There are many components that make starting a small business a daunting task. Most people hear the large percentage of business that don't make it pass the third year. I have personally started several business in the area of network marketing, computer consulting, website development, clothing and many others, some where complete disasters where I ended up spending more money then I actually earned, not to mention the frustration of being one more of the statistics. In this article I will cover four of the most important concepts that will save you a lot of sleepless nights, money and stress. If you're serious about starting a small business at the bottom of the article you will find critical action steps to give yourself a good start.

1. Its not about you

I personally broke this rule many times which resulted in consistently spinning my wheels. I've heard about it before however I never took it seriously, a lesson I paid handsomely with money. There is an old saying if you do what you love, money will follow, yes this might be true in many cases however if what you love to do is not aligned with what people are currently looking for you'll have a tall hill to climb. For example if your passion is to make red widgets but people are currently looking to buy green widgets you will now how to convince them why red widgets are superior, wouldn't it make more sense to provide the best green widget in town in stead? Align yourself with the market open your mind and your eyes to the opportunities that are around you. Constantly ask yourself what are people looking to buy right now? What is the next trend. Which leads me into the next point.

2. Do your market research

Wouldn't it be better to be ahead of a wave rather then training behind it? Learn to train your mind to see opportunities. While your driving look at all the bill boards in the area, when your watching TV pay attention to the type of commercials that are airing and at what time, call your friends and family and tell them your conducting market research and would like to know what are some things they have purchased recently. You will start to identify people's buying patterns. As an example at the beginning of the Ipod craze many people started a small business selling Ipod accessories needless to say they profited greatly from it. Recently the Iphone was released shortly after you see a lot of companies selling apps for it. Many times you don't need to create a product or service just have to find ways to improve on it. A very useful under utilized tool is the google adwords tool, it can provide great insight as far as what people are looking for at this moment.

3. Don't spend time and money if you don't have to

Remember Pareto's 80/20 principal. It states that 80% of any result is in direct proportion of 20% of the activities to get there. If you are starting a T-Shirt business before spending time and money on a website and equipment there are resources online that allows you to virtually have your own T-shirt business and drop ship to your customers. If you have some success with that you can then look into expanding and setting up your won system to cut off the middleman. THINK!! Ask yourself how can I do this with the less amount of time and energy while producing the highest results? What are the 20% of activities? Before advertisers spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns they strategically run the ads in niche cities and times to later analyze the results. If the results are positive they go full out on the campaign, if it fails on key cities they go back to the drawing board to redo the commercials and retest.

4. Be the Scientist of your business experiments

Basket ball players and baseball players miss 75% of the time, they get paid for the 25% they do exceptionally well. Chances are your first business will not make you rich, however the experience and knowledge you'll gain will be the building block for your next business. Scientist are always experimenting to discover what works and what doesn't they don't get attached to the outcome, they collect the data and continue to find ways to improve.

Action Steps:

1. Call 10 of your friends and family and ask for their help. Ask them what are five things they think your great at.
2. Make an inventory in the past six months what have your friends and family called you to ask for your help?. It could be they needed advise about fixing something in the house, writing a proposal, building a website. Write down all the things that come to your mind.
3. Ask them what are things they've spent money on in the past six months.
4. Enter in the google adword tool things your interested in. Write down how many searches for each.

By doing these four things you are way ahead of the pack by identifying some of your core skills, and some market research.

Tim Ferris on Starting A Business