First, find a problem to solve.

When you start a business, you’re solving a problem. Shredded vegetables? You’re saving us time. Shoes that fit? You’re providing us comfort. Car rental delivery to our home? Big help.

After figuring out what you can do, think about who this will help. Not everyone wants or needs everything. But if you can solve a problem, the people interested in your solution are your customers, or, your Target Market.

Most business mentors think it’s a good idea to write a basic business plan. What’s in one? A business plan explains your idea, who your customer and competition are, and how much money you’ll need. Yes, there are a bunch of details in between, from understanding how you’ll be legally set up to managing your taxes and accounting. But this is an important place to start.

Write it down. 

Many entrepreneurs spend a lot of time thinking about their website, retail store or restaurant menu, without first clearly stating what they are doing and for whom.

Try writing a draft. It can be on a legal pad in pen and ink or on your computer. At the top of the page write Business Idea. Then write it out in a few sentences or a paragraph:

“Barbara’s Gluten-Free Desserts makes custom cakes, pies, and cookies, all deliciously gluten-free for both wholesale and retail markets. The company specializes in sourcing fresh, organic ingredients from local farmers and creating memorable specialty desserts for all occasions.”

Why do we want to know who our customer is? In order to reach them better. A billboard or random newspaper or radio ad throws everything at the wall, hoping something will stick. Better to seek out your target market by identifying them first. Think about their age, gender, disposable income, where they live, and what they like.

Same for your competition. Even if you think your idea is unique, you have competition. Dollars spent on going out to a movie theater are in competition with dollars spent buying a pizza and watching a movie at home on Netflix.  

It doesn’t have to be 50 pages, or 20. Business plans help you define important points: What are you selling? How will you be legally set up? How will you manage your books and records? Who are your customers and the competition? What marketing channels will you use? How much money will you need?

Many sample business plan templates are available online through organizations such as the Small Business Administration and volunteer business mentor organizations like SCORE.

To boil your idea down further, consider a Business Model Canvas, often referred to as a “Lean Startup” business plan. It’s a one-page summary that directs you to answer all the fundamental questions of starting your business. 

Nothing about starting a business is exact.

There are lots of educated guesses involved. Everyone frets about what to charge, where to get money, how to do taxes. Yes, you will need to answer these questions. The best thing an entrepreneur can do for success is factor in the importance of professional relationships, including a banker, an accountant, a legal advisor, an insurance representative, and a marketing strategist. 

For help with your bookkeeping, accounting, and business taxes, contact us today. We are all here to help each other succeed.

And remember, be confident in yourself and your idea. You can do it.