Every great business began as a great idea. But even the best of ideas can be difficult to actualize into a reality if you don’t know how to start a business.

In fact, starting a business is often far more difficult than running a business. That’s why we wanted to share key steps and tips to getting your business off on the right foot.

Make a Plan

When you have a business idea that you’re passionate about, it’s easy to let your imagination and enthusiasm get the better of you. You find yourself chasing after every concept and detail that pops into your head, and you end up losing your sense of direction. If you want to know how to start a business, one piece of advice we can give you in the early stages is try to stay out of the weeds.

This is why creating a business plan is so critical. Here’s a “how to start a business tip” straight from the federal government: The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that you build your plan around SMART goals ““ those that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

A plan with SMART goals pushes you to define real parameters for what you’re hoping to achieve. Rather than simply saying, “I want to open the best shoe store in town,” you should set measurable goals like, “I want to achieve X dollars in sales in the first year,” or “I want X percentage of our customers to become repeat customers.”

Specific goals also help you establish the specifics of your business. If you’re looking to meet an ambitious sales goal, you shouldn’t be trying to sell shoes that are only appropriate for special occasions. And if you’re aiming to generate repeat business, maybe you’ll want to create a loyalty program to encourage people to return again and again.

Want more info on goal setting and how to start a business? Listen to this podcast episode featuring Brian Moran.

Take It One Step at a Time

Once you begin to write down your plan, the enormity of the task ahead might hit you. To open a shoe store, you’re responsible for everything ““ from finding a location and picking a paint color for the walls to choosing a vendor for shopping bags, creating a playlist, and hiring salespeople.

When you begin to think about all of the tasks on your checklist, you might feel like hiding under your desk! But rather than allowing it all to overwhelm you, break each task down into its smallest elements.

If you’re focused on the store’s decor this week, set a five-minute timer where you’ll sit down and only look at options for your wall paint. Forget about the display area, benches, checkout countertop, and everything else that goes into decor, and only think about that one tiny facet of the project for five minutes. Check it off the list, set another timer, and move onto the next task!

Let Go of Perfection

A lot of entrepreneurs are perfectionists. But a focus on perfection can drive you crazy when you’re first starting out. Embrace the chaos, and get comfortable with the fact that you will make some bad choices along the way.

Maybe you pick in-store seating with cushions that customers easily scuff. Maybe you go with a POS system that’s difficult for your employees to learn. Maybe you hire one salesperson who is less-than-friendly to customers. These mistakes are going to happen, and they’re all fixable.

If you’re letting your business plan guide you, you’ll be able to identify the weak spots that are detracting from you reaching your larger goals. And because you’re a smart and engaged business owner, you’ll be able to make the pivots that will keep your business healthy.

Believe in Yourself

You can already know exactly how to start a business and enter into the process with a flawless plan, but if you don’t have confidence that that the enterprise will succeed you may never get off the ground.Faith is an extremely important thing for an entrepreneur to have.

It’s common for business owners to feel self-doubt, and there are ways to overcome it. If you’re feeling down, turn to your friends and family for support ““ they’re the ones who can remind you of how great you are, even when you can’t see it in yourself.

If you’re just starting out on the road to entrepreneurship, take it one day at a time. Start with a plan, set small and achievable goals each day, and trust in yourself. Before you know it, the business of your dreams will be a reality.

Want more tips on how to start a business? Listen to The Growth Lab Show – new episodes drop every Tuesday!

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