Financial Literacy for Everyone

Could you Become an Entrepreneur?

Whether youíve dreamed of starting a website, developing a consumer product, delivering a service or something else, starting your own business is a risk – but it can also deliver the ultimate reward: working on your terms. With a current unemployment rate of 9.4% according to the U.S. Department of Labor, you might be asking yourself: is now really the best time to take the plunge?

The answer is maybe. The entrepreneurial life does include risk and additional stress. But is any job foolproof in todayís financial climate? If youíre unemployed and having trouble finding a new position, it could be the perfect time to see whether your business has potential. Here are a few tips for anyone considering becoming an entrepreneur:

  • Focus on one idea. Rather than exploring a bunch of potential business ideas at once, focus on the one idea that has the most potential. When it comes to choosing the right one, remember that knowledge and passion are the most important tools you have. Research the competitive landscape before taking the next step and talking to your customer base to see what they think of your idea.

  • Create a business plan. Your business plan isnít just a tool for communicating to investors and partners about your business, but a roadmap for you to follow. A good business plan should outline your objectives, financing goals and marketing plans. Youíll want the plan to represent your business in the best, yet most realistic, light.

  • Take stock of your resources. Now more than ever, there are a wealth of free and low-cost tools entrepreneurs can use to get a new business started. You can utilize shareware for accounting, social networking sites for marketing, web-building software to create a website, and much more. Finding full-time, part-time or freelance staff to help with specific tasks is simple thanks to the online job listing sites.

  • Know your knowledge gaps. You may be an expert about your product, but lost with it comes to technology. Or perhaps you can create a website with ease, but coming up with a business name terrifies you. Knowing your weak spots is the first step toward finding the people you need to fill in your knowledge gaps and assist in those areas. Along these lines, the U.S. Small Business Administrationís SCORE program links small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with volunteer business advisors so they can get help and mentoring. You can find out more about the program here.

  • Prepare to sell your idea. Itís important to be able to describe your business in 30 seconds – with knowledge, enthusiasm and a business plan to back you up. Once youíre able to do that, reaching out to every friend and business contact is key. According to Entrepreneur.com, 42 percent of private investors are close family members, such as a spouse, sibling, child, parent or grandparent. That is reason enough to begin reaching out to the people you know.

  • Find funding. A good rule of thumb is to have about 18 months of both business and living expenses at the ready before you start your business. In case you donít have that much in the bank today, knowing how to reach out to venture capitalists, banks, and friends and family will be an important step to getting your business off the ground. Keeping your day job and starting your business as a side-project is another option.

  • Market smart. Good marketing is key to any successful business. There is nothing as important as being able to reach your customers and grab their interest. Running product names and features, taglines and ad ideas by members of your target audience can offer you invaluable feedback. For marketing strategies, guidelines and tips, try allbsuiness.com.

  • Know when it's time to fold. There are likely to be bumps in the road with any business, and in many cases, a problem can provide you with important information about adjustments you need to make for your business to succeed. But itís important to remember that there is no fool proof business venture. So going in, itís critical to know how much risk you can afford, and to have a plan for closing up shop if needed. Do follow your dreams, but donít put your long-term financial future at risk to do it.

  • Starting a new business can be an exciting and frightening prospect. But if you research your market and customer base, test your idea, and plan out your finances carefully, youíll be off to an excellent start. For budgeting, saving, credit and debt resources you can use to help plan your business, visit practicalmoneyskills.com.

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