A lot of folks thinking about starting a business spend all their time doing the typical start-up stuff like incorporating, finding office space, and designing business cards. All good and needed steps mind you, but don’t neglect the most important step.
If you are employed today and thinking about going out on your own, start talking to prospects first, start exploring your ideas with them, start asking them to become clients – before you ever open the doors. In fact, if you can swing it, offer to work for some potential clients for free, before you take the leap. (If you have a job I am certainly not talking about moonlighting at your employer’s expense.)
The thing that many start ups neglect most often is market research. Many failed businesses are so because they never figured out how to get profitable customers. I’m not saying that you spend all your time on research, you know I want you to take action, but you’ve got to start hanging out with your prospects and seeing what it takes to earn their trust and you should do this way before you must do it to eat.
Too many potential small business owners are waiting around for the day when they have a big enough nest egg built to jump right into the deep end while they try to figure out how to build their boat. If you play your cards right you might just get to wade into the safe end of the pond with a sea worthy boat in hand the day your open sign turns around – that’s the leap you should be looking to take.