One of the few easy parts about starting a small business is finding advice on how to do it. If you are lucky and you know a veteran business owner, their knowledge may be your best resource.
If not, you always have Google with you.
And you also own this blog!
Here is a list of things you should know before starting a small business:
- Know Why You’re Doing It
Is it because you always wanted to start a business?
Is it because you need money?
Will it be full time or part time?
Usually, a business will take up more time, effort, and resources than you first think.
So if your reason for starting a small business does not tie you 100% to the venture, it may be better not to proceed.
Overall there’s no wrong reason to start a small business, but there are special case scenarios where it might not be such a great idea. In other words, you really have to know yourself, your boundaries, and your level of commitment to know if you can actually (and not just financially) start a business.
- Have a Business Plan, but Don’t Be Afraid to Be Flexible
“Remember: once you’re in the trenches, it’s harder to look objectively because you’re focused on the business and what’s happening there and now. Have a business plan allows you to step back and see if things are going your way and analyze objectively.”
Now, because of that, you also have to be flexible.
Things are bound to change, and veteran business owners know the value of being able to adapt to change and keep your efforts directed toward your goals.
Now, having said that…
- Financing Plan
If you take out a loan, paying it back is definitely a priority, but it may take time to become profitable.
So, whether it’s enough for 6 months of operation, taking out a loan, or internal financing, choosing the right financing option is very important for planning your business.
A big part of this planning is deciding your lease. There has always been a tension between choosing a long term or short term lease. Long term usually means lower rates, but you’re in it for the timeframe no matter what.
If you’re a new business, you may have to personally guarantee the lease, which is understandable, but you should realize that it’s a personal risk.
So make sure you take the time to plan every financial aspect from rent to equipment to projected profitability in advance. It’s also always a good idea to have extra cash on hand in case you have an emergency or some other type of costly situation.
- Find the right partner
Small businesses are definitely a lot more work than you think, so it’s always good to have more than one person. Different perspectives, backgrounds and skill sets make for a better team overall.
Sometimes, the people who have the expertise to handle the city are completely different from the people who handle customers or the people who handle business finances, and that’s okay.
That key to finding the right partner is to think about what you are good at and what you are not. Look for someone who fills in the missing holes in your skills so you can focus on your strengths and your partner can concentrate on your weaknesses, and vice versa.
- Get support from your neighbors
Your neighbors are very important, and not just your commercial neighbors but also your residential neighbors. Ultimately, cities work for people, and if you don’t have the support of your community, your business won’t survive.
For example, whenever you are brought into town, one of the first things they will ask is if you have support from your community.
This support can make or break your business, as residents can block things you want to do like open an hour later or get a liquor license, etc.
You can gain support from your community in a number of ways, such as holding contests that capture community characteristics, claims to fame, or weirdness, for example.
On that note, you must join a local business organization. There are some out there, and they are here to help you!