First Steps for Entrepreneurs

  1. Choose a business name. It's difficult to market your products or services without a name.
  2. Get business cards. You need them for selling and networking.
  3. Search the Internet for information and advice. Be cautious, however, unless you know and trust the source of that advice. Just because its's on the Internet doesn't make it true.
  4. Envision how much money they will make. Every entrepreneur does a back-of-the-napkin projection of how much money they can make. This is almost always wrong.
  5. Set up a place to work. This may be a corner of the living room or a table at a local coffeehouse, but you'll want to find a relatively consistent place to do business.
  6. Set up basic financial accounts. Even if just using paper and pen, most people start keeping track of expenses and set up some kind of basic financial record keeping.
  7. Look for customers. You're not in business until you start making sales.

Ten Must-Dos

  1. Talk to an attorney and/or an accountant. Create a standard contract or agreement you can use. It's also good to understand the tax implications of having your own business.
  2. Objectively check out the competition. Most entrepreneurs fail to see what competitors are good at. Learn from them.
  3. Get a domain name/and or e-mail address. You'll look much more professional if you have a company domain name for your e-mail rather than a personal one.
  4. Get all necessary business licenses, permits and certifications. Follow the law right from the start.
  5. Contact an industry trade association. They're a great source of information and help for your specific type of business.
  6. Get a business bank account and set aside one credit card just for business use. Separate your business and personal expenses from the day you start business.
  7. Develop at least a simple budget. Be extremely conservative about your income. Starting a business takes longer and costs more than you expect.
  8. Get bookkeeping software. This can be something as simple as Quicken or you can get Quickbook's or Microsoft's Small Business Accounting. It's easier to keep track of your accounts if you use bookkeeping software from the start.
  9. Develop a business plan. Even a simple business plan dramatically improves your chances for success. A business plan helps you target your customers, improve products and use your money wisely.Develop a marketing plan and act on it. You've got to let customers know about you. Advertise, network, do direct mail. Most import, get out there and call on customers.
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