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ENTERING NEW BUSINESSES

The Least Scary Way to Start a Business

You know you want to be an entrepreneur. But after that, things get a little fuzzy. Try starting with this simple plan.
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You are ready--you think--to start your own business.

You have discovered a market need, and you are convinced you have come up with a way to fill it. But after that, things get fuzzy. You don't have a clue about how to raise money or create a website or do the thousand and one other things that all the books on entrepreneurship tell you to do.

Let me see if I can help.

Making a decision to start anything new is scary. And when you read how the experts tell you to go about it--they advocate creating things you know absolutely nothing about: for example, writing a business plan-- the process seems completely overwhelming.

It isn't.

Let me see if I can simplify things.

By asking the question "How do I start my business?" you have already taken the first, huge step, and you have gone much farther than most people ever go.

The first thing you need to have, before you start a company, is desire. You have to really want to start your business. If you don't have the requisite desire, you won't stick with starting up and you certainly won't keep going in the face of all the obstacles you are inevitably going to face.

However, with desire in place, neither creating a business plan nor raising money is your next step.

If I were to reduce where you go from there to a formula, it would be:

1. Act.

Take a small, smart step toward your goal. What's a smart step? It's one where you act quickly with the means at hand. What you know, whom you know, and anything else that's available. In other words, there is not a whole lot of planning involved. You get under way as quickly as you can.

2. Learn.

What seems to work? What doesn't? What are people asking you for that you didn't anticipate? What things do they think you should change or eliminate? Every time you act, the universe changes. Maybe your first small step got you closer to starting a business. Maybe it didn't. But either way, you learned something.

3. Build.

If you pay attention, you always learn something from taking that small step. Take what you have learned and incorporate it into your thinking. Then...

4. Repeat.

Take another small step. Pause after taking that one to see what you learn, and so on. You keep going through the process and repeating it until you reach your goal, or you decide it is not possible, or you no longer want to.

Act. Learn. Build. Repeat. That's the way to go instead of creating a formal business plan or doing a lot of market research.

IMAGE: Shutterstock
Last updated: May 7, 2014

PAUL B. BROWN | Columnist

Best-selling author (and Inc. magazine columnist) Paul B. Brown's latest book, Own Your Future, has just been published. Brown's blog appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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