Deciding If Your Small Business Idea Is Good Or Bad

Not sure whether to pursue your small business idea? The following guidelines may help.

There's a little bit of entrepreneurship in many of us. We toy with various ideas about setting up shop to open a new business in the local community. The problem is we don't know whether it will be successful or not.

Before investing thousands of dollars and quitting your day job, here are a few ideas that can help you decide whether to pursue your dream.

1. Consult with a Small Business Administration member. These non-profit organizations function like mentors or consulting agencies in a community to help new or young entrepreneurs develop a business concept. Comprising retired, successful executives from many types of companies, the Small Business Administration, or a company like it, can match your project with someone who has experience in that area to provide you with advice and ideas about how to get started.

2. Talk to a loan officer. If you will be seeking financial support, arrange a meeting to discuss all aspects of your business, from start-up to ten years down the road. An experienced bank or loan officer will provide expert feedback and advance to your plans. He or she may be able to ask questions that will help you nail down details and plan ahead.

3. Write a business plan. You can download free or inexpensive forms off the Internet for creating a personal business plan for a small business. Basically, develop a short-term and long-term set of goals for your enterprise. Develop a realistic budget to help you see whether you have the funds to cover all needed expenses or whether you may need additional support down the line through grants or loans.

4. Seek sensible advice. If you know someone who successfully launched a personal business, make an appointment to discuss it over coffee or lunch. Many people enjoy sharing their expertise if it will help others get started. Contact similar small businesses in your community or neighboring region to see how other start-up companies are doing. Compare strategies and take notes.

5. Look for small business support groups. Check with your community's chamber of commerce, Kiwanis, or other civic groups about membership costs and benefits. Join those that seem most likely to offer a membership of those with similar companies or executive roles that are similar to the kind of work you are doing, or wish to do. Networking is a great way to meet new folks who have been where you are now.

6. Search online. Use a Google search engine to locate information and support for your project. There are many free types of advice and even sample forms, in some cases. So get all you can, while you can, in order to succeed. You may want to search for chat rooms or discussion groups that can add to your knowledge base, like those that discuss problems pertinent to your type of business, such as suppliers or how to retain good customers.

Don't strike out on your own blindly. Instead, tap into the treasure trove of resources that may be available at little or no charge. Your business will thank you for it.

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