The Frugal Entrepreneur-How to Start your Own Business in Today’s Economy

Ask a Lot of Questions Before Moving Ahead

One effect of this long economic crisis is the number of newly unemployed or under-employed people that are coming to the conclusion that they are never going to find a suitable job again and that have decided that their best course of action is to go into business for themselves. The variety of people and the small business opportunities that attract them are seemingly endless.

Some have essentially no money at all, but in the struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table they put forth their best talent, print up some cards, and start networking like crazy. Others have some savings and start haunting the bookstores and internet, researching the small business market in search of a business that matches their skills, preferred activities, and pocketbook.

I took the first path with Creating Order, my organizing business that I started when I first realized I was in freefall without a net. And guess what? It did work to some extent. I still had and continue to have my ups and downs. I was very careful to choose a business that provided a service I knew people actually needed. When things were slow getting off the ground I dug deeper and cleaned houses. This was a very difficult period, and the work was not even on my list in terms of choice. But it paid my bills until the organizing business was viable.

If you are in a similar situation you have to just pick something that pays a reasonable amount, maybe double the minimum wage. That is because you don’t get an automatic number of hours when you are freelancing, and all the marketing and clerical stuff takes time as well. So you have to pad yourself. It has to be something that takes very little to start up, preferably things you already have, such as a computer and a car. You can even print your own cards on the computer, though these days Vista Print is just as cheap and the cards look better.

If you are in the group of people that still have a little capital to work with the preparation becomes a bit more complicated because you have more choices. There are franchises, network marketing businesses, even some brick and mortar businesses that may come into your view. There are many questions to ask yourself. The first being how much you want to invest, knowing that success is not guaranteed.

You will find that certain businesses are “hot” at any given time. These could be good choices, but they might already be overly competitive. Could you find something similar but “one off”? For instance, if food carts are hot in your city, but the hot dog and taco niches are filled, could you do a dessert cart instead? This is the time for creative thinking.

Once you know what you want to do, it is time to take a crash course in self-employment. You are going to be the whole company now. There are still departments, but now you are in charge of all of them. There may be things you need to subcontract out. You will need an accountant to set you up on your accounting program, and possibly a regular freelance bookkeeper if you are bad with numbers. You may need a lawyer. If you business requires a license it would be best to secure it before proceeding. Your local bookstore will become your hangout for awhile.  There may be inexpensive classes in small business management at your local Junior College. Take them if you can.

Check with the local branch of the small business administration to see what help they can offer. Do a little market research to check the demand for what you want to offer. Think about what sort of service or product is missing in your community. Can you provide it? Visit every networking and business person’s group in your area. That way you can check out your potential competitors and get feedback from people that are already self-employed.

If you already have a name for your business in mind, you should check to see if the domain name is available. It is almost a requirement to have a website of some kind these days. If you can’t get the name, see if you can get some variation of it. It is still best to get the .com, but if that is impossible .biz is starting to gain a foothold.

The whole situation may be scary, but it may be exciting as well. The one thing to remember is that you are taking a proactive step to deal with a problem that already exists. I have provided a number of links that may help you on your way.

http://www.sba.gov/ A wealth of information

http://www.vistaprint.com/vp/ns/default.aspx?GP=11/28/2010+7:14:08+PM&GPS=1384113442&GNF=0 Get your cards here

http://www.amazon.com/Small-Business-Ideas-Under-5000/dp/0471692875/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1290989776&sr=1-2 This book is over five years old, but may spark your creativity

http://quickbooks.intuit.com/ This company is still the go to for accounting software

http://www.godaddy.com/ Check your domain name for availability here

 

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3 Responses

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