Most people, when thinking about how to start a small business begin with the basic logical steps.
1. You have an idea
2. You do research
3. You look for the education you might need
4. You secure funding and resources
5. You start putting your small business together
And all of these steps for starting a small business are very important. You need to take these steps
What most people miss, however, are the vital inner steps:
1. What is motivating you to start a small business?
2. Why are you choosing this particular business? (List your reasons)
3. Does your business idea fit with who you are and the lifestyle you want for yourself and your family?
4. What skills do you need to make it in your own business? And do you have those skills, and how will you fill in the gaps?
5. Have you looked at the real numbers involved in starting your business? What will it cost you to get started and when will your pay-off begin to happen?
6. How long are you prepared to operate in your small before making a profit?
7. Do you have a viable business model that fits your unique personality and strengths and how you want to be spending your time? What will you actually enjoy doing?
When I was in my mid-twenties I went to a two-year business trade school on accounting and management. I wanted to learn how to start a small business—my own business—one that would bring me joy and financial freedom. I had thought I would like to be an independent bookkeeper, but I really didn’t have a clue what that business would be like.
It was a great plan, yet within a year of beginning the classes and curriculum, I realized that I did not like working with numbers all that much. Yet I also recognized that my new accounting skills would provide a good foundation for any business. So I continued my schooling—and my search for a different business.
As a raving Häagan Dazs fan, I landed on the idea of starting my own ice-cream and sandwich shop. This was only the beginning of my vision. I wanted to model my business after Häagan Dazs and set up the first store as a prototype for a nation-wide boutique ice-cream franchise.
I did all the research and secured the funding from a friend. I leased a retail space in a small shopping center, and bought equipment for the store. I hired a guy to remodel the space, got my logo and signs made and even hired someone to help me manage the store.
There was only one small problem, after running the business only 30 days, I was completely bored. This was partly a reflection of my youth and inexperience at the time. And the business did not exactly take off quickly the way I had planned. My vision of major franchise success was slowly fading away.
However, I did not give up easily. I worked hard for 9 months promoting the store, giving out flyers all over town, daily specials and so on. We plugged along relentlessly for 9 months until my funding source finally dried up. By then I had yet to turn a profit and could no longer afford to stay in business. So I sold off the equipment, was able to get out of my lease (what a blessing that was) and I moved on. My business had failed.
So was this failure a total waste? I guess it depends on how you look at it. Sure I lost some money, but I learned some very important lessons about how to start a small business, and few things about myself.
What I learned about starting a business is that there is much more to it than having a simple idea and trying to make money. Here’s a few tips.
1. Choose a business you feel passionate about. What would you enjoy getting out of bed every day to go do? Because every business has its set of challenges. And you’ll need more than ordinary short-term motivation to see it through. Think in terms of what service you would like to provide or what problems you would like to solve for people. What will make you feel energized over the long haul?
2. Make sure you have adequate funding. If you are starting a service type business, such as yard care or a consulting business you can often make money right out of the gate, from your first contract or client. If you’re starting a retail company or an internet business it can take months (or even years in some cases) before you are profitable. Are you prepared to go all the way?
3. Build a bridge. Set up a plan to go from where you are to where you want to be. If you’re working a full-time job, and don’t yet have a lot of capital resources to start a business, make a “bridge plan.” Begin with what you have and build up from there. You’ll be surprised what can happen after a few months of working on your dream in your spare time.
Now, what I learned about myself is that I am not a quitter and I am able to take risks. I did not know myself very well at that young age. And I did not explore my ideas thoroughly enough to find a good match for my unique personality and passions.
I was focused solely on making money, and my true passions weren’t even considered.
I think it is good to explore new things, and to be adventurous throughout your life. As you cannot know all that you are capable of until you venture into new challenges, new opportunities and especially starting a new business.
But ideally, your business (and your source of income) will become a reflection of your values, your passions and your sense of service to something greater than yourself.
I like to think of starting and growing a small business as a path of personal development. Your business will likely challenge you to grow in ways you can not foresee. The question is Will you rise to this challenge?
Starting a small business can be a most rigorous path. Yet, it’s also the most fulfilling path when you choose your business based on motivations (and a vision) that you can put your whole heart and soul into. And this will prompt you to stay with it and follow through, even when times are tough.
Had someone sat me down before I chose the business of ice-cream and asked me to answer those 7 vital questions about the inner steps of starting a small business, it is very likely I would be sharing a wonderful story about how I started my first small business and made it all the way. And it would not have been about ice-cream (please forgive me Häagan Dazs).
So, if you have an idea brewing inside, sit down with all your heart and mind and answer those 7 questions. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money, and a lot of grief. Because you won’t be wasting your valuable time and money on a venture that’s not the right fit for you.
You’ll have a thriving business that matches your goals and your unique dreams for success. Then, before you know it, you’ll be telling your own story of how to start a small business.♥
Desirée Watson is a transformational coach and trainer who specializes in helping people make the changes they’ve always wanted to make, and to step into the dreams of their hearts. To schedule an appointment or find more information go to CoachDesiree.com