I have never started a business. I need some advise and direction. I have an idea but need more of a mentor and advise on next steps?
I have spoken to people to outsource the development stage. I have the idea and know what I want to accomplish but I am very unskilled at putting together a business plan and gaining capital or making connections with people. I am great with people but I am feeling frustrated about how to proceed. Thank you everyone for your help.
Hello David, your profile states that you are located in Massachusetts. I would suggest that you contact the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center in Worcester or Salem. Set up an appointment to meet with a Sr. Business Advisor and they will be able to provide you with the guidance, direction and resources you need to be successful. You might also want to meet with SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) in Boston. These are free resources that are underutilized and the advisors are exceptional. Feel Free to email directly and I can provide you with the names of some exceptional advisors within the MSBDC or SCORE.
The first thing you want to do is separate your business from your personal information. That means, different address (even if it's a po box, not recommended though) different phone number and business bank account.
The second thing is figuring out your market and what needs is your product fulfilling. You should ask family, friends and acquaintances if your product can help them and if so, would they be the first to invest. That will give you an indication of how your product will be perceived by others. Of course, family and friends won't always give you a bias answer but you can count they will give you something.
Third and most important, building a website to promote your product. Without one, it's hard to get the company out there. Even if the product is not finished or you haven't finished a business plan, having a site and showcasing your product will help people have an image of what you're offering them.
Now, I didn't talk about business plans, development stage or gaining capital because you can always work on those after the basics of your business is done. If you don't have images of your product, but only a description, that will hinder your sales. You can always get a 3D version of your design done for less than $10 dollars and a professional website for less than $10.
Any more questions or would like to work with one of our mentors, please contact us.
You have to think real hard about your goal to be a successful entrepreneur. There are lots of things you should do prior to being counseled on all of the merits and duties involved in the process of being a successful business founder. I am not being negative. Quite the contrary, I want to assure that you are approaching this process to build the greatest opportunity to succeed and flourish with something that is motivating, exciting and rewarding to you.
Entrepreneurial qualities are essential to the challenges of planning and operating a business. Talent, luck, unique ideas and good business advice are important but character is the feature that successful business people usually have in common. These are traits you should have - Are you a self starter? Are you really interested in others? Are you a leader? Can you handle responsibility? Are you a good organizer? Will you put in long hours happily? Can you make up your mind quickly? Do people easily rely on you? Can you run all night and all day without getting tired? Can you take a punch in the nose and keep on fighting? Can you adapt to change? No one is a perfect entrepreneur. You will get better but if you have negatives in many of these you might not want to waste time pursuing a dream.
If you are cool with what is essential as a person these questions are next. What is the essential purpose and spirit of you and the idea? Are business conditions and the social, political culture ripe for your idea? Have you researched your idea and truly proven what it will do, who will really have to have it and who will sell it for you or how you will sell it yourself? Finally, are you sure enough of this working that you will spend your own time and a lot of your money to verify that your idea is real, reliable and actionable.
When you have figured this out you are ready to get a business planner, mentor, consultant, coach or some person who has proven that they are competent and committed to “teach you to fish.” Do not hire someone who simply says pay me, answer these questions, write me a check and we will get this figured out for you. Get someone who you have talked to, has a good bio, can communicate successfully with and answers your questions and makes suggestions that you understand and can act on. Finally know that if someone is going to mentor you and you leave their office uninspired, confused and without energy to get to work you are talking with the wrong person. Find a coach who not only knows what he/she is doing but who also communicates well with you and has the passion and spirit to inspire you to achieve your grandest goals. GOOD LUCK!
I would recommend a couple of things, look for a Startup Weekend event near you (startupweekend.org), it will give you 3 things: some plain basis to understand part of the path forward, nice experience, contacts, lots of contacts that can help you in putting you idea to work.
Read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, great book to help you put your idea to the test and really prevent you from investing time and money on something is just not going to fly (or how to make it fly)
I would read the E-myth Revisited by Michael Gerber to make sure you are setting the business up correctly.
First of all you have to develop a clear, concise, and simple value proposition for your idea. What's different about it - faster, better , cheaper? Then you need to develop a break-even analysis, or in other words how much of your idea do you have to sell to who,at what price, and why are they going to buy it (every day, week, month) to cover all the expenses associated with starting and running your new business for a year. After this exercise that should be enlightening, you can consider taking all that information and start to build a business plan. You may also want to get my book: Guidebook to Planning - A Common Sense Approach, available on Amazon for a process to use to build a winning business plan.
Why are you reinventing the wheel. There are a multitudes of books to help you start your business, including Dummy books with CDs of forms, business plan. Join the professional association for your business and attend meetings. The competition will mentor you. The website will provide a lot of information and preferred vendors for websites, etc. Also, there is the federal website of the Small Business Administration, your state government websites and your local government websites. Government entities all over the US are looking for you to help you succeed.
