Monday, November 24, 2014

Leaving corporate?

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     Dreaming of leaving the corporate world to start a business of your own? It's a big move, and it takes some careful planning. 

     Before you jump, do your homework. In Jane's first business, she simply resigned her position at the big corporation and jumped in. It was a hard lesson learned--that business failed. In her second business, she gave a good deal of careful thought before starting up.

     Here are a half-dozen steps I have followed myself.

     1. Home in on your interest. A small business can be built around any interest you have--collectibles, food, clothing, artwork, design, woodworking, consulting, wellness, and any other. Even if your interest goes toward potted plants, be assured that you are not alone. 

     2. Get a part time job. Target the industry where you'll be starting your business. Get some experience in the trenches. You will be surprised how much you can learn about the food business by flipping burgers. Study eBay offerings before opening a store of games. Help out at the greenhouse before you begin growing plants for sale. 

     3. Study the market. No business survives without clients/customers. Who are they? How will you find them? Why will they plop down their dollars for your products/services? What's the competition--and how can you beat it?

     4. Write down your plan. Yes, you can plan in your head, but writing it down forces you to create a step-by-step process. In writing it down, you'll find that you've neglected some critical aspects. A written plan gets your priorities sorted out. Then, reduce everything to bottom line numbers. This is what tells the tale. 

     5. What about funding? No matter what you do, you'll need money--to get started, to get the business off the ground, and to survive for a year or two. Do you use your own money? Do you borrow from Aunt Sallie? Will a bank talk with you? Is crowd funding a viable way to go? Will the new business generate enough profit to support continued growth in the future? 

     6. Longer term planning. No doubt you are looking ahead to retirement at some future date. Now fit your small business into this. Can you build it into a successful operation that you can sell? Are you just looking for a way to keep busy in your golden years? Do you want to establish an operation and then sell franchises? 

     Leaving corporate and starting your own small business is a big move. Corporate America and Small Business America occupy different planets, speak different languages, require different attitudes. Doing the homework upfront can help you avoid some pitfalls later.

     Planning is very important in any business. In the corporate world, overall planning is an activity at the top of the organization. In small business, it's up to you. And then you take out the trash. 

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