When you’re opening a business, it helps to have targeted goals, realistic expectations, a vision for the future, and a few trusted advisors. And, most importantly—be prepared to roll with the punches and flex with market forces
As a new business owner, the odds aren’t always in your favor, so it’s important to understand the challenges that lie ahead. To create realistic expectations for your business, ask yourself the following questions:
What types of businesses succeed in my community? Think about the needs and desires of your target audience and consider what makes your business stand apart from competitors.
How much risk am I willing to assume? No matter how carefully you plan, unexpected issues may arise, causing you to suffer financial loss.
Am I prepared to deal with the legal aspects of operating a business? Consider local and federal tax regulations, laws that govern how you treat employees, and local business licensing requirements.
How much time am I willing to invest in my business? You may find yourself putting in longer hours than you expected, especially when your business is just getting started or short-staffed.
A business plan
A business plan "an essential roadmap for business success." Your business plan is where you will keep important information for the future of your business, including the following:
Market analyses and strategies to boost your visibility, reputation, and customer loyalty.
A description of your company that aligns with your mission. This description should outline your business's personality and values as well as an approach to differentiating your offerings in a competitive marketplace.
Financial projections will help drive purchasing decisions and lending opportunities.
Policies, procedures, and roles will govern relationships and responsibilities, profit-sharing and decision-making, as well as protocols for handling the departure and addition of members.
Startup funds for opening a business
Opening a business can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. It can help to consider the following expenses
Research —You’ll likely become an expert on a number of topics including your potential market share; competitors and best practices; equipment and raw materials; and industry-specific laws, regulations, and permits.
Advertising —Marketing your business online can be a relatively low-cost solution, but it’s also time consuming. You may be better off spending the money to hire a marketing professional or a firm.
Overhead expenses —These may include office supplies, transportation costs, office rental, and other items that you will have to budget for regardless of incoming revenue.
Trustworthy sources of advice
Multiple online resources provide information you can use to learn about creating a budget and plan for your new business. For example, the SBA offers courses geared toward young entrepreneurs, seasoned entrepreneurs, and women who want to start their own businesses.
You’ll want to surround yourself with a team of professionals—you may need an accountant to keep your finances in order or a business coach who can help you with strategy. A good lawyer can help you incorporate your business and advise you on a range of legal matters.
The decision to open your own business can give you the freedom to build your own future. It helps to think things through before taking action, do your research, and talk to people who will share their successes and failures, and offer seasoned advice about who to overcome the hurdles of business ownership.