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What’s Next?

What’s Next?

Throughout the course of my career I’ve had the opportunity to attend lots of trainings, countless workshops and a bunch of conferences. The good ones get me thinking, get me excited and ignite new ideas. What they don’t do though is convert all of that positive energy into action. That’s up to me.

With the Dare to Dream conference a few weeks behind us, here are some ideas to help you convert all of the inspiration from the conference into action!

Select a mentor:
Let’s face it, getting going with your own business can be a little scary. For most of us, it’s unchartered territory. What are the right questions to ask? The right steps to take? As someone much smarter than me said “You don’t know what you don’t know.” So how do you begin to discover these unknowns? Find yourself a mentor, someone who has traveled this road before and can help you navigate your own journey. This may be a friend of family member who owns their own business. Don’t have anyone like that in your sphere? No problem. There are lots of great resources out there to help you get started. Here are a few:
Where to go for a mentor
What to look for in a mentor

Spread the word (and grow your network!)
Regardless of what stage of business you are in, networking is always a good idea. This is a fun way to meet other likeminded individuals and to learn from their experiences. Start relationship building now, even if you are still in the idea stage. You will be amazed at how much your fellow entrepreneurs are willing to share to help you get going in your own business.

And of course, connecting with a wider circle means that you have more opportunity to talk about the product or service you offer. This can help create buzz around your business or tell you if adjustments need to be made. You can begin to build a network of people who follow your progress and have interest in your product/service. This could very well transfer into a few early sales for you!

There are so many networking opportunities to choose from in Tucson. Here are some to consider:
• Chambers of Commerce
• Women’s groups (NAWBO, Good to Glam, eWomen Network, etc.)
• Meetup.com (specialized groups with common interests, including business owners who meet throughout Tucson)
• Referral Group (such as BNI, Tucson Business Club)
• Association and industry specific organizations

*Bonus tip* Get yourself business cards ASAP. You don’t have to have a logo or even a company name. A card with your name and contact information (even if you list your title as simply “consultant”) is necessary for networking. Not to mention that a business card, no matter how simplistic, adds to your credibility as a business person.

Plan & research
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when putting a business together. How do I get an EIN number? What kind of insurance do I need? What business entity is right for me? Questions like these can seem overwhelming unless you have a roadmap in place.

Determining the viability of your business idea is key in the early stages and a major component of a business plan. Have you considered who will buy your product or service? What special need or want do they have that your product/service fulfills? Why is your product/service better than others like it? Who exactly are your competitors? Save yourself future time and frustration by doing this research now. The Pima County Library is a great place to start.

Your business plan is vital if you plan to pursue some type of funding. Whether you’re looking for an investor, a traditional bank loan, a grant or even crowd funding, you MUST have a plan in place to explain how viable the business is and why it’s a worthwhile investment.

It’s also helpful to enlist the help of an expert to guide you through the process. The Women’s Business Center offers a comprehensive 10 week class for writing a business plan. Private consultants, like me, are also a good option. If you do decide to go it alone, you may consider using tools and templates like the one from the SBA or Live Plan.

Start where you are
There is so much to do when you are starting a business that overwhelming paralysis can set in. Don’t let that happen. Take one small step, right now. Order your business cards, or sign up for a Meetup group-RIGHT NOW. It’s one small step that will lead to another, and another. Where ever you are in the process, take the next step in your journey-TODAY.

Remember that things won’t always be perfect, and that’s ok, but don’t let that slow you down. Don’t have a logo for your business cards? Order them anyway. Website not in the budget? Create a business Facebook page. Don’t have a book of business? Get to a networking event pronto – and remember to tell everyone you know about your endeavor! You may find great resources and even business within your existing sphere.

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