Girl Boss: Do you have what it takes to start your own business?
Maybe you design logos in photoshop or are working on the next greatest mobile app. Or maybe you’re great at selling everybody’s old stuff on ebay, or you’re a master at nails or spray on-tans. It really doesn’t matter what it is you excel at, just that you have the desire and drive to make it into more and have the discipline to take it to the next level.
If this is you, you will be one of the millions of women starting up a business. About 29 percent of America’s business owners are women, and that number is growing every day. So let’s get right to a list of questions startup owners need to get them on the right path to their own startup.
Do I have what it takes to start and grow a business?
In your past jobs were you a self starter, or did you need a supervisor that told you what to do each step? When your task was done did you sit or chat while waiting for the next instructions or did you keep busy even if it was just straitening up. When you got stumped with a little problem, did you run for help or try to figure it out on your own. If you can’t easily figure things out on your own, tend to procrastinate or need lots of guidance running your own business may not be for you. 90% of what you will be doing will be figuring things out. Nobody is going to tell you what to do. So, if you want to have a start-up happen on its own without research, planning and execution stop right now. However, sometimes past jobs have not given us the right ownership or motivation to really shine, so ask these same questions about the activity you want to pursue.
Do I need to create a business on legal zoom or other legal website?
Yes and no. You DO need to create a legitimate business in your state in order to create a bank account so you can accept a check in the business name. You don’t need to spend $500 on legal zoom or go to a lawyer and spend $1,500. Keep that money for other expenses. You can create a corporation for as little as $150 doing it yourself. Each state has an easy online process for business owners to create a corporation. Try googling Your State name and ‘create a corporation’ but you want the official state page, not some website that wants to sell you. The right website will have a .org or .gov domain. For example New York has http://www.dos.ny.gov, Florida has www.sunbiz.org, Texas www.sos.state.tx.us, California www.sos.ca.gov.
Do I need a business plan?
Honestly, today most businesses get started without a plan. You should focus on getting customers to write checks and not on Business Plan Maker software. However, if you are getting a bank or other loan or raising capital from investors you need to write a plan. Even then, an executive summary or pitch deck are more appropriate for investors.
Do I need a website?
Most start-ups should have a website. Some just have a Facebook page. This all depends on the business. Let’s just say that customers can’t easily find you without a website or web page somewhere online. Even if you just get referrals, a website confirms for them that you are real and legitimate and provides details that can get lost verbally. The same goes for a business card or small brochure – again depending on the business, but if you start talking to someone in the line at the grocery store about your pet grooming business and they are interested, it’s best to have something to hand them so they can remember you later.
Obviously you should also have an email address and a phone that is answered in a professional manner. Your cell phone is fine, but if you answer it laughing and joking around with your friends you’re not making a great impression. Depending on the business a Twitter address, Facebook page, Linkedin company page and other social media pages are nice additions. They are free and effective communication methods.
Do I need an EIN (Employment Identification Number)?
Similar to your Social Security Number, you can apply for an EIN on the IRS website once your have created a corporation. You will need this often to do business with other corporations and to file your taxes.
That is a loaded question. If you are a self-starter you may already be on your way. You should get your hands on start-up books that are highly recommended. Yes, you may have to actually read a book! A good one is called Thinking Like A Start-Up. I also recommend The Art of The Start and The Lean Start-Up.
Remember, a start up is an adventure, a challenge and an opportunity. It may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done but the payoff could be the best thing you ever do! And don’t give up. Many of the most successful people out there fail their first time or realize they’re going in the completely wrong direction. That’s ok. The important thing is to keep trying and have faith in yourself. Good luck. Make it happen.
Books to Get You Started: