Archive for

Starting a Business? The 4 Things You Need to Succeed

With the desperate state of the economy, more and more Americans are looking to go into business for themselves. Entrepreneurship is the best (and only) way to take complete control of your work and financial future. Whatever business you are considering, there are a few universal requirements if your venture is going to succeed. The four fundamentals of business startup are time, money, knowledge, and support.

Time

Startups take time…much more time than many anticipate. If you plan to keep your regular job during the startup of your own company, expect to have zero free time in the foreseeable future. If you will be launching your venture full-time, expect your free time to be extremely limited, probably scheduled, and definitely overshadowed by thoughts of your startup.

Before you take the leap, prepare yourself for the inevitable demands on your time by finding and using an effective time-management system. Take a close look at how you currently spend your time and look for ways to reduce your commitments. Schedule necessary tasks, eliminate unnecessary tasks, and delegate anything you can. Look for blocks of time that can be committed to the startup. For some, getting up a few hours early or staying up late is effective, for others an entire schedule do-over is required. Everyone is busy these days, but the only way to succeed in business on your own is to commit the time and effort needed to get where you want to go.

Money

Start a business with NO money? Not if you want to succeed! The old adage is still true — it takes money to make money. How much you need depends on the type of business you are starting. And, even if you plan to find investors to fund the bulk of your venture, those investors will expect to see your own financial contribution to the startup before they will risk their cash.

That said, there are a million ways to cut the costs of startup and a savvy entrepreneur can launch a successful business for far less than the initial budget indicates. Bootstrapping doesn’t just save you cash during startup but also creates a culture of limited waste and efficient spending that will serve to boost the bottom line through the life of your business. Still, you have to put some cash up front to get your startup off the ground.

Knowledge

Startups require two broad categories of knowledge — operations and business fundamentals. The operations are what the business does, how it gets done, and steps or procedures that set your venture apart from the competitors. Business fundamentals are required for any type of business in any industry. This knowledge base includes the basics of accounting, marketing, financial management, networking, computer skills and the like. It is very common for entrepreneurs to be very knowledgeable in the operations of what they want to do and to rely on outsource professionals to manage the rest. Bad plan.

As the owner of a business, it is imperative that you learn and understand business fundamentals, even if you ultimately decide to outsource the actual day-to-day tasks related to those areas. For those who have a strong foundation in business skills, operational knowledge is far easier to assemble — you can hire an expert in the field, contract with consultants, or learn as you go. But the bottom line of any business is business — to be successful, the business owner must have a handle on the fundamentals.

Support

Launching a new business is highly stressful and it is critical that the entrepreneur have sufficient support to maintain their sanity. Be sure you have a few enthusiastic people on your side that you can access when the going seems rough. Your spouse or partner absolutely must be on your side, but you will need outside support, lest your entire relationship revolve around the business.

There will be plenty of people in your life asking you when you plan to find a real job, calling you “crazy” and “dreamer”, and otherwise looking to rain on your parade. (For the record, they are probably jealous…at least that’s what you should tell yourself). But there are always a few people, often the ones you least expect, who will emerge as your biggest cheerleaders. Starting a business isn’t easy, but having a small but strong support system can be the catalyst for keeping you motivated and on track to building the company of your dreams.

Whatever your business idea, your best chance of success comes with a realistic understanding of what it will take to launch the venture. Time and money are critical, and they are inversely proportional. Having more of one can make up for less of the other. Knowledge, especially of business fundamentals, is often sorely underappreciated by first-time entrepreneurs. In reality, business is all about business, no matter what the product, service, or industry. You need to know the basics of running a company, even if you are a world-renowned expert in the operations. Outside support is also significantly undervalued. Starting a business is a long, difficult road, and one that is not easy on the mental health of the entrepreneur. Having a strong support system can be the difference between giving up when the startup hits a roadblock and pushing through to ultimate success.