Starting Your Own Business – One Step at a Time

I’ve searched the Google adwords tool and the phrase “starting your own business” came out with a very high global monthly search rating. This means that many people, all around the world, are searching for this topic all the time. So what does this mean?

Everyone wants to start a business

Or do we?

I know a lot of people who are happy and content with their lives as employees working for another person’s company. Their reasons vary from lack of financial capital to lack of knowledge in business, or what they think is lack of an idea. Many also say that they need the security and certainty of a fixed monthly income for assurance that they can indeed pay their bills and put food on the table.

Even so, many also realize that personal fulfillment and financial success and freedom can be difficult to achieve just by being 8-5 employees. While the day job may indeed provide for the family’s basic needs, it often leaves people wanting more.

Simple tips to start a business

1. Start with an idea. What do you know? What are your passions? What are you interested in?

Do you know about technology? Are you into programming or web design? Then probably an IT company that caters to web development or software programming or the current trend of mobile apps could be right for you.

Do you have interest in foods? Do you love to cook and experiment with stuff in the kitchen? Then you may want to open up a restaurant or just even a small food cart. You can even franchise to make things easier for you.

I used to worry that I wasn’t an inventor-type, and as a result I couldn’t see the pathway to being in business for myself. But then I realized that many businesses are created out of everything that is needed to go around existing or new products, including service-oriented businesses, integration, and pulling together resources in a way that others can’t. Success often comes through using and building on what others have done, so don’t let your lack of ‘invention’ skills stop you.

2. Decide whether you want to do it alone, or partner with somebody else or even a group of people. Building a business totally on your own may be the right fit for some people, who prefer to stick to their own ideas and are very driven to get the job done the way they see fit.

Do you have other members of your family, friends, or acquaintances who are interested in getting a business up and running? Does this person share the same mindset as you do? Do they have the same interests as you do? Working together will allow you to share tasks and to do lists, as well as each take on the things you are naturally better at doing. Having the ability to share ideas, get feedback, and provide encouragement in both directions can be a huge motivator when building a business.

3. If you already have an idea of what business to start, then a great next step is doing ‘primary research’ – getting out there and talking to potential customers, partners, competitors, etc. There are plenty of IT companies, restaurants, consulting firms that have already gone down the path you are considering, so take advantage of what these individuals and people have done to learn what will/won’t work, what customers really care about, etc.

Find out what your future customers may want. Think differently but think about them. Cater to them and their needs. Do not just think of the money. The money will come if you are able to get customers and sustain them and supply them with whatever may be needed to meet their demands.

Another great thing to do while in this stage is to identify if there is any problem in the line of business that you are pursuing. Think of your needs too. What would you have wanted from others on this kind of business? In your previous role as an employee, what would have changed in your work environment? Then, try to come up with a solution, so that it is built in to the foundation of your business.

4. Now comes what for many is the hardest part – coming up with the capital. You and your partners, if you have any, may or may not have enough money to start up the business that you have in mind.

By this point you need to know how much money is required to finance your new business. Even if you aren’t good with math, and don’t like spreadsheets, put together a simple financial model that will force you to think through sources and projections of money coming in, and the many ways that money will be going out. You need to think of all the things needed such as an office, equipment, overhead expenses, etc, as well as the gap in time between expenses and revenue, so that you have an adequate cash buffer to keep things moving. The specifics will depend upon what kind of business you are in, but taking the time to think through this is absolutely necessary.

In some businesses, it will be possible to boot-strap your way up to adequate cashflow with very little investment. Many companies require investors, who then have equity ownership in the company, and often take a role on the board of directors, providing an oversight role. It is still your responsibility to handle day to day management and execution of the business.

On tips on how to raise venture capital check out this article from Forbes.

Here is a rather long article written by Paul Graham, one of the founders of Y Combinator, that you may want to read to get more extensive information on the topics raised above.

An Online or Offline Business

We are fortunate (I think) to live in a time where the internet is part of most of our lives, especially in the developed world. We cannot get a day (or even a few hours?) without surfing the web, checking out the news, connecting with family and friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

An offline business is a typical business that existed before the internet became so widespread. These businesses had a physical presence of some kind, and they advertised through TV and radio ads, newspaper and magazine ads and flyers and posters and even through snail mail.

For the last 15 years, online businesses, which exist in part or whole due to the internet, have become the source of a lot of new businesses and ideas due to the relative ease of creating such a business, as well as reaching customers far beyond your immediate geographic area. The business or company will have their own website and/or blog. They advertise through other blogs, YouTube videos or through social media platforms.

This article from Pushing Social promotes that business startups should have their own blogs. A blog is a great way to promote what you are doing, and it also helps you to think through what you are learning in the primary research you are conducting. You could target your community by making sure to put your place of business on the site’s title, as well as linking and cross-promoting material from current or potential partner companies.

With your own blog you can share with your readers and future customers what your products and services are. This is a good way of marketing at quite a smaller cost rather than printing and distributing flyers, posters and banners.

The best tip of all

What’s the best tip of all? Start now. Act now. Don’t waste time planning, procrastinating, or waiting until something specific happens. There are always excuses and factors that could be better than they are right now, so waiting for those to change or go away will just leave you a little bit older, and still wanting your own business. You can have great ideas, connections, and access to resources that you never know you had unless you start acting on it now.

You can also try to start on building connections and establishing relationships even while you are still working at your job or developing your ideas. Like my last line on one of my previous articles

“I won’t be stopping my natural tendency to learn about where someone grew up or what they like to do on the weekends, but I am going to focus on increasing the business benefit of networking.”

Was there anything different or unique to how you started your own business? Please fill in the comments form below.

Did you like what you just read? Please feel free to share this with your facebook friends or tweet it to your followers or email this to your network. Thanks.

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About Tamra Johnson

I’m an entrepreneur and a recent MBA graduate from UCLA Anderson. I have 10 years of experience in IT Management and Systems Engineering. I love learning, helping others, exploring the world around me, running at the beach, going to concerts, and visiting family and friends. I grew up in Helotes, Texas, went to undergrad in Cambridge, MA, and now live in Venice, CA.
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