Every time I think about the topic of “starting a business,” I recall a book I read years ago: “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.”

To my mind, it’s fear of the unknown that holds most of us back and not the thought of whether we’re competent enough or intelligent enough or whatever else we feel is needed to run a business.

As with anything, learning to manage, be the boss, and run a business are just things that happen over time and with practice.

So, as I see it, getting started is more of a pep talk than a to-do list.

For that reason, I’m going to start by sharing with you a list of things you can do to get yourself into the mindset of running your own company. From there we will cover what you need to do, day-by-day, in order to get started.

Beyond this list, I encourage you to read about running and managing a business every day. If you’re not sure where to get started in terms of reading, take a look at our list of business blogs you should be reading but probably aren’t and the list of books we encourage you to start working through.

Why you can and should run a business

While our data does apply to a U.S. audience, the reasons for starting a business really aren’t going to be that different, whether you’re in Canada or South Africa.

1. You can do it because others are doing it. Think the country is dominated by big businesses run by people with MBAs? Wrong. 99 percent of businesses in the US are small businesses, and they employ 80 percent of the population! You don’t need any “special” training to run a business. You just need an idea, the desire to learn and adapt, and the ability to take action!

2. You can do it because there is a business appropriate for just about everyone’s interests, experience, passions or expertise. “Starting a business” really only comes down to figuring out your business idea, doing your paperwork, and sorting out the money. Given the number of funding resources available today, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem getting that initial startup cash, especially if you focus on a lean business model or MVP route to market.

3. You can do it even if you start from home. According to the SBA, 52 percent of all small businesses are home-based and of the 28 million small businesses in the U.S., 22 million of those are operated by people who consider themselves self-employed (they have no employees and no additional payroll).

4. You get tax benefits. Oh yes. This even applies to freelancers. Depending on the type of business you register as, you could write off a number of your expenses including travel, telephone bills, food, portions of repayments on things like cars, and so on. And, depending on the business you start, there may also be various government incentives. If you’re unsure about what to do and how to register, I strongly advise speaking with your accountant about the tax benefits you could be eligible for.

5. And the one I consider most important—you get to do what you want, when you want, the way you want. This is an opportunity to give the things you do meaning and to add value in the places where it matters to you. For example, Palo Alto Software focuses primarily on helping small businesses realize their dreams of starting a business.

Week 1: Get the ball rolling

Week one is the first step toward actualizing your business. In this first week, you’re going to focus on research, strategy, and making the business legal.


Taking the first step is probably the hardest. The rest is just going to build off of this step. Take it day by day and don’t worry if you need an extra day here or there.

1Day 1: Identify yourself and your business. Figure out what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to

You’re going to start by figuring out what it is that you do best, what you enjoy doing, and what you’re good at.

At this stage, you may want to start working on your SWOT analysis. You can finish it up later this week when you dig into the market research.

You’re also going to figure out what “success” looks like for you. Is it about becoming a millionaire within a year? Or is it about running a non-profit soup kitchen for the unemployed?

Once you’ve figured out what matters to you and what you’re skilled at, you need to think about the type of business you’d like to run. Many people reading this guide will already have an idea of what that is—perhaps a tutoring agency, or a restaurant, or a software company.

If you don’t have a business idea yet but you do know you want to run your business, you might start by looking at our guide on coming up with business ideas. Or, you could consider turning a hobby you have into a full-time business. You could even pursue something in which you have a lot of experience. If you’ve been working in retail for 10 years, why not consider opening a boutique?

Now, depending on what business you’d like to run, you should start thinking about what you’re going to sell and who you’re going to sell it to.

Remember, at this stage nothing is set in stone. You’re using this day to think of those things you’d like to do. The market and industry research will come later in the week. When you do that, you’ll have the chance to look at your desires more objectively.

The Ultimate Guide to Conducting a SWOT Analysis

1 (1)Day 2: Get started on your strategy

Now you’ve figured out what you’re good at and the type of business your skills are best suited to, you need to think about strategy.

