Let's face it; the biggest obstacle to starting a new business isn't the economy or your bank's strict lending requirements. Most likely what's stopping you from getting a new enterprise off the ground is you. Categorize it however you want -- procrastination, self-doubt, fear of the unknown, or literally not knowing where to begin -- but when it comes to starting a business, you are your own worst enemy.
Nobody can help you with your psyche (only you can change that), but there are resources available to you right now that can help you solve the "where the hell do I begin?" piece of the puzzle. You'll find tons of guidance in the articles within the pages of Entrepreneur magazine, and in books, as well as from paid consultants, seminars, tech incubators, the SBA and SCORE.
But if you're overwhelmed by the multitude of tasks associated with starting a business, Wicked Start -- an online business application that provides step-by-step guidance and support to aspiring entrepreneurs -- may be just the tool for you.
Wicked Start offers is a list of 10 "manageable" steps to help you kick-start your start-up. You complete one item on the list, and then you check it off and move on to the next item. It's that easy, says Bryan Janeczko, founder and self-appointed "mastermind" of Wicked Start. Janeczko has more than 15 years of experience in finance and entrepreneurship and has founded multiple businesses, including the successful Nu-Kitchen, an online food retailer.
Those 10 action steps start with building a case for your idea and determining your business model. It then suggests doing your homework, and offers ways of doing that. The third step recommends creating a sample of your product or service, followed by setting up your business structure and giving it a legal name. Next is determining your start-up costs and then projecting profits.
Now you're ready to find money for your venture, and here's where Wicked Start has several excellent resources. These include getting the logistics of your operation lined up, obtaining legal licenses and permits, setting up the office and the financial controls. At this point, you should start deciding whom else you're bringing on board, whether that's independent contractors, employees or partners.
Next, Wicked Start walks you through determining how you're going to produce your product or service. And the last step is creating a branding, marketing and sales strategy, which, of course, may include engaging social media marketing tactics.
The site includes a private forum comprised of Wicked Start experts as well as others who are embarking on their first business.
The site also has a resource center with links to help you find everything from legal forms to potential investors, and it has a feature that allows you to organize and manage your files in one location for easy reference. There's access to planning templates that include a business plan, an investor pitch, financial spreadsheets and other documents. And there are e-mail reminders to gently prod you into action when items are coming due.
Wicked Start's services cost $9.99 a month with a one-time registration fee of $40, and you can cancel whenever you wish. But here's a better deal: If you sign up before the end of the year, Entrepreneur magazine and Daily Dose readers can receive a free 100-day trial membership. That's pretty sweet when you think about it. I mean, if you can't start a business in 100 days, it's possible entrepreneurship isn't in your cards.
To take advantage of the offer, visit WickedStart.com, click the "Free Seven-Day Trial" button, and when prompted during the sign-up process, enter the promo code ENT002.
And please let me know how it goes. Just send me a note on the stationery you ordered in Step 10, or leave a comment below!
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.