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1.0 Introduction

How to Start a Business >> Each section contains key Action Items located within the downloadable Action Guide >> Click to Download Action Guide.

1.1   Stay employed while conducting research – Think like a customer and a business owner.

Inventors and entrepreneurs always think they have the best new mousetrap and sometimes they do.  However, it is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to understand if your idea truly has potential before investing lots of money and time into its development.

For starters, think like an entrepreneur and a customer–imagine yourself in their shoes.  Begin to research anything and everything about your concept and market–meaning who will buy your product or service and where is it sold.

Is your product already on the market?

Is a competitive store already located nearby?

Will your product or service sell well?

Can your product or service become profitable?

Can you find unlimited customers?

Often times your family, friends and relatives will all provide positive feedback to you.  Some may provide negative feedback and suggest reasons why your business will not work.  While hearing positive comments can make you feel good, the negative comments can truly dampen your spirit and motivation.

In both situations, you are hearing feedback from individuals who really may not be part of your target market and they could be providing responses that may not truly uncover the potential of your business.

Keep in mind, they love you, they care about you, and they want what they think is best for you.  It’s a normal reaction to change.  In most cases, family members make the objection because they are sincerely fearful and don’t want you to make a mistake or take on an unnecessary risk.

In sharing your dreams, goals and ideas with others (e.g., family), accept the mindset of seeking negative feedback and then figure out how to overcome those objections.  In sales, one must encourage objections from the customer and then overcome those objections to make the sale.  If you don’t get objections, the customer is probably not interested.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

ACCEPT that family members do not like risk, but always keep in mind that if you want to be successful, high levels of risk are required.  To be willing to be a business owner, the budding entrepreneur must find a way to overcome his/her own fears of failure, as well as the fears of family members.  As such, with respect to the family members who are fearful, thank the family member for his/her concern, set the concern aside and move on.

LIST some of your fears and those of others regarding starting a business:

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NOW keep them in your mind, but as challenges you will work to overcome.

1.2   Get organized – Document ideas, research, meetings and purchase a website address.

Journal

Purchase a small bound journal (not loose-leaf) to document continuous progress with your idea or concept.  Record the date in your journal with each entry and document your business concept.  If it’s a new product idea, develop a full description and a drawing if possible.  Then, begin to date and document important calls, discussions, meetings and other important items in your journal.  If your idea is a new invention, it is wise to have a trusted individual also sign and date each entry in your journal as a witness, which may come in handy if you seek legal council to legally protect your idea with the government.  If you are simply trying to get organized and increase your productivity, download the templates in the Goals and Due Dates section below.

Filing System

If computer savvy, begin a folder – subfolder organizational system, otherwise, use paper folders and a simple plastic filing box.  Your early folders may include: Administration, Correspondence, Legal, Marketing, Reference, etc. Save your related research and documents to the appropriate folders and implement a routine hard drive “backup” system for your computer.  “Flash drives” or “Thumb drives” are small and inexpensive solutions to backing up your computer–purchase two and rotate saving your data to them regularly.

Contact Management System

If you have a software database program, such as ACT! Contact Management Software; start recording all relevant individuals and companies into your software program. Otherwise, start simple by creating an Excel Spreadsheet, Word Document or other program to digitally record all relevant individuals and companies that are researched during this “discovery” period.  Try to use a program that will enable you to export your data into a contact management or database program at a later date if possible.

Purchase a Website Address or “Internet Domain Name”

One of the most important and least expensive lessons when starting a new business is to purchase website addresses (domain names) relevant to your concept.

Have you ever heard the phrase “location, location, location” for a successful business?  All retail establishments must be concerned with an easy to find, high-traffic, easily accessible location to be successful.  Now that hundreds of millions of people use the Internet to locate businesses, EVERY successful business must now secure the best Internet domain name possible for their business.

A “.com” website address is the MOST IMPORTANT Internet domain name extension to own because it’s the most popular and first Internet website address that users will check.

Domain names can be purchased on average for $10 per year if nobody currently owns the domain name.  That’s a very small price to pay in the early stages of your business to secure a good website name.  I highly recommend ALWAYS writing down good product, service and company names that come to your mind.  As soon as one comes to your mind, go visit one of the Domain Registrars below to see if the domain name is available to purchase.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

THINK in terms of your customers and audience.  Is your new name easy to remember?  Is it easy to spell?  Is the name short?  Are there other similar domain names that users will type in and find your competitor rather than you?  Can you purchase the plural spelling of your new name?  Can you purchase misspellings of your new name?  Are other extensions such as “.net” or “.org” available to purchase?  Do your competitors own those extensions?  When confident about your best name and future, purchase .com, .net, .org and related ones.

LIST your domain name ideas:

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If you have a name in mind, go straight to your Internet Browser and type in the name such as www.mcdonalds.com.  If you don’t see what appears to be a “real” website, go to one of the “Domain Registrars” listed below to continue your search.  You will probably come up with numerous names that are already owned by “Domain Name Squatters.” These individuals have purchased the name with intent to raise the price and sell the domain name to someone like you who seeks to purchase it from them.

Keep thinking of good names and purchase the ones that truly have great potential.  While you search, click on the “WHOIS” or “Click Here for Info” link to find out which individual or organization “owns” the domain name.

If you finally determine your “best” name is already owned, then contact the “Administrative Contact” in the “WHOIS” section and ask them if they might be willing to sell their name.  Try not to “give away” your idea to these sellers.  Just say, “Your domain name seems interesting to me and I just want to check on its status.”  Buyers beware; the business of buying and selling domain names is enormous.  If a “seller” senses that you are working on something big, they will try to get the highest price possible from you for the domain name.

