From the April 2009 issue of Entrepreneur

We caught up with Rich Sloan, co-founder of StartupNation.com, a free business advice and networking site, for a checklist of the first steps to getting you--and your business--off the ground after you've been laid off.

  • Create a life plan. Determine the right business to start by first identifying what you want out of life. This includes figuring out what turns you on. If you're passionate about a business idea, your chance of success will increase dramatically. Visit startupnation.com for more info on creating a life plan.
  • Take stock of your skills, available resources and the track record you might be able to leverage from a marketing perspective.
  • Commit to your concept. Create a short but clear statement defining your business idea. It's OK if this morphs into something else, but you need to force yourself to distill the idea into a brief statement that's clear to any third party (investors, customers, partners, employees, web designers, and so on).
  • Google like mad. For some quick research, immediately start Googling anything and everything associated with your idea. The faster you become an authority, the faster you'll be able to come up with your business strategy, including pricing, target markets, milestone timing, operations and more.
  • Test drive. Find someone--maybe even a few people--who'll be a sounding board for your ideas and strategies. It's easy to buy into your own hype when playing up a business opportunity. Use insiders for this, but don't be afraid to ask people who have no relationship to you. One technique is to find someone in a noncompetitive geographic market who runs a similar business and ask him to be a mentor.

Laid off from a job in . . . Start a . . .
Construction Solar roofing contracting business, home renovation company, handyman business
Finance Fixed income asset management business, carbon-offset management and trade business
The automotive industry Hybrid technology repair business specializing in lithium ion batteries, electric motors or software
Manufacturing Manufacturing business of environmentally friendly products
Transportation Delivery services business focused on local, not long-haul, transport
Real estate Home-staging company
Temporary and support services Business development company, entrepreneurship coaching business
Retail trade Peer-to-peer e-commerce business, niche marketing of customized goods business

List compiled by John Assaraf and Murray Smith, founders of OneCoach, a provider of small business coaching services in San Diego, California.