Take the Leap

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Recent research shows that in 2006 a record number of new businesses were started in the United States. While people have varying reasons for starting a new venture - necessity, desire, or curiosity - there is something magnetic and energizing about owning and operating an enterprise of one's own creation.

Nevertheless, starting a new business is still a risky venture. Well over 90% of small businesses fail within 5 years of getting started. Many people jump into business with their hearts and leave behind their heads. They believe that just because they have a good idea, customers will automatically come clamoring for them. Small business success is not automatic. Besides a good idea, it takes good planning, good fortune, good timing, and other good things to grow a prosperous company.

Many small businesses fail because the business owner was unprepared for the unpredictability of running a business. I want to make sure that if you're considering starting a business that you are well-equipped to do so. Here's my Top 10 list for what you need to do before starting that dream-inspired venture:

  1. Rehire your imagination - If you stopped dreaming back in your childhood, it's time to start again. You're going to need your creative thinking abilities more than ever before.
  2. Do your research - Success comes when preparation meets opportunity. Knowing your customer's needs, desires, and preferences prior to engaging them will allow you to connect with them more quickly and move you further ahead than just trying to "wing it."
  3. Write your plan - What doesn't get written usually doesn't get accomplished. Furthermore, it's easier to critique something that's on paper versus something that's just in your head.
  4. Establish SMART goals and milestones - Be realistic and determine what short and long term success looks like.
  5. Align with key people - Entrepreneurship is not for "lone rangers." For you to succeed over the long haul, you will need to develop key relationships with high-quality people who want you to succeed.
  6. Get wise counsel - Two things you need to do a lot of are listening and reading. Learning from someone else's failures is a lot less painful than having to learn from your own.
  7. Gather your resources - Do an inventory of your time, money, relationships, knowledge, ideas, materials, etc. Identify the gaps, comparing what you have versus what you need. Figure out some creative ways for reducing those gaps.
  8. Be flexible – Have a contingency plan, because your original idea might not work out exactly how you initially planned it.
  9. Bob and weave - Your marketplace can be a formidable opponent. Be ready to roll with the punches that are thrown at you and counter-punch when needed.
  10. Jump! - Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is feeling fear and doing what you need to do anyway!

There is one more key point I want to leave with you. Enjoy the journey. Remember, often times more is gained along the way to the goal, than in just reaching the goal itself. If you're ready... take the leap. I look forward to your success!

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

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