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Is It Time For You to Start a Business? Take the First Step.

Last week we noted you might have a resolution to start a business this year. And we threw out a couple of things you might want to think about before you jump into your startup. Stuff like having a good idea, having enough money to see you through the first few difficult months (or years), and doing your homework before you jump in.

If any of that hit a nerve for you, then maybe you are ready to start a business.

Which is a bit out of step with the rest of the world. According to a 2012 report from the New America Foundation, the number of Americans starting new businesses has declined by 53% since 1977. And self-employed Americans (those doing consulting, but not necessarily owning an official business) has gone down more than 20% since 1991. Last year, the Brookings Institute issued a similar report. Ouch.

Why so few new businesses?

Part of the reason is the dominance of big retailers and chains. Or the difficultly in raising or borrowing enough money to get started. And it’s not like the business atmosphere has been all that great for the past few years.

But maybe that’s a good thing for you. With so few people taking on the challenge of starting a new business, there’s less competition (from other startups) and more opportunities for you to succeed.

You’re willing to zag when everyone else is busy working for big corporations (zigging). You’re ready to prove you have what it takes to do your own thing and make it work. You want to work for something more than a paycheck.

So what’s the first step?

Last week, we suggested that you do your homework. Read a book or two about starting a business. Listen to a podcast or take an online course. You might even get your MBA, though that’s certainly not required (plenty of entrepreneurs start a business before they earn any degree). But doing all of this isn’t really the first step. As Guy Kawasaki writes in his excellent book, The Art of the Start:

“You could spend all of your time learning and not doing. And doing, not learning to do, is the essence of entrepreneurship.”

It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of looking for the next book, the next blog post, the next seminar that will finally give you the skills and insights you need to start your business. And the reality is, you will never be completely ready. You will never know everything you need to know. And that’s why so few people jump in and do it.

So the real first step is…

START. Maybe you have an idea for a product that you think people will like. Or a skill that people need. Or knowledge you can share. Maybe you have a unique network that you can leverage to bring people together. Or an asset that you can use in a new way. Or something you make. Whatever it is that you can do, you need to start doing it. Today. Now.

Launch a website promoting your services. Build a prototype. Write the software. Call a potential client and sell your service. Put up a page on Etsy or eBay. Send an email sharing your knowledge. Whatever it is that you can do, just start.

Don’t wait until your product is perfect. Nike founder Phil Knight made shoe treads with his waffle iron in his kitchen and sold them out of the back of his station wagon. The first bottle of Gatorade was just water, sodium, sugar, potassium, and lemon juice (and no label). The first Apple computer didn’t have a case, a power supply, a keyboard, or a screen!

If you wait until everything is perfect, you’ve waited too long. Way too long.

There are a lot of things that feel like starting, that aren’t: writing a mission statement, creating a pitch deck, or firing up excel and creating three years of financial projections. Don’t waste your time on this stuff.

Just start.

Are you a potential entrepreneur but you’re still looking for an idea for your business? Check out How to Find a Good Idea for Your Business to see a few places you can look for potential business ideas.

What to do immediately after you start your business

Once you get your business off the ground, we recommend you take care of a few more details: create a logo, and incorporate your business. You can create your logo design here.

To incorporate your business, we recommend using MyCorporation as they seem to be the most affordable entity to provide this type of service.

Now go start your business.

Amber Ooley
Amber Ooley
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