By Dylan Bartlett
During these uncertain times, the ultimate security blanket may involve starting a business for yourself. Millions find themselves out of work, and others lose sleep over the possibility of their present position evaporating. In every crisis, there is a kernel of opportunity. Kudos to you for choosing to take charge of your future.
However, if you have never run a business before, you might have many questions. You might not know where to find the money you need to transform your vision into reality or cultivate a client base. The following eight tips can help you decide what type of small business to enter and how to get it producing revenue.
1. Assess Your Assets
If you are considering the entrepreneurial lifestyle because your job is on shaky ground — or you lost it — you need to protect what you have. When you get a fabulous small business idea, you might dive in to relieve stress. However, anxiety can impact your cognitive ability, making it seem wise to dump the rest of your emergency fund into a risky prospect and ending up broke.
Take an objective look at your budget and assets. If you have a comfortable emergency fund with money to spare, you have more flexibility with startup costs. However, if you rely on worker’s compensation or unemployment with little squirreled away as a safety net, you should investigate options that cost little to no initial overhead, like pet sitting.
2. Evaluate Your Knowledge
People pay for expertise, so while you may use this time to choose a new career path, it’s best to start a business in an industry that you already know. That way, you won’t have to invest any additional time in education before pulling in a profit. You do need to feel passionate about your business — but if it isn’t what you envisioned at first, you can always change your role or sell it once you make money.
If you do want a new field, research opportunities with direct selling companies that let you enroll for a low initial price. Do you adore Mary Kay cosmetics? You can start working toward that pink Cadillac without spending a bundle upfront.
3. Write a Business Plan
How long will it take your business to generate revenue? Where will your income come from, and will you need to hire help to accomplish your goals? You need to write a business plan to cement your vision and serve as a roadmap. If you have never done so before, you can find a ton of resources online to help.
4. Take an Unusual Gig or Two
Maybe you are still employed as a teacher, but you always dreamed of the writer’s life. It can take time to generate income from a blog or a novel, so don’t quit your day job.
However, do research gigs that can give you the skills you need for success. Also, keep your eyes open for virtual internships that can provide you with experience in a new field.
5. Shout It to the World
Your business won’t go very far without marketing, but your budget might be tight when you first start. Use free advertising venues such as social media to begin building your customer base. Business cards are relatively inexpensive even on a shoestring — carry these gems with you everywhere.
6. Grow Your Network
One of the fastest roads to success is to network with as many people as possible. COVID-19 has made in-person events hard to come by, but you can find virtual networking conferences to attend. Try to connect with others in the chat room and take part in question and answer sessions.
7. Study Your Competition
There’s nothing new under the sun, and even if you have the best business idea, somebody somewhere is probably already doing it. Even Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, had his lawsuits with the Winklevoss twins, who claim that he stole their idea for the platform. Know what your competition is doing — that way, you can set yourself apart.
8. Avoid Negative Nancies
Finally, there will always be those people who say what you’re trying to accomplish is impossible. Banish them from your mental space. After all, if nothing ever worked, society wouldn’t have the vast array of businesses to choose from that they do today.
You might make mistakes on your path to success, and that’s okay. Surround yourself with people who tell you to keep going, not hang up the apron on your cookie business.
Build Your Small Business Success With These Tips
You can start a successful small business, and doing so may be your best path toward greater economic independence. Follow these steps and keep your vision as you build your empire.