Starting a business is a dream of many. A lot of us simply become tired of the perceived limitations of punching a clock. After all, haven’t most of us been told from the time we’re in grade school that we can achieve whatever we want? As William Ernest Henley so poignantly said “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Those words are the bedrock of the entrepreneurial spirit. They sum up with utter perfection the feelings of the average entrepreneur. There’s something so completely liberating about going out on one’s own. To be an entrepreneur is to tell the world who we are, what we do…it’s an expression of ourselves.
Of course, the exhilaration that comes with taking the first steps toward such freedom is often accompanied by trepidation. And rightfully so. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of all businesses fail within five years of start-up. The causes range from poor planning to insufficient resources to legal issues and a host of other pitfalls. In a way, the entrepreneur could be considered a hero of sorts, heading into battle with a one in two chance of survival. Those odds obviously aren’t for the faint of heart. But the spoils of success are many and so for some, this becomes the engine that drives the endeavor.
Making the decision to start a business may seem like the most challenging hurdle, and it’s certainly a big one. However, from the outset you have to be prepared to work harder than you ever have before. This is why being passionate about what you’re doing goes a long way. Can you see yourself doing this five years from now? Ten years? What are your long term visions and does this business fit into them? My dad always said “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Cliché as it may sound, there’s a lot of truth there. Most of us never come close to that in working for someone else, but taking the reins of one’s life and guiding it to a more fulfilling end is a temptation that intrigues many of us.
So you’ve established that you have the desire and you’ve made the decision. Now you must consider the steps involved to actually make it happen. The more thorough one’s approach, the less uncertainty on one’s path. Diving into a business venture without a plan is like trying to build a house without a blueprint. Something that, most would agree, will likely end in disaster. This SBA checklist can help you understand the steps to consider when starting a business.
Of course it’s important to understand that some businesses will fail regardless of how much thought and planning goes into them beforehand. Sometimes economic forces are at play. Sometimes it’s a saturated industry. Sometimes it’s an idea that doesn’t fill a great enough need to be viable. Or it may be a matter of poor timing. This is where doing homework will be important. Get some insight into the industry you’re considering. If it’s a novel idea, how much marketing will be needed to make potential customers aware of its benefits? If it’s a brick and mortar business, it’s a good idea to obtain traffic studies and find out where the competition is located in relation to your prospective site. Gain access to economic data on the local, state and national levels. The more you educate yourself, the greater your chances of averting catastrophe.
Two things to have in one’s pocket from the very beginning are a good accountant and a good attorney. It cannot be stressed enough how much grief and how many resources can be spared by obtaining the correct advice while navigating the start-up process. Even after start-up, the guidance and expertise of quality professionals will be paramount to the ultimate success of your business. Consider it a huge advantage as you set out to clear the numerous hurdles that arise in starting and growing a successful business.