Starting Your Entrepreneurial Journey With A Community Of Mentors
Many people believe that becoming an entrepreneur requires a certain mindset. While that is certainly true, it’s also important to point out that entrepreneurship comes with quite a few benefits. You can set your own schedule, have a better work-life balance, are your own boss (although your hours are typically far longer), and perhaps even have better health. But, how does one become an entrepreneur? And more importantly, how does one find the perfect community of mentors to help with your journey from the get-go?
Being a successful entrepreneur is a journey; one that begins with an incredible amount of planning and preparation. As you write your business plan and put pen to paper with your ideas and goals, it’s important to find others that have walked a mile in your proverbial shoes, successfully and before you.
While it’s certainly true that every entrepreneur has a different approach to business, there are five common steps all successful entrepreneurs have followed. And throughout all of this, it’s important to remember that you can get help or guidance from the entrepreneurial community found on the MrOwl platform. They have a lot of great knowledge that they’ve shared with the MrOwl community that can help set you up for success, including the steps outlined below:
- Step One: Research
Market research can prove invaluable in determining your business idea’s potential. You can gather information from industry associations, web searches, periodicals, federal and state agencies, other entrepreneurs, and more. And as you do your research, use the MrOwl Chrome Extension to save the things to your MrOwl Nest so that you can add your research to a MrOwl branch. Your branch is a collection of information, including documents, links, and media in an organized, collaborative, searchable, and shareable cloud-based environment.
Your primary research goal is to gain a general sense of the type of customer your product or service will serve, their purchasing mindset, and the competition you will face. Be prepared to investigate other businesses providing similar products or services as you intend to. Research and analyze the costs, viability, competition, and potential target audience.
- Step Two: Write A Business Plan
A business plan is a roadmap defining how you will achieve success in your business. It will help you gain clarity, focus, and confidence. It addresses everything from budgeting to marketing needs to competition to messaging. As you write down your goals, strategies, and action steps, your business becomes real. A business plan is important for getting funding, whether from friends and family, seed funding or from a venture capital firm. It also measures how successful your business is. Check out our business plan branch on MrOwl.com for a myriad of tips, advice, and samples available to help. Through our branch, you can learn from the Small Business Administration, find templates for business plans, and even learn how to do a critical business analysis. This is when you should also be planning on how you will finance your business venture. (Hint: on our branch, you can visit the SBA, who offers startup funding to entrepreneurs with thorough business plan and ideas.)
- Step Three: Know The Legalities
There are many legalities to learn about and manage before opening any business. Will your business structure be a sole-proprietorship, partnership, limited liability corporation (LLC), something else? Once you decide, it’s time to register your business’s structure, its name, and any trademarks you want. Next, apply for a “doing business as” (DBA), or “fictitious name” record, and open a business bank account. In order to open a bank account, you will need a copy of your filed Articles of Incorporation, Tax ID number, and so forth. All of these legalities have different requirements in different states, so be sure to check with your local and state governments for exact details. And if you aren’t sure who to ask, you can always check with an attorney or CPA. And if you’re lucky, you can connect with one through MrOwl, and even create a branch that’s private to talk to each other and share documents as needed! Just remember to invite your advisor to participate in your branch so you’re always on top of what you need to know.
- Step Four: Network, Network, Network
Networking is critical for every business and every entrepreneur. It’s something you have to do day in and day out, throughout your entire career. Networking is how you meet other people that might have skills you can use in your business. You will cultivate a network of supporters, advisors, partners, allies, vendors, and potential investors. A network can also support your business once you open, helping send new customers your way. Network locally, nationally, internationally (when appropriate), and via social media. Join networks in MrOwl, your local chamber of commerce, through mentors, trade organizations, or other relevant business groups.
While networking is important in all fields, it is especially important for entrepreneurs. Not only does it help to guide and grow your business, but it also helps establish you as an industry thought leader. If you aren’t sure about how to go about creating high-value networking opportunities for yourself, you can always read about it in some of the top business books of all time, which can be found here: https://www.mrowl.com/user/gregory_lumbuski/topbooksofall_/business/entrepreneursh.
- Step Five: Market. Market.
Marketing is a critical business operation. While it’s critical throughout your business, it’s especially important at the beginning, when you don’t have a track record of success under your new organization. Not only do you need to create a need and desire for what your business offers, but potential customers need to know your business exists in order to buy from you. Your marketing strategy will largely be determined by a combination of what you are offering, as well as by your target audience. Without getting too deep on the subject (that’s a series of blogs by themselves), there are many avenues to advertise your business, which might include: events, partnerships, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), advertisements, partnerships, print or online advertising, or using public relations firms, among others. In fact, according to most business schools, the real definition of marketing encompasses almost any way you talk about your business, whether to drive outbound or inbound interest.
Although we’ve addressed five steps which are essential to the success of any entrepreneur, they are certainly far from a complete roadmap to creating a successful business. This “How to Start a Business” branch presents all the potential steps you need to become an entrepreneur. There are also other invaluable resources on MrOwl such as lists of great business books, how to get VC funding and small business trends along with many more. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and MrOwl provides a community so you can reach out and connect with other entrepreneurs. And at the end of the day, it’s also a great way to find valuable mentors you can contact directly in a user-friendly environment. And that’s music to any entrepreneur’s ears.