Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” We all spend most of our waking hours working, so we better enjoy what we do.
The Durango Chamber is often asked about how to start a business, what resources are available and what is needed to be successful. Jobs also said, “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” Part of the secret sauce is about hard work, determination and a desire to succeed. But that’s not all it takes. Here are some basic tips to starting your own business.
- Find your passion, identify a need, then pursue it. A lot of time and effort goes into starting a business, so you better love what you’re creating. I had a passion for music and enjoyed playing music that made people want to get up and move. So, I started a local DJ business, Aiko Aiko Sound. As you develop your idea, know that it takes time. You should also research the competition and the market (Is there a demand?), and identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis).
- Develop a business plan. One of the first questions I ask those who want to start a business is, do you have a business plan? A business plan is a working document that’s flexible with the market. It’s a road map that gives you focus to explore every angle of your business and can identify areas where you may need additional help. It also provides valuable information for your banker and other possible investors. A good business plan answers the tough questions and will be your go-to document as you get closer to making your dream a reality.
- Funding is essential. Undercapitalized business ventures can equate to future problems. There are many resources for financing, including small-business loans, funding from angel investors, incubators or other investor groups. In addition to traditional lenders, Region 9 Economic Development District can provide “bridge gap financing.” Your own finances combined with a traditional loan may not meet the amount needed, and Region 9 can potentially help. I suggest engaging with it early in the process because it can provide valuable insights and help with your business planning.
- Market your business. You’ll need to promote your new company, and there are many ways to do this. The Chamber offers networking, collaboration and marketing at very low costs. In addition, digital marketing is another effective option to target your audience. Develop a plan that includes defining goals, target markets and strategic positioning to promote your business. If you don’t inherently know how to do this, identify resources that can assist.
- Use available resources. The Small Business Development Center, SBDCFortLewis.org, offers consulting and provides quarterly “Starting Your Business” workshops. The Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs – SCAPE – also offers assistance and access to funding for startups; GoSCAPE.org. And of course, the Durango Chamber can offer resources and opportunities to help your business succeed; DurangoBusiness.org.
Starting a business can be challenging, but knowing the right tools and resources will help make it easier for you and can help pave the way to success.
Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.