There he sat, smoking a cigarette and practically yelling about not wanting to work for anyone anymore; about wanting to make his own rules; about how much easier his life would be if he just owned his own business and was his own boss!
That does seem to be the American dream, doesn’t it? To be able to go to work when you feel like it and to make all the money yourself instead of working hard to fill up some “fat cat’s” bank account! But does it really work like that? Let’s see …
First-time entrepreneurs are often surprised when they figure out that the life they envisioned as a business owner is far different from the one they’re actually living. Many first-timers make the mistake of starting a business without a business plan and, unfortunately, wind up not knowing where they’re going or what they’re doing from an operations perspective. They want to be successful and they usually have good experience in the field in which they’re now opening their business but, sadly, many fail to get the advice that will help them launch a well-prepared organization that has a structure that will sustain growth and withstand deficits.
If you are contemplating starting a business, schedule a meeting with weVENTURE or SCORE to get some good, solid advice on the “how-to” of planning. A business plan should be the very first thing you prepare when starting your new business. Why? Because it will keep you focused on what you want to accomplish. Your plan doesn’t have to be 30 pages long, it can be just a few pages; it all depends on what you need to succeed.
Every good business plan has an Executive Summary, but it’s the very last thing you’ll write because it briefly overviews everything else that’s in your plan. You’ll use your (two-page max) summary to tell potential investors about your business.
Next will be a brief description of your business, including its legal structure, who’s in charge and what you actually plan to do. You will need to be able to concisely and briefly tell people what you do, which is often referred to as an “elevator speech” because it should be just enough words to get someone interested in hearing more about you.
Your business plan should also have a well-researched review of your market. One of the biggest red flags in business is when someone says, “There’s no competition! No one is doing this!” Well, friend, there may be a very good reason why no one else is doing it … it may not be profitable! This is why it is so critical to do your homework and see what else is going on in your industry.
Once you know if there are people out there who will buy your product or service, you’ll need a solid marketing and sales plan. Marketing is how you will reach people and tell them about your business; sales is how you will actually get those signed contracts!
Your operations plan will clearly define how you will run your business. What hours and days will you be open? Who will staff your business? How will they get trained? What policies and procedures do you need to establish? What about quality control? Which laws regulate your operations and how will you make sure you comply?
And finally — but most importantly — are your finances. Do you have enough money up front to get going? To furnish a building, buy equipment, put down deposits, pay people? This is the one aspect of entrepreneurship that can sink a really good business idea, so get help.
Hopefully, this will give you an idea of some of the issues new entrepreneurs will deal with (and it’s only the tiny tip of a very large iceberg). But let me encourage you: Any good idea just might succeed if you plan it that way; so before you quit your job, contact weVENTURE or SCORE and get your business going so that it will succeed and you can become your own fat-cat boss!
Carol Drake Wheatley is a Certified Business Mentor with SCORE and is also Senior Chaplain at Power in the Workplace Ministries Inc., a nonprofit community-centric training.
Columnist series is sponsored by weVENTURE at the Florida Institute of Technology College of Business. weVENTURE has locations in Melbourne and Rockledge. The Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information, visit weventure.org or call 321-674-7007.
Earlier this year, the AARP Foundation awarded a $20,000 grant to weVENTURE to conduct Work for [email protected]+ workshops in Central Florida. This initiative is designed to help older adults assess opportunities for self-employment, build skills, and connect with resources that will enable them to create self-generated income. For more information, please visit aarp foundation.org/workforyourself.