Let’s be clear: This is NOT the overall business strategy that will dictate what you do for the next five years, but an outline of the things you are going to focus on, what your mission is, what your vision is, what you’re going to do, and what you’re not going to do.

You will need to tie your strategy in with your own personal values so that you don’t lose interest over time. If you decided to start a digital marketing agency, you might figure out from the start where you draw the line at customers. For example, do you want to tie your name to an oil company, or offer a service that you may not be brilliant at, but that will attract a lot of customers?

Figure out what you will do and what you won’t do. Who will you serve? Who won’t you serve? How will you grow? What won’t you do?

Your “strategy” is really meant to focus your idea so that you don’t swing off in a different direction if cash gets tight, or so that you don’t do something you are morally at odds with—like serving non-vegetarian food, for example, if you are a vegetarian.

Lay it out from the start and you’ll find it easier to plan and harder to put things on hold. As the saying goes, you can’t please everyone!

1 (2)Day 3: Establish your business location

The business location you choose has to be appropriate to your business and your business strategy.

Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • Will your customers ever see your space?
  • How will your customers get there?
  • Will they have to park a car when they visit?
  • Can you work from home or will this negatively affect your personal life?
  • What kind of location matches your strategy?
  • Are you going to be hiring employees?
  • How will space affect your employment strategy?
  • Are you getting carried away with ideas about your workspace?

As you think about the type of space and amount of space you need to get started, be realistic. If you’re not going to have employees and you’re not going to see clients at your office, why not have the office at home?

If you’re worried about being able to concentrate at home, then perhaps consider a shared workspace. Tim says, “Don’t get space to build your ego unless that’s part of your business objective.”

If you do decide you’re going to need space, consider the number of employees you’re going to need and the equipment that will fill the space—chairs, photocopying machines, a fridge, a coffee machine, a reception area, a meeting room, and so on. Furthermore, how quickly do you expect to grow? If rapid growth is in the books, rent a space where there is room for growth and so that you don’t have to change your business address.

When it comes time to sign the lease, don’t be afraid to negotiate, though keep in mind that most places will want you to sign for at least a year.

If you’re still unsure about the location you’ve chosen for your business, continue researching the topic.

How do others in your industry go about business? Will you be at an advantage or disadvantage if you start the type of business you’ve planned in one location or another? Do you think there is demand for this type of business in your city? Or are you living somewhere where people can’t afford to buy whatever it is you’re selling?

4Day 4: Figure out how much money you will need to get started

Part of the reason we spent a full day researching and figuring out location has to do with what it will cost you to start. If you’re working from home and not seeing clients, you may find your startup costs are limited to marketing, stationery, any supplies, and legal. If not, you’re going to need enough to set aside for at least the first months rent and utilities of the new space, including all the amenities to outfit your new office.

Either way, it’s a good idea to break your costs into two distinct types of spending. This is largely because it will affect your taxes:

  • Expenses—expenses include things like payroll, rent, consulting, travel, meals, and various legal costs. Expenses are considered deductible against future profits and will eventually reduce taxes if you do make a profit.
  • Assets—assets include things like furniture, signs, fixtures, cars, trucks, buildings, land, inventory, and so on. Assets are unfortunately not deductible against taxable income, so your bookkeeping on them will be different.

You should not mix expenses and assets. When you create a worksheet to record your startup costs, keep expenses and assets separate.

5Day 5: Start “business planning,” not the “business plan”

Coming from someone who works for a company that makes business planning software, that may sound odd. The truth is, you’re going to do the “official plan” a bit later in week two, when it comes time to sort out where your funding is coming from. And even then, you’re going to first start with something we refer to as a one page pitch.

The point of planning is to give yourself a sense of direction. A plan itself before you’ve started out is useless, but the act of planning before you start is essential.

