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Victims of Sandy Hook

Stop the Slaughter of Innocents. Congress is bought and paid for by gun lunatics and gun promotion groups. If you want to live in a safe America, help buy Congress back for America. Send a donation to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 909 Third Avenue, 15th Floor New York, NY 10022

15 Easy Steps to Starting Your Own Small Business

The title is a little tongue in cheek, because starting a business is never easy. It takes a lot of hard work, commitment, enough capital, and paying attention to details in order to get a business off the ground these days. When I decided to start my custom home planning and drafting business, I tried hard to find a good startup guide that would lay it all out for me in a logical order. I couldn't find anything in the library that had all the steps clearly listed without a lot of confusing fluff and filler.

So, motivated mostly out of frustration, I decided to write one good article on this subject based upon my experience and make it available to others. So far, I think I've only just scratched the tip of the iceberg and composed a bare-bones outline at best, but I hope it will accomplish what I intend, which is to help others get pointed in the right direction.

Before you spend one dime on starting any business, talk to a few experts first and decide if entrepreneurship is right for you, especially in the field in which you intend to go. Go to your local library, or do a Google and Yahoo search on your business on the Internet. Be thorough and research every aspect of starting a new business in your chosen classification. This will give you a good basis from which to decide if you want to pursue it.

Starting out, there is usually more money going out than coming in, and generally, you work long hours without a steady paycheck. Make sure you include your spouse in this decision. If you both are not passionate about it, and are just seeking a steady paycheck, then think again. The bottom line is that you need to like what you do, and you have to be dedicated and focused, or you will fail.

Evaluate yourself honestly and make a pro-and-con list of business ownership. What do you share in common with successful entrepreneurs? Are your financial reserves large enough to carry you for the first year? Do you have access to capital from banks or investors to carry you through the rough times? Do you possess the technical and management skills necessary to operate the business? Can you handle your customers and your employees?

Nobody can cover all the bases, so consider all the ways you will have to compensate for your weaknesses by outsourcing these things to competent subcontractors or employees. Maybe you are a good artist, rather than a sharp business person, so team up with someone who can handle the left-brain things, or visa-versa.

Since I live in the United States, this guide is intended to address the procedures required in this country. If you live in Canada, Europe, South America, or elsewhere in the world, this article may not be very relevant to your exact situation, or address the specific conditions in your local area. In that case, please use this as a general planning guide to become familiar with some of the tasks and obligations most businesses require to launch a successful venture in this country.

Chances are good that if you can start a business in the U.S., you can start one anywhere. Select the relevant information that applies to your business and disregard the rest. For example, the sequence of steps laid out in this article is in perfect order for most businesses, but you might find your business varies from the norm under your particular circumstances. You may even be able to ignore some steps altogether, but overall; most of them should be helpful in the order that they are listed to plan your enterprise.

Assuming you've done your due diligence, self-evaluation, and you are still passionate to start your business, here is how you need to go about it.

1. Conduct a detailed feasibility study of your planned business. Describe your typical customer profile, your product or service, and the competitors in your local market area. Identify your suppliers and their credit requirements. Determine your pricing, employee requirements, and labor rates so you are competitive. Include your banker and any loan criteria and credit score in your evaluation. Prepare a marketing plan listing all advertising, media, and promotional costs and how your budget will allow you to use them to reach your market. Think of clever ways to get the word out without breaking your bank account.

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