Is this the year you strike out on your own or get serious about planning to do so?
It happens. You’re really good at your job. You’ve been doing it for years. Maybe you know more than your own boss! You might be tired of your industry all together and have a skill or passion you want to pursue in an entirely different direction.
Plan now to make the transition into entrepreneurship, perhaps becoming an employer in the long run. In fact, that’s your first step: Planning! Let's look at the three planning phases you might consider.
PHASE 1: ASK YOURSELF THE BIG QUESTIONS
You've probably already asked yourself these questions, but put them down on paper and really map things out this time.
1) Do you have the personality to be an entrepreneur? Consider…
• are you disciplined?
• can you tolerate uncertainty?
• do you like numbers?
• can you make presentations, be a salesperson, hire or fire people (if it comes to that)?
• can you go with the flow? (If you’re a perfectionist, you may move too cautiously to take advantage of trends and opportunities in your business.)
• can you make decisions? (If you fly by the seat of your pants, you may get into hot water, but if you can’t make an educated decision given research and facts, you may miss the boat on upcoming opportunities.)
• are you organized and self-confident?
2) Can your financial situation withstand 3 to 6 months of uncertainty?
• While trying to figure this out, consider your savings, your retirement needs and your health care needs. Be sure to enlist the support of your family members at this stage.
• If you are currently working, hold onto your job for a few months! Make sure that your new venture can pay you what you need before you leave other employment.
• Your idea may be great, but is it practical? In short, will anybody pay for the product or service you’re intending to offer? This is a big question! Check out this fill-in form to help you determine the feasibility of your business idea.
If you’re committed to this idea and can answer yes to most of the above, it’s time to take the next steps.
PHASE 2: SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
We encourage you to take some of the many free online e-courses we offer. Visit our website and click on the Start section to find resources for starting a business. Consult with a business advisor here at the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center or with one of our resource partners such as SCORE or the Center for Women and Enterprise. An advisor can explore some of the questions above with you, plus steer you in the right direction for all the other resources you might consult.
• At this stage, you may want to think about how you could take small steps toward starting your own business. Can you do it part-time while remaining employed elsewhere, for example.
• Who can you learn from? Look around for people doing what you want to do or something very similar. Watch and learn from those who are successful at it. Use the web to research businesses and people you admire, or to look at who might be your competition.
• Learn how to self-promote. Once the structure of your business is set up (see below), you'll spend a majority of your time telling the world about yourself and your business. Get comfortable doing this now, rather than later in the process.
• Build your "A team". You may eventually hire managers and line staff, or enlist the help of accountants and attorneys. Start thinking about who those people are and what kinds of skills they must have. How will you find or recruit them?
PHASE 3: TAKE THE PRACTICAL AND LEGAL STEPS
1) Your NH SBDC advisor, and most others, will strongly recommend that you create a Business Plan. We have several resources to help you do that.
2) You’ll need to decide on the legal structure of your business. This article and this chart will help you understand the differences and choose one. Before your final decision, you should consult with an attorney.
3) Register your business name with the state of New Hampshire. You can find all you need to do this at the new one-stop shopping business state website, where you can register your business and other services.
4) Will you need outside financing to start and run your business? Check out these SBDC resources.
5) You’ll need to understand how you will pay taxes (and which ones), how to track your income and expenses, consult with an accountant, and about all the elements of marketing such as websites and publicity. Go to START and review the e-course topics, articles and resources there.
In-depth planning is the key to initial success in your new life as an entrepreneur. Take your time with these three phases. It will be worth it in the long run.