A few things you should consider at this stage include:

  • Your identity as a business
  • Your market and the needs of the people within it
  • The steps you need to take and when to take them
  • Startup costs
  • A sales forecast
  • An expense budget

6Day 6: Do your market research

If you don’t feel you can fit this step into a day, I don’t see any harm in taking a couple. After all, you do want a good understanding of both your industry and your market.

There are a number of fantastic resources you can use to research your industry, including research you manually undertake yourself like sending out surveys, speaking with people on the phone, sending emails, and generally getting in touch with others who are or have been in similar situations to you.

Market research is important because it will help you figure out whether or not there is demand for the service you’re offering or the product you’re selling. It will also help you when it comes time to write your business plan, especially if you’re pitching an angel investor or a venture capital firm. They will want to see there’s a market for your idea, otherwise, it won’t scale as rapidly as they need it to in order to make a return on their investment.

There are a number of ways you can go about gathering this information:

  • Perform web searches—see who is operating in your location, search for statistics on your industry, find out who is selling something similar to you, what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it. Are they doing well? Could you do the same thing and succeed or could you do better by doing something else?
  • Go shopping—do both online and offline shopping or “research.” See what people are paying and how they’re rating products and services.
  • Talk to people—including customers.
  • Gather information—from government sites like the U.S. Census Bureau or the national Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network, your local chamber of commerce, and relevant industry publications.
  • Gather your own research—by undertaking telephone and email interviews, running focus groups, and asking people to fill out surveys.

7Day 7: Make it legal

This will include choosing and registering your business name and choosing a business structure. Many small business startups will choose between a sole-proprietorship, a partnership, and a limited liability company. However, you can also start a corporation or a non-profit company. Each of these structures will have different pros and cons and be treated differently when it comes time to file taxes.

It’s wise to work with an attorney at this stage to make sure you’re covering all of your bases and taking the right steps.

Week 2: Getting financed

Spend the next week working on your pitch, your business plan, and on researching your financing options. Remember that your business plan isn’t set in stone. It should remain a “live” document as you progress and as you grow. Don’t stress about it, just use this week to focus your thoughts and bring everything you thought about and learned in week one together.


You don’t have to rely on banks and government organizations to fund your business. You could also use personal earnings and do a bit of bootstrapping as well.

8Day 8: Write a one page pitch

Consider your one page pitch (similar to an elevator pitch) the precursor to your business plan. It’s very similar to an elevator pitch in that it will lay out your business strategy in a format that is easy to digest.

It’s also 100x faster to write, easy to change, and has a number of other benefits including making investors lives so much easier (hard truth: most of them won’t spend the time reading your full business plan. Maybe your executive summary, but not the full plan).

If nothing else, writing a one page pitch is a good way to distill your idea down to its essence. What exactly are you doing, who is your target audience, who are key partners or employees, and how much money do you require to get started?

The one page pitch is not a replacement for a formal business plan (many investors and lenders will still want to see this), but a good way to distill your ideas and to play with ideas.

You might not need a full day to write one but you can use it as an outline or backbone of your business plan and continue plotting what you might need to build out, research, or work on.

You can read more about creating an elevator pitch here or have a look at what a one page pitch looks like using our business planning and management dashboard, LivePlan. This should give you a good overview of what’s included.
The One Page Business Pitch Template

12 - 13 (1)Day 9 and 10: Work on your business plan

In week one we said, “start planning your business and not writing your business plan.” That’s because so many people think that a precursor to starting a business is writing out a long, formal business plan (that in all likelihood you’ll never use).

This is the last thing you want to do. The business plan should always be considered a live document. The plan you start with may well be different in a year, as your business changes, as the economy changes, and as your demands change.

That said, if you’re thinking about applying to banks for funding, you will need a business plan! The banks will be particularly interested in your financials, as obviously they will want proof they are not loaning money to someone who won’t be able to pay it back.

So, before you apply for funding, whether that’s through a bank, via an online site like Kickstarter, or directly to an angel investor, you should have a business plan.

