Starting your own business is a process, and it can be a long path for some entrepreneurs. While each idea is unique, and each business is different, there are some definite steps that all entrepreneurs should follow before putting up money and paying for advertising. Don't be afraid to ask for help either... just because you're the boss doesn't mean that you can't accept some expert advice from the outside.
Things You Will Need
Business License (if applicable)
Step 1Decide on your business and write up a business plan. For instance, some comic book fans want to open their own shop, and some model builders would love to sell kits to the public; in short, pick something you love and that you're good at. Don't pick something because it's the thing that year, or because you want to make a lot of money; this is a long term investment.
Step 2Get some experience in the field. If you want to sell real estate, but you have never worked selling houses then people might be skeptical about your abilities. Ditto if you want to open up your own store selling clothes you've designed when you have no experience in the garment industry or marketing your own looks. If you've at least done time as a salesperson at a boutique, or you've managed a store, then it shows you have some knowledge of the business you're working on. This should be in addition to any education you have, which will enhance your credibility. Don't ever try to just wing a business you know little to nothing about.
Step 3Learn about how business costs work. Take a course in business management, or learn how tax laws apply to businesses and figure out what costs you can expect. You could be the greatest artist in the world, but if you don't know how to keep your costs down and profits up then your gallery will close eventually. There's plenty of literature out there, but it might be a good idea to take at least a few courses at the local college campus or community college before you get down to the nuts and bolts of your business.
Step 4Write your business plan. This is your business blue print where you sit down and draw out everything about this concept you've been learning about. You should come up with your business's name and product, how you're going to run it, if it will be incorporated, what licensing you need, how well the market is doing, what tests in your opening area show, etc. You're creating this document as if you were trying to sell the business to someone. When you're finished with it, ask yourself if you'd invest money in your business. Or better yet, have someone read over the plan and if they have questions, include the answers in your revised business plan. You'll be showing this plan to all sorts of people, so it needs to be as complete and detailed as possible.
Step 5Find out what licensing and taxes you're going to need. For instance, if you want to open a clinic or a massage parlor then there are business licenses that need to be purchased, inspections that need to be done, employees who have to be hired and standards that have to be set. Talk to your local business licensing board and better business bureau to get the advice from people who are familiar with the local business scene and who can tell you exactly what you need to have. You'll also need a store front, whether physical or virtual, employees, product and plans for getting the word out.
Bring in customers. Once all of the red tape's been taken care of you still need to get business. Target your advertising and spread the word whenever you can. Post up fliers, leave your business card, get radio or TV spots... whatever you believe will really get the word out to people who will come to you for the product or service that you're offering.Starting your own business can be hard, and there's going to be stumbling blocks. You might have to re-do your research, find investors, get new capital and have meeting after meeting to get your dream approved and off the ground. Persistence and knowledge are keys, so don't stop learning and don't stop trying.
Tips & Warnings
Network whenever possible. Ask your parents and friends, talk to your college professors and use the services your campus offers for students who need help with taxes or businesses. The more people you know, the more people you have access to. You can never have too many friends, and you can never get too much help from professionals.
Be professional. Even if things aren't going well or you get flustered, always keep your cool and shake hands. If you want to be your own boss then you're going to have to convince others that you know what you're doing.
Visit the Small Business Administration at sba.gov for additional help and resources for your business.