Squad Talk

Starting a Small Business

So, You Want to Start Your Own Business.

 Yes, there will be heartache and failure and hard times. Running a business isn’t easy, but the rewards are more than enough to make up for being uncomfortable. And it’s more than just the relative freedom to make your own decisions and the mountains of cash everyone insists you can make. It’s about building. It’s about contributing. It’s about connecting.

Signs You Need to Make the Jump 

The jump from steady paycheck to full-time entrepreneur is daunting. When the itch to do something more becomes stronger than the need to simply make a living, then it may be time to consider hanging your own shingle. Here are some signs it’s time to start something on your own:

  • You’re passionate about finding a solution: You know the problem exists and the world could use your help to fix it. You’re constantly thinking about best approaches and new methodologies. Maybe it’s time to test the viability of your solution.
  • Work ethic galore: You’re ready to put in the long hours necessary to take your business off the ground. Your stamina and dedication to the hours necessary to commit will separate you from those who only think they have what it takes.
  • You’re fine with being uncomfortable: There’s a lot of uncertainty that revolves around running a business. Where is the next project coming from? How do I coordinate enough materials in time for production? Will I have to make cold calls? There are an infinite number of scenarios that will confront your business. How you handle them will make all the difference.
  • Independence means everything: If you hate working for someone else and understand the processes necessary to create a more efficient product or service, it may be time to have at it. However, this has its price. You’re fully accountable at this point, so keep that in mind.
  • Building new skills and knowledge are as important as breathing: While working for someone else has its advantages, your boss may not always be interested in helping you advance your knowledge base. A drive to learn and create are great motivating factors in getting started on your own.

Reality Checks

Just to be clear, you’re going to hear scary statistics about starting and running your own business. A lot of businesses fail when they first get started. A lot. The benefit of this ghastly scenario is that we can learn from others and heed their advice.

  • Be prepared to help catch a dropped ball: Don’t expect that just because you wear the CEO cap you get to lead from up on high. As a startup or fledgling business, you need to be prepared to wear many hats and pick up the slack when the time calls for it. CEO, COO, and CMO are all great titles to have, but they don’t mean bupkis if you ignore the little details and tasks that keep clients coming back for more
  • Create something the market wants: “If you build it they will come.” Not necessarily. It’s critical for you to understand that even though you feel you’ve just created the best thing since sliced bread, the marketplace may not care. The marketplace may not understand what you’re offering or why. It’s important for you to perform your due diligence and understand the needs, wants, and desires of potential customers. Not only that, but you need to have a clear picture of what makes your product or service different and valuable to your target market.
  • It’s hard, but rewarding work: Unless you’ve managed to build a magic wand factory that churns out nothing but wishes, unicorns, and rainbows, then you’re probably looking at some long days ahead. Running your own business isn’t just an investment in capital, but an investment in time as well. You’ll need be ready to work a 12 or 16-hour day sometimes. With that hard work, you’re announcing to the world that you’re responsible for your own success and future.

Getting Started

Having a great idea, supporting market research, and the drive to create are all fantastic when starting your business, but there are some very real and very practical considerations to make. The Small Business Administration has a great list for those of you looking to take off and build a business or your own. While this list isn’t the end all be all checklist for starting a business, it’s a great starting point.

  • Build a plan: Every business idea should revolve around a plan. But if you’ve been thinking of this project long enough, a lot of the questions you need to answer are already rattling around in your head. Combine this with market research, financials, and action steps to reach your goals, and you’re on your way to writing your business plan. However, once the business plan is done you must also consider creating a marketing plan as well as a sales plan.
  • Determine your legal structure: How you organize yourself and your team will matter in the long run. Are you looking to be a sole proprietor? Would an LLC make more sense? There are pros and cons to each, so do your homework.
  • Register your name for taxes: Registering your name with your state board makes your business official. However, you need to also obtain any tax or business licenses that are necessary to operate in your locality.
  • Understand what it means to hire: It’s going to be more than just saying “You’re hired!” As an employer you’re now responsible for the well-being of your employees and there are many things to consider such as benefits, withholding taxes, workers’ compensation, and unemployment.

If it seems like a lot of work to run your own business, it is. Sure, some folks can find efficient ways to run their business that mean high yields for little work, but most us will have to put in the extra effort. However, it truly is a labor of love and the benefits at the end of the day far outweigh the struggles that it took to get there. If you have questions about starting your own business, contact Growth Squad today to learn more about how we can help you get your business off the ground.

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