Hi David. I realize there are a bunch of answers on here already, but I felt compelled to share my thoughts with you. First and foremost, realize that you inevitably get what you give. There are a TON of free resources out there, but most are self-serving (business development centers or chambers of commerce), or provide little to no real help (most free mentors/advisors). The reason is, few people will be willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty with you unless, of course, they are getting paid and/or getting some kind of equity in the business. Therefore, as a first-time entrepreneur, it may be in your best interest to find a real ally - either an outside consultant who you can pay to do some of the dirty work you don't know how or are otherwise unable to do, or, if you can find one, a co-founder who can do the same but for less money, but likely more equity. In all, no business person is an island and no one person can really do it themselves. The name of the game is finding your partners, choosing them wisely, and compensating them so that they do excellent work while still leaving enough of the pie for you to enjoy and become a big success. If I can be of help in directing you to resources, please feel free to reach out to me directly. Best of luck!
I can help you put your business idea into action, and market it to people of interest. However, I believe the first step is to legalize your business, then develop a strategic plan for your business. I am an Attorney / Business Consultant and have a business consulting firm called Compu-Perfect Professional Services, which has been providing business consulting services for 18 years. These services include:
• Business formation (Corporations, Limited Liability Companies (LLC's) and Nonprofit Organizations)
* Business Coaching
• Contract Drafting and Reviewing
• Trademark Search and Registration
• Completion of the 501(c)(3) application for nonprofit organizations
• Grant Research and Writing
A great place to start is to find out your target market/ideal client.
After that, you can find out what triggers them to buy your service/product and build your entire marketing message around those answers.
It's a lot to start to a business but in reality, it's fun and exciting.
The best starting point is to look at building new relationships. That is where you will find your audiences as well.
Feel free to personal message me if you'd like to discuss ideas further.
5 Star Marketing Community
we have free resources at www.enterprisesa.com to develop your business plan using other people will never ever make the business yours
Authored by Gavin Tonks
Celebrating small business month
And in the beginning was the idea…..
Well not just any idea has the potential to be a business. A business needs to eventually drive a profit, sustain you and the company created, as the vehicle to do the business from this idea.
Many people have really good ideas, some brilliant and some just plain stupid, like the guy who had a micro trading store and thought that his business, in two years would be big enough, to give a large retailer doing billions of turnover a serious run for their money, after a 50 000 financial injection.
Entrepreneurs all too often confuse the words, “idea” and “business.” An idea is a thought process, a dream or a concept that has becoming mixed in the conscious part of the brain as having some commercial worth.
A business is an entity that drives commercial transactions and exists to generate income. The business has a market, a plan and a way to ensure that people who like the business support it with their financial transactions. These transaction result in generating turnover and if we are lucky “profit” and if you are seriously fortunate, wealth and some form of valuable asset.
Ideas on their own in the business world typically have no value and even Richard Branson has publicly thanked all the people who have sent him good ideas.
If you wish to sell or trade or generate income from your idea it requires presentation. The presentation highlights how it will perform as a business.
There are fundamental questions that must be asked with any idea.
• How many people will buy into the idea?
• What is the perceived transaction value and why would people pay this amount for the idea?
• How many ideas can be sold a day?
• Can you make enough ideas a day, to meet this demand?
• What will happen when other people see your idea works?
• Can this idea generate sufficient profit to run a business?
• Finally, would you buy one of your own ideas and put down hard money for it?
Many people with solid ideas, sold their houses, mortgaged everything they had, and believed with the determination of Job to make it a success.
The other half believes their idea is now “THE ONE.” They are hoping some rich philanthroper will say, “I have waited my whole life, for this idea, here is a huge wad of money. Now I will spend a lot more money and turn this into a huge profit, which, I because I am nice, will give you more of.
Then as you are the generator of this idea and from the kindness of my heart, I will let you earn more money from my hard work on your idea, because it was your idea and have contributed nothing since, to its success.
Would you do it? So why do you think someone else would?
Phase one of the entrepreneurial business journey is to make a list of ideas. From this list see which of the ideas, could make a commercial business feasible.
Evaluate the shortlisted ideas, and identify which idea you would “buy into.” Once you have the one, commit all your resources to making a feasibility and business plan. The planning here saves millions in heartache, stress and wasted resources.
If in the business plan you can prove a commercial success, and then consider the journey just begun.
SO YOU NOW THINK YOU HAVE THE RIGHT IDEA
What is the right idea………………
Ideas are ten a penny and not every idea is reinventing the wheel, McDonalds and Burger King did not invent a hamburger they just found ways to make them faster, sell quicker and more of them than anyone before.
So what’s your idea?
A new cell phone, an app, a website, every person dreams of the perfect business that will assail them with wealth yachts and Lear jets, sadly many will not see those dreams come true as we deal with two distinct personalities.
The salesman, he can sell anything sells the concept the idea, gets you all going but there is no delivery. He is so busy selling he has not considered all the iffy bits in his mind, like after sales, delivery and all the other effort that requires a succesful business. We have a classic example with Google phone which is sold on line but when people, needed help with problems, there was no where to go.
