A Checklist for Starting Your Own Business
Feature Image: Arielle Vey
Some people say millennials are entitled and lazy (among other things). As a millennial, though, I’m going to argue that these notions are far from true. Rather, we can best be characterized as the “go-getter” generation in that we are environmentally- and socially-conscious and ambitious. In fact, increasingly more millennials are saying goodbye to the mundane, 9-to-5 life and are, instead, starting their own businesses. On average, millennials are launching their start-ups eight years earlier than the generation who raised us—baby boomers.
Why do so many millennials want to start a business? For one, it serves as an opportunity for a flexible schedule. Additionally, running a business ensures millennials passion-filled careers (because ideally, those who start businesses are passionate about their business idea). Sure, starting your own business is exciting; however, there are several things that need to be taken care of prior to your start-up launch. Although it may seem overwhelming, checking things off, step by step, will help guide you in the right direction and keep you in the business-owner mindset.
I wasn’t formally educated in business—I have a degree in Film and Media Studies. However, many entrepreneurs assert that most of the learning comes from doing, not from sitting in a classroom. In looking back at my own experience as a small business owner, I’m excited to share my knowledge with those who are looking to go down a similar career path—the path of a business owner.
I was always told to have an idea first and start a business second. By this, I mean that it’s best to know what kind of business you’re wanting to start. Once you have a general idea of your business, grab a piece of paper and jot down anything that comes to mind when you think about starting your own business. Consider your interests, talents, dreams, passions, aspirations, and goals.
2. Make a Pros and Cons List
Once you’ve brainstormed, it’s important that you make a pros and cons list. As mentioned earlier, there are many aspects of starting a business, all of which should be heavily considered and thought through. Making a pros and cons list highlights what may or may not be feasible, and it helps you personally weigh the positives and negatives of starting a business venture. Making this type of list can give you clarity, identify your talents, and illuminate the strengths and weaknesses of your business idea.
3. Create a Business Plan
A business plan will help you narrow in on the specifics of your business. Components of a business plan include your goals, a detailed description of your business, a company section (is it just you or do you have a team?), a marketing plan (how will you reach your customers?), and a financial section (how will you make money?). I believe that having a clearly defined value proposition is the most important aspect of your business plan--it’s what sets your business apart from your competitors. If you’re not sure what your value proposition is, consider what makes your product or service unique. What can you offer to potential customers that your competitors can’t?
4. Set a Timeline
Because you are working for yourself, you need to set a timeline. Typically, entrepreneurs work well under pressure and are able to both set and stick to a timeline. Take a day to sit down with your calendar and plan ahead. (It’s the only way to stay sane, in my opinion).
5. Get creative with social media and marketing strategies
Whether you like it or not, social media is becoming increasingly important for brands. In order to build brand affinity, you need to be on social media engaging with potential customers. It’s important to note, though, the importance of paying attention to your branding and how your brand comes across on social media. The same thing goes for marketing--you need to stand out. Start reaching out to customers, blast out email newsletters, and curate 1-2 marketing campaigns.
Once you have the above steps completed and in line with your vision, all there’s left to do is commit. You’ve made it this far, so don’t let any negative thoughts get in the way. Nike says it best--just do it. You deserve to proud of yourself for starting your own business.
Fellow entrepreneurs, what other steps did you take before launching your biz idea?