Most entrepreneurs will find that starting a new business can be challenging. Let alone young entrepreneurs who, though full of drive and determination, don’t necessarily possess the skills or real-world experience needed to grow a profitable company quickly.
Successful small businesses will attest to the fact that learning is essential to long-term success. In fact there are fantastic online resources that can help you grow your business ventures at every stage. One such resource is the US Small Business Administration (SBA). They offer a free small business course that delves into the essential steps every entrepreneur should take when starting a business. The online course also explores various entrepreneurial support resources available online and in the community.
Some of the key insights offered in the course include:
1. Have a Plan
Creating a business plan can seem like an overwhelming task. But these days it isn’t necessary to create a customary 100 page business plan in order to launch a new business. The key is to view your business plan as an organic document that will evolve over time.
The main areas to cover in your business plan are to: define your goals, develop an understanding of your target market, and create effective marketing strategies that can be refined as you grow.
2. Get Assistance
One of the smartest things any new entrepreneur can do is to ask for help when they need it. Thankfully there are bountiful online resources available to small business owners.
For example, SCORE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs through education. As a resource partner of the SBA, SCORE has been mentoring young entrepreneurs for more than forty years.
Additionally, women entrepreneurs can benefit from Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) — a national network of nearly 100 educational centers that assist women in starting their own businesses. Their mission is to “level the playing field” for women who still face uphill battles in the business world.
3. Find a Mentor
One of the greatest assets you will have during your entrepreneurial journey is mentorship — someone who can offer advice, resources and support. You may be able to find a mentor easily; if not you will have to seek one out.
So, how do you find a great business mentor? There are free government-sponsored mentor organizations that can match youo with someone who’s “been there and done that.” You should also look close to home and think about previous employment and business leaders that you may have previously came in contact with and admired. Often these people will be delighted (and even flattered) to be approached for advice and guidance.
4. Select a Business Entity
One of the first decisions every entrepreneur must make is how to legally structure their new business venture. Should it be set up as a sole proprietorship, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC)?
The type of legal business entity you choose will determine the fees, application requirements, taxes and continuous annual housekeeping. It is important to fully understand the pros and cons of each business entity in order to choose the one that is right for your long-term goals.