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Stephanie Chandler on Starting a New Business
Stephanie Chandler is no stranger to the ins and outs of starting a new business. Chandler, a northern California entrepreneur, is the author of From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with Books, eBooks, and Information Products. She is the founder of BusinessInfoGuide.com, an online directory of resources for entrepreneurs, and Pro Publishing Services, a custom copywriting service specializing in electronic newsletters, information marketing and sales copy for websites and brochures. In addition, she recently sold a small, successful bookstore that she operated for several years. Here, she shares her tips for the first 30 days of starting a new business.
What emotions do new business owners experience during the first 30 days?
Once you make the decision to start a business, there’s a cocktail of emotions mostly composed of fear and joy. It’s also easy to get overwhelmed at first when you aren’t sure where to start.
What is the first step to starting a new business?
First, start writing everything down. You need to plan out how much money you’ll need for the business, how much money you’ll need to survive, where the money will come from, what supplies you’ll need, what resources you’ll need, and how you’re going to execute your plans. While some people will tell you that you don’t need a business plan unless you’re seeking a loan, I disagree. A business plan is a map for your business. Writing one forces you to think about details you might not otherwise consider. There are many books and online resources that can help you get started on your business plan.
How can new business owners combat the fears they experience during the first 30 days?
You’d be surprised by how much fear is removed from the process when you feel well-prepared. Education really is power: It’s up to you to be as prepared as you possibly can. That’s part of the planning process that needs to start the day you decide to become an entrepreneur. Learn everything you can about your industry. Listen to books on tape. Read every business book you can get your hands on. Talk to other business owners and ask them for advice. Contact business owners in your industry of interest and ask them for advice. This works best when you contact people outside your area—in other words, don’t expect your competition to help you get started!
What steps should entrepreneurs take during the first 30 days of starting their new businesses?
Be flexible and responsive: You may have very specific ideas about what you want to do with your business, but the research that you start doing when you are planning the business might lead you in another direction. Listen to what the market is telling you and change when you need to change. Flexibility is just as important as planning. Don’t be afraid to modify your plan as you go along. Don’t be afraid to change the path that you have started. You may have to change to make your business truly successful, and that will hold true even after you open your doors.
How can entrepreneurs ensure that their new businesses launch successfully?
The minute you decide to go into business, make a commitment to keep your bookkeeping records straight. Don’t wait until your doors are open to start keeping good records. During the planning phase, one of the things you’ll do is build a budget. My advice is to include the services of a professional bookkeeper in your budget. One of the smartest things I did was to hire a professional bookkeeper from the very beginning. Money spent outsourcing to a good, affordable bookkeeper is money well spent.
What surprises new business owners during the first 30 days?
When entrepreneurs start researching the costs of going into business, they’re often surprised to find out that things cost more than they expected. This is one of the reasons that conducting thorough research during the first 30 days is so important. If you build your budget based on guesses, you’re going to get an unpleasant surprise once it’s too late to do anything about it. Take the time to research all of the costs associated with your business early on, so that you know how much funding you need to secure prior to opening.
How can new business owners plan ahead to avoid unexpected costs?
Even with the best planning, new business owners run into unexpected expenses. The worst thing that can happen to you down the road is to run out of money. During the early stages of planning your business, it’s in your best interest to get a backup source of funding, just in case you need it down the road. Many people don’t realize that once you start a business, you don’t really have credit anymore. As soon as you start planning your new business, it’s a good idea to look at putting a home equity line of credit in place while you still get a regular paycheck. You don’t have to use it, but it’s a great fall-back plan in case you find yourself running low on capital later on.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
When faced with a change, I look at it as a challenge. I like change and challenge, and I like to find ways to work through change. I believe that things happen for a reason. If change comes along, I go with it and I don’t let it slow me down.
The best thing about change is...
…when you embrace it, it can bring great things.