Salespeople are a cog in a complex environment that is a business and few salespeople make it on their own in business, despite the fact, that having a sales personality is critical to being a well rounded business person.
The entrepreneur however has a dream, a vision and passion, and with his idea in hand he creates a plan to achieve his goal which is getting his product out there sold and the money back in his bank where hopefully it stays.
Every wave that knocks an entrepreneur down will see the true die hard getting up again and coming back to stand there again this time with the proper tools. He knows that every obstacle, can be overcome and if he wants it badly enough.
The true entrepreneur also knows he can achieve his goal with well planned achievable bite sized steps within the concept of his overall vision. He will eventually stand there in the waves and turn them to his advantage.
So look again at your list of potential ideas, write a couple of words for each in terms of what you think will sell. Spend some time in selling environments and see what people are actually buying. Take specific shops and see how long the stock sits on the shelf before it moves.
These steps are critical to the success of a business and not the success or exuberance of the idea on its own.
David.. Please feel free to look at blog posts on building strategy, setting up operations and bridging the gap between the two.
One of these tries to put everything in perspective for anyone starting up a business.
"The future isn’t what it used to be" at http://wp.me/pzzpB-gL
My posts are clearly meant for executive who are running corporations but no problem with you visualizing where you want to be in 5 years and taking a look at issues you will be dealing with at that time.
Make sure you "like' the article if you do indeed like it.
Other posts you may find interesting/useful
"How does your organization develop strategies?"
"Managing by Objectives"
"Mind your “Ps” and “Qs”
"Where there’s fire there is smoke"
"A Formula for Operational Excellence"
All of these are based on hand-on consulting experience across different industries in the USA, Asia and Canada over the past 40 years.
I like Mr Bradley's advice of contacting MSBDC.
if any of the many pitches people will be giving you sound bogus, feel free to contact me at any time for a quick chat
Your question is too open-ended, Hire someone if you're able who is experienced. A serial entrepreneur has the skills of 3 or 4 people and will get the boat afloat. Maybe not the best business plan or best product/service prototype but you'll be off and running. It's good to have a single mind covering all bases at the outset. The other alternative is the do-do theory... do the thing until you acquire the skills to do the thing. Persist.
If you have a local CPA/Accountant you work with or trust, I suggest consulting with them. You can also visit www.Score.org-they have mentors, business plan templates and alot of valuable tools to help you with your endeavor.
As has been mentioned previously, I would also recommend that you start with a SCORE representative in your area. (http://www.score.org/) Many first time entrepreneurs are taken advantage of by consultants/ planners/mentors, etc. because the young entrepreneur doesn't have enough knowledge/experience to know when the advice they receive is correct and/or worth the price. SCORE can advise and mentor either for free or for a small fee so you can obtain the information and business planning assistance you need. Many local colleges offer entrepreneur classes, usually for a nominal fee. Even though my company assists emerging entrepreneurs with their start-up and business planning, I always recommend they do their homework with SCORE or similar first so they understand the process.
I concur with the advise that you seek at your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center). A resource I use with my clients is www.leanstack.com the lean canvas. It is a great first step to articulate a business model (its a free dashboard). I also recommend http://www.spark59.com/ which is Ash Marya's site which has many Lean resources.
Lots of good advice out there. There are plenty of guides on the practical aspects and I would just like to add a note on the personal aspect as I have been there myself... you need to have 3 things (and I'm sure you've heard these before):
Passion: You need to have a personal passion for whatever you want to do. Anything less than 100% commitment to starting up your own business will lead to exactly that - less than 100% success.. I have seen this first hand.
Patience: Rome was not built in a day. When you build your business plan, consider where you want to be in a few years but start with small steps.
Persistence: You may find that in the first months (unless you are extremely fortunate like I was) you get a lot of rejections and it's not always easy to keep going. Also there are going to be ups and downs, you need to persist - specially when things are on the "down"
For starters, don't do anything until you've secured all of your intellectual property. Start an LLC. If you're looking to launch a product, make sure it has a patent, or trademark its brand name. Never talk to anyone about your ideas until these things are done, as the most unlikely of people could take your idea and run with it before you get a chance to.
(There are lots of other great tips already posted here -- I didn't want to restate any of them, but did want to include this).
Are you a "lone ranger" or a "collaborator?" A lone ranger might be able to read the books recommended, fill out the plan template on your own, etc. But if you're a collaborator, then I highly recommend you get in touch with the organizations recommended by Mr. Bradley. Of course you can do both. But getting some personal face-to-face advice can save you a lot of angst, time, and expensive mistakes.
Please check out www.ladderofsuccess.nl This is a coaching firm based in The Netherlands. They can help you do just that. They have a coaching program for starting entrepreneurs with bi-weekly Skype sessions. They will show you the ropes!
The fact that they are based in Europe is no problem. Sound business principles are the same all over the world!