By Contributing Author
There’s nothing quite like the freedom and sense of accomplishment that comes from working for yourself. Whether you’ve got what you believe to be a great idea for a small business or you simply see yourself as an entrepreneur rather than an employee, if you’re hoping to start your own company, it’s important to lay the right groundwork for success.
Get the Education You Need
Depending on the size of your idea, you might be a sole proprietor or you might have partners and employees. While you’ll probably be working with others who have the necessary expertise in finance, legal issues and IT, you’ll increase your chances of success if you have a good base of knowledge about the business world. Even if you already have a great deal of experience in your industry, how much do you know about marketing, accounting and the nuts and bolts of running a company? You might want to consider some courses or even a degree in business administration or a related field. You can take out student loans to pay for your education. Think of these loans as an investment in your future.
Learn to Network
Whether you’re currently a student or you’re out in the working world, you may have access to a valuable alumni network. Take advantage of opportunities to attend conferences and other events that will put you in touch with leaders in your field. If you’re feeling shaky about your networking ability, there may be organizations, seminars or training opportunities to boost your communication skills. Knowing how to talk to the right people is an important element of entrepreneurial success.
Keep Your Day Job
This might come as a surprise—isn’t the whole point to work for yourself instead of someone else? But hanging onto your day job for as long as you can means having a steady income and access to resources, such as training opportunities, that you might otherwise have difficulty accessing and paying for. If you are currently a student, you might want to consider getting a couple of years of experience in the business world after graduation as well as saving as much of your pay as possible. You may be able to work on your business nights and weekends for a while until you feel established enough to make the leap.
Do Your Research
From how to write a business plan to where to find loans and investors to what venture capitalists are looking for, there’s a lot to learn before you launch. You should also do some specific research into the field where you plan to make your mark. What kind of services or products that are the same as or similar to yours already exist? What kind of success are they having? What can you offer that they cannot? Who are you trying to reach with your product or service, and what is the best way to do that? What legal and financial pitfalls must you avoid? Knowing the answers to these and similar questions will help ensure that you are prepared for whatever your exciting new venture into entrepreneurship throws your way.