My First Business ::

Owning a business is the dream of many people ... starting that business converts your dream into reality. But there is a gap between your dream and reality that can only be filled with careful planning. As a business owner, you will need a plan to avoid pitfalls, to achieve your goals and to build a profitable business.


The "Checklist for Going into Business" is a guide to help you prepare a comprehensive business plan and determine if your idea is feasible, to identify questions and problems you will face in converting your idea into reality and to prepare for starting your business.

Operating a successful small business will depend on:

  • a practical plan with a solid foundation;
  • dedication and willingness to sacrifice to reach your goal;
  • technical skills; and
  • basic knowledge of management, finance, record keeping and market analysis.

As a new owner, you will need to master these skills and techniques if your business is to be successful.


Identify Your Reasons

As a first and often overlooked step, ask yourself why you want to own your own business. Check the reasons that apply to you.

1. Freedom from the 9-5 daily work routine. ___

2. Being your own boss. ___

3. Doing what you want when you want to do it. ___

4. Improving your standard of living. ___

5. Boredom with your present job. ___

6. Having a product or service for which you feel there is a demand. ___

Some reasons are better than others, none are wrong; however, be aware that there are tradeoffs. For example, you can escape the 9 to 5 daily routine, but you may replace it with a 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. routine.


A Self-Analysis

Going into business requires certain personal characteristics. This portion of the checklist deals with you, the individual. These questions require serious thought. Try to be objective. Remember, it is your future that is at stake!


Personal Characteristics

  Answer each question with Yes or No

1. Are you a leader?

2. Do you like to make your own decisions?

3. Do others turn to you for help in making dec

4. Do you enjoy competition?

5. Do you have will power and self discipline?

6. Do you plan ahead?

7. Do you like people?

8. Do you get along well with others?


Personal Conditions

This next group of questions though brief is vitally important to the success of your plan. It covers the physical emotional and financial strains you will encounter in starting a new business.

Personal Skills And Experience

Certain skills and experience are critical to the success of a business. Since it is unlikely that you possess all the skills and experience needed you'll need to hire personnel to supply those you lack. There are some basic and special skills you will need for your particular business.

By answering the following questions you can identify the skills you possess and those you lack (your strengths and weaknesses).

  • Do you know what basic skills you will need in order to have a successful business?
  • Do you possess those skills?
  • When hiring personnel will you be able to determine if the applicants' skills meet the requirements for the positions you are filling?
  • Have you ever worked in a managerial or supervisory capacity?
  • Have you ever worked in a business similar to the one you want to start?
  • Have you had any business training in school?
  • If you discover you don't have the basic skills needed for your business will you be willing to delay your plans until you've acquired the necessary skills?

Finding a Niche

Small businesses range in size from a manufacturer with many employees and millions of dollars in equipment to the lone window washer with a bucket and a sponge. Obviously the knowledge and skills required for these two extremes are far apart but for success they have one thing in common: each has found a business niche and is filling it.

The most critical problems you will face in your early planning will be to find your niche and determine the feasibility of your idea. "Get into the right business at the right time" is very good advice but following that advice may be difficult. Many entrepreneurs plunge into a business venture so blinded by the dream that they fail to thoroughly evaluate its potential.

Before you invest time effort and money the following exercise will help you separate sound ideas from those bearing a high potential for failure.


Is Your Idea Feasible?

  • Identify and briefly describe the business you plan to start.
  • Identify the product or service you plan to sell.
  • Does your product or service satisfy an unfilled need?
  • Will your product or service serve an existing market in which demand exceeds supply?
  • Will your product or service be competitive based on its quality selection price or location?

Answering yes to any of these questions means you are on the right track; a negative answer means the road ahead could be rough.


Market Analysis

For a small business to be successful the owner must know the market. To learn the market you must analyze it a process that takes time and effort. You don't have to be a trained statistician to analyze the marketplace nor does the analysis have to be costly.

Analyzing the market is a way to gather facts about potential customers and to determine the demand for your product or service. The more information you gather the greater your chances of capturing a segment of the market. Know the market before investing your time and money in any business venture.

These questions will help you collect the information necessary to analyze your market and determine if your product or service will sell.

1. Do you know who your customers will be?

2. Do you understand their needs and desires?

3. Do you know where they live?

4. Will you be offering the kind of products or services that they will buy?

5. Will your prices be competitive in quality and value?

6. Will your promotional program be effective?

7. Do you understand how your business compares with your competitors?

8. Will your business be conveniently located for the people you plan to serve?

9. Will there be adequate parking facilities for the people you plan to serve?

This brief exercise will give you a good idea of the kind of market planning you need to do. An answer of no indicates a weakness in your plan so do your research until you can answer each question with a "yes".


Planning Your Start-up

So far this checklist has helped you identify questions and problems you will face converting your idea into reality and determining if your idea is feasible. Through self-analysis you have learned of your personal qualifications and deficiencies and through market analysis you have learned if there is a demand for your product or service.

The following questions are grouped according to function. They are designed to help you prepare for "Opening Day".


Follow GraLife on Twitter
discount codes
special offers

NEW :: Get our Graduate Life toolbar for up-to-date discounted services.

It's completely free, with no spyware or viruses, does not open pop-ups or hijack your searches, and no personal information is required.