“Start small and dream big.” This thought from the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” byRobert Kiyosaki is useful for beginning entrepreneurs. Practical advice is also important, so here are 10 tops tips for starting a business from Ann Dugan, associate dean and founder of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh:
1. Love your idea: Owning your own business is like marriage — you’re going to be living with it, so you must be enthusiastic about your product or service.,
2. Be knowledgeable about your product or service: If you aren’t, how can you effectively sell it to others?
3. Understand your competition: Know who you are competing against, how they operate and if they are successful — and why.
4. Write a business plan: This is not only critical to the survival of your business, but also impacts your ability to obtain a loan or attract investors.
5. Finance your business: It is important to have adequate financing in place when you open. Determine how this will be done — through your savings, family investment or a loan — and for how long.
6. Develop a marketing plan: You need to determine how to get the word out about your business. While there are many options, including the Internet, an advertising campaign and word of mouth, you must develop a solid plan for marketing your business and attracting customers.
7. Find a location: There are numerous factors to consider when deciding where to locate your business. Is it important to be in the main business district? Will you be operating out of your home, renting a storefront or buying a building?
8. Test your market: Before opening, it is important to measure whether there is a demand for your product or service and how strong the demand is. Test marketing ranges from the simple to complex and can include surveys or focus groups.
9. Learn the business of running a business: This involves such responsibilities as determining your business structure, registering for a business name and any local or state taxes, buying insurance, obtaining an employer tax identification number, and any required permits or licenses. You also will need to hire an accountant and a lawyer.
10. Take advantage of learning opportunities: There are many resources available to help you learn about all aspects of running a business. Many are free or available at low cost through such sources as the Small Business Administration, Pennsylvania Small Development Centers and the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence.