Setting your own hours. Calling the shots. Signing off on your own paychecks. Running things your way. The entrepreneurial life has been calling your name, so why aren’t you answering?
Stop waiting for opportunity to knock and take a look at the current condition of the market. Your shot at business ownership could be a lot closer than you realize. Keep reading to learn why now is an exceptional time to own your own business and to hear some expert advice about how you can set yourself up for success.
A perfect storm of business potential
It’s an exciting time in the business world. With many changes on the horizon, we are in an optimistic era for aspiring business owners. Greater forces are at play, making now a great time to be a prospective business owner in America. It all boils down to two main factors: Aging baby boomers and the resurgence of the US economy.
Baby boomer entrepreneurs, many of whom launched businesses during the financial upswing of the 1990s, are now facing retirement. And unlike the harsher economic conditions of the past decade, the economic health of today compels many business owners to sell and set off to enjoy their golden years of retirement.
So what is left in the wake of these baby boomer retirements? A flood of new opportunities for the next generation of business owners just like you. But these opportunities aren’t going to fall into your lap. If you want to capitalize on this career potential, there are some things you can be doing today.
7 expert tips to set yourself up for successful business ownership
We spoke with business owners and experts who have been in your shoes to hear what you could be doing to prepare for your dream of business ownership. Take their advice and learn from their experience.
1. Do your research
If business ownership is what you want, you’d better plan on some serious research. This includes researching the market, your customers, your competitors, the products and other processes that will help you achieve your end goal of being successful. This will help you get the lay of the land and ensure your prospective business will effectively serve its intended clients.
“Researching competition not only helps you learn what customers enjoy about the particular products on the market, but it also allows you to see where these companies fall short,” says Natalie Baker, Lead Business Plan Writer at The Startup Garage.
2. Start saving now
Start filling up those piggy banks because owning your own business typically requires a chunk of cash up front. As many business owners discover, you have to spend money to make money.
“Start saving as much money as possible,” suggests Nick Braun, Founder & CEO of Pet Insurance Quotes.
“Starting a business requires cash to build your brand, your website and to cover lost income while you're building your business.” He says many people start their business on the side in order to maintain some level on income. “But eventually, you’ll have to make the switch and you’ll need money to grow,” he adds.
3. Establish good credit
Here’s a step many would-be business owners overlook: Establishing good credit. It’s a must-have for launching a successful business, because no matter how much cash you save, you will likely need some sort of financing sooner or later.
“Aspiring business owners need to establish good credit, which means actually getting a credit card, using it and paying it off in full and on time,” says Christine Tieri, Certified Brand Specialist and President of Idea Agency. “If you ever need financing, banks want to see that you have history and responsibility in paying your bills. That means always pay all of your bills on time.”
4. Find a mentor in your desired industry
What better way to learn the ins and outs of your industry than from someone who has been in the trenches? A mentor can help you navigate the waters of business ownership while also helping you understand the nuances of your respective field.
“Reach out to successful business owners in your field of interest,” recommends Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, Partner at ServiceMaster. “Many business owners are happy to offer their advice and share their learning with others.”
She explains that this type of interaction can give you insight about how your life may look if you follow their footsteps. “If you’re lucky, one of them may turn into a mentor who can help guide you to success,” she adds.
5. Get experience working for a startup
A great way to prepare yourself for owning your own business is to work for a startup company, where you can try your hand in many different aspects of business. Nothing will teach you the ropes as fast as hands-on experience with a new company scrambling to get off the ground.
“As a business owner, you need to be an all-rounder,” says Zaki Usman, CEO of Pagezii Marketing. Meaning, “You need to be good at sales, know how to market, be tech-savvy and understand your operations.” He explains that most positions in large companies don’t offer this unique range of experience, but it can help set you up for future success in your own business venture.
You can’t do it on your own—so invest in social capital and network to meet the right people. You never know who you may come into contact with.
“Establishing connections with people is extremely important,” says Silvester Chua, Angel Investing Consultant. “It is important to build bridges whether you are looking for a job in the future, looking for business partners or seeking early adopters for your product or service.”
He says the people he’s connected to and maintains connections with throughout the years are more willing to help him when needed. Having these type of people in your corner can only help you in your pursuit of business ownership.
7. Join the ranks of other business owners in your community
If you’re looking to launch into the business ownership world, familiarize yourself with the resources available to small and local businesses.
“Join your local Chamber of Commerce. Even if you don’t have a business yet, join as an individual,” Tieri suggests. “Get to know business people in your community. Familiarize yourself with Small Business Service Bureau services and SCORE.”
Your local Chamber of Commerce may have more resources than you realize. Many have economic developers who can help connect you with the many kinds of support your business may need.
“Getting connected with your local economic developer can provide you with investment capital, grant money, expert assistance in creating business plans, access to Angel Investors, mentoring resources, equipment, facilities and other critical resources,” says Karen Ellis, Director of Economic Development at the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Activate your aspirations
You don’t have to let your dream of business ownership remain in dreamland. With the right tools and the willingness to work toward your goal, you can start making your aspiration a reality right now.
Conditions won’t always be this favorable for aspiring business owners. So if you want to own your own business, what are you waiting for?
Give your dream of business ownership the backing it deserves. Learn more about what it takes to succeed in our article, Is Entrepreneurship a Good Major for Aspiring Business Owners?