Have you noticed that it has never been easier to start a business? It seems everyone is doing it. If you have a smartphone and a little bit of time, you can get a business up and running today.
That is not to say that the business you start that way will be any good. It probably won’t make you money. And it very likely will not last very long. So let us begin with the premise that what you want to start is a real business with the potential to make a difference and last a long time.
If you want to do it right, where you start makes a difference. Set the wrong priorities and your business will be over before it begins. Every good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Get the beginning right and you won’t have to worry about the end for a long time to come.
Let’s begin with the obvious:
Get Your Finances in Order
Your business story will not end well if it doesn’t start life well funded. Let’s have a moment of real talk: you need a war chest. You need a backup for when that war chest proves insufficient. Then you need an emergency fund for when your backup fails you.
Sometimes, business financing is all about servicing the unexpected. If all you have are enough funds for the expected startup expenses, you don’t have enough to get started.
The important money tips for new entrepreneurs go well beyond thinking about the present. You have to think about things like disability insurance, health insurance for the self-employed, and retirement savings. If you don’t plan ahead for these things, an accident or negative turn in your health can put you out of business, not just temporarily out of commission. Start with a solid financial foundation before doing anything else.
Set Up Strong Security
You need to have business-class security before you handle one piece of business data. You should start out expecting a security breach attempt on your first day. There is no longer an excuse to be surprised by the fact that bad people are trying everything they can to steal data. You are negligent, perhaps criminally so if you are not prepared on day one.
You have to be sure every part of your data chain is secure. You need the most secure web host you can afford, coupled with the most security-focused data-handling practices you can find. And don’t forget about the analog world. You need vaults and locking file drawers because grabbing a stack of mail is still the best and easiest way to steal an identity. Business-class security is a minimum cost of doing business.
Write It Down
Nothing beats a detailed business plan. If you want a bank loan for your business, or even angel investors, you are going to need a combination of hard numbers and good speculation on paper. You have to be able to answer all of the questions asked by a person who is contemplating handing over a large sum of money to ensure the successful launch of your business, and a healthy return for them.
Even if you are financing the project yourself, you still need to write down your plan as officially and detailed as you can. An honest business plan can prevent you from making a costly mistake in starting a business before you are really ready to do so.
It does not make sense to ignore the advice of people who have been where you are and have succeeded at what you are attempting. Seek those people out and talk to them about your ideas. More importantly, listen to what they advise.
Don’t just look for online videos and books. While those are fine resources, you can learn a lot more from a real person speaking unscripted about their experiences in the same local market and under similar conditions. Even a person who failed can provide valuable insight into what went wrong.
Starting a business is a great adventure. Be sure to start it right with proper finances, business-grade security, a good business plan, and all the advice you can find from the people who have blazed a trail in the direction you are headed.