Right now, you may be wrestling with a solid business concept and thinking about how to turn your passion into action. But you’re overwhelmed, confused, and don’t know where to start. Trust me, I understand. I’ve been there. In 2002, I was an attorney who dreamed about opening a day spa and hair salon, yet I didn’t know the first thing about taking my interests to another level. What were the steps that I took to go from thinking about an idea to opening my doors? Simply put, I needed a plan. Here are several steps that will help you create your Passion-To-Actionâ„¢ (PTA) Plan:
1. Get management experience in your industry. You need to understand how a business operates. If you are a stylist, learn about payroll. If you are a baker, take a business management course. One of the things that surprises me about some aspiring entrepreneurs is that they are very knowledgeable about the industry they love (i.e. clothes or cookies), but they haven’t studied the operations of a business. This is a critical step in your PTA plan. The knowledge of the industry is important, but operations are key. If you don’t plan on operating the business, however, make sure you have a partner who is strong in that area.
2. Join a trade association. I tell individuals who are thinking about striking out on their own to find a trade association in their respective industry. Trade associations are invaluable resources and they are there to help you learn everything from operations to marketing practices. Never believe that you have to reinvent the wheel. It’s unnecessary to spin your wheels trying to recreate a process that someone has already perfected. Trade associations are filled with the experts in the industry who want to share their war stories with you as well as set standards and guidelines to ensure that the quality of their profession is maintained. Seek them out.
3. Go to a SCORE office and get a business mentor. One of the small business community’s best kept secrets, SCORE is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing free mentoring to startups and existing small businesses. With more than 11,000 mentors and 320 chapters across the country, SCORE is there to assist you with any questions that you have. Further, their backgrounds and resumes read like a “who’s who” of the business community. The mentors are retired and working CEOs and former executives of Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. They’ve “been there, done that” and want to assist you in making sound decisions on your entrepreneurial path. I’m a new SCORE mentor, and I love the process of helping would be small business owners refine their business concepts. Visit www.score.org for more information.
4. Do the math. I always encourage any would be small business owner to put together a financial statement for their start up. You need to know how much money your endeavor is going to cost before you go down this road. Understand your revenue goals. Understand your expenses. Understand your income projections so that you have a clear plan for profitability.
5. Find a location. When I interviewed several owners about what was their first step in taking their passion to action, many of them said that they started looking for locations very early in their process. Visiting possible locations helped them visualize their dreams with more clarity. They consulted with realtors, and it proved to be instrumental in helping them take the next step towards entrepreneurship.
Having the courage to follow your dreams is challenging. However, with a plan for action and a winning strategy, your business concept will not only be realized, it will thrive.
Nicole Cober, Esq. is the Managing Partner at Cober Johnson & Romney, a law firm focusing on trademarks, brand licensing and small business consulting. She is a former small biz owner of the award winning chain, Soul…Day Spa and Salon. She is also a Legal Consultant for Washington DC’s NewsChannel 8 and author of soon-to-be released book: “CEO of My Soul: The Dos and Don’ts of Small Biz”. Follow her on Twitter @CoberJohnson and like her on Facebook @facebook.com/CoberJohnson. Visit her website at www.coberjohnson.com.