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There's nothing as fragile as a great idea--especially a great business idea. With that in mind, how do you develop a new business idea so that it not only gains momentum, but actually takes on a life of its own? You have to make the commitment--stick with it and follow through.
Of course, that's easier said than done. Life happens, and everyday circumstances can stop you dead in your tracks. That's why it's essential to have a foolproof plan to keep you going despite your lack of time, knowledge or resources.
According to a survey by Yahoo! Small Business and Harris Interactive, 66 percent of American adults say they've considered starting a business. But many never take the leap.
Know this: Getting started is not about knowing exactly what to do. There's plenty of expert advice within your reach about the nuts and bolts of all aspects of business--from writing the plan to implementing marketing strategies to finding capital. But having the right information doesn't guarantee you'll put it into practice.
The art of the start is really about setting yourself up with a system that provides clear direction and keeps you moving forward no matter what challenges you face.
Lack of inertia is the number-one killer of great ideas. Take a clue from Newton's first law of motion: Bodies in motion stay in motion. What does physics have to do with getting started? Keep yourself in motion, and you'll attract the necessary circumstances, situations and people to answer your questions, solve your problems and support you in building your business.
Staying in action doesn't have to overwhelm you, and it doesn't have to dominate your time. All it takes to keep your business in motion is 10 minutes a day.
1. Choose a Business That Fits You. You probably already have your dream business idea. Just be sure it's something there's a market for. Whether it's a franchise, retail or homebased business, choose a model that appeals to your personality traits, talents, skills and lifestyle preferences.
Lon Cohen has always been passionate about music. In 1979, he moved to Hollywood to pursue his dream of becoming a rock star. Today, at 49, he laughs about it: "When my red spandex pants didn't fit anymore, I took a job working for a guy who rented [out] guitars."
Starting at $9 an hour, he worked his way up to manager and began building a guitar collection of his own. Eventually, he had so much gear that, he says, "it made sense to start a business doing the same thing [as my boss]." Lon Cohen Studio Rentals was born.
2. State Your End Goal. You have to know where you're going in order to get there. Stating your end goal--the ultimate result you're looking to achieve--gives meaning to what you're doing and why. Writing it down so it sounds as if it were happening now not only keeps your intention right there in front of you, but it also makes your success real in the present moment. This is a great motivational tool, especially on the days when life gets in the way.
Cohen's end goal: being able to say, "I have a well-respected, profitable guitar rental company, which gives me freedom to do more of what I want."
3. Identify the Milestones That Make Up Your End Goal. Milestones are the markers that measure advancement on the road to your final destination. As you imagine yourself having already reached your end goal, you'll see the mileposts along the journey. Make a list of these incremental achievements. Don't limit yourself to what you think is possible at this point, and don't worry about how you're going to accomplish everything. These milestones become the basis for youraction plan.
Cohen's list included milestones such as:
- Having a beautiful showroom and storage facility in a prime location
- Hiring honest, reliable and experienced employees
- Being able to offer rental, storage, cartage and tech services
- Having a fleet of new vehicles and trucks
- Having clients (including world-renowned musicians) come to him through word-of-mouth
4. Choose One Milestone From Your List. You've got to start somewhere. Choose one milestone as the place to begin, and focus on it. This can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed and reduces the chance of you scattering your energy in too many directions.
Cohen's one milestone: having a beautiful showroom and storage facility in a prime location.
5. Identify the Tasks Required to Achieve Your Milestone. Each milestone is made up of a series of individual tasks--small and simple activities plus big and somewhat daunting objectives. Make a list of all the obvious, practical and seemingly impossible tasks you need to accomplish to reach your milestone. Don't worry about how you're going to make them happen.
Cohen's list of tasks included:
- Get a facility.
- Remodel the layout to fit his needs.
- Design and furnish the interior.
- Purchase the necessary repair, tech and soundproofing equipment to accommodate the expansion.
- Set up customized computer systems to manage every aspect of the business.