Whether you’re happy at your job or feel like there’s more you’d like to do but can’t where you are today, chances are you’ve thought somewhere along the line about starting a business. It might have been a brilliant new idea you believe would surely sell. Or perhaps you thought about a service that you could deliver much better than what’s out there today.
Wages are finally beginning to rise and employers are doing more to attract and keep talent. But given how much the economy appears to be warming up, it’s also a good time to start a business—not to mention that the U.S. needs more startups.
New businesses are at a 40-year low, according to 2014 U.S. Census data, the most recent available. Startups historically have accounted for much of the hiring in the U.S., and they create new avenues for commerce, which ripples through their suppliers and complementary peers. So if you have a skeptical spouse, you can tell him or her you’re finally going to start a business not just for yourself, but for the good of the country!
Seriously, though, the best reason to start a business is that there’s nothing more exhilarating. Once you do, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Launching, and then making it work, can take every ounce of your being. But you will find that it enriches your life both professionally and personally.
Any would-be entrepreneurs should ask “how do I want to start,” just like when you’re starting out in the board game Life. In this game, you can set out to do something that makes a comfortable living and that’s it, or shoot for doing something epic.
I recommend the latter. It conditions one to constantly think ahead, handle surprises and nimbly modify strategy to stay ahead of the competition. You may end up with a business that doesn’t grow all that robustly after all. But starting out too passive is one reason up to 50 percent of startups don’t last beyond four years.
Either way, if you’re one of the thousands who are thinking this will be the year to start your own concern, here are some tips to consider based on my experiences, as well as stories we have reported over the years on entrepreneurs ranging from Life Time Fitness’s Bahram Akradi to Maud Borup’s Christine Lantinen.
Even with this fairly lengthy list, well-chosen steps and carefully prepared plans, there will be a wide range of surprises that come up—some good, some potentially detrimental. Just remember that it’s the journey that will matter the most, and to enjoy it!