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Ask the Expert: Entrepreneurship 101: Where to Start?

Many people dream of becoming an entrepreneur, but most times people don’t have the courage to take the steps necessary to make that come to reality.  There is no question as to why that is – owning a business is not only hard work, but also very complex!  It doesn’t matter if you have been in your industry for many years, if you are making this move voluntarily, or whether you may have been forced to make a change in another direction, there are a few essential steps you must take to be successful.

  1. Assemble your army. Being a successful business owner means you need a top-notch team to help and guide you.  The last thing you want to do is take on areas outside of your core expertise that may distract you from being able to grow your business.  Every entrepreneur needs a great attorney, a sharp accountant, and a well-rounded financial advisor that specializes in business continuity planning.  This trio should not only help you set-up the most efficient tax structure and entity type, but assist with you regulatory filing requirements and help guide you in the financial matters you will encounter at the establishment of your business and along the way as it matures.
  2. Develop your plan. You may be able to add help along the way, but you are far better advised to develop a plan for how you are going to run your business at the onset once your team is in place.  What are your growth strategies?  Who is your target market?  Do you need employees and if so, how do you plan to recruit and retain them?  Identify your core competencies and then fill in the gaps you may have around you with those who are ultimately going to support you in terms of executing on the delivery of your product or service.  This is the solid launching pad to get you off and running.
  3. Make sure you have an exit strategy. This is a critical part of any business owner’s plan whether they think it is or not.  What will you do if you no longer want to maintain your business, or worse yet – what happens if you become sick or die?  How will you protect your family?  What happens to your employees if you have them? Or your clients and customers?  There is a two-pronged approach you need to outline here.  The first addresses what if you voluntarily leave, and the second tackles the problem of you departing unexpectedly due to illness or death.  As much as you don’t want to consider the latter, you need to be prepared for the orderly disposition of your company if something were to happen to you as it is an asset that you own.  Whether you sell or are to be sold be mindful that you have all your contingencies protected. 

Being an entrepreneur and business owner can be very exciting and fulfilling!  It often offers you more flexibility and freedom that you may not find being employed by someone else.  If you follow these three basic steps at the onset you will be much farther ahead and better prepared for long term success.