Every business starts with an idea. It can be a slow, simmering idea that sits in the back of your mind and pops up when you're busy with life or frustrated with work. Or, it can be a sudden flash of inspiration. Regardless of how you get your idea, there's no reason for it to just stay a dream. Leaving it for "someday" or when conditions are just right means your amazing business might never materialize. Take some time soon and really think it through. Here are some ideas for how to make it happen.
The first thing you need to do is have the right mindset. This isn't just an idea or a passing fancy, this is a concept for your future and independence. Take your idea seriously, the way you'd honestly consider the same idea if a friend were telling you about it. Let it roll around in your head during spare moments and don't just dismiss it as being silly or impossible. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs started out with ideas that others thought were crazy or impossible. Think positively and enthusiastically about your idea and about making it real.
Here's where you'll have to put some work in and find out if you can really make your idea work. Research what you would need to do and really flesh out the details of your concept. Some questions to answer:
- Do you need a storefront, warehouse, website, or some other type of location?
- Can you start on your own or would you need to hire staff?
- Can you afford the time needed to get it off the ground?
- Is anyone already doing this? How successful is it? How can you do it differently or better?
- Are people interested in your product or service? Who are they? What do your friends and family think about it? Do they have suggestions to make it better?
- Is there a need for your product or service? What problem does it solve?
- Does it stand on its own, or would you be better off with consignment sales or partnering with an existing business?
Learn how to create a business plan and how to launch a business. Some universities, community colleges and libraries offer classes in entrepreneurship. Many small business owners would be happy to talk with you about their experiences as small business owners.
Nuts and Bolts
If you've figured out the answers to the questions above, and they indicate your idea fulfills a need people may not even know they have, then it's time to get down to brass tacks.
- Have you created a business plan? If not, you'll need one!
- What's the minimum investment you'll need to make to get off the ground? Can you afford it, or will you need to take out a loan?
- What regulations, code requirements, and local ordinances are applicable?
- Are any licenses required? Any inspections?
- If you're selling a product, how, when, and where will it be manufactured and shipped to your location?
- If you're setting up a service, how will you bring in customers?
- What tax, business registration, and other legal requirements must be fulfilled?
Answering these and many other questions can help you figure out the bottom line—can you make it happen?
If you've answered "yes!", you can make it work, you've already done the hardest part. Now sell it to yourself and believe you can do it. Then sell it to everyone else: potential investors, loan officers, future customers, and friends and family who will help you along the way.
Focusing on a great idea and figuring out how to make it a reality can be challenging, but the rewards can be spectacular when you realize that dream. Whether you want to start a part-time business or launch a full-time career, don't wait until you think it's the perfect time—that day will never come. Explore it, learn everything you can, do your planning and legwork, and make it real.