Some people might dream of climbing the corporate ladder, but your dreams may differ. Maybe your dreams are about starting out at the very top by running your own business. Whether you are still in high school or you’ve been in the workforce for years and whether you’ve been nurturing one terrific idea for a long time or you simply know that you want to be your own boss, you can start now with your preparation for entrepreneurship.
There are plenty of books written by and about entrepreneurs. Read more than a few of them, because one thing that is important about this process is learning that there is more than one route to success, even though some of the books may make the opposite claim. After you’ve read one or two dozen books or more, you’ll start to distill some of the ideas into your own personal philosophy about business and entrepreneurship. If you’re still just in the dreaming stage, that philosophy may change with experience, but you’ll have a strong foundation. For recommendations, check online where you’ll find hundreds of lists to guide you.
You don’t need an MBA to become an entrepreneur, but some education can’t hurt, whether it’s in the form of a few classes or an entire degree. If you are just trying to learn more about business concepts, you might find some free courses online, or you can enroll at your local college or university. If you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education but aren’t sure how you will pay for it, look into grants and scholarships. If you work full time, your employer might pay for part of your tuition. Student loans are another possibility. Those who don’t qualify for federal student aid or who don’t get enough from federal student aid can look into private student loans, which can often be applied for quickly and easily online.
Make a Plan
Making a business plan is good practice even if you don’t plan to apply for loans or seek investors to start your business. It will force you to make your ideas concrete and to address any potential weaknesses. You can find a lot of information online about how to write a business plan and what elements should be included. Some will suggest you keep it short and simple, but a detailed business plan, while it takes more time, will ultimately be more useful for you. A big part of any business plan is marketing, which is discussed separately below.
Ultimately, you need to know whether there is a customer base for the product or services you want to offer. Having all of your family and friends think the business idea is great is not enough. Your own research both online and offline, focus groups and surveys of potential customers are all ways to find out more about how viable your idea is and how it can be improved if response is lukewarm. In addition, you can gather information about how best to advertise to your customer base. Learning as much as you can about your competition is another important element of marketing research.
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