January is my favorite time of year. The start of a new year is always exciting. There are new year’s resolutions to lose weight, save more money, get more sleep and to make it your best year yet–and I am for all of that. Well, this year you should work toward accomplishing your financial resolutions. I feel that the best way to do that is to start your own business. What I want everyone to focus on is finally getting a side hustle or full-time business going in 2011. The world is still waiting on a better mousetrap and in the absence of that, even silly ideas with great marketing will sell (Think “Keeping up with the Kardashians”). Despite the economy, now is the perfect time to start a business if you have three important things.
a) a solid business idea
b) a niche target customer
c) a plan to tell the world you are open for business
In my book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, I outline the Emerson Planning System, which was developed to help transition from having a job to starting a business. It’s a month-by-month guide to start a profitable and sustainable small business. It concerns me that most often, when someone declares they want to start a business, the first thing most experts will say is that you need a business plan. Here’s what I say: Yes you need a business plan, but there are a few more things you need before that. Here are my six steps to starting a small business.
- Develop a Life Plan — You should not just start a business because you need money; becoming an entrepreneur should be a part of your big picture plan for your life. Take the time to figure out what you want out of life, and then build a business around that. Make sure your passion has a profit center.
- Analyze Your Financial Plan — You must be in a position financially to support your lifestyle and have the personal resources to start your business. Keep in mind it typically takes 18-36 months for a small business to break even. Can you go that long without a paycheck?
- Validate Your Business Concept — Once you have a business idea, the next thing you need do is to evaluate what skills you have and need to run your particular business. This will help you learn if you need to attract a partner or how to hire your initial team.
- Marketing Plan – You really need to know who’s going to buy from you and why — before you write a business plan. There’s a difference between “need”, “want” and “willing to pay for” in business. There’s must be a market for your product or service; you must know your opportunity landscape and understand the competition.
- Business Plan–The easiest way to write a business plan is to purchase business plan software. You can grab a copy of Business Plan Pro software, one of the best on the market, from my affiliate link, and I would also suggest taking a business plan course from a local college, SCORE, or a Small Business Development Center so that you can complete your business plan.
- Launch Your Business –The best way to launch a business is to do it while you are still working a job, if you can. Join the 5-9 club, which is when people work evenings and weekends on a side business. Since it takes two-to-three years to get a business off the ground, it’s the best option. Now, if you are starting a business with the goal of quitting a job–keep those paychecks rolling as long as you can. Give your business the best possible shot of being successful.
Do your own due diligence and find a small business that you can succeed in today!
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of MFE Consulting LLC, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She has been featured on NBC Nightly News, in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and Black Enterprise Magazine. Melinda is also the author of the national bestseller Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works. (Adams Media 2010)