4 things to do before you start a company
Have you considered starting your own business? Many dream of being their own boss, but the process can be daunting. Here is a breakdown of what you should do before you create a company.
A few years ago, Priya Vasan dreamt of becoming her own boss. Now, on the social media of Priya Jewelers, her Sunnyvale, California-based Indian jewelry store, the hashtag #bossbabe makes a frequent appearance.
Vasan has found power in owning and operating a small business because it is her name on the door when someone walks in.
“This is not just a business for me. It’s very, very personal,” she said. “I feel humbled when people walk into my store. Jewelry can be bought anywhere. But the service, the blessing, the interaction, and the feedback that you’re going to get from me is completely different.”
Are you interested in starting your own company? Here are four steps to getting started.
1. Connect with your passion
Simply put, entrepreneurs have a passion to fulfill a need. But unlike other jobs that have a simple, more linear path, business ownership requires the dedication to find your own opportunities. That drive is a well that entrepreneurs can draw from to stick it out.
“Most people believe in themselves and their ideas, but do you have the next-level desire to move the ball forward every day, knowing that ball could move an inch or a mile?” said Bob Marshall, a national business development executive with Wells Fargo’s Small Business Development Group. “To me, it’s not just passion, but do you have the discipline, time management skills, and instinct to figure how you’re going to make your business successful?”
Vasan finds forging long-term customer relationships particularly rewarding. Her jewelry becomes linked to her customers’ most cherished moments, such as weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries.
“[My store] isn’t just a brick and mortar for me. This is a temple for me,” she said. “When people come in, I want them to absorb all the positive vibrations, all the positivity, all the prayers, and all the blessings.”
2. Make — and return to — your business plan
Writing a business plan is like designing a roadmap for your business. Even if you don’t plan to apply for a business loan or meet with investors, it’ll help you to answer key questions about your entrepreneurial pursuits before you take on financial risks: What’s my target market? Who are my customers? How will I fund this?
Check out this step-by-step guide for what to include in your business plan. For additional guidance, look for resources or groups in your area, such as business accelerator programs, local chambers of commerce, or your bank.
Don’t forget to regularly return to your business plan to take stock of your progress and readjust based on market factors and more. Less than a year into her business, Vasan found it had grown faster than she first expected. She’s considered opening another store but is taking a measured approach to growth.
“Take a huge step, you’ll fall face flat on the ground. I don’t want to do that,” she said. “Baby steps.”
3. Build your support system
Every potential business owner needs a few trusted contacts in their corner for industry-specific advice or the occasional pep talk. Marshall recommends entrepreneurs expand their support system to include:
- An experienced entrepreneur
- A business owner or leader in your industry
- A mentor who you can have deep conversations with
“[Growing your network] should be an intentional practice because every entrepreneur is a business developer,” Marshall said. “Why not start in the beginning? Try to expand your network for your cause because you’re going to have to build that muscle anyway.”
4. Prepare for ‘failures’
Failure can be a bad word in business circles, but Marshall said it shouldn’t be. In truth, even success isn’t a label a business owner can wear forever.
“Rather, life teaches us that there are peaks and valleys,” he said. “As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to change your nomenclature to truly understand that every opportunity is a learning experience.”
For Vasan, failure was not only something she and her family thought about before starting Priya Jewelers, but a possibility they embraced. Because even if the business failed, she wouldn’t live with the regret of never trying to run her own company.
“That feeling of, ‘Gosh, should I have done that?’ Guess what? I’m not going to have that feeling,” she said.
Read how gold’s cultural significance played a role in getting Vasan’s business off the ground.