Struggling with how to get started in business? When I initially looked for help to start my own business, I found that a few startup business ideas can get the creative juices flowing.
Startups are hard work. Finding the right small business idea helps get you excited about the work (and benefits) that can lie ahead.
Whether you’re looking for home business ideas, online business ideas, or part-time opportunities, pay attention to your heart.
If your heart isn’t in your business concept, you’ll find yourself struggling to keep the enthusiasm going. It’s always better to work at something you enjoy! Once I found some business ideas I was excited about, it was a lot easier to find the appropriate help to start my own business.
The following article outlines the process of finding your own small business ideas, the steps to take, and when you know you’ve found the right one.
For help getting started, please download a free copy of the MySmallBiz.com Small Business Startup Guide. This 100+ page workbook walks you through the 10 key steps for starting virtually any small business. You’ll find instructions for downloading this guide at the end of this article.
Help To Start My Own Business – Where To Begin
The very first step you should take before doing anything else is to take some time and evaluate what you enjoy doing in life. What are your interests? What are your hobbies? Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down your thoughts.
In your interest inventory, take the time to think through your life. Your initial ideas will likely focus on those topics that you enjoy and are good at. New business ideas shouldn’t necessarily focus on those areas where you’ve found both enjoyment and success – but the enjoyment factor is key.
For example, let’s say that you love to cook and entertain for large parties. But you’ve never done this outside your own home. You’d love to start a catering business but how will you know you can succeed?
Well, business success depends on a lot of factors – but the critical factor when getting started is that you enjoy what your business is all about.
Does enjoyment = success? Unfortunately, no. The point we’re trying to make here, however, is that when starting a business, it needs to be based on something you enjoy.
Now, on the other hand, we absolutely can’t recommend starting a business based on something you enjoy but are lousy doing. You may love to sing and really enjoy weddings.
But you can’t hold a tune to save your life! Should you start a business as a wedding singer? Probably not – start up business ideas need a little chance to succeed!
In my personal assessment I discovered that I enjoy organizing information, I have a passion and background in computer programming, and feel like I am pretty good at both. So when it came time for me to ask for help to start my own business, I started with people who had built information-based websites.
Finding Something I Enjoy – Is It Really This Simple?
Successful startup business ideas are generally based on something you enjoy doing. Passion in business is important. But simply liking what you do in business in no way guarantees its success.
The point of the interest inventory exercise is to help you narrow down the vast universe of startup business ideas to a subset of concepts based on what you enjoy doing. Once you have a list of 5 or 10, the next steps are to do plenty of market research and business planning.
Research and planning? How boring! I just want help to start my own business.
Well, we’d love to tell you there’s a pot of gold at the end of every small business idea. But, since this is an ethically managed website, we simply can’t. Because it’s not true.
Without proper market research, you’ll never know whether your business idea will have the customer demand to sustain operations. It would be kind of analogous to gambling.
And without proper business planning, you’ll never know if your business is headed in the right direction (or if you’ll have enough cash flow to get there).
We’re not trying to douse the entrepreneurial flame – just the opposite! The important point we’re trying to make is that you should come up with a list of feasible business concepts based on what you enjoy doing, then do your market research and business planning.
You may start with a list of 10 home business ideas but after your research and planning, have a list of only 2 or 3 viable startup candidates. The process of narrowing down your business list may take some time and difficult decisions. However, without a “short-list” of a couple ideas, the strategy and planning process will be overwhelming.
How To Start A Small Business
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of small business ideas to two or three, get out your pencil and paper and prepare to start some serious thinking and analysis. This step is where the planning process begins and helps you understand the feasibility of your business ideas. You need to ask the following questions, do the analysis, and come up with your best answers. Questions you should ask yourself about your business ideas include:
- How much will it cost to just get the business off the ground? Do I have this money or do I need a loan? Do I need financial help to start my own business? Where can I find access to credit? Are small business grants an option?
- How long until I break even? How much cash to I need on hand to keep the business afloat?
- How will I cover family (or your own if you’re single) living expenses during the startup phase?
- What county, state, and federal licenses, certifications, etc. do I need for the business? How long does it take for each?
- Who are my customers? Is there a market for my business?
- If your business sells a product, how much inventory do you need on hand?
- Do you need to hire employees or temporary staff? How much help do you need?
- Do I love this business? Does it fit my lifestyle, professional goals and personal ambitions?
After answering the questions above for each of your business ideas, you should be able to pick the business idea that makes the most sense for you (and has the highest probability of success). While a lot of work, the next steps for how to start a small business are somewhat academic…
- Prepare a business and marketing plan
- Obtain necessary funding
- Establish your business entity and register with your county, state and federal agencies
- Open a business checking account and business credit card
- Design your company logo and order business cards
- Obtain necessary licenses, certifications, insurance, etc.
- Acquire office or storefront space, if necessary
- Purchase inventory, if necessary
- Start advertising
- Open your business!
- Closely manage and analyze your books; pay careful attention to your cash flow
- Revise your business and marketing plan
- Work hard, succeed, and hopefully make a ton of money
- Make a difference in your community
Sure, these are overly simplified, but you get the picture. The two hardest tasks, in our mind, when learning how to start a small business, is 1) Coming up with start up business ideas that you are passionate about, and 2) Doing the due-diligence to try and ensure that your business will be a success.
The MySmallBiz.com Small Business Startup Guide provides a much more detailed overview for starting a small business. This guide is absolutely free when you sign up for our e-mail newsletter. You can opt-out of the newsletter at any time and keep your free copy of the guide.