Entrepreneurs are those people who have a vision of what they want and go after it, no matter the cost.  They’re tireless, relentless, and they can’t stop until they reach their goal.  Except for celebrities and trust-fund babies, entrepreneurs are the only ones driving around in Lamborghinis.  They’ve earned their right to wealth through hard-work, building companies that change the way we do things and affect different aspects of our everyday lives.  “Wantrepreneurs” are the people who want the success without the hard work.  If you’re convinced you have what it takes to start a business and see it through to success, keep reading as I share the secrets to finding it faster.

Step 1: Evaluation

Consider why you want to start a business.

  • What type of lifestyle do you want?
  • How much money do you need to achieve that lifestyle?
  • Is there something you’re passionate about that can help you reach your goal?
  • Are you truly willing to put in the long hours and work to get there?

If you’re set on reaching a lifestyle you can only dream of right now, then starting a business is your best option; employees are never rich – only people who own something are.  If you’re only in it for the money however, consider whether that’s enough to sustain your drive when things get tough because they will.

Step 2: What Should You Do?

The innovative products and services that make loads of money all have one thing in common – they improve the way we do things. Consider what product or service you can offer that does one of the following:

  • Improves on existing technology
  • Fixes a common problem
  • Makes a process faster, cheaper, or more reliable

For example, think back to the time the iPod came out.  Mp3 players existed, but they could only hold a couple hundred songs until Apple developed a new product that had the capacity to hold thousands of songs, play for hours, and still fit in your pocket.  They solved numerous problems – storage space, size, and play time – with one device. No wonder they made millions from it.

For another example, think about cars.  The marketing you see on TV focuses on the things people care about in their vehicles – durability, speed, style, and gas mileage.  If the average gas mileage for a car was 30 miles per gallon and you were able to product a similar vehicle with similar specifications that could achieve 60 miles a gallon, people would save thousands of dollars in fuel costs yearly.

Step 3: Research the Market

Every market is slightly different, even in the same industry. Consider the field of tree management for instance. An Albany tree service will be different from a Troy tree service because of the location, so it’s important to do the necessary research to ensure that you’ll eventually be profitable in your target niche and location.  The primary methods of market research are:

  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Focus groups

Although you could create all of this on your own, it’s much easier to simply hire a market research company to do a market analysis for you.  For a couple thousand dollars, you can get all the data and information you need to determine if your ideal customer exists in the market you’re considering, whether the location is good for business, and to estimate how long it will take to achieve profitability.

Step 4: Ask for Feedback

Unless you’re planning on patenting your product or service and handing out non-disclosure agreements to everyone you speak to, simply ask for feedback.  If it’s a product, bring it to friends, family, and colleagues and let them try it.  If it’s a service, consider offering it for free or creating a website to advertise it.  As customers use your service and you begin to receive feedback, record all of it.  This allows you to look for patterns and trends and make any tweaks necessary.

Step 5: Make the Company Legit

File the paperwork and make your company legitimate.  Create the business name, register an LLC either yourself or with a helpful service like Legal Zoom, get your state and federal tax ID’s, permits, licenses, and any necessary protections (like a patent) if needed.  While you can certainly do this on your own, don’t be afraid to request the help of a lawyer.  Although their time may be expensive, you can avoid costly mistakes, especially with the tax structure of the business.

Step 6: Develop the Business Plan

The business plan is a 20-30-page written description of your business ideal, model, and how you will grow it over time.  Although highly recommended, this is not necessary if you’re planning to self-fund the business.

Assuming you’re going to be securing funding elsewhere, you need:

  • The name of your business
  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Target Market & Strategy
  • Competitive Analysis – Competitors and how to beat them
  • Development plan (for your product or service)
  • Management plan (how the business will run)
  • Financing (how will the business be funded)

This document is a good baseline that will be modified as the business begins to grow.

Step 7: Finding the Capital to Start Your Business

  • Pay for it yourself
  • Ask friends and family
  • Search for a small-business grant
  • Crowdfund online
  • Find local venture capitalists
  • Join a local business accelerator
  • Offer services for assistance
  • Secure a bank loan

Step 8: Develop the Product or Service

Hire talent that can create the product or service you want.  If you need multiple people, hire multiple people, but make sure they’re specialists in their craft.  Ensure you have a development plan in place and thoroughly discuss the steps with your developers to make sure that you’ve have checkpoints and quality assurance monitoring in place.  Match your needs to the help required.  Find people who can get what you need done at a reasonable level of quality and a good price-point.

Step 9: Surround Yourself with a Team

You can’t do everything on your own.  Whether it’s employees or contractors, find people who can handle the various responsibilities that aren’t as critical for you to be managing.  You’ll then act as a supervisor to oversee those people.

Step 10: Find a Location

Consider how your team will function:

  • Will you have a physical office or work remote?
  • Do you need to be near your customers or other businesses or doesn’t it matter?
  • How often will you meet and check in with your team?

Step 11: Generate Sales

Sell your product or service to the people who you identified as needing it in your business plan.  Whether it’s online, door-to-door, cold-calling, street fairs, etc., sell your product or service and start requesting feedback.  This will not only get the word out on what you’re doing, but it will provide you will valuable feedback that you can use to improve your product or service going forward.

Step 12: Grow and Expand

As you generate more sales, search for opportunities to expand your reach.  You can opt for SEO on your website, you can acquire smaller companies, you can partner with other firms where you see potential synergies, and more.