In fact, according to a new survey of people who’ve either started a business or dreamed of it, starting that business ranks as the second scariest life-changing event they ever expect to face, just behind saving for retirement. Starting a business ranks scarier than getting a divorce, becoming a first-time parent or moving to a new city.
The survey, which was sponsored by The UPS Store, also reveals that when it comes to launching a business, having a mentor is one of the most important things that can help an entrepreneur overcome fears and obstacles.
Preparation also plays a critical role in helping get you ready for the challenges of launching and running a business.
Here are six tips on getting your business idea off the ground even if you are still employed elsewhere. The UPS Store, which collaborated with SCORE (score.org), an organization that helps mentor small business owners, also has an excellent 22-page guide with advice on starting a business while working full time. You can download the free guide at: smallbiz.theupsstore.com.
1. Pick the right business: Some people know what kind of business they want to start. Others just know they want to start one. Consider something related to your skills, experience, interests or hobbies. Focusing on something you already know simplifies the startup process since you already have much of what it takes to get the business off the ground.
2. Go part time to start: Your new business will need to be something you can get underway outside your normal work hours. Don’t forget about personal and family commitments, too. With a few adjustments, you can likely make things work. But you might also consider taking on a partner who can share the workload and fill gaps.
3. Write a plan and figure out funding: Even if your business is tiny or part-time, you still need a written plan for how it will work. This should include a clear description of your product or service and why there is a need for it; how you plan to sell your product or service; realistic sales forecasts; analysis of the competition; your expected startup and yearly operating costs; and where the money will come from to fund the business until you generate enough revenue to cover costs. Most part-time entrepreneurs use their own savings to fund a business. Make sure to manage your finances carefully to give your business the best chance to succeed.
4. Choose your marketing methods: You’ll need to market your fledgling business in order to let others know you exist. This includes such things as email marketing, creating a website, search engine marketing, public relations, social media, direct mail and print ads, among many other possibilities. Generating buzz through social media is a great and inexpensive way to start. You’ll also want to have a logo, letterhead and business cards to make yourself look professional.
5. Establish a workspace: Will you need an office, store or other physical space to operate your business? If you are set on having a retail store, consider starting it as an online only venture, and then add a physical location later. Also consider when and where you will meet with clients or customers. The startup process will be easier if you choose a business that you can run from your home – at least initially.
6. Get legal ducks in a row: You’ll need to choose a legal form for your business. The simplest and most popular is a sole proprietorship. That means it’s just you and you file a Schedule C with your regular tax return to report business income and expenses. But if you plan to have employees, partners or investors, you might want to set up an LLC or S-Corp. These business entities require more paperwork but offer important tax and liability advantages. These three websites can help: Legalzoom.com, Bizfilings.com and Mycorporation.com.
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