“In this life we get only those things for which we hunt, for which we strive, and for which we are willing to sacrifice.”  – George Matthew Adams

You will need to strive and sacrifice for many months in building a small business. Success will not come overnight. Instead, you should plan for continuous progress and improvement over time. If you are considering starting a small business, you will do a better job and have fewer regrets later if you take the time to get prepared, and start slowly. These tips will help:

Understand your temperament – If you are task-oriented (rather than extroverted or people-oriented) you may do very well in a one-man business you can run without a staff. There are freelance opportunities that will make this a reality. If you can work without much social interaction, then web based businesses may be a good fit. Work-from-home opportunities may seem ideal, but they aren’t perfect. The trouble is that often people don’t realize how much they rely on others to maintain a level of energy or help reinforce discipline. Before you invest in the equipment, training, and software to start a one-person online venture, take the time to learn how you do your best work. If you need social interaction to feel happy while working, there are plenty of brick-and-mortar based opportunities better suited to your style. To learn more, take a few online personality tests. Many are free, and what you learn could save you time and money.

Do something you enjoy –  Work is time consuming and can be stressful and physically taxing. Sometimes it can feel as though the paycheck isn’t enough to compensate you for the effort. That’s where people who enjoy their work have the advantage over everyone else. They are intellectually engaged and curious about the process, not just interested in the financial compensation.

A hobby isn’t a business – Even though enjoying what you do is important, converting a hobby into a money making proposition is more about commerce than passion. Before you decide your neighborhood needs a knitting shop, run the numbers to make sure your idea has potential. If you think you have a gift for jewelry making, quilting or another craft, try selling your goods on entrepreneurial sites like etsy.com before you strike out on your own. You’ll have a better idea of what sells, and learn some valuable lessons about small business management.

Have a plan – You know you need money, either from a nest egg, a bank loan, or investors. To convince others you’re serious enough to be worth a financial risk, you need a business plan. This is an outline of what you want to accomplish, and how you intend to transform your business idea into a successful reality. One great thing about developing a business plan is that it will help you ask the right questions early in the development process. That way you can avoid newbie mistakes by having useful built-in strategies to help you over the first hurtles you’re bound to encounter. Business plans are good tools, so give yours the time and attention it deserves. There are many business plan templates and instructions online for you to review.

Get help – No one knows everything, and being comfortable asking for help and guidance will make starting a business easier. National agencies and organizations like the SBA (Small Business Administration), SCORE, and others offer insightful tips and even mentoring, but don’t stop there. Local businesses, universities and regional government agencies may also be able to offer assistance with subjects like incorporation, trademarking, accounting, human resources, and marketing. When you start looking around and asking questions, you’ll be surprised at how many societies, groups, and organizations out there want to help new small businesses succeed.

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