How Do I Start a Small Business?

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1. Have an idea. It might be a product you've always wanted to make, or a service you feel people need. It might even be something people don't know they need yet, because it hasn't been invented!
  • It can be helpful—–and fun—–to have people who are bright and creative join you for a casual brainstorming session. Start with a simple question like: "what shall we build?". The idea is not to create a business plan, just to generate some ideas. Many of the ideas will be duds, and there will be quite a few ordinary ones, but a few will emerge that have real potential.
2. Define your goals. Do you want financial independence, eventually selling your business to the highest bidder? Do you want something small and sustainable, that you love doing and want to derive a steady income from? These are the things that are good to know very early on.




3. Create a working name. You could even do this before you have an idea for the business, and if the name is good, you may find it helps you define your business idea. As your plan grows, and things begin to take shape, the perfect name may come to you, but don't let that hinder you in the early phases—–create a name that you can use while you plan, and don't mind changing later.
  • For a bit of fun, take a cue from the Beatles, who often use fun names for a song before it is finalized, like Yesterday, which had the working title of "Scrambled Eggs."


4. Define your team. Will you do this alone, or will you bring in one or two trusted friends to join you? This brings a lot of synergy to the table, as people bounce ideas off each other. Two people together can often create something that is greater than the sum of the two separate parts.
  • Think of some of the biggest success stories in recent times include John Lennon and Paul McCartney; Bill Gates and Paul Allen; Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak; and Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In every case, the partnership brought out the best in both sides of the equation, and every one of them became billionaires. Is a partnership a guarantee of being a billionaire? No, but it doesn't hurt!
5. Choose wisely. When choosing the person or people you're going to build the business with, be careful. Even if someone is your best friend, it doesn't mean that you will partner well in a business operation. Start it with a reliable person. Things to consider when choosing your co-leaders and support cast include:
  • Does the other person complement your weaknesses? Or do both of you bring only one set of the same skills to the table? If the latter, be wary as you can have too many cooks doing the same thing while other things are left unattended.
  • Do you see eye to eye on the big picture? Arguments about the details are a given, and are important for getting things right. But not seeing eye to eye on the big picture, the real purpose of your business can cause a split that may be irreparable. Be sure your team cares about the and buys into the purpose as much as you do.
  • If interviewing people, do some reading on how to spot real talent beyond the certifications, degrees or lack thereof. People's innate talents can often be somewhat different from the conventional education streams they've pursued (or failed to) and it's important to look for "click" (you get along with them) and latent talents as much as paper credentials
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