I am ready–I think–to start my own business. But I haven’t the first clue about how to write a business plan; how to raise money, or anything else that all the books tell you to do. I know it is a lot to ask, but can you help?
The question–which I cleaned up a bit–came in through the comment section of the blog and it is pretty typical. And I understand completely the angst that underlies it. Making a decision to start anything new is scary. And when you read how the experts tell you to go about it–and they advocate creating things you know absolutely nothing about, such as a writing a business plan–it seems the process is completely overwhelming.
Let me see if I can simplify things.
By asking the question “how do I start my business” you have already taken the first huge step.
The first thing you need to have, before you start a company, is desire. You have to want to do it. If you don’t, you won’t stick with it and you certainly won’t keep going in the face of all the inevitable obstacles you are going to face.
However, with desire in place, neither creating a business plan nor raising money is your next step.
If I were to reduce where you go from there to a formula it would be Act. Learn. Build. Repeat.
Let me explain.
Once you have a pretty good idea of the kind of company you want to start, you:
1. Take a smart step as quickly as you can toward your goal. What’s a smart step? It’s one where you act quickly with the means at hand. What you know, who you know, and anything else that’s available. (“I know a great chef, and if I beg all my family and friends to back me, I might have enough money to open my own restaurant.”) You make sure that step is never going to cost more than it would be acceptable to you to lose should things not work out. And you bring others along to acquire more resources, spread the risk and confirm the quality of your idea.
2. Learn from taking that step. What seems to work? What doesn’t. What are people asking you for that you didn’t anticipate? What things do they think you should change or eliminate?
3. Reflect and build on what you have learned from taking that step. You need to do that because every time you act, reality changes. Sometimes the step you take gets you nearer to what you want (“I should be able to afford to lease restaurant space just outside of downtown”); sometimes what you want changes (“It looks like there are an awful lot of Italian restaurants nearby. We are going to have to rethink our menu.”) If you pay attention, you always learn something. So after you act, ask these three questions: Did those actions get you closer to your goal? (“Yes. It looks like I will be able to open a restaurant.”) Do you need additional resources to draw even closer? (“Yes. I’ll need to find another chef. The one I know can only do Italian.”) Do you still want to obtain your objective? (“Yes.”)
4. Repeat. Go through the first three steps again and keep repeating them until you reach your goal, or you decide it is not possible or you no longer want to do it.
Act. Learn Build Repeat. That’s the way to go instead of creating a formal business plan or doing a lot of market research.
8/18/2013 @ 6:40AM