The Truth About Starting a Business

I never planned to be an entrepreneur.  I wasn't one of those people who went through high school and college dreaming up ideas for startups.

But the opportunity presented itself, and I decided to go for it.  In retrospect, I had always been entrepreneurial in my other jobs.  I enjoy working solo and always took complete ownership of whatever I was working on.  I am also extremely organized - and to say I am self-motivated and driven would be an understatement. 

Photo: Getty Images

With Shop with Style now in its 11th (!) year, here are a few things to think about if you're thinking of starting your own company.  I learned these quickly when I started out in 2006 - and they all remain important today:

#1 - Be Prepared to Work - All the Time

Because you will work - or at least think about it - 24/7.

#2 - Make Sure You Love It

Because #1.

#3 - But…Loving It Isn't Enough

If there is not a market for what you are selling, your passion will only take you so far.  To make money and build a sustainable business, you need to meet a need in the marketplace.

#4 - Get a Handle on the Financial Stuff

My previous post on five financial tips for starting a business highlights the importance of tending to accounting, legal, taxes and other matters - not just the creative side.  Importantly, make sure you have enough money banked to pay living and business expenses until income starts coming in.

#5 - Write a Business Plan

A critical step, to make sure you have thought through all aspects of the business.  Note:  This is not for the purpose of getting a business loan or securing investors, which is a major "don't."

#6 - Get Organized

Develop systems for managing every aspect of the business.  From your schedule to finances to client projects, do this from the get-go.  Otherwise, you will constantly be playing catch up.  This also frees up your mental energy to run and grow the business.

If you are an entrepreneur, what else would you add to this list?

5 Financial Tips for Starting a Business

Thinking about starting your own business?  While you may be passionate about starting your own gig as a writer, designer, baker or photographer - or you're a new grad who is freelancing while looking for that first job - the financial aspects are just as important as the work itself.  If you're considering going out on your own, here a few tips to help get your financial house in order.

Photo from  Career Girl Daily

#1 - Get Out of Debt

Without debt, you can pour your creative energy into building the business, rather than dealing with the stress of how you will make payments each month.  Paying off credit card debt and building savings (see number three) gave me the freedom to leave a salaried job and strike out on my own.

#2 - Don't Borrow Money

Just say no to people who tell you that you need to borrow money or find investors.  When I started my company more than 10 years ago, I bought a new computer and a comfy desk chair - and paid for it out of my cash flow.  I know a 19-year-old who saved up the cash to buy her own small-town barber shop.  It can be done.

#3 - Build Up Savings

Sock away at least six months of living and business expenses - even more if it will take longer for your business to generate sufficient revenue and cash flow.  If you can start your business while you still have another job - an option I did not have - even better.  Just don't quit until you are earning enough to make it.

#4 - Remember: It's a Business

Graphic design or blogging may be your passion, but being a business owner means you constantly have to tend to financial matters (marketing, invoicing, taxes, etc.).  Get organized immediately, and make this a regular part of your work flow.  You may even discover that, like me, you get just as excited about the financial side of things as you do the creative projects. 

#5 - Get Help

You may need to consult with an accountant and attorney to set things up correctly. Don't skimp on this area.  Dotting the i's and crossing the t's from the beginning will lay a solid foundation for success.

If you own your business, what financial tips would you offer?