You may say to yourself, “Yes, I’m ready already!” But, because there really is not room in business for making unnecessary mistakes, let's make sure that your excitement is not trumping you taking a realistic look at all aspects that you will face as a business owner.  

If you take a look around social media, you'll undoubtedly notice that just about everyone has a business! But, I'd bet your donuts to my dollars that the majority of the people that are boasting that they are business owners on social media have not structured their business on a solid startup foundation. The goal is for you to be successful. And you can! So, I'm going to share 10 tips that will help you make sure that you reach your desired levels of success. 

Okay here we go! You've come up with a brilliant business idea. Let's say for argument's sake that you have already vetted your idea and you believe that your idea can become a successful business. Here are 10 questions you must ask yourself before you hang out the shingle telling the world that you are, "Open for Business"! 

1. Are you really ready to be a business owner? Yeah, I know, it sounds so redundant, but it's just that important to continue asking. I want you to grab your notebook. Find a quiet place where you won't be interrupted. Take the time to write out seven reasons WHY you want to be a business owner and write seven more reasons WHY your products/services are the answer to the need you are starting a business to meet. Having difficulty coming up with answers to your WHY does not necessarily mean that you are not ready to be a business owner, but it does mean that before you move into launch mode, you must gain a bit more clarity on what you are doing and WHY you are doing it. If you are confused and do not know WHY, it will be difficult for you to translate your WHY in your brand and branding. 

2. Are you planning to be a fulltime business owner or a part time business owner?: If you are planning to work full-time and do your business during your off time, please have a plan. Working eight hours a day then, coming home to work 3, 4, or 5 hours on your business can get draining, real fast! Keeping in mind that the tasks get much, much more difficult when you have to balance work and business ownership with husband, children, and home issues and responsibilities. Do not try to do everything at once. Set your goals and give yourself timed/dated tasks and goals. If you only have one hour a day Monday through Friday, work on things that make a big difference in your business like social media marketing, networking, connecting and platform building. 

If you are planning to work your business full-time, working only for yourself, you must take into consideration your money situation. How will your business ownership affect your household/family budget? Have you planned carefully for your jump into being a fulltime business owner? How will your fulltime business ownership affect your family, the kids and other personal commitments? Running a business fulltime is much different and much more demanding than working a fulltime job. As a business owner, especially in start up, if you don't have a business partner, you will have to wear multiple hats. In wearing so many hats, the business owner must be organized and energized to handle all aspects of their personal and business life. Of course, having the support of family members or spouses is a tremendous blessing. 

If you have never worked outside the home, starting a business may only require a small startup investment, that with careful planning and communication with your spouse, could make for an easy transition into business ownership. 

If business issues with the hubby come up, take a look at our article, "Honey, Why Won't You Support My Business?' .

Whether fulltime or parttime, make sure you have a plan. Make sure that you consider all elements of your life when preparing your work/business plan. Be realistic about your time, your abilities, and whatever you do, don’t overdo it by trying to keep up with other business women. Everyone’s situation is different. What may look one way on the outside often is very different when the layers are pulled back. Stay focused and be true to your own vision. 

3. How much money will your startup take? First rule of business ownership: Don’t spend money you don’t have. No matter what type of business you decide to start, you are going to need some startup money to get things going. Be prepared for expenses such as business cards, websites, brochures, attending networking events, and the gas it takes to get those events, all of these fall into the startup costs category. For those of you who have visions of leasing an actual storefront or business office, that will require even more money to, at the least, pay the rent and keep the office lights on.

You gotta plan your money...realistically...when you are starting a business. In some cases, women business owners have another income to fall back on, that of a spouse, but if this is not your case, or if the spouses income is stretched paper thin already, planning your business money is going to be extremely essential. 

4. Do you need to develop new money habits? “When you know better; you do better!” (Dr. May Angelou). You are now on track to getting on track…financially. Remember, always pay your bills and pay them on time. If at all possible, stay away from your credit cards. If you are in a financial situation where that is not possible right now, set a goal to spend less and less with credit cards. To transition away from using credit cards, set a goal with a deadline where you are able to cut up all of your cards and live credit-debt free! Do the same with savings. Start small by saving an amount that will still allow you to stay on track with paying your bills; $25 a week is a good place to start. Of course, if you can comfortably save more, I strongly suggest you do so. Lastly, stay out of the stores! If you don't need it, don't buy it. Instant gratification can kill any financial plan. 

