Now is the time to take your talents to the business level

Are you an artist, a writer, a professional cook, or maybe you’ve got a talent that can save people time and money? If you’re considering selling your creativity as a product, now is the time to take your talents to the business level.

Does the thought of being your own boss make your heart beat faster? Whether you dream of founding the next McDonald’s, starting a family business to pass on to your children, or simply making a comfortable living doing something you love, it’s never been easier to start a business than it is today.

You don’t need an office—you can work from home and use technology to serve clients across the country. You don’t need an expensive brick-and-mortar store—you can set up a website and sell your products all over the world. You don’t need a massive advertising and marketing budget—you can use social media and search engine optimization to attract customers on a shoestring. You don’t need employees—you can hire independent contractors as needed and grow a thriving business all on your own.

But while starting a business is easier than ever in many ways, the foundation of any profitable business remains what it’s always been: determination, drive, and hard work. As you begin your entrepreneurial journey, use this chapter to lay the groundwork for success.

Here are a couple of steps to start your process: 

Step 1: Determine "The Why". 

Why do you want to start a business? Why do you think now is the time to do it? Why do you want to pursue your specific idea? Answering these questions will help you feel confident that you are starting a business for the right reasons. That’s the confidence you’ll need when you are living through the ups and downs, hard work, and long hours of a startup entrepreneur’s life.

There are good reasons to start a business, and there are not-so-good reasons. If you’ve dreamed of starting a business ever since you ran a lemonade stand at age six, that’s probably a good reason to start a business. If you had an argument with your boss on Friday morning and decided Friday afternoon that you want to start your own business, that’s not such a good reason.

Successful small business owners are passionate about what they do. Passion gives you the energy to handle the hard work of startup. Passion about your product or service gets potential customers excited about what you’re selling. Passion for your business’s potential helps convince employees to work for you and bankers to lend you money. Passion will take you a long way; do you have it?

Also, assess why now is the right time to start this particular business. Do you see an unmet need and significant demand for what you’re planning to sell? Do you want to be first to market with a product or service no one else is offering?

Step 2: Assess Your Personal Readiness, Skills and Experience

Do you know what it takes to be a business owner? Do you have the skills, perseverance, and resilience required? Running a small business is challenging, and it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into. Successful entrepreneurs have several things in common:

  • They can identify opportunities. Successful entrepreneurs are able to look at the market and see a need they can fill. They don’t plan their business based on what product or service they want to offer; they plan it based on what potential customers want to buy.
  • They are willing to take risks. There’s risk involved in starting and growing any business. Smart entrepreneurs know how to limit their exposure to risk through planning and preparation (like you’re doing right now). But if the mere idea of taking a risk ties your stomach in knots, you probably need to get more comfortable with risk before launching your business.
  • They are comfortable making decisions. Starting and running a business is full of choices—everything from what to name your business to how much to charge for your product and where to locate your office. You need to be able to make your own decisions. (Of course, getting input from advisors like your SCORE mentor can help.)
  • They wear many hats. As an entrepreneur, you won’t have one job, you’ll have many. If you love baking pies and want to open a pie shop, know that in addition to baking, you’ll probably also handle accounting, administration, sales and marketing, IT and more, unless you have help from others. The more experience in different roles you have, the better.
  • They like people. Every small business owner has to be a salesperson to some degree, especially in the startup stage. If you enjoy talking to people, helping people and learning from people—in short, if you’re a “people person”—you have a good start on success.
  • They work hard. If you see starting a business as a way to escape the long hours at your current job, you’re in for a big surprise. The majority of entrepreneurs work more than 50 hours a week; 25% work more than 60 hours a week. In addition, 89% work weekends and 81% work nights. The good news: All that hard work will build something that belongs to you—not your boss. Just be sure you have the energy and grit to put in long days and nights.
  • They persevere. Like any journey, the road to business ownership is full of ups and downs. You’ll hear lots of “No’s” and encounter many obstacles. Can you persevere through these challenges?

SCORE can be a great resource for starting your business.  A mentor can be a valuable guide for you as you start your business.  Also, a free pre-recorded webinar is available that is perfect for the creative person.  If you wish to spend an hour on this topic, request the link to it by emailing me at Dean.Swanson@SCORE Volunteer.org.

About the Author(s)

Dean Swanson

Dean is a Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE Chapter Chair, District Director, and Regional Vice President for the North West Region, and has developed and managed many businesses. The Rochester Post Bulletin publishes his weekly article on a topic geared toward the small business community. The articles here are printed in their entirety.

Certified SCORE Mentor for the Southeast Minnesota Chapter
How to Start a Business for Creative Types, Idea People, and Anybody with Passion