16 KEY ASPECTS TO START MY OWN BUSINESS
Maria M. Lopez, CPA (November 19, 2016)
Congratulations! You made a decision to live the life of your dreams; and living the life of your dreams includes starting your own business. You are taking action, steps forward into implementing the vision and mission for your movement and or business. You have created and identified the Why? What? Who? And now it is time to discuss How?
First things first – yes, you may be the creative type of person that jumps into a new endeavor or business venture; however, planning should precede the participation in that new endeavor, especially when it is your first time entering that field as a business owner or entrepreneur. You may also be wondering how exactly do I start my own business? What are the steps or activities necessary to consider as I start my business? Where do I go? What do I do?
This article will describe to you various activities to consider as you prepare to start your business. This article is intended to explain, in a brief way, many aspects to consider as you start your business. It is not meant to be all inclusive; there are other aspects to consider as your grows and expands. This article will explain How:
- Are you familiar enough or have past experiences working in that field? Knowing the ins and outs of that particular business or industry will help you become successful in designing and implementing your strategy and plan for business success. It will help you gather all of the necessary information and perform the various activities before you launch your business. It will also help you weather the storm, because any business usually has challenges along the way. If you have some knowledge of that field or industry, but would like to explore it deeper before you launch your business, consider working for someone else in that field for a period of time, do more research on it, and or possibly partner with someone who may possess the skills or knowledge or experience that will complement yours.
- Write your business plan. Some authors and some entrepreneurs do not necessarily believe in writing a business plan for a business; some feel the use of a business plan is obsolete. I believe what is important here is that you don’t spend so much time and effort in developing a business plan that eventually you may not finish due to loss of interest or attention, or that your industry is so quickly evolving that a business plan written today may not necessarily be applicable tomorrow. There are also those of us who plan and plan and perhaps take lesser time in actually launching that business and executing on the business plan. Thus, I believe you must know yourself first and decide what is the best path for you to take; however, I do strongly recommend writing a business plan; it could be as much as 4 or 5 pages and it does not have to be the perfect plan; remember that it should also be flexible enough to allow room for change and growth. I find it personally that a business plan begins with your vision; designing the vision of your business in a couple of hours during a Sunday afternoon for example will help you identify what it is that you really ultimately want to create for yourself and others and then your business plan will help you design the how you will attain that vision and goals. Also, do determine your specific goals: for example, write down what you want your business and for yourself, how much annual revenue you want, how much net worth you want to create, etc. In addition, have you prepared an emergency fund for the next few months and/or do you actually possess the funds to launch your business?
- Financial resources. Starting your business or your movement will require financial resources and plus you will also need financial resources to support your personal living expenses while you are devoting your own time and or the time of others to launch your business. There are many ways to start your business: you can start on a part-time basis while keeping your current job or you may hire someone to start certain activities that you delegate while you are still working a full time employment. In any event, eventually you may need to dedicate more time your new business and reduce or eliminate the amount of hours you are dedicated to your current job. Thus, saving funds to cover the next few months or years of personal living expenses is crucial in addition to saving funds for covering the start up cost and other initial operating activities of your business. You may also inquire about financing for your business through government agencies and or angel investors or family members who may want to lend you money or become investors in your business. There are others who use their own personal credit; here I must caution you, please do consider very well the strength of your business and industry so that you are able to pay back any financing or personal credit card debt. I urge you to consider highly the finances; do not ignore them. While you are saving funds before launching your business, you can use that time to complete your research for how to start your own business and making and building special relationships that will allow you or aid you in building that business.
- Building and creating your team in very important. Surrounding yourself with those who have the expertise in a given area that can assist you, lead you, coach you or support you and work with you is key. Having an accountant and attorney in your team that you can work with is necessary as you prepare to launch your business. Coaches and mentors are also very important; you do not necessarily must invest thousands of dollars in a coaching program or a mastermind program to obtain the mentoring or coaching. Sometimes, your best mentors and coaches are right around the corner and closer to you. Find someone who is a positive person, a go-getter, someone who possesses wisdom and knowledge about the type of mentoring or support you are seeking. If however, you find it of more use to join a master mind program and can afford it, do make the investment; you will be part of a new environment in which you will be supported and learn best practices. Last, is there chemistry between you and those you select for your team? Meaning, do they have their best interest in you and your business success?
