12 Months to Startup

Months 10 - 12

Month 10: Create Your Support Team

You'll need a team of reliable contractors, suppliers, advisory board members and employees. Create a network of other self-employed people whose talents, knowledge, resources and skills can be used to handle the demands of your business. Besides helping you with overflow work, the collaborative talents of your team can help you obtain larger projects and grow with your clients' needs.

Make contractor and supplier connections through networking. Test the reliability of a contractor on a small, nonrush project first. If you need to hire employees, consider interns, students or part-timers as your first-time hires. Your advisory board can include a mix of professional peers, legal or financial advisors, or mentors. Meet with them a few times a year to solicit their professional feedback.

Resource Guide

  • Get free personnel forms--including job applications, time cards and more--on our FormNet.

Month 11: Execute Your Marketing Plan

Establish your marketing infrastructure. You work against yourself when you're not prepared to respond to opportunities that result from your marketing efforts. Your stationery, business cards and marketing materials should be ready for distribution. If your customers can reach you via e-mail, set up autoresponders to handle their queries. Whatever response methods buyers can use, you should have materials that can be sent via those same mediums.

Mail a press release to the local media. Do a joint mailing with other complementary businesses. Beat the deadline for your Yellow Pages ad, and talk with your manufacturer about co-op advertising opportunities. Take advantage of all free directory listings. Contribute an article to a trade journal. Send out special offer postcards to prospects. Create a coupon offer. Make a speech at a networking event. Track the results of your devices by asking all respondents how they heard about you.

Resource Guide

  • Discover the ins and outsof guerrilla marketing with our coach Al Lautenslager.

Month 12: Hang Out Your Shingle

You've done all the legwork. All your permits are in hand. Your dedicated business line is set with a professional voice-mail greeting. You've marked the calendar with a few prospect meetings and networking events. You even have a few projects lined up. Now it's time to open your doors to more opportunities and much success as a homebased business owner. (And please be sure to send me an invitation to your one-year anniversary celebration!)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in January 2001. Updated resources were added in January 2005.

Kimberly Stansell is a Los Angeles-based author, entrepreneur and businesswoman. She has a knack for turning her desires into reality with little or no money and helps others do the same in her book, Bootstrapper's Success Secrets: 151 Tactics for Building Your Business on a Shoestring Budget.

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