Today, it’s easier than ever to start a business. In fact, all you need is a computer and an internet connection.
The tough part is making that business successful, helping it stand the test of time.
Before starting a business, it’s important to know what you’re getting into — and some of the pitfalls to avoid. Here are seven things to keep in mind as you move forward:
1. Have a Plan
First of all, it’s a good idea to have a plan when starting a business. You don’t need a huge multi-page tome, but it does help to have some basic idea of what you’re going to do — and when you’re going to do it.
Sketch out details, such as the need for your product or service, and pay attention to the steps that it takes to move forward. And don’t forget to map out a marketing plan that can help you stay on track and grow your business.
A basic outline is fine for now. The important thing is that a plan forces you to think ahead and figure out what is likely to work, rather than diving in and finding out later that you’re woefully unprepared.
2. Double-Check the Name
Before starting a business, make sure the name you choose is available. Do a trademark search to make sure you aren’t encroaching on someone else’s mark.
Also, consider names that lend themselves to internet address names. It can be difficult to strike that right balance, but test out different names online and make sure a fitting domain name is available before you settle on a name.
In today’s business world, it’s important to make sure that the name you pick meshes well with your online presence (including social media) as well as your offline presence.
3. Follow Up With the Law
What’s required by your locality when starting a business? Do you need a license? To register? What business organization makes the most sense for you?
A good small business attorney or accountant who specializes in business can help you set things up properly. It’ll cost a little money, but it’s worth it to make sure everything’s in order.
While you’re at it, be sure that you also understand the situation when it comes to taxes. You’ll need to pay quarterly taxes as a business owner. You don’t want to fall behind.
4. Know Your Worth
One of the biggest mistakes new business owners make is offering deep discounts just to make a “sale.” While this can be a way to bring people in, it’s important to have a plan for these loss leaders and know your worth.
In my freelance business, there have been times that I’ve said no to some work because a potential client was trying to undercut my price. Know what your products and services are worth on the market, and then look for clients and customers that will value you and what you offer. It can be a harrowing experience, but it’s important if you want to succeed in the long run.
5. Understand What You Need to Live On
When starting a business, you’ll have to sacrifice. There’s a good chance you’ll need to cut your personal expenses to the bone so you can invest your money in the business. Know exactly what you need to live on, so you can be sure to take care of your needs.
In some cases, this means that you keep your “real” job until your business takes off a little bit. Or maybe you move in with your parents. Whatever the situation, carefully consider what you need to live on so you can make a plan.
Starting a business isn’t easy, and you need to be prepared for that reality — and shore up your finances.
6. Know How Much Time and Effort it Takes
Starting a business is an intense experience. You’ll work more than you ever did at a job for someone else. Be prepared to work long hours — and that doesn’t even count the work you might be doing for someone else.
You need to be ready to say no to some fun nights on the town so you can take care of business. It’s not always easy. However, if you can stick it out for a couple years, there’s a chance that things will get better. You’ll have the money to hire people to do some of the work, and you can spend less time working and more time enjoying the fruits of your labor.
7. Failure is Part of Success
Finally, realize that failure is part of success. Your first business might fail. Even if it doesn’t, you’re bound to have missteps along the way. Don’t get discouraged. Many great entrepreneurs failed — and that’s how they learned.
Use failures and mistakes as teachers so that next time, you’ll do it right. The path to success isn’t overnight and it isn’t easy. It’s paved with failures that make you stronger.