If you're having trouble securing your dream summer job, it could be an opportunity to take matters into your own hands. With some capital, creativity and courage, you could be your own boss for a change - as an entrepreneur. But no matter what kind of business you'd like to start, from the planning stages to locations to legalities, make sure you've got your bases covered.
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Where to Start
There's more to starting a business than coming up with a great idea, although that's the right place to start. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers aspiring entrepreneurs free online workshops that can help you ensure you create a solid, well-researched business plan. It's important to clearly identify every detail of the business before you start, which will include the market for your business, where you plan on getting the money to start it and what your goals are. A plan will also prevent you from getting in over your head by allowing you to consider risks and problems that could arise in advance. (For more tips, check out Start Your Own Small Business.)
Location, Location, Location
Remember that your future customers will need to find you easily if you want to have a successful business. The U.S. government advises entrepreneurs to think long and hard about where the best place is to set up shop. How easy is it to get to your business? How close are your competitors? Is the location legal and zoned for commercial use? Or, are you considering working from home? If so, make sure your home can legally be used for commercial initiatives before you start.
Financing and Legalities
Funding your start-up could be tough, particularly if you're a student. But some states offer grant programs for certain types of businesses, and you could qualify for a bank loan if you meet certain criteria. Providing a bank with your credit information, a criminal record and detailed information about how you plan to use the money will likely be necessary if you apply for a loan. You should also decide what kind of business entity you want to be in order to be properly incorporated. Will you be the sole proprietor or will it be a partnership? Is it a non-profit business or a co-operative business? (Learn more in Top 5 Incentives For Student Startups.)
Do Your Research
There is no shortage of resources for future entrepreneurs. On its website, The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Stanford University offers videos, tutorials and print for people who want to start their own businesses. There are several associations that offer support services as well; the National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE), Entrepreneurs' Organization and Junior Achievement are just a few of the organizations who offer their members tips on everything from taxes to marketing, and health insurance to finance.
Sounds like a lot of work? It is. But the long-term payoff could be worth it. Young entrepreneurs with vision and know-how have the opportunity to grow that business or sell it to the highest bidder. Seth Berkowitz founded Insomnia Cookies, a late-night food delivery service, as an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania. Now, the company has 14 locations at various universities across the country. Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old entrepreneur who founded Facebook, sold 1.6% of his brainchild to Microsoft for a reported $240 million.
Ready For Action?
Whether you're planning to cut your neighbors' grass or make your iPhone app idea come to life, there has to be a plan. Putting the time and work into research and your course of action will allow you to assess your business idea's viability, improve your chances of getting funding and can also prevent you from taking unnecessary risks. (Starting a business isn't for everyone. Find out if it's right for you, read Are You An Entrepreneur?)
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