Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Starting off on the right foot

So you have a great business idea. You can see it clearly in your mind. Your gut tells you people are going to love it but you don’t know where to start. This is the point where many would-be entrepreneurs get stalled.

Here’s a recent email from an Arizona mom: I have a great idea for a soft book toy that I would like your advice on. What were your first resources in regards to the business aspect(s) of your product? What books do you recommend for someone like me? I am curious about patent, research, design, marketing, legalities, and understanding the pre-production phase by taking a look at how you achieved this?

Overwhelmed? You’re not alone. When I first started Robeez, I knew I would need to glean all the information I could in order to make the most of my business. In my opinion educating yourself is the best place to start.

  1. Entrepreneurship courses – Whether through a local college, adult education program, or online school, there are a wide range of courses available for entrepreneurs just starting out. I took a local night school course on starting a small business. Following that, I took a six-week course on entrepreneurship. These courses touched on all different components of business from sales and marketing to patents and legal issues. (These courses can be a great networking opportunity too. The instructor of my entrepreneurship course later became one of my Robeez business partners.)
  2. Network – Their products or services likely differ from yours but there are similar learnings when starting a small business, no matter the industry. I recommend two networking avenues that were successful for me: A) Business contacts – I spoke with other vendors at tradeshows, store owners, and suppliers to learn more about the industry and to get ideas for how to manage Robeez. B) Business networking group – This could take place online or in-person. Find a group that meets on a regular basis to share ideas, gain advice, and learn best practices. One of the groups, I’ve mentioned before, FWE, is a great example.
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