Popular Domain Registrars:

www.godaddy.com

www.1and1.com

www.networksolutions.com

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

RESEARCH a domain registrar to see if your domain name ideas are available. While you search, click on the “WHOIS” or “Click Here for Info” link to find out which individual or organization “owns” the domain name.

PURCHASE your domains or review WHOIS and contact the owners about purchasing the domains.

1.3   Set Goals and Due Dates.

Research, calls, meetings, brainstorming sessions and surveys can become very time consuming and can lead you in many new directions.  This can be good if it advances your idea in a positive direction and bad if it gets you off track.  It’s easy to get off track!

Get in the habit of setting goals and due dates for each of your tasks.

The most productive method is to complete your most important goals first before moving on to any other tasks, especially before opening your e-mail.

This may sound simple, but it can be difficult to implement on a daily basis in your own life.  I personally recommend keeping your task list displayed visually near your computer with the most important task on the top of the list.

Here are four (4) easy templates below to keep you on track. Simply click on the template to download and modify for your usage.

Daily Checklist: Keep visible at all times.  Tasks go down the left side with most important task on the top.  Numbers correspond to every day in the month.

Goal Chart: Add your Weekly, Monthly and 90 Day Goals.

Daily Record: Transfer your daily goals from your Goal Chart and list your daily accomplishments to keep a historic record of your business.

Project Goals: List individual goals and tasks for each separate project.

1.4   Clarify your personal motivation for developing a new business.

It’s very important to understand what inspires you to develop a new product or service.

There are numerous reasons to consider this topic because you’ll have to find an inner motivation to spend the hours and hours required to launch your new business.

If you have passion for your new product or service, then working days, nights and weekends will come much easier for you.

If the new product or service is in the field of your profession, you will have excellent knowledge and resources to draw upon.

If you’re solving a problem or challenge with your product or service, your chances for customer demand should increase provided that your product can produce a profit.

Finally, if you simply want to earn a fortune from your new idea, I challenge you to truly research its potential before investing time and money, so that you don’t give up.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

WRITE what motivates you to develop your new business.

1.5   Network – Learn to build your business “contact” network.

Now is the time to truly start building your business network.

Your business network is comprised of individuals, companies, associates, mentors, friends and even family who can help you develop your new business.

As you build your network, it’s important to remember that each individual can be connected in some way or another to help you.

In fact, having someone in your network refer you to another person is by far the most valuable method of introduction if they are trusted and respected by your new contact.

In my personal experience, I recommend always collecting a business card from every new contact or business associate.

I have thousands of business cards in my possession and I often write introduction details on the back of their card such as where I met them or who introduced me to them. DO NOT write on their business card while in front of them as that can be seen as bad manners, simply wait until you walk away and then jot down your notes.

I usually try to keep my business cards in alphabetical order or grouped by event if I was at a convention where I collected a lot of the business cards.  In today’s digital world, it’s best to enter the contact data into your database contact management system and file the cards alphabetically by company name or last name after they have been entered digitally.  The new Smart Phones (Android, Blackberry, iPhone) all have Business Card Scanning 3rd party software, so research a good one.

Some may say it’s inappropriate to ask for a business card from high-level CEO’s and national leaders, however, I have generated more respect by demonstrating my sincerity in my personalized approach.  Many leaders will have a “Chief of Staff” representative with them and I usually try to get their card too, because they are the “Gatekeeper” to the leader or the person that you will have to contact to speak with the leader.

If I ask for a business card from anyone of significant stature including the gatekeeper, I always send the individual a handwritten thank you note referencing where I met them and what it meant to me.

I recommend doing the same as it takes only minutes out of your day.  Purchasing generic thank you cards at a local gift store such as Hallmark or a drug store can work fine.  If you prefer your personal name or business name or logo, you can have “blank” thank you notes printed with any of those graphics on the front of the note card.  Again, a handwritten note will set you apart from all others who choose not to take this valuable step.

Write each note with sincerity and always think about how you can provide value to them.

Take the time right now to begin forming your list of networking contacts.  Add them to your database, excel spreadsheet, Microsoft Word document or create a section in your journal where you can keep track of your existing and new contacts.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

BEGIN listing below all of the individuals that could possibly help you in your adventure with your new product or service.  You really want to type these names straight into your database or Excel spreadsheet, but if you don’t have that in front of you, then jot down names of individuals below and write or type other names next to the questions below. Take the time to write the names down right now.

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Who do you know that could help you with your new business idea?

Who do you know from church?

Who do you know from work?

Who do you know from school?

Who do you know that might be in an organization with you?

Who does your doctor know?

Who does your lawyer or accountant know?  (Referrals from trusted advisors are golden!)

Who do your best friends know?

Who do your best friend’s parents know?

Who in your neighborhood could help you?

Who does your family know?

Who do your relatives know?

Who works with your parents?

Who do you know from local stores nearby to your home, school or office?

Who do you know at your favorite restaurant?

Who does your haircutter know?

Who do you know in your online LinkedIn.com, Facebook.com, and Myspace.com accounts?

This is your network–these are the people that can help you and could put you in touch with other helpful individuals.  This is how you build your network…little by little by little.

Now, as you move forward in this Action Guide, your brain will start to think about who can help you as you conduct your research, your surveys, your production requirements and other tasks.

Action Tip

Give First!  As you build your network, one of the most important ways to grow is to provide value to your network.  How can you help them? If you always help others get what they need, they will always help you get what you need.

How do you do this?

It’s simple–ask your contact, “How can I help you?

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