Even if a Kickstarter backer or an angel investor doesn’t ask to look at your business plan, you could find an investor that does. If you don’t have one, you’ll be missing out on an opportunity.

Furthermore, this is the place for you to collate your findings, your assumptions, and your goals. You are very likely to change it, but to start with, it will bring all those things together and give you a picture of your business.

Here are a few resources related to business planning: 

Try to spend no more than two days writing your plan. Perhaps split it into two sections—the financial section and everything that comes before that.

You shouldn’t find it too hard given that you spent the first week planning out many of these areas. I suggest leaving the Executive Summary for last.

You can write your business plan in a simple word document or using software like LivePlan. We’ve created LivePlan to make the process simple and to walk you through each step.

11Day 11: Take a day to explore your funding options

Your funding options will vary depending on the type of business you start. Popular funding options include:

  • Bank Loans—a bank will definitely want to see your business plan.
  • Small Business Association Loans—for a list of loans, see the SBA site, or see our summary of available loans if you need a quicker skim through what you’ve got on hand. The SBA will also likely want to see your business plan.
  • Crowdsourced Funds—sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Patreon and more allow people to register to request money in support of a cause. Each of these sites has a separate set of rules. Take a look at successful projects to see what’s worked. And, if you get the time, take a look at those projects that failed, to see what didn’t work!
  • Angel investment or venture capital funds—we have published several articles on obtaining angel investment and venture capital funding, including what angel investors are looking for. 
  • Personal investment—in which you invest money into your business from your own funds.
  • Friends and family—if it seems unlikely you’ll be granted a loan, or if your project isn’t suited to an online crowdfunding site, perhaps your friends and family are the next best people to turn to. However, consider how this will affect your personal relationships.

We’ve compiled a full list of funding options to help you get started. Remember, it’s a good idea to see what’s worked and hasn’t worked for others like you. If you’re a tech/digital startup, angel investment and venture capital funding may be perfect. If you’re a hobbyist, take a look at Patreon.How to Pitch and Get Funded eBook

A few additional sources to help you find and understand funding include:

12 - 13Day 12 and 13: Start the funding application process

Once you’ve figured out which is right for you, begin the process today! Do something at least. Call your bank, drop in to your local SBA office, set up a Kickstarter page, research and approach an angel investor (email them at the very least) or ask for an introduction via someone you know.

Just keep moving.

14Day 14: Get set up on LivePlan

I’ve put this in as a full day, but if you’d prefer to write your elevator pitch and your business plan on a Word document, that’s fine. Use the day somewhere else.

The reason I continue to suggest LivePlan has to do with how easy this software makes it to update and write your plan, to create a one page pitch, to create financial statements without needing to do complex calculations yourself and, when you’re up and running, to use the Scoreboard feature to monitor how your business is performing.

Week 3: Keep the momentum going

Now you’ve made progress, you can’t stop. You have to keep going. Continue working through the next steps. In this week, you’re going to look into insurance, creating your online presence, and figuring out whether or not you need to hire employees.


Don’t stop now you’re going! Just keep going.

15Day 15: Figure out how you’re going to get paid

Did you know that one of the primary reasons people go out of business is not because they’re not profitable? It’s because they don’t have cash on hand to pay bills, to pay employees and to continue operating.

This is especially true for those people running a service business that invoices clients. Sometimes payments can take up to 90 days to come through! With enough clients that pay late, you could easily run out of cash.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to establish your credit policy in the beginning, even if you’re worried that a lack of leniency will push customers away. Running out of cash will do that even faster.

With a credit policy you can:

  1. Avoid bad debts and bad feelings
  2. Standardize credit procedures, providing employees with clear and consistent directions
  3. Demonstrate to employees and customers that the company is serious about managing credit
  4. Help the business owner define how credit fits into the overall sales and marketing plan

When deciding on a credit policy, get an idea of your customers payment cycles. For some it’s 30 days, for others it’s 45 or 60.