- Accounting and Finances. Yes, you don’t have to be a Certified Public Accountant to develop an interest or expertise in the finances of your business. However, it is your business that your business is a successful business and that requires projecting and managing very well the finances of your business. Learning about finances, accounting and taxation is so relevant to the success of your business. Buy some books or reading materials about these topics, take notes and write your questions, and when you meet with your accountant and or attorney do ask these questions and takes notes on the meeting. Search for in a dictionary or also take some basic accounting and finances course at a Community College; it will provide you with information, methods and techniques that will apply to forecasting, budgeting, managing, and reporting your business’s financial, operating and investing activities. It will also allow you the opportunity to build connections and relationships with others who are taking those courses and possibly obtain referrals for that accountant and attorney for your business. As you embark on your business journey, do not forget to pay yourself; allocating a percentage of your sales or revenue to pay yourself is important so that you can cover your personal living expenses, and reward yourself for the important work that you are providing to the success of your business.
- Networking and forming partnerships and alliances. Networking in person or through social media is very relevant to the start of your business or more so to the expansion of your business. Networking will help you obtain leads that can become clients or customers and vendors/supplies for your business. You may also want to create partnerships or alliances with others that share a mutual interest, vision or have the same common goals or niche/market or have the same common goals of your business. Find the right organizations and associations where your participation will be of more value to your business: where do your clients generally meet? In addition, do consider purposeful networking: i.e. as you enter a networking event do so with an intention or purpose and also do consider meeting 3 or 4 people during the event learning about them and their businesses rather than exchanging business cards with 15 or 20 people during a networking event.
- Yes, you must look at your vision board or vision statement, read your business plan and goals on a periodical basis and measure how the present activities completed year to date are bringing you closer to your goals. Measure your success by completing those daily, weekly and or monthly activities or long term goals that you initially wrote down on your business plan. For this, you may want to ask someone, your business coach or mentor, or colleague, friend or business partner, to hold you accountable for what you determined your plan originally was. Schedule periodical meetings to discuss your progress towards those goals and or do look at the results yourself; you will be the best judge of your own reality.
- A planner, whether digital or actual hard copy agenda/planner/schedule will help you work within the 24 available daily hours in pursuing your business goals. Block times in your planner to do the necessary activities: such as client meetings, accountant meetings, managerial tasks, sales and business development, etc. Do remember to allow time for self-care, family events, and other activities that are important to you and your loved ones. As you add your own activities to your scheduler, do consider what activities you must complete yourself and which ones can be delegated to others. At the start of your business, you may be doing it all unless you have business partners or associates; but as your business grows you will have to consider the investment of hiring personnel to do those activities that do not necessarily require your daily participation and that can be delegated. Growth of a business will require human resources.
- This part is so much fun and can also be very intimidating if you are not a technology person. Research and find our from reading the internet and or books/magazines or through conversations with your peers and contacts about the best available technology tools and software that will help you start your business, expand and grow your business. Do not try to purchase or invest in the most expensive tools or most comprehensive tools if it does not yet fit its purpose in your business. Zoom, Sales force, click funnels, calendars, Google and Facebook ads, laptops, etc., are some of the many software and hardware to consider. Again, do your research, ask questions and inquire and prepare a budget for these investments.
- Does your business require the participation of others? Would they become employees or independent contractors? Can you outsource some of these functions to other parties? There are many activities, which can be outsourced, such as payroll, accounting, shipping, providers of technology, etc. Selecting the team that will be conducting these services or activities for your business is key – interview and interview, be prepared with questions, requests they take a personality test such as the wealth dynamics test or the strengths finders test to determine their strengths and qualities; and share your own test results with them as well. The more you learn about them and they learn about you, it will help each other make an informed decision about hiring them and working together as part of your team.
