan. To get started, answer the following questions: How can you reach your target market? What is your goal? What’s your budget? What’s your message? What are your channels? What are your creatives?
So start by answering these questions, and you will be well along your path to creating a winning marketing plan that will succeed in pulling in customers. Just like your business plan, your first marketing plan doesn’t have to be extremely long to be meaningful and valuable. But it needs a huge amount of thought.
Don’t forget that marketing is complex. Chances are that no matter how carefully you plan it out, your first marketing efforts still might not work at all. Don’t get discouraged! Keep experimenting, but with very small amounts of money…until you find the winning formula!
Anyone can sell! Here’s how to do it.
Now let’s talk about sales.
Are you still here? I’m asking you this because most people are afraid of selling. Are you? Well, I have two news for you, one good and one bad.
The bad one first…. As a business owner, you likely have to do at least some type of selling. You may well be the first sales person for your business.
Now the good one! Selling is not that complex, and once you get past the intimidation and the fear of being rejected, it’s actually very doable… even if you thought you never could sell!
The secret to selling is simple. You need to have an organized sales process. Let me explain.
You need to carefully analyze each step of the sales process and optimize them all.
Here are a few critical steps of a classic sales process. Finding your sales points, preparing your sales materials, searching for prospects, reaching out to them and then following up.
You will want to spend a lot of time working on your sales process. Making sales is incredibly important for most businesses. It will generate the revenue you need. If you do it well, you could make A LOT of money.
Here’s my final advice when it comes to selling. View the sales process not as trying to convince a prospect to buy something they don’t want, but instead as trying to inform them about your great product or service that you believe could truly help them.
So, in a nutshell, get prospects and leads that match your target market and tell them how you can address their pain points.
In conclusion, there are 5 major crucial steps to starting your own business:
– Commit to your business
– Choose the best business idea for you
– Differentiate your business and create your strategy
– Get the money you need and learn how to project your finances
– Develop your marketing and find your first customers
Success in business will require more than hard work and good luck, it also requires making the best decisions from the start. In addition to these 5 critical steps, there are a ton of other issues and things to do when starting a business. Just wrapping your head around these decisions is a lot of work.
You need to identify and learn about each step in starting a business. You have to make the right decisions from the start if you want your business to succeed! Remember, if the foundation is weak then the business will crumble.
I strongly believe that you are much more likely to be highly successful in business if you learn about business before you start and that you carefully plan out every step of the business in advance. In other words first “plan the work” then “work the plan.”
Starting your own business may sound like a dream, but I’m telling you, it is possible! You just need to follow the right advice and make the right decisions.
Don’t spend your whole life wondering if you could have done it…Instead just do it! Start by learning more.
I promise you, there is nothing better than being your own boss and building a highly successful business you can be proud of.
By Bob Adams
Founder of BusinessTown, Harvard MBA, and successful entrepreneur.