Friday, October 26, 2007

Ten Steps to Getting Your Business Off the Ground

  1. Start right now. Begin by skimming magazines and newspapers for business ideas. Think about the environment you want to work in, the types of people you want to be around, and your ideal work day.
  2. Think about what you do best. Sit down, relax, and make a list of interests, hobbies, and skills that you really enjoy. It will help you to be successful in future.
  3. Ask friends for ideas.
  4. Look through web resources. Start at Google, and visit sites left and right -- to get ideas on how others are trying to make a living doing things that interest you.
  5. Look for inspiration everywhere. Check out books, ask the librarian about trade associations and journals where you can learn about trends, suppliers, colleagues, and competitors.
  6. Think about what you want from your business. Do you want it to stay small, or are you hoping for a full-time enterprise? How much income will be enough to keep you interested and motivated? Do you have the requisite skills? What’s the market outlook? How about the competition?
  7. Fine-tune your research. Maybe your hobby is knitting and you’d like to turn it into a business -- but how? That’s what you have to research next. Look in knitting magazines to see how others are making money. Visit yarn, craft, and specialty stores.
  8. Test the waters. Find out if there’s a market and if you enjoy the work before you spend a fortune or burn yourself out.
  9. Check your credit. If you do not have enough money to start a business and your FICO score is good or excellent, consider business credit cards that can help you to start today.
  10. Start out on the right foot. Make a few phone calls to save yourself a lot of grief:
  • Call the IRS (800-829-1040) to see if you need a federal tax ID number.
  • Call your county clerk and state sales tax department to see if you need to deal with things like zoning, licenses, sales tax, and permits.
  • Verify that your insurance policy will cover the equipment you’ll use in your business and any additional liability you might face should a client slip in your driveway.
  • To save money and reduce the risk of an audit, use a good tax advisor recommended by others who have small businesses of their own. Ask specifically about deductions for: office space, equipment, inventory, supplies, utilities, travel, and publications.

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