This post is courtesy of guest author: Derek Goodman
If you’ve been thinking about starting a business, you’ve probably noticed a trend in entrepreneurial media. Everywhere you look there’s advice on how to dive in headfirst and give your new business your all. For the practical mindset, however, this advice can be a bit of a turn-off. Yes, there will always be risk to starting a business. However, why not try to find a way to make that risk as manageable as possible?
There’s nothing wrong with finding ways to dip your toe into the business world, and Smart Business Mentor is ready to help! Here’s how to test the waters and see whether or not they suit you:
Get Your Finances Straight
Before you do anything else, make sure your finances are in order. Many business owners fall in love with an idea before they find out if they have the funds to support it. Although it’s good to follow your dreams, it’s best to first make sure they're financially feasible first.
This also gives you the opportunity to find your first ally along the road to business ownership. As Forbes points out, all small business owners need an accountant. No matter how good at keeping track of money you are, it’s vital to have someone who can take an outside look at things, ensuring your payables and receivables are aligned correctly, and also ensuring you receive every possible tax advantage.
Along those lines, you should also set your business up as an LLC. An LLC structure provides certain tax benefits, flexibility for growth, and protection for your personal assets. What’s more, it’s easy to establish if you enlist the services of an online service—which also means avoiding hefty attorney fees.
Determine Your Time Commitment
Time commitment is another important factor to consider before you start coming up with ideas for your business. Is this venture something you want to juggle while also working a full-time job? Are you willing to move to part-time to give the business more energy? You may want to start with one then move to the other if things go well. Generally speaking, if you’re taking a cautious approach, you want to have some form of stable income during the early days.
All of this said, however, it’s important to remember that running a business takes a lot more hours out of your week than traditional employment. Score notes it’s normal for a small business owner to work as many as 50 or even 60 hours a week. Now, that’s a scenario where they’re taking their business on full-time, but that’s why it’s important to consider this from the start. If you don’t have 50 hours a week to spare, come up with an idea that will fit well into your schedule.
Consider Your Strengths
The last piece of the puzzle to consider before you start brainstorming ideas is perhaps the most important: recognizing where you shine. We’ve all heard stories about business owners leaving a boring desk job to make elaborate cakes out of doughnut holes, despite having zero bakery experience. But the reason these stories catch our attention is that they’re rare, so when they are successful, it’s newsworthy.
Although these stories are romantic, it’s wiser to lean on your existing strengths. Social media pros, for instance, might consider creating a boutique marketing agency. Professional strengths aren’t the only thing to consider, either. Can you knit a sweater in two days flat? You could start an online shop. Do you have an uncanny skill for getting dogs to listen to you? Dog walking might be your calling. Of course you can dive into something new, but your best bet is to stick with something you know and love.
Focus on what you’re good at, what kind of time commitment you can make, and what you can afford, and start coming up with ideas that fit into the puzzle. These three factors can easily make or break your chance for success. Remember to take it easy early on, and only invest what you’re willing to lose. Once you have your footing, you can figure out when to take the big risks.