I’m a firm believer that not much is required to start your own business.
You really just need to get out there and start making sales.
A business just needs customers.
You can even start a business with no money.
But there are a few things you should consider doing before you start your own business. Let’s look at a few.
Brush Up On the Fundamentals
If you’re planning to start a service business, it’s probably a good idea to brush up on the basic fundamentals of your craft. For instance, if you’re planning on starting a t-shirt design company, it would be helpful to take a course on Photoshop or other design software.
Miranda Marquit, freelance writer here at PT Money, recommends that anyone wanting to start their own freelance writing business should take a writing class. She recommends a community education class on writing or even auditing a writing class at a nearby college or university.
Not only will this help you improve your basic writing skills, but it may even lead to a few business contacts and potentially a few gigs.
In addition to looking for classes, you could also consider volunteering or interning for a company that already does the work that will be required in your business.
Save More Money
Gary Christensen, who started a delivery service, says that,
“[i]f you’re not sure what you want to do, start saving some money. Start putting some money aside. Start looking around. Start doing some investigating.”
I love this advice because one of the hardest things people struggle with in business is coming up with the idea for your business. Just because you don’t have the specific idea, it doesn’t mean you can’t start saving money for a potential business. Having the cash ready beforehand also means you can act quick on your idea and not have to rely on debt to get started.
In addition to saving money, I’d recommend having your personal finance details in order before starting a business. The leaner you are on the personal side, the more freedom you’ll have to explore your business idea. The longer you can stick with your business, the greater your chances of success.
Test Your Idea
Before you hire a single person, purchase a bunch of inventory, or spend a ton on advertising, you should test out your idea to make sure it’s a winner. Steven Sashen, who started a shoe business, made his “barefoot running” shoes for just a few people before deciding it was a legitimate business idea. Steven said,
“I bought the materials to make some for me and a couple other people, and about 20 more people said, “Hey I want those.” So, I made about 20 or 25 pair. The last pair I made was for a local barefoot running coach who said, “You should do this as a business.” I said, “Yeah, I don’t think so. I’ve got other stuff going on.” He said, “Well, I’ve got a book coming out, and if you had a real business, like a website, I would put you in the book.”
Not only did Steven’s first few shoes prove he could sell more, it led to some free advertising. Put a small piece of your business out there and let your potential customers tell you if it’s wanted.
Steven didn’t stop with his “offline” testing. He used Google’s Keyword Tool to determine how many people were searching for his type of running shoe each month.
Learn the Legal and Compliance Aspects
Depending on the type of business you are planning to start (e.g. food service), you may need to check with State and Federal business regulations to understand how to meet compliance. Before the idea of a high-priced lawyer scares you away from doing business, consider the strategy used by Cara Bergeson, who started a custom t-shirt company. Cara says,
“The Oregon Bar Association offers free to very little cost consultations for new business owners, so I spent $25, spent an hour with a lawyer on the phone giving me advice and stuff, and then I just took it from there…”
In addition to cheap legal advice, you can usually find free help from the Small Business Administration through their SCORE program.
Consider Your Family
Finally, think about how this new venture is going to affect your family. I asked a friend who recently started a real estate business on the side and he said this should be one of your biggest concerns before you get started.
Not only will you be spending money on this new project, you’ll be spending all your extra time to get it off the ground. This means potential time away from family. If you already have a full time job and you’re considering a business of your own, you’ll certainly have to skip out on some family time.
Talk to your spouse about any new business ventures before you get started to ensure you’re both on the same page.
What are some other things to do before starting your own business?