Starting a brand-new business can be one of the scariest and most exhilarating moments in a new entrepreneur’s life. The hope and optimism, the visions of success, and the fear of failure are all competing for your emotions.
As you begin your journey to business ownership, you may find yourself vacillating between confidence and uncertainty, but don’t worry—we’ve got a plan.
Lifting uncertainty for small businesses and startups is one of our specialties here at SCORE, and we’re proud to announce our latest effort at helping new entrepreneurs realize their dream of owning their own business.
With the SCORE Startup Roadmap you can kick off your startup with confidence, secure in the knowledge that experienced business professionals are guiding you every step of the way.
The free Startup Roadmap course, which is broken into 12 chapters, isn’t your run-of-the-mill online instruction manual filled with information you already know or can find elsewhere. Each chapter includes expert tips, advice, and resources from actual SCORE mentors who’ve been where you are at one time or another. You are not required to complete all 12 chapters—only the ones you and your mentor feel will benefit you.
You’ll find step-by-step processes, worksheets, questionnaires, and other interactive features that will challenge your preconceived notions and get you thinking in different ways about your new endeavor. You’ll have your work cut out for you—there’s plenty of homework assignments you’ll need to complete, but it’ll all be worth it when you finally open your doors and get your first customer.
Here’s what you can expect to learn about yourself and your new business throughout this process:
- Getting Started. Before you begin, you’ll want to reach out to a SCORE mentor and talk through the entrepreneurial process with him or her. Your mentor can help you understand how the Roadmap relates to your unique journey and help you avoid pitfalls along the way.
- Looking Inward. You’ll perform a self-assessment that helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses, your financial health, why you want to start a new business, and what you want your new business to achieve both for yourself and others.
- Fleshing Out Your Idea. You’ll solidify your business’s concept, develop a feasibility plan and outline the journey you want to take to reach your entrepreneurial destination. When you’re done with this chapter, you’ll decide if your idea can translate as a feasible business.
- Building Your Plan. This is the big one: you’ll start developing your business plan and identifying the kind of business model you want to create. We’ll show you how to do it efficiently and effectively and take a lot of the pain out of the process.
- Getting Funding. Identifying sources of capital is critical for any fledgling startup, which means you’ll need to take a deeper dive into your personal finances. Once you have a clear financial picture of where you stand, we’ll help you build a budget, investigate potential funding sources and develop a pitch for lenders and investors.
- Setting Up. This is one of the most exciting steps in the process—actually getting on the road! This is where you start implementing your plan. Working with your SCORE mentor and using the Roadmap as a guide, you’ll choose a name, set up your tax identification info, choose a business structure and put your plan in place!
- Digging In. Once you’ve worked through the assessment phase, the planning phase, and the setup phase, it’s time to start building your processes and systems. You and your SCORE mentor will set up bookkeeping and accounting systems, streamline ways to get paid, implement a payroll process (if applicable), develop record-keeping procedures, and more.
- Spreading the Word. When you work on your business plan, you will develop a rough sketch of what marketing should look like for your startup. After setting everything up and digging in, you’ll revisit that plan and start honing the finer points of your marketing strategy: developing a target audience, building your brand narrative, creating a logo, and structuring your online presence.
- Pricing, Sales, and Distribution. Setting up prices is one thing; sticking to them is quite another. Between the Roadmap and your SCORE mentor, you’ll develop strategies to determine appropriate prices, streamline your sales processes and handle fulfillment.
- Getting Physical. Whether it’s opening an office or securing a storefront, your physical location will not only determine how others see you but also how they’ll access your products or services. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your new location, you’ll need to find the ideal place, negotiate a lease and outfit your new base of operations with equipment, furniture, and more. The Roadmap will make sure you leave no stone unturned.
- Finding Talent. Regardless of how big you want your business to grow, you might need people to help you get there. Should you hire employees? Should you outsource to contractors? Where will you find them? How will you pay them? What positions do you need? Your SCORE mentor and the Roadmap will help you find answers to these difficult questions.
- Flipping the Switch. You’ve waited for this moment all your life. This is where you open the doors and start conducting business. We’ll walk you through planning for your grand opening, building buzz, and mapping out your first year’s goals.
The SCORE Startup Roadmap is your tool for making your dream of business ownership a reality. Like any sophisticated tool, though, you’ll need someone to show you how to use it properly. Fortunately, with SCORE, you have master navigators at your disposal.
Contact SCORE today to get started with a mentor and take the first steps of your entrepreneurial journey!
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.