Starting your own business is more than having an idea, a computer, and an internet connection. Starting your own business is planning, strategizing, sacrificing, and discipline—it is hard work. Having retired from the corporate world to launch my own business meant leaving the safety net:  regular paychecks, health care, paid vacation, and support functions to handle day-to-day operating issues.
I spent the year prior to launch, researching my business idea, the market, asking for advice, studying social media strategies and platforms, writing a business plan, and preparing for launch day. It was a step-by-step process. I continue to learn new lessons every single day, but here are 6 key lessons that may help you in your journey to achieving your launch day and starting up your own business.

1. Begin with good advice – a business mentor or organization like SCORE provides mentoring, workshops, tools and templates. Tag up with great business mentors through social platforms like Facebook or Twitter on their on-line networking days. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get advice from those with knowledge and experience.

2. Do your research – is your business idea viable? Who is the competition? Check out the market, costs and competition. The more you understand about your niche market the higher the chances of success.

3. Write a plan – what are your goals and path to success. Business Planning is essential but often overlooked. The SBA and SCORE provide downloadable business planning templates for a broad range of industries. Track your business plan. Reassess your plan frequently, rework if necessary. Don’t skip over this critical planning step, it will help you measure where you are and where you are going.

4. Get your books sorted – How are you going to manage your finances? Using the shoe box method is not an option. An application like Excel may work, but more complicated accounting may require a tool like Quickbooks or a certified accountant. There are many affordable options to tracking income and expenses. Not understanding your books, begs the question, how do you know you are profitable?

5. Get online – How are you going to share your business product or service? What platforms will help you get the word out? Having a one platform media presence like Facebook may work for friends and family, but platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn provide a broader presence and the added benefit of continuous and breaking media information.

6. Get Legal – Are you going to incorporate? Legal advice will protect you and your business from liability issues. While some business startups use on-line services like Legalzoom, I felt more comfortable going to an attorney and having face-to-face meetings. It is important to make sure your legal bases are covered and that your personal assets are separated from your business assets.

Starting your own business takes time and planning. Success will not come overnight. There will be up days and down days. But if you’re the right person and have taken the right steps with a solid plan and strategy, starting a small business of your own can be the most satisfying, exhilarating experience of your life.

Starting up your own business? What steps did you take to prepare for launch? I would love to hear from you!