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How to Think About Starting a Small Business

The first stage of starting a small business is thinking about it. But, that alone can seem daunting, if you can't break down the endeavor into smaller, manageable steps, which you can then think about one-at-a-time. The following is a simple outline or template representing all of the steps that generally occur in the initial evaluation of an idea for a small business.

  • Choosing a Business Idea
  • Follow your passions to find a business sector. Determine what area within that business sector best suits your abilities and personality. Assess if you can raise enough money to enter that area of business.

  • Can Your Idea Be a Business?
  • If you are thinking about starting a completely new type of business, begin by researching how your idea could be turned into a business, whether it would be legal, how much of a market would there be for your product or service, etc.

  • Part-time or full-time?
  • Are you ready to start a full time business, or do you want to keep working and run your business on the side?

  • Home business or office business?
  • Can this business be run from your home (and do you want to work from home), or does it need to be in its own office or building?

  • Owner operated, or a business with employees?
  • Can you run this business alone or will you need employees? If you will need employees, estimate how many would be needed to start the business.

  • Choose a business structure
  • You can now incorporate a new business online, or form an LLC, partnership, sole proprietorship, etc. Decide what would be appropriate for your new business.

  • Write a business plan
  • Writing a business plan serves many purposes: it creates a detailed description of the entire business, which will force you to think through all aspects of how the business will work; it becomes a presentation document that you can use to apply for business loans or to interest venture capital firms; it becomes an incentive to attract qualified people to join your business as officers or board members; and, it works as a blueprint to be built on as your business grows and expands.

  • Decide how you will finance your business
  • Personal credit, business loans from a bank or credit union, venture capital investment, private loans from friends or family, etc.

    It is important to note that this process - the assessment of a new business idea - can be done over and over for little or no money. And each time you go through the process of assessing another idea for starting a small business, you will become more knowledgeable about the process, about business, and about what type of business will work for you.


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