If you’re worried about whether or not someone can pay, consider asking for cash-in-hand, or for part of the payment upfront. This is a good safeguard against new customers or new businesses.

If you do decide to offer credit, take a proactive approach to getting paid. Call your customers a week or more before their invoice is due and ask them if they’re satisfied or if they anticipate any problems paying.

If payments are still late, you need to be strict. Stick to the policy you’ve decided on. Penalties and late fees are possibilities. If you’d prefer to go down a positive reinforcement route, you could offer discounts for timely or early payments.

Whatever you do, make sure the payment deadline is clear.

Other types of payment you can consider (and that each have pros and cons) include:

  • Cash
  • Checks
  • Credit Cards
  • Debit Cards
  • Online payment via sites like Paypal, Google Wallet, etc.

16Day 16: Cover your assets and get insurance

The biggest mistake you can make as a new business is thinking you don’t need insurance. Apart from covering your own assets in the case of a fire or a burglary in the building, you will also need insurance against the loss of a key employee due to illness or an accident on the job.

It’s also worth checking in with your local business development center, to find out what your state requires in terms of insurance, when they require it, and what the minimum amount required is.

Types of insurance you’ll want to consider purchasing include:

  • Workers Compensation Insurance
  • General Liability Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Property Insurance

Other types of insurance you can purchase later, or that might be required by certain banks if you’re borrowing money include:

  • Life Insurance
  • Business Interruption Coverage
  • Disability or Income Insurance

Many insurance companies will offer “package deals” on insurance so if it’s all feeling like a bit too much, perhaps start with a package.

You can get quotes for business insurance from the following sites:

17Day 17: Work out whether or not you need to hire employees

If yes, put up the ads and if you can, at this stage, begin the interviewing/hiring process.

Figuring this out early is a good idea. Not only will it dictate the type of insurance you need to buy (workers compensation will be necessary if you do hire), but the presence of an employee could make your initial costs much greater, or help you achieve your goals faster.

Do you really have the ability to do everything on your own at the start? If you need to hire someone with specific qualifications or training, outline what that person will do and what the role will require.

This should also help you when it comes time to draft the job description and to write an ad that will appeal to your target employee.

Places you can turn to recruit include:

  • Friends and family—tap into your personal network and ask if there’s anyone they can recommend
  • Check in with local colleges and schools
  • Use an employment agency (if you’re tight on time, they can really help a lot with the initial screening)
  • Turn to industry publications and websites, particularly if you’re looking for someone with training and a very specific skillset
  • List your opening at a job bank related to your industry
  • List your opening online

As you invite people in for interviews, remember to become familiar with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines so that you know what types of questions you can and can’t ask.

Be careful to look at references as well, especially if the person you’ve hired is going to be driving a company vehicle or handling large sums of money.

18Day 18: Brand your business

Before you can advertise your business or set up your website, you’ve got to think of how you’re going to brand your business.

That is, you’ve got to figure out what the “personality” behind your business is. Not only will this help to differentiate you from the competition, but it will clarify your message, create value, and be a key element of your marketing. Your brand will help decide your pricing, the employees you hire, the customers you target, and the PR you do.

The best way to figure out how to brand your business is to learn from others. Look at what they’re doing. Do a lot of research, particularly on those in your industry.

A few good sites to look for branding advice on include:

19-20Day 19 and 20: Establish an online presence

Even if you’re not a digital business, your online presence is important. In fact, not having one today is almost unheard of. Even if you’re not taking business online, you should make it easy for people to find you.

The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that you do not exist online if you have not created your brand presence. People will review you, people will talk about you on social media sites, and people will write about you. If you’re not staying on top of these areas, you are not controlling the conversation.

I’ve suggested you allocate two days to this step simply because I know how much time it can take to get set up.