5. Who are the businesses in your neighborhood…in your neighborhood? Did you catch that ode to Mr. Rogers? LOL...okay! 

What does the competitive field look like in your geographical area. One of the main things a business owner must be sure of is the competitive playing field that they are entering. For example: If you have decided to open a hair salon, you have to know what other business owners are in the hair salon game. If there are already 14 hair salons in your business neighborhood, you have to strongly consider if you want to be the 15th. Now, I’m not saying if you are the 15th hair salon owner in your area that you will not be successful, I am saying that you have to know what you are stepping into and you have to know how to structure you strategies so that even if you are number 15, you set your business up to become number 1!!! 

6. Are you a Messy Bessy or an Organized Olga? If you're going to run your own business, without question, you will have to be very well organized. You must be able to plan your business days, keep meticulous records, return phone calls and emails in a timely manner, avoid things that waste your time, deal with multiple interruptions and meet business deadlines.

I cannot tell you how many small business owners I have worked with who are simply a “business mess” and literally all over the place, attempting to juggle multiple tasks, but failing miserably. As a business owner, you will need to become accustomed to writing things down and maintaining a daily “things to do” list and schedule.

If you know that you are not capable of keeping business information organized, the smart thing to do is to save yourself a lot of time and an unnecessary headache and outsource your business admin tasks to a reasonably priced assistant/Virtual Admin (VA). 

7. Do you have managerial skills? Let’s keep it real, not everyone who possesses entrepreneurial drive and a vision for success is good at being a manager. There are so many aspects of business ownership that require management skills. Business owners have to not only support their clients by providing quality goods and services, but as your business grows, the opportunity to work with outside vendors and contractors may arise. 

When you are a business owner, especially a sole proprietor, you get used to working alone. As your business grows, you will have more interactions and may even have a need to hire employees. If you plan to work alone, you will have to interact with a variety of personalities, so you must be realistic about your business management skill set. Again, if this is not one of your strong suits, best practice...outsource! 

8. Do you have the overall skill set required to operate your business day to day? Do you have a business plan? Are you able to create sound marketing strategies? Are you left with more questions than answers at the end of the day? You may have a great skill set, but are lacking in key areas. Never try to go at it alone and please, whatever you do, do not try to pick up nuggets dropped along the way by experts on social media, that will just confuse you more than ever. When you give it a bit of thought, you may want to work with a partner who excels in the areas where you lack or you may decide to outsource tasks such as marketing, bookkeeping, social media management, etc, to an outside business professional. By alleviating tasks that have the potential to bog you down, partnering with another professional or outsourcing can free you up mentally and physically -- allowing you to focus on more important things like getting new clients and growing your business. 

9. How motivated are you to market your business, talk about your business and attend networking and business events? There is no room in the business owner arena for punks! So, later for that, "I'm shy." song and dance. If you are too shy to speak to new and strange people about your business, either you get over it or you go back to work! 

No one is going to have any consideration for a business owner that is too shy to speak about their own business...the business that they claim they are passionate about and want to take to high levels of success. Practice gets you prepared. Start off by using video. Prepare short videos where you are sharing your business. Post the videos online so others can get familiar with who you are. The more you show yourself and speak about your business, the better you will become at it and the more accustomed you will become to it. 

Of course, attending networking events, participating in expos and surrounding yourself with other business owners is essential. Again, the more you try it, the better you'll like it and the better you'll become at it. 

10. Are you willing to take risks? If you enjoy the comfort of being in a safe place, business ownership may not be for you. Business owners must step out, most times on faith and in fear. Yep, you've heard it from me, FEAR IS REAL, but fear is nothing that should stop you from believing in your idea, your business and what you are providing to your target audience. Playing it safe may not cause your business to fail, but chances are, it will box you in and cause you and your business not to grow. Growth is key to strong business development.

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