- This list would not be complete without branding, whether it is your own personal branding or the branding of your business. What are your values? What are the actions you take, what do you speak and talk about with others? Who are the people you spend your time with and how do others see you? Who will be your clients or customers? What is your niche market and how will you pursue it? All of these questions are relevant in creating the branding of yourself and your business. Branding is about perception; how the market and others see you and see your business. It also includes a logo, tagline, colors, themes, fonts, style and many other aspects that are visible and apparent. Branding is also determined based on your audience and clients; the branding must reach that audience so that it creates the success results of your business or movement.
- Marketing and promotion. Invest in marketing and promotion; it is how you let others, your audience and your prospects, that you are out there in the market providing a solution and a product or service of value. Marketing is done in the traditional way through print materials, sponsoring networking events and also online marketing by targeting your niche market.
- Lead generations and sales. Sales, sales and sales. Let’s think of sales and lead generation as the main and only one activity that will bring the revenue to your business. Without sales of your product or service there is no revenue in your income statement. Sales comes from having meaningful conversations where you and your team offer your product or service to your audience so that they benefit from the value that your provide. Look at sales as influencing others to see the benefit and value or solution that you provide to the existing problem your clients or customers have. What do they need? Selling your service or product is how you engage them into benefiting from the value or solution you provide. If sales is not your main strength, do also consider hiring sales consultants to perform this function or simply because your business may require more than one sales person as well. Also, let’s remember that cash flow is king in any and every business, and cash flow starts with closing the sales. Thus, do fall in love with the sales aspects of your business.
- Systems and processes. I love this aspect of a business. There is vision and passion, there is purpose, but my readers please let me share with you that without a sustainable system and process for your business, it will be chaos and probably your business may not last. Since you are very familiar with your business, yet you may not be the specialist in every aspect of your business, consider writing your business systems and processes. Start from the beginning, marketing and promotion then proceed to lead generation and sales, and ultimately end with billing and collection and follow up on customer satisfaction. Identify who, what and where is every step along the systems and processes; and while you are doing this exercise it will help you identify systems and processes improvements as well.
- Take action daily. Do not wait until you have it ALL figured out before start taking action. Start by wining your first client so that you are already bringing in the cash and providing the service or product that provides a solution to the existing problem. If you look forward to the next 10 or 20 years in your life, how would you have liked your life to be in the present? How would your life look like in the future? How different would it look? When you look back, what would you have liked to accomplish or complete in your life? Do execute, find your passion, build your vision, identify your strategies and begin executing. Some believe there is a time for everything and that may be true for some things. You are the best judge of that in your life! However, to live the life that you desire TODAY and to reach and accomplish the goals that you have designed, you must take ACTION. The best way to accomplish anything in through action and the best way to take action is to actually do it! There is a lot of pleasure, self-esteem and fulfillment in taking action towards the attainment of a worthy goal. That feeling is contagious, the more you live it and experience it, the more you spread it in your community, in your family and those around you. Through action, you will see the results of your business activities and this fulfillment from seeing the results you are creating will be the fuel to the growth, expansion and success of your business.
- Enjoy and have fun. Life is a journey; we all know that. Enjoy the ride of being an entrepreneur and business owner and live your passion. Think of who you are serving by providing the products and services of your business, your direct clients, an industry, a community or country, filling in a gap or a need, building an entirely new product, etc. Also, consider and think of whom you are serving by having your business: whether it is your family and children.
Now, ask yourself. Why am I doing this? Why am I launching my own business? Is there something else I rather do? If the answer is very clear to you and this is your path, Congratulations! If you are not yet clear on your business type or business selection; take a deeper look at how you have spent time in your career, jobs that you have had in the past. What do you most enjoy doing? What are you passionate about? What drives you and motivates you? What tasks or activities do you mostly enjoy doing? Search from within. There are also many personality tests that can taken online for a small fee that will provide guidance on your personal strengths and how you can maximize those strengths in your life, your career, your business and in creating wealth.
I welcome your comments or questions you may have on this article. You may contact me at (305) 697-9730 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my website bymarialopez.com. I am a CPA, speaker, author and personal financial planner. My mission is to provide financial planning education and solutions to the U.S. Hispanic community so that they can live the life of their dreams and leave a legacy of financial abundance for their children and generations to come.