The Idiot’s Guide To Starting a Business

by Shenron on January 3, 2010

Breaking our unspoken rule about article length being about five minutes or less, today we’re going to cover everything you need to know about starting a business. It is quite a feat to try and consolidate everything you need to know about making it on your own in a guide that doesn’t consume your afternoon, as well as keep it in depth enough to keep your attention and provide some type of valuable outcome. Without wasting too much time in introductions, let’s jump right in. This guide won’t be a “step by step” approach that you may be used to, but rather a “here are some of the steps and here are some pointers.”

Starting Business The Idiots Guide To Starting a Business

Obviously the first thing you want to do is come up with some type of idea and business model. A common misconception about starting your own business is that you have to have a new product and a new idea to get anyone even remotely interested in what you’re doing. Wrong. There are plenty of businesses out there that merely expand on existing ideas and improve on them so that the public has a choice in what they buy or use. It’s this very idea that makes starting your own business so great. For instance, if you only have one grocery store in your home town that sells everything you could possibly need, but doesn’t ever stay open passed 5PM during the week, an hour before everyone gets off from work, you would make a fortune starting a competing store that stays open until say, 8PM. You’re not selling any new revolutionary products, nor are you creating a whole new type of store, you’re merely improving on an existing idea and making it better.

But, if you’re starting your own business or got the drive to do so, chances are you already had an idea in mind. So, instead of spending too much time on developing your idea, we’ll jump to the next part of the procedure: the business plan. A good business plan is vital the success of your newly formed business project. Notice that it’s merely called a “project” at the moment. Until you have approval from the state, tax man, and an income coming in, it’s still just a project. Your business plan doesn’t have to look like a blueprint for a journey into space, but it should look professional enough that you’d be proud to show it to people other than your closest friends. Your business plan should include things like the cost of operations each month, your anticipated revenue for the first few months, even for the first year, and what type of market research you have done. In addition to the operation side of things, you’ll want to include any government restrictions that may exist for your business type. Getting all of these things down on paper will help you organize your thoughts and get you ready for the next step.

Who has ever started a business without money? The answer should be “no one.” With your business plan in hand, you can start approaching potential investors with your idea. You may be hard pushed to find a bank willing to loan in these tight times, but if you have any wealthy friends or know a guy who knows a guy, you can pitch your idea to them. Businesses don’t fail for a lack of good ideas, they fail because people never have enough funding to keep them going.

The next few tips and suggestions won’t really help you get your business going, but will rather keep it going. You may notice that there is a lot of gray space in between getting everything ready for your business and the “keep it going” stage. That’s because the space in between is entirely subjective and open to debate. Some people like to take their start up capital and invest it in a new office for themselves to work, while others would rather work from home and put all of their money into products and services and get an office down the road. It would be impossible for any guide to tell you what’s right and wrong in that area. The only good advice we can give you is to keep things sensible and if necessary, find a place of operations that isn’t too lavish, but will still attract customers. See, wasn’t that vague? To determine where to spend your money you can spend hours reading marketing books to learn where your customers are and how to get them through your doors, or you can use common sense. The choice is yours. After you get your business “official” and running, you can move on to the tips that will help you keep things running smoothly and efficiently.

• Take the time to cater to your customers. The old adage about the customer always being right should be tattooed on your arm so you don’t forget. Do everything in your power to make your customer’s experience pleasant and memorable. Think, if you spend an extra dollar or so on a free cup of coffee and a bagel for every customer that walks through your doors, you can almost guarantee that they will come back, as well as tell their friends. You may end up losing money on the front end, but if you can keep paying customers coming through the door, you’ve done well.

• One mistake that a lot of young business owners make is forgetting to organize. Organization is key to making things run smoothly. If you think you can get away with shoving all of your receipts into a drawer and worry about them come tax season, you’re wrong. If you’re one of those people, you may want to start off early and higher a CPA. Also, a secretary or assistant of some kind to keep your life organized while you run things may be beneficial to both the health of your business but also to your own mental health.

Starting Business 5 The Idiots Guide To Starting a Business

• Lastly in the list of things you need to do to keep your business afloat is probably the most important. If you take nothing else from this guide, remember this final tip. Take time for yourself. You say to yourself, “What?! Why would I do that when I have a business to run?” If you don’t take time for yourself, the stress will build and ultimately, your business will suffer. If you can’t take time every evening to sit back and relax without worrying about how the business is doing, you’re doing a disservice to yourself. Take time to relax.

We hope that you learned something from this guide, even if it was only a small little tip or tidbit that inspired a world changing idea. Many of these tips are covered more in depth in other guides available on the site. Feel free to take the time to check them out and learn more about each topic. For now though, best of luck with your business ventures and if you have questions or comments, post them in the comments section below.

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