You’ve got a great idea (perhaps you’ve checked out 5 First-Time Business Ideas for Teens?), you know the answer to Am I Meant to Be an Entrepreneur? is a resounding “YES” and you’ve tested your business idea. You’re raring to go! You want to start making some money and experience being your own boss! All you need to do is put out a sign and people will come flooding to you because you have such an incredible product that exactly helps them to solve! Right?

Slam on the brakes for a minute!! Yes, you do need to put out a sign, market yourself and advertise, but there is so much more to do besides that. It will seem daunting, but it is doing these things that will help to set you up for success from the start. You’ve come this far, you’ve got this!

  1. Develop and build a business plan.
    • Simply put, a business plan has essentially two objectives: outline what your business will do (i.e. products, services, etc.) and how you anticipate doing it. It’s also roadmap in which you lay out what your goals & targets are for your business and how you plan to achieve them.
    • Keep your business plan flexible so that it can change as you make changes to your business model.
    • Check out Build a Beautiful Business Plan for more information on the individual components needed and some solid business plan builder referrals.
  2. Get a mentor. Get multiple mentors!
    • Mentors can do wonders for your business!
    • Having a great mentor at any stage of the game when you are an entrepreneur is, in my opinion, crucial. It’s important when you are starting up, it’s important when you are thinking of adding a product/service, and it’s even important when you decide to either close shop or sell.
    • In Mentors: How They Can Do Wonders for You and Your Business, I talk more about who exactly is a mentor and what a mentoring relationship can look like. Look!
  3. Determine how you will fund the start-up costs.
    • In your business plan under the finance section, you will be required to produce a set of draft financial statements. It will force you to lay out a budget based on what you have forecasted for revenue targets and anticipated expenses.
    • Investors will want to see these projections to make sure that you have the financial smarts to not throw around their money frivolously and will use it strategically to move your business forward.
    • There are multiple ways to fund your start-up: you can self-fund using your own capital, family can invest, you can seek out venture capitalist funding, or apply for grants and loans. Check out What’s Available to (Young) Entrepreneurs in the Bay of Quinte RegionFinancial Tips for Young Entrepreneurs for more info.
  4. Get a solid network of supporters in your corner.
    • The opposite of networking is not working. To me, The Balance tells it like it is, and pretty much puts it into the exact same words I would use- “Business Networking is a skill and a low-cost method of marketing that is used to build new business contacts through connecting with other like-minded individuals.”  
    • Make connections/contracts with people in the following areas: legal, marketing & advertising, accounting, purchasing, insurance community business leaders. These can be in the form of mentors, people you have a contractual agreement with, or people who have agreed to give you advice on an “as needed” basis.
    • Take a look at Networking- Not Just For Computers Anymore! for crucial tips on where to network and how to do so! Don’t forget to order your business cards!
  5. Choose & register your business name. 
    • To operate in most areas of Canada, you need to register your business name to make sure that there aren’t any duplications, copyright infringements or other legal infractions taking place.
    • In Registering Your Business and Its Name in Canada, I go through in detail just how to register a business in different jurisdictions all across Canada.
    • When you are choosing your name, you need to take time with it. If people can’t figure out who you are and what you offer by just reading your name, they’ll pass you by. It needs to be: easy to remember (people typically remember best in three’s (BoQ Young Entrepreneurs) and five’s (Bay of Quinte Young Entrepreneurs)), easy to pronounce, and unique enough to set you apart from your competition. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has an excellence guide to steer you in the right direction.
  6. Determine your legal structure.
    • There are four recognized types of businesses in Canada: sole proprietorship, partnerships (including general, limited, and limited liability partnerships), corporations, and co-operatives.
    • Three of these you have heard of (sole proprietorship, partnerships and corporations), and one of which you’ve likely heard of but may have not associated with being a type of business (co-operatives). Whichever one you choose is based on your business needs and the type of business you are setting up.
    • In Do I Go It Alone, Partner Up, Incorporate or Co-Operate?, I dive in-depth into all four of the most common options, including how to start one, the pro’s and the con’s.
  7. Register & develop a website and social media profiles.
    • In your business plan’s Marketing section, you likely identified that two of the ways that you will reach your customers is through a website and on various social media platforms.
    • For expert advice on building an awesome website, check out this article by the experts at Inc. as they walk you through 19 key do’s and don’ts for building an awesome website: Build a Killer Website.
    • The Subject Matter Experts (SME) over at Hootsuite (a social media management platform that allows you to manage different social media platforms nearly simultaneously) have excellent advice with regards to how to design killer social media platforms for your business: 10 Social Media Tips for Small Businesses.
  8. Be in a state of constant learning and learn the language of Business!
    • You can never learn enough when it comes to making your business the best, most efficient, and most profitable that it can be! Even serial entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Canada’s own Arlene Dickinson have all gone on record at one point in time or another to state that they are constantly learning new things, be it new technologies, business practices, or even new emerging trends in social media interactions.
    • I encourage you to visit Terms All Entrepreneurs Need to Know to help you familiarize yourself with some of the key terms you will need to be familiar with as you chart and navigate the course that is your business!
    • Obtain as much advice as possible from experts in your field and from Small Business counsellors! Almost all of the organizations I have listed in What’s Available to (Young) Entrepreneurs in the Bay of Quinte Region offer workshops, seminars and courses for different aspects of your business, and for the most part they are either free or very inexpensive. If they don’t have current offerings on a subject you need assistance with, they have the connections to get you to where you need to go. You can also keep an eye on BoQ Young Entrepreneurs’ Upcoming Events calendar!

 

As I said in Terms All Entrepreneurs Need to Know, for more in-depth information on any of the terms defined here or for financial assistance, I strongly urge you to utilise the services of legal, accounting and financial professionals. They can walk you through what needs to be done and provide you with sound advice based on your company’s unique challenges and opportunities.