As Independence Day quickly approaches, I’ve been giving thought to how this special day celebrates the American spirit to break free, and not only in the political sense. We are a nation built on “start-ups” and entrepreneurship. Our forefathers, and in many cases our grandfathers, grandmothers, parents or great grandparents, came to America to break free and pursue what was, and still is, considered “The American Dream.”
For them and for us, the word freedom represents many things. It can mean that you decide how hard to work and how far you will take your success. It can mean your own schedule. It can mean life… on your terms. It all needs to start somewhere though with a fearless leap, whether big or small, towards independence.
Here are some steps in declaring your independence:
1. Figure out what you are interested in as well as your unique skill set. If you are really interested in a certain area, you will, and may have already, authentically tapped into a targeted community of like-minded individuals. They are your customers/clients. Give them what they want and need.
2. Do your research. Is there a market for what you offer? Are you filling a need? Who are your competitors and how are you differentiating yourself? There are many sources for market research. The ASBDC provides clients free research packets that can serve as a portion of your overall due diligence.
3. Stay flexible and open to discovery. Based on your research, you may find that what you originally thought was the for sure, best idea for a business ever has no real market or won’t generate the level of income you are looking for. BUT you often uncover other unknowns through your research and if you are open and really listen and investigate, you may find an even better variation of your original business idea.
4. Get educated, and not only about your industry. Get educated in regards to how to run a business. Learn about cash flow and the tax ramifications of the various legal entities. Learn about digital media strategies, branding alongside with QuickBooks and how to read a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet. Workshops, webinars, videos, articles (for trusted resources) are great sources of information. The ASBDC offers targeted workshops and certifications covering the business of running a business http://www.mosbdc.com/
5. Develop a plan. I’m referring to a real plan…not a dream…not a hope…a plan where you did your due diligence. Put in the time and effort, research the market, work out all costs and financial projections and be strategic about how you are going to move forward…and put it in writing. Need a second set of eyes and feedback on that plan? Reach out to the ASBDC for detailed feedback. Consider us a part of your team in achieving success.
6. Make it official. Register your business entity, obtain a tax id number, register for state and local taxes, get the necessary business licenses and insurance and open a business bank account.
7. Launch and execute your plan… and then revisit step #3. You can always tweak or adjust your course based on performance, data analysis. Stay agile and fluid and open to new discoveries and insight as you go along your journey.
About the Author: Pasqualina DeLucia, Assistant Director of America’s SBDC New Jersey at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ. The Small Business Development Center (Monmouth/Ocean SBDC) at Brookdale Community College, established in 1979, is part of a national network of university/college based centers that provide comprehensive counseling to small business and educational opportunities to small business owners and potential business owners. – See more at: http://www.mosbdc.com.