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Business ownership can range from the simple to the complex. Some remote workers, particularly those with independent skills, decide to strike out on their own and become Solopreneurs. Others seek outlets for their creative talents by creating a business to make and sell products or services. Those with a combination of skills and capital can accelerate their path to entrepreneurship by purchasing a business or purchasing a franchise.

For those inspired and motivated to strike out on the path to business ownership at any level, here is a checklist to help you determine if or when you are ready to launch:

Write down your inspiration. What is your nugget of inspiration? What will you sell? Draft of vision statement with your initial ideas of Who – What – Where – When – How? This doesn’t need to be pretty or perfect. You are just brainstorming for now.

Invest in education. Take time to learn about starting, operating and managing a profitable business before taking any actions. See the whole picture before delving into the pieces. Learn from a reputable educational source. Local colleges and universities (particularly community colleges) have continuing education courses and certification programs. Shorter or more concentrated programs can be found through SBA partners such as SCORE and Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). Look for programs that address the full business planning process.

Gain experience. Work for someone else in your intended industry or business to observe all the key components in action. Talk with successful people in your intended business. Network or join professional or community groups.

Count your Capital. Money is the biggest barrier to entry for starting a business because a start-up business is a high risk and lenders shy away. Businesses typically get started through the savings of its owner or a personal credit source that the owner can tap into such as a home equity line of credit. There are exceptions made when the capital need is small and the risk is mitigated, but it is best not to plan on it.

Develop a Business Plan. The elements of the Business Plan become the roadmap to success. After completing the first 4 steps here, you are ready to map out the course that you will navigate. There are 8 elements to consider and plan: i) Company Description, ii) Products & Services, iii) Marketing Plan, iv) Operational Plan, v) Management & Organization, vi) Startup Expenses & Capitalization, vii) Financial Projections. The level of detail will depend on your audience. If this plan is just for you, the detail can be low (even bullet points). But any third party (such as a lender) will require a high level of written detail.

Success with any career comes from a combination of inspiration, motivation, education, skill development and planning. Entrepreneurship has these same requirements for success. Use this checklist as a starting point for a successful launch or transition.

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