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I Have a Great Idea for a Business! Now What Should I Do?

written by: •edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 10/23/2011

If you've been stricken by an idea you can't get out of your head, you may be wondering how it is that you can turn your business idea into an actual business. While it may seem overwhelming, the actual process of moving from idea to actual business is best done in a linear fashion, step-by-step.

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    I Have an Idea!

    When this thought pops in your head, you may feel a lot of things. You may not think bringing your business idea to life is a possibility for you. However, no matter what your idea is, you can find a way to put your ideas into action. By carefully crafting a plan and outlining your idea, you can be sure that you can execute your business idea successfully. There are a few steps you should take - both to fully outline your idea and to protect your idea from others - in the path of putting your idea into an executable business plan.
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    Outlining Your Idea

    Do you know what to do once you have a great business idea? Once you have your idea, it's important that you're able to put your idea into words. The beginning of any business venture comes when you start to fill out the details. Do you want to start a clothing store? What kind of store? What will you sell? Will you make the clothes yourself or will you purchase the clothes from someone else? You might want to use a mind map for this process. By outlining your idea, you can better conceptualize what it will look like. This isn't quite the time to start working on the business plan, but during this process, you may find yourself looking up information about the industry your business idea falls into. Once you have an idea about the scope of the business, write it down. While your idea may change over time, it's important to get the preliminary idea on paper so you have something to work with.

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    Your Initial Steps

    Once you've got your idea down on paper, things will start to happen fast. Generally speaking, you will need to raise money, put together your business plan, and launch your business very quickly. You'll also need to obtain all of the necessary licenses and documents for the successful launch of your business. This stage often takes a little while to research. Be sure to take the time needed for this stage, as it is vital that you comply with all the regulations for your industry.

    The very first thing you should do, while starting to work on your business plan, is outline the list of tasks that need to be completed in order to host a successful launch. This list may include items like:

    • File your business structure
    • Obtain a lawyer on retainer
    • Contact a CPA
    • Find an office space
    • Apply for any necessary business licenses
    • Apply for business loans

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    Getting the Business Plan Going

    Once you've got the basics going, you'll need to do market research and other activities to get your business plan underway. Generally speaking, creating your business plan consists of the following steps:

    1. Performing any necessary background research into the trends of your business industry;
    2. Researching any risks inherent in your business industry and determining how you will overcome any of those risks;
    3. Further refining and defining your business in light of the risks you have identified;
    4. Putting together a detailed outline of your business and how it will work;
    5. Creating a budget for your business - you'll want to account for both startup and month-to-month running costs; and
    6. Writing up the actual business plan.

    It's important to avoid skipping these important steps. If you simply dive into your business without taking time to at least consider these important points, not only will you find yourself in over your head, but you may miss out on some important things to know beforehand. For instance, if you are operating a publishing company, you will need to know the ins and outs of the industry's trends.

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    Protect Your Intellectual Property

    During the process of putting together your business plan, you'll also need to determine whether you need to file your intellectual property and what kind of intellectual property you need to file. For instance, you may feel the need to file a trademark for your brand name, a patent for your invention, or a copyright for any work that would fall under that jurisdiction.

    To file your intellectual property, you do not necessarily need a lawyer, though having one can help streamline the process. Filing for trademarks and patents can be quite the lengthy process, and having someone experienced and who knows what he is doing can be greatly beneficial to you and your business. It also takes the onus off of you for getting these things done.

    The most important part of protecting your intellectual property is just getting out there and doing it. If you don't take measures to ensure that others cannot use your brand name, if you don't research to make sure you're not using someone else's brand name, and if you don't protect your property, the consequences could be dire.

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    Getting Ready to Launch

    Once you have your business plan in place, you've registered your intellectual property, and you've figured out your startup funding, it's time to get ready to launch your business. During this phase, you'll hire employees (should you need to), you'll set up shop - whether that means merchandising your store or ensuring you have the necessary equipment to launch - and you'll need to promote your business in some way. No matter what you're launching, you might want to consider throwing a launch party that gets lots of media attention. This way, the publicity will carry you through the initial months with ease.

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    Running Your New Business

    Once you've launched your business, then it's a matter of keeping up on everything. Don't let yourself fall behind. If you miss your appointment with yourself to perform accounting functions, you will regret it later. What could have taken a few minutes may now take hours. Also make sure that even during busy times you don't let up on your marketing techniques. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a famine instead of a feast. Most of all, try to remember that initial passion that caused you to want to start a business. It will take you far.

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