A few things you might think of doing very early on include: 

  • Creating a basic website (you may need to do this yourself—in which case you’ll also need to look into getting your own hosting/online space—or have someone do it for you). Bluehost is our preferred hosting company and they’re ideal for most small business owners.
  • Creating a Google Local listing so that you’re literally on the map.
  • Registering with or listing your business on online directories like Yelp or whatever else is relevant to your industry. A Google search should help you figure this out. Try searching for your competitors as well to see where they’ve listed their business.
  • Setting up profiles on social media websites.

Spend some time also thinking about how you’re going to manage your online presence going forward. Your website will be a marketing tool, regardless of whether or not it’s used simply to convey information, or to build your brand.

21Day 21: Advertise

Advertising and promoting your business will be something that you actually have to do long-term. However, as you’re just getting started and likely only have a few customers, it will be most important at the beginning.

There are a number of things you can do to advertise:

  • Hire a PR firm
  • Place an ad in a newspaper or get a radio spot
  • Order and distribute leaflets
  • Speak with journalists
  • If your online presence or website is important, you should consider Google Adwords
  • Do your own outreach; get in touch with writers online to see if they’ll be interested in sharing your story. A good and free site to help you get a bit of early publicity is HARO.
  • Network at local events and at meetups you find on sites like Meetup or Eventbrite
  • Have a grand opening
  • Sponsor something
  • Run a contest

The key is to do something. Don’t wait for others to find out about you. Get out there and tell them about your business and how it can help them fulfill a need or solve a problem.

Week 4: You’re now in business—start selling!

You’ve covered your bases. Now, you literally have no excuse! This is the time to get out and talk to people. Start selling, continue advertising, and follow up.


Let’s face it. You’re only really in business once you’re selling. Get started as soon as possible, even if you still need to work on some of your procedures along the way.

22Day 22: Uncover your USP

Your “unique selling proposition” (USP, also called a “unique value proposition”) defines what makes you unique. You will need a USP if you’re going to start directly “selling your business” to potential customers.

Figuring out exactly what your USP is will take a bit of creativity and soul-searching.

As you have done throughout the planning and startup process, consider analyzing your competitors and other companies. How are they selling themselves? How do they portray themselves? What do they say makes them unique? If you’re not sure, take a look at their advertising and marketing messages. This is generally where you’ll find the USP or variations of it.

Don’t just analyze what they sell, analyze what they say they sell.

As you look to creating your own USP, put yourself in your customers shoes. What do they want? What do they value? What are the benefits of your product or of choosing to work with you rather than a competitor.

Tim Berry very appropriately says, “Effective marketing requires you to be an amateur psychologist. You need to know what drives and motivates customers.”

If you’ve already started your business, you can also uncover your USP by figuring out the real reasons that customers bought your product and not a competitor’s. And the best way to do this? Ask them! If you can’t ask your own customers, because you don’t have any yet, ask your competitors’ customers why they chose your competitor?

23-24Day 23 and 24: Start introducing yourself on the phone, start pitching your business, start in-field sales, start reaching out

You do need to create a list of prospects before you reach out. This will help you focus on targeting the right areas and the right people. Do your research. If you’re selling a high-end product, you don’t want to target/cold-call customers in a low-income neighborhood. And, if you’re selling a product suited to children, should you really focus on the section of town that all the college students live in?

Even if you don’t win immediate business in this step, you’re actually marketing your business and spreading word. When people later do need to use your service or buy your product, they may well remember you from that initial call you made.

Tim Berry suggests making 50 calls in 150 minutes. That means no longer than 3 minutes per call. This will help you stay on target.

If you’re doing in-field sales, it may be wise to first research a customer before reaching out and asking to visit them. This will save you both time and money.

25Day 25: Follow up on prospects you’ve reached out to, people you’ve pitched, and so on

If someone expressed interest or gave you a very specific reason for not taking up on your business offer, there are a number of follow up approaches that may get them to reconsider their initial refusal.

