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You have an idea for a business and don’t know where to start. In my opinion, this is when many great ideas die. Failing to plan is planning to fail. If you have a unique and profitable idea you could still fail for lack of forethought. If you have an idea for a profitable business then you have to act on it and this is how you start.

Get Organized. This can not be stressed enough. Getting organized now will keep you organized later. You will be overwhelmed with finding new customers or paying bills or the numerous other emergencies that happen to get it together later. Find a binder you like. A briefcase that fits. A cardboard box if that is all you have. The point is to get organized now so that you can stay organized. It will be too late to try to get organized when you are busy finding or servicing customers.

Write it down. This is when you flesh out your idea. You are beginning to build a business model. Put your thoughts in writing. This is you pitching yourself your own idea. If you can not convince yourself then how do you expect to convince strangers? Writing it down brings it to life and begins to solidify your plan. If you do not know what a business model is then find out. Now.

Market Research. Successful businesses conduct market research on a regular basis. Not only is it vital to start a new business but it is an ongoing task. It would be best to learn how to do it now. Market research will help identify your customers as well as your competition. You will need to learn what your competition is doing so you can do it better. This is a golden opportunity to sharpen your idea and turn it into a plan. 

Gather Your Team. No entrepreneur can do everything. Especially when the business begins to grow. Now is the time to get together a starting line-up. While you are building the business plan and conducting market research you may find out you need a lawyer, accountant, website designer, or who knows what. Find those people now. The worst time to go looking for a good lawyer is when you are desperate and in trouble. The worst time to go looking for a reliable accountant is when you are in the middle of an audit. The last thing you want to do is spend hours hunting for the best website designer when you should be taking care of customers. The last thing you want to do is find out you need someone with special skills when you didn’t even know those skills existed.

Figure Out What You Don’t Know. No one can be an expert at every facet of running a business. There are taxes, state laws, and a myriad of other details that have to be taken into account to run a successful business. This will add to the business model and help you shape your team. This is the time to assess your personal weaknesses and strengths. Be objective and brutally honest with yourself. If you convince yourself that you are a brilliant sales person but in reality you can’t handle rejection then this project will end quickly and painfully.

Marshall and assess your resources. Finances are probably the first thing to come to mind but there are other types of resources. Time is a resource. Do you have the time or, more importantly, are you willing to invest the time necessary? A high credit score, office space at home, friends and family that are willing to pitch in are all examples of resources. Money in the bank is great and should be added to the list but if you take a critical look around you might find resources you didn’t know you had. 

Brand Yourself. This is your time to shine and be creative. Take what you have learned from your business plan and market research to brainstorm. Pick a memorable name and register it with the proper state and federal authorities. At least create the concept for a logo so it will be ready. The vast majority of customers seeking a product or service turn to the internet so picking a domain name and building a company website is critical. You want to be ready when the doors open, literally and figuratively. Thought needs to be put into social media so you can begin to gather followers.

The above may not be all you need to accomplish but it is a good start. Set these steps as goals so that you are not trying to finish the basics while conducting business. That could lead to either nothing getting done or everything done halfway. If all this seems like a lot you are in for a ride. The above is just the beginning but to quote the venerable Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” What you do at the end of that journey is up to you as is when you take the first step.