Q: I have a business that I’d like to get off the ground. Where do I start if I have no experience?
-Arial Lopez, New York
A: First and foremost, congratulations on taking the leap! It’s scary, rewarding and fun to strike out on your own.
In terms of advice about how to get your business off the ground with little experience, I suggest these tips:
1. Write a business plan.
Some say you don’t need a business plan. I disagree. Instead, I highly recommend writing one. You don’t know the unknowns until you try to answer all the questions that will come up when you are filling one out. You don’t need to go out and buy expensive business plan software. There are plenty available to download for free. Just do a simple Google search to see what is available and choose a template that will suit your needs.
When I hit some roadblocks writing my business plan, I turned to SCORE, a national organization of retired executives. Because of their experience, they were able to answer questions and help with projections. Three years later, I still utilize SCORE and reach out to them when I have issues.
If the business plan intimidates you, at a bare minimum you should do a profit and loss statement. Once completed you will have a better understanding of the future of your business and if it makes sense. It’s pretty simple: If the numbers don’t work, don’t do it.