From Idea to Open: How to Get Organized to Launch Your First Business

So you’ve had this AWESOME business idea floating around in your head for what seems like forever.

You think about it when you’re driving to work, you think about it in the shower, you think about it at 3 in the morning while your dog is snoring in the hallway.

Have you ever thought about what to DO with that idea? Or does it all just seem really overwhelming?

If all you do is THINK about your business, the chances of you ever taking action to make it a reality are slim.

Launch Your Business

Subconsciously you know this. And that may be why you never write your plans down. Because writing sets the wheels in motion. Writing makes it real.

Well I don’t see anything wrong with that. Let’s make it real!

Here are a few simple ways you can start getting organized to plan and launch your new business – so you can stop thinking about ideas, and start getting ready for your grand opening.

1. Write things down.

Don’t worry about organizing your ideas just yet, but when you think about how you’d like your business to operate or what you’d like to do with your ideas, put them on paper or in Evernote or in a Google doc. Just the process of getting your thoughts out into words is going to give you immense clarity and energy to focus on your business.
The important thing to remember here is that the format you use is irrelevant. You’re not writing proposals or a business plan right now. You’re just putting your ideas out in the open so they can start to take shape. Even if it’s just post-it notes on the fridge, when you get inspired and exciting about that business idea that’s been swimming around in your head for six years, write stuff down (and keep it all in the same place, too!). You’ll be amazed at how much this alone will build your confidence and prepare you for entrepreneurship.

2. Create a simple “elevator pitch”.

I actually kind of hate the term elevator pitch, but it’s the simplest way to describe the process of concisely describing exactly the problem you solve, and who you solve it for. This makes it super easy to explain your idea so people understand it right away – and being able to do this helps get others to take you seriously. With a great little elevator pitch, you immediately become more credible; you’re not just floating around with vague ideas and no execution.

Okay, but you’re thinking “HOW do I create my elevator pitch?” Well, think of it more like a problem-solution statement: “My company, (name of company), solves the problem of X for Y type of people by offering Z product or service.”

Be super specific about all three of these things. Saying you fix computers for small business owners by offering a repair service is way too vague.

Instead, try something like “My company ensures that solopreneurs in the Atlanta area always have up to date laptops that run as fast as possible, so they never have to worry about lag when they’re creating time-sensitive material for their clients, recording podcasts or getting projects done on a tight deadline.”

Which one is more compelling? I hope you think it’s the second one. See if you can create a similar statement about your own business.

3. Pick a launch date.

Nothing makes starting a business more real than deciding exactly when you’re going to start it. Choose a date that’s far enough in the future for you to plan, but not so far that you procrastinate about actually doing it.

How far in the future that is really depends on you, and your life. Do you take a trip to Hawaii every year in December? Then don’t try to launch your business on January 1. Think about how much time you can realistically devote to your business each day, and make your timeline based on that. Be ambitious, but realistic.

HOT TIP: Tell as many people as possible about your launch date. Chances are at least a couple of them will hold you to it and keep you accountable!

4. Give yourself a financial health check.

Okay, this is really important. Be sure you are financially ready for entrepreneurship. That doesn’t have to mean tens of thousands in the bank (I only had $2,000 when I started, and my launch budget was $200). It means that you can support yourself and your family for 3-6 months with NO MORE INCOME coming in. Assume that you won’t make any money for the first few months (even if that’s not true).

And, if you’re looking to use someone else’s money to start your business, you still have to have some of your own. Most banks want you to have 25% of the total amount you need. And investors like to see you putting your own skin in the game, too.

Be prepared for your business to cost more than you think it will, and then you get to be delightfully surprised when you come in under budget.

5. Decide to go in for the long haul.

What I mean by that is you’re probably not going to be an overnight success. Building a business takes time – years, usually – and there will be many failures along the way. It’s what you learn from your failures that matters, as well as your dedication to the outcome. Learn from your mistakes, let yourself be coached, and surround yourself with successful people until you become them.

Think these tips will help you prepare for the launch of your new business? Leave a comment and let me know what other questions you have about starting a company.