Where Do You Start In Owning Your Own Business?
by Michael D. Morgan, Keynote Speaker, Consultant, Trainer & Speaking Coach - Morgan Success Group, Inc.
Oh, oh! An idea has entered your mind. You’re thinking that you want to own your own business. This idea could have come to you as a thought out of the blue or because you suddenly find yourself facing imminent unemployment or even severe job dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, you’re excited! There’s a sparkle in your eye, a spring in your step and a new enthusiasm in your life. Here’s an idea that’s got you thinking. But is it the right thing to do? You could be making a great decision or an equally big mistake. Should you or shouldn’t you? It’s important to discover your true motives and desires in wanting to start your own enterprise. Starting-out on the right foot is critical. There are many stories about those unfortunate people who realized, too late, they made the wrong decision. Understanding your motives and desires will help you make the right decision in getting started. It will also help you define the business you should get into. We know there are many reasons why people want to start their own business: being frustrated with a current job situation or a boss, wanting to get away from a bad situation, being laid-off, just wanting a change, or maybe an opportunity is presenting itself. Some of these reasons can create failure, while others are perfectly good motivations. Be careful and do some soul-searching to find your own motivation. Okay. Now you have a great idea for a new product or service. Super! Entrepreneur spirit is exciting and necessary for the growth of business and industry. To start on the path of owning your own business you should understand the process of idea, the concept, the required planning and the final realization of your goals. Wanting to start a business is just the beginning. It is important to understand the elements of operating a business and the necessary skills involved in making your ideas, products, or services successful. This requires knowing exactly why you want to start your own business and an honest evaluation of your skills, knowledge, and abilities to actually operate a business. Remember that friend of mine, the one who loved to cook, the one who opened his own restaurant without looking before he leaped? Because he didn’t have the necessary knowledge and skills to operate a restaurant 6 days a week with a daily variety of menu items (besides the disposition needed to deal with fickle consumers), and because he had no knowledge of choosing a location, of purchasing or supply management, of hiring and managing staff, of bookkeeping or marketing . . . his business failed! If he had it to do all over again, he would concentrate on preplanning and research, then building a business plan and marketing plan. His dream became a nightmare. If you do prefer to work for yourself, you must understand that you will be your own boss and that your business probably will require more from yourself than your boss might have. Owning your own business requires serious thinking, a no-nonsense consideration of your skills, talents, resources, and business acumen. Now. What kind of business do you want to operate? Will it be retail sales? Will it be service? Or both? Will it be a one person operation? Do you have staff? Will you operate from your home or do you need rented or purchased operating space? Will you operate in your immediate area or will it be regional or national? Are there city, state or federal rules and regulations regarding your chosen business? You can find all of this, and more through research! Once you know your own desires, it’s a good idea to talk to other people who are in similar businesses. You can discover the pitfalls and mistakes they made and, if you’re lucky, avoid the same problems. You can find out how and why they designed their business, learn about the many challenges they’ve encountered and the success they enjoy. You’ll be amazed by how many people gladly offer their advice and opinions. This type of research costs you only time. Where else can you research your idea?
How about talking to the people at your local Chamber of Commerce? Think about it! These people track commerce--money exchange, the buying and selling of goods . . . business. They can provide you with information on everything from who’s new in town to who’s successful and unsuccessful in your field of interest. They can point you in the right direction, tell you who you should speak with and where to go to network yourself. And, they offer classes . . . all kinds of classes: Starting Your Own Business, Researching Your Business, Marketing and Sales, etc. What a valuable source of reference and information--use it! And, what about the Small Business Development Council (SBDC)? (Canadians can contact the Business Development Bank of Canada for these services) It is what it says it is--a council, a group of people who advise and offer consultation on developing a business. Why wouldn’t you spend time with these people? They have answers and probably questions you haven’t even considered. They can help you network, plan for the future, avoid hazards and be successful. Use them! Then, there’s always the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the U.S. and both federal & provincial governments provide assistance in Canada. These resources will help you understand what’s involved in getting a loan or in acquiring start-up capital. After talking with them, you’ll know whether or not you can even qualify for moneys and if you qualify on their terms. This is good research. After all, if you don’t have the cash, you can’t do much in the way of building a business! Ever heard of SCORE? This is an non-profit organization made-up of people who want to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams. It’s free council! You can talk with a representative to get the most unbiased opinions and the friendliest criticisms. They won’t tell you what you want to hear, they’ll tell you what they think and what they know from experience. Objective opinion--we all need it! Do you have any legal concerns about starting your own business? Talk to an Attorney who specializes in business law. You can get advise on what type of business structure you should employ, the new laws concerning taxation and paperwork, etc. Of course, lawyers never come cheap; however, you may be able to consult on a first-time basis for little or nothing. Even if you do pay a small fee, it will be worth the pennies if you go in prepared. Make a list of the questions you need answered: "What’s the cost difference between filing as an S-corporation or as a C-corporation?"; "Have any businesses like mine had legal problems--what kind of problems?"; "What type of legal liabilities will I have in my business--insurance, contracts, etc.?"; "Can I be the sole stockholder of my company?" The list goes on and is only limited by how deeply you want to research your dream. What other resources are available to help you research your idea? The ever-enduring libraries! Go to the local libraries and to the college or university libraries. You can find information on everything from market analysis to net-profits to the number of businesses engaged in your field of interest. Find out how many "other" companies are out there and how much money each yields. Look at their year-end statements. Try to find examples of their long-range marketing plans (usually on microfiche). Those librarians aren’t there just for their quiet manner--ask them for help! These folks know where to find anything about anything. And, if they don’t know right away, they sure will investigate until you get the answers you need. Other viable means of researching your idea . . . business programs, network groups, professional associations. Look around your community. There are tons of classes, hoards of specialized and non-specialized networking groups, and associations for just about anything you might imagine. Most of these resources offer you the opportunity to visit a couple times without charge. Do you have anything to lose? Time, maybe. But, based on what you’ll get back--time is a minor consideration, especially if you want to be successful down the road. One other huge researching resource needs to be mentioned: the information superhighway. Now, I know some of you are unfamiliar with this beast, but it’s there and it can cut your leg-work, your researching time, in half! Why? Because you can research from home, from your very own computer. The amount of information out there is unbelievable and you’ll need to know how to narrow your search. On the Internet, the available sources for research and knowledge are unlimited. There’s a lot out there--no doubt about it. Now that you know some of the resources available, you’ll do the best possible research . . . you’ll be prepared to start your own business! Once you know what you will be facing and can still say that you want to start a business, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding. Your desire will be defined and your understanding of the coming challenges will be clear. When asked, most business people will tell you that they underestimated the challenges they faced and they had to learn many lessons the hard way. You don’t have to learn the hard way and you need not forsake your dream. You can make your business a wonderful reality by getting off on the right foot through simple research and with an understanding of what it will really take to make your dream come true. In the next installment of this series, we’ll review what you need to do to start building your business plan and marketing plan. We’ll look at ways to apply the information you’ve discovered during your research. See you then. Happy researching! © Michael D. Morgan. All rights reserved. Michael D. Morgan
Morgan Success Group, Inc.
Keynote Speaker, Consultant, Trainer, and Speaking Coach
"Helping Individuals and Corporations Be Ahead By Design, Not By Default!"
Past President -- Colorado Speakers Association Web Site: www.morgansuccessgroup.com
Email: [email protected] 5234 Windgate CT., Suite "A"
Colorado Springs, CO, USA 80917
719-596-1605 ~ 1-800-873-4031 ~ FAX 719-596-0340