Security has long been the name of the game for job seekers, and with the economy taking its time recovering, it’s no surprise that many traditional applicants are still looking for the secure move. However, there is another trend that is taking the economy by storm, one that is exactly opposed to 9-5 jobs: start-ups. People all across the country are abandoning the sinking job ship and creating their own jobs by starting businesses.
The New Year ahead still looks grim for entrepreneurs: credit is not any easier to come by, and customers are still hard to impress. Despite the state of the economy though, now is a great time to jump on the start-up wagon if you are wise and have the right resources, networks, and plans.
So, if you’re thinking about starting a business, look no further than this 2012 guide to your journey as an entrepreneur:
Before you head out, you’ll need to know where you’re going. The number of possible businesses you could start is infinite, so it is important you decide on what your business will be, and what it will be about, early on. If you aren’t already inspired, but know you want to start a business, take some time to figure out what you’re passionate about, and try to find a way to make a business of it. Some of the driving players in any business are competitors, target customers, and start-up and operational costs. You can use these considerations to help you narrow your idea down. Alternatively, you can start a franchise at a surprisingly low cost, which is a good route for those who maybe haven’t found their passion yet, but are talented managers.
After (or while) you brainstorm, it is imperative that you formulate a business plan that covers the logistics of the business, from production to delivery. When developing your business plan, ask yourself questions such as:
- What is my product/service?
- Who are my customers?
- Who is my competition?
- How do I connect my customers with my product?
- What will cash-flow look like?
During this phase, don’t be afraid to look and ask for help wherever you can find it. There are dozens of excellent guides on business plans on the internet, as well as local associations, such as SCORE, that assist entrepreneurs by connecting them with successful business owners who can act as mentors. Additionally, you will need to take taxation into consideration and study the SBA’s list of business structures to establish which one your business is. Planning in advance is probably the most crucial part of starting a business “” don’t sabotage yourself by trying to cut corners during this stage. Think through the entire process as thoroughly and clearly as possible.
Probably the most intimidating part of any start-up enterprise, securing funds for your start-up – which you can’t avoid, by the way – is also the most difficult, especially in this climate. Banks are still hesitant to give out loans, and home equity loans are hard to come by after the housing market crashed. So it is up to you to find creative ways to get money. This might mean looking for angel investors from the Angel Capital Association; this might mean convincing a venture capitalist of your potential; this might mean selling baked goods or asking your friends and family for money. Whatever you do, get the money necessary to start your business, or it won’t ever get off the ground.
Marketing is paramount for new business owners; if you don’t launch a marketing campaign before your business is up and running, no one will know about your business to buy from you, and the likelihood that your business will crumble will shoot through the roof. Marketing campaigns in today’s internet culture, however, are much easier, and much more affordable to launch, and can be more rapidly successful than more traditional kinds of marketing. Consider:
- Social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
- PPC ads
Find out which campaign (or combination of efforts) will get you the best results, plan it, and then execute.
5. Sell, Sell, Sell
This is more or less self-explanatory. You’ve got to offer great service, an excellent product, and an all-around consumer experience that gets your customers coming back and bringing their friends with them. Know that you will be rejected, especially in the beginning, so learn to grow from your mistakes instead of wallowing in self-doubt or self-pity. Remember that you’ll have to pay taxes on your sales, and will have to determine a payment processing plan. Just get out there and be passionate!
With this brief guide, you will be able to break through the traditional mold, and venture out into new territory, ultimately transforming yourself into the entrepreneur you always dreamed of becoming.
About the Author: This is a blog post by Eliza Morgan who is a full time blogger. She specializes in writing about business credit cards. You can reach her at: elizamorgan856 at gmail dot com.
Image: dierken / Flickr