Sunday, October 25, 2009

Before you launch; things to consider before opening a business

For years I’ve worked with entrepreneurs as they go from bright idea to start-up business. Some people agonize over whether or not to launch. Others become reluctant entrepreneurs by inheriting a business or due to the sudden need for additional income. The decision to open a business can be complex both personally and professionally and for this reason the pre-start-up issues occupy a great deal of time in my introductory workshops. Start by asking yourself some questions. First, why are you starting this business? Is this an outgrowth of another career, do you have the “better mouse trap” the world is waiting for, or are you seeking a new stream of income?

Before opening a business there’s a lot of homework to be done. You need to thoroughly research your industry and your competition. After you launch is the wrong time to find out you don’t know who your target market is. Whether or not you plan to seek outside funding, your financial house should be in order as well. Your business plan should include a realistic view of projected cash flow and you need a good understanding of the responsible use of credit.

Do a personal assessment of your skills and talents. How are you going to fill in the gaps in your skill set? Most successful entrepreneurs have team around them to provide the specialized knowledge and abilities outside their core business talent. You will have to budget for and pay for some of these experts to do things like set-up your books or file your taxes. What’s your business model? Some businesses require you maintain an office, while others can be operated totally online. Are you looking at renting a storefront or will virtual office space be smarter? Location and communication methods are dependent upon knowing your market and how and where they shop.

The self-employed are some of the happiest people around. But like any major life decision you need to think carefully before taking the path of entrepreneurship. Consider how running a business will fit into your life and how you will pay bills during the start-up phase.

About the author: “Karen Southall Watts 

has been training and coaching entrepreneurs for over a decade. She teaches business courses for Bellingham Technical College.”

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