Small Business, Big Leap: Tips for Getting Off the Ground

Even though the U.S.A. isn't fully out of the woods when it comes to our economic situation, it shouldn't stop budding entrepreneurs from taking that big leap of faith in starting their own business. Have you always dreamed of owning a clothing store? Or wanted to carry on the family tradition of owning your own bakery? If so, the time might be right for you to launch your own startup.

As any new business owner knows quite well, successfully getting your business off the ground takes more than just a passion for what you're selling—it also takes hard work, commitment, and knowing the best ways to go about getting financing.

Attitude is Everything

People who think positive are much more likely to be successful, and when it comes to starting your own company, attitude is (almost) everything. Granted, it can feel daunting to start a new business, especially if sales or following are initially slow at first. But even Christian Dior and Liz Claiborne were both fashion newbies at one point. Stay positive, be strong, and over time, things will come together.

Keep Personal & Small Business Credit Separate

Opening your own store takes money—usually, lots of it. And new business owners often reach for their personal Visa, MasterCard or other plastic to cover those bills. If you aren't careful with this practice, it can lead to record-keeping confusion and big fees to your accountant to sort out personal versus professional charges. Using small business credit cards have the advantage of automatically separating professional purchases, and many banks provide end-of-year statements with purchases broken down by categories.

Know Your Customer

No matter how much you may want to be the best pizza slice or makeup boutique on the block and bring in a broad range of customers, you have to keep things realistic and know that this is next to impossible. Define the specific type of market you want to sell to, and go after it with determination and focus. Is the neighborhood you're looking to set up shop at the right fit for your business? Is there too much competition on the street? What sets your business apart from the rest of the nail salons or power tool stores nearby? Asking the tough, but honest, questions is all too beneficial for you and your business.

For Funding, Consider Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding” is an option that allows people to raise funds for various projects, including starting up a small business. An article from the New York Times noted that crowdfunding is a big option for new businesses as it attracts plenty of donors and can bring in a great financial foundation. Ryan Caldbeck, who helped establish the crowdfunding source CircleUp, said, “I think of high growth companies with a respected brand presence and products already in the marketplace..”

Test All Ideas

Before you do start your official launch, do yourself a favor and test all of your ideas. No one wants to spend a ton of money on a startup in order to determine if it will fly. Use the power of the Internet and social networking to connect with people around the world, and visit respective forums to see what people like. Ask your followers on Twitter for their opinion. By using your money wisely and being careful before you open for business, it will help you be more successful and continue to make sound business decisions in the future.