There is a lot of practical support out there for people considering starting their own business. Some of it is free or at very low cost, and I realize money is tight at the beginning. Here are some good starting places, available across the U.S.
Inspiration for Starters
Before you start thinking about all the practical steps, which can seem overwhelming, I encourage you to get inspired and learn that you can do this. Some good resources for inspiration:
- Why Entrepeneurs Succeed – and You Can Too (Forbes, 4/11/2012)
- The Self-Employment Leap of Faith, article by me, Val Nelson
- Is There Room for My Business in Today’s Market? (also by me)
- Quiz: How to Tell If You’re a Closet Entrepreneur? – Forget about the typical entrepreneurial stereotype and take this quiz that gets to the heart of the matter.
- Who’s With Us? From Wondering to Knowing if You Should Start a Business, by Angela Lussier
- $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, book by Chris Guillebeau, 2012
- The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms, by Danielle LaPorte, 2012
- Do the Work, by Steven Pressfield – concrete steps to conquer the Resistance
- Rework, by Jason Fried – an alternative look at business that’s not about growth, competition, or business plans. Written by a highly successful owner of a small company. Short and fun to read.
Practical Support Resources (Free or Low-Budget)
Try not to get panicked as you start reading about all the things to think about. Sit down with someone knowledgeable (such as a free business counselor available at all the below links) and get help navigating. It doesn’t have to be that hard.
- Find your local Small Business Development Center – free business counseling and low-cost trainings
- Resources list from American Small Business Development Centers
- SCORE – free small business advice and resources from volunteer retired executives
- Small Business Administration (SBA) resources for starting a business
- Women’s Business Centers
- Minority Business Development Centers
- Take some of the plentiful free webinars to fill in your gaps in knowledge, such as web marketing webinars from Hubspot.
- Best Self-Study Programs for Heart-centered Businesses, as reviewed by Val Nelson
For clarity, these services are designed to help with the practical side (e.g., understanding business plans and loans).
Are You Craving Some Clarity Right Away?
Intuitive Readings for Your Business Ideas or Worries
Tools for Business Plans
Yep, you need at least a sketch of a plan. Without a plan, how will you know if it’s worth investing time and money? How will you know what to charge? How will you know what to promote? Once you have a plan, all the later steps get a lot easier!
Sometimes, you need a specific type of business plan if you’re seeking loans or investors. Even if you’re not doing that, you still want to have a plan for yourself.
A business plan is simply your notes about your goals and the information you need to reach those goals. You’ll outline what you’ll be doing, for who, and how. Here are some basic tools to help:
- The Right-Brain Business Plan – a creative, visual map for success
- Bplans.com – sample business plans and tools
Naming a Business
Naming your business is NOT one of the first steps even though you are probably trying to name it now anyway. There is too much to consider before you name it. You want clarity of your key audience, your offerings, your mission, your values, etc., before you name it. But when you’re ready, here’s a good tool for naming a business.