Having a great idea is only the very first part of starting a business.  There is a lot more to it than that, though, and almost none of it is easy.  Once you have that initial idea, it takes a lot of research, planning and work, to bring it to life.  Most businesses fail within the first five years, and this is due to poor planning or a simple lack of foresight on the part of the entrepreneur.  If you know how to prepare, you can take your business from idea to profit in a couple of years.

Identify a Problem and Solve It

Sometimes, your great idea may not be as great as you think.  Either it’s already been done, or there simply isn’t a need for it.  In order for a business to work, you must come up with a common problem or need, and then aim to solve or fill it.  Most businesses center on products or services that make people’s lives easier, more enjoyable, or more advanced in some way.  Ask yourself if your product or service does this.  Then, do some market research to find out just how many people actually want or need your product or services.  Finally, consider who’s already out there filling that need, because those are your competitors.  You’ll want to form a strategy that will make you stand out among them, in order to bring in customers.

Create a Business Plan

After doing your research, it’s time to form a viable plan.  Many business owners skip this step, claiming they have a plan but don’t need to write it down.  You’ll find that by writing down your mission, goals, key demographic, budget and strategies, you’ll notice aspects you hadn’t thought of yet.  Most people find that by getting their goals on paper, their path is more clearly defined, and achievements and progress are more obvious.  Also, if you intend to get investors or partners of any kind, they will ask you to present your business plan.

Maintain a Flexible Budget

As part of your business plan, you will need to create a budget, but it’s important to realize that this is not set in stone.  In your first year, your profits may not be as large as you anticipated.  Leave some room in your budget for the unexpected, with an emergency savings plan.  Also, many people include start-up costs and the costs of production, but some forget about ongoing marketing expenses.  In order to bring in a constant flow of customers, you will want to have multimedia marketing campaigns going at all times.  If they don’t bring people in, as planned, you may need to revise your marketing strategy and start anew.  Be sure to plan at least 25% of your budget for marketing in the first couple of years.

Be Prepared to Work Hard

Of course you know that running a business is not easy, but some do not realize just how much work it will be.  Small business owners, at least initially, end up doing a lot of the work, themselves, causing them to work long hours and to deal with stressful conditions on their own.  Eventually, you will want to employ a staff you trust enough to delegate tasks to, but at first, be prepared to work extra hard, in order to see the profits you need to stay afloat and expand.  It won’t be easy, but when you do finally succeed, it will definitely be worth it.