This could include:

  • An endorsement from a mutual friend
  • A meal/meeting in a non-business environment
  • An invitation to visit your facility
  • An article about your company—something that will give you credit or that they will find relevant

Remember, the key with following up is to consider what new information you can share that may change this person’s perspective. What might they be interested in that you missed sharing on that first call?

26-27Day 26 and 27: Figure out how you’ll maintain an ongoing relationship with customers/clients and then build, maintain, and engage with your customers/audience

Now you’ve build up an audience or won your first few clients or customers, you’re going to need to maintain the relationship. For many businesses today, this happens in the form of social media accounts, which can often stand in for a customer service team.

That said, you should still have a way for people to get in touch with you or with someone in the company when they need to resolve an issue. And you should make this clear so that they don’t do it publicly on social sites and so that you don’t sour the relationship.

Other things you could do to maintain your relationship with customers/clients includes:

  • Wishing customers a Happy Birthday when it comes around
  • Offering discounts for loyalty (perhaps for being with your company for a year?)
  • Sending seasonal greeting cards
  • Congratulating customers on business or personal achievements (maybe highlight a customer’s success on your site/social platform—with permission of course)

Regardless of what you choose to do to maintain the relationship, remember that as with advertising your business, this isn’t something you do “once off.” This is ongoing work. But it is also work that will help you understand your customers and adapt to their needs based on feedback.

28Day 28: Choose your accounting software/online bookkeeping application

The main benefit of using good accounting software is that it will make your costs and expenditures visible which will ultimately result in more responsible financial decision-making.

Beyond that, if you are accountable to lenders and investors, these statements will prove you’re trustworthy and help you avoid financial damage.

A few top-rated accounting applications worth looking into include:

Take some time to familiarize yourself with accounting principles and statements as well. Do you understand which statements are important when it comes time to file taxes? Do you understand how to log your costs and expenses?

If not, speak to your accountant, or to a bookkeeper. They should help you get up to speed. Eventually, you’ll consider it second nature!


29Day 29: Use LivePlan

I’ve also allocated a day to getting set up with a LivePlan account, partly because I recommend the software having used it, and largely because the Scoreboard feature in LivePlan will make managing your business a lot easier.

Scoreboard is a business dashboard that will give you immediate insight into your state of affairs. How much cash do you have on hand? What are your expenses? What are your profits? How do these things stack up against your forecasted data?

Scoreboard is most powerful when linked with your accounting software. As it integrates with many of the major accounting platforms, you shouldn’t have a hard time drilling down into key metrics to figure out how you’re doing.

If nothing else, familiarize yourself with your key financial metrics from the start. You may have to put in a bit of time to learn more about what is most important for your business, but at the very least, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your cash flow. Without cash on hand, your profitable business could still fail.

LivePlan is also a good place to keep the live draft of your business plan. If you set this up earlier—in week two—you should find it easy to simply spend the day learning Scoreboard and your key metrics.

30Day 30: Rest

If you’ve followed this 30 day guideline, give yourself a day of rest. But, don’t be surprised if you can’t. While running your own business will allow you to decide what you want to do, it will also be a full-time responsibility and you’ll be in charge of making sure everything is going to plan.

Conclusion (and Disclaimer):

Much of the structure and logic behind each step is thanks to guidance from Tim Berry’s book, “3 Weeks to Startup.” However, I have reordered a few steps and added a couple to give you a bit more time to get set up. I have also added an additional week for two reasons:

  1. Most people are comfortable with chunking to-dos and challenges into 30 day segments. I wanted to do something that felt both “familiar” and manageable.
  2. I can’t imagine writing a business plan and getting hold of funding for a business idea in a day. I’m sure it can be done, but if you have never started a business before or are unaware of the funding opportunities available to you, you may want to spend more time doing research and speaking with business development associations in your town.

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Now: tell us how you’re doing? Have you decided to take the challenge? Share your thoughts with us in the comment below or on Twitter. 

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