You read plenty of articles about how to launch a startup, but what about the things you should do prior to that, even before you write a business plan or go looking for investors? The right groundwork can give you the solid foundation that you need for business success.
Organize Your Finances
If your personal finances are a mess, this is going to hinder your ability to open the doors of your business. First, in some cases, your personal finances might be scrutinized before you are given a business loan. Second, this area of your life needs to be organized so that it runs smoothly and you don’t have to worry about it while you are dealing with running a new business. Third, you need to know how much money you have and what your expenses are so you’ll know how much you need to make to stay solvent.
This is a good time to look at paying off or simplifying your debts, such as student loans. If you have multiple loans, find out if a student loan consolidation is right for you. Once you know what you’re going to pay, you can move ahead and save money. You may want to put away the money that you save to provide an additional financial cushion.
Consider Your Day Job
If it’s at all possible, you should try to keep your day job as you get your business up and running. This can allow you to run your new venture without immediately having to worry about making enough to pay your own bills. However, make sure you understand your employment obligations.
Some companies have contracts specifying that moonlighting is not allowed while others will say that they own any intellectual property you create while employed with them, even if you do it off the clock. If keeping your job initially isn’t feasible for these or other reasons, you might want to see whether your workplace is interested in having you work for them part-time as a contractor. If this is the case, be sure to set your hourly rates well above your previous wages to account for taxes and other costs.
Create a Mission Statement
To get other people to invest in your business or use the product or service you are providing, you need to be able to succinctly tell them about it. What is your mission statement? Be specific, and if you’re struggling to articulate it in a couple of sentences, go back and take a look at your business idea again. This could be a sign that it isn’t well-developed enough.
Enlist Family and Friends
If you’ll be working longer hours, taking financial risks or just changing up your schedule, it’s going to affect your family and friends. Be sure to talk to them as necessary about what this will entail. For example, if you are married or in a serious relationship, you’ll need to get your partner on board. You may also want to find out if people you know can make any professional recommendations. For example, you may need an attorney to review any legal paperwork, an accountant or bookkeeper to help you with your business finances and your taxes, and an IT person to help you with any tech issues.