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4 Things You Can Do Before You’re Ready to Start Your Business

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Not everyone can take the dive on the first impulse to start a business. There are responsibilities: bills to take care of, student loans to pay off, and commitments to keep.

If you’re one of those people, though, who knows that you’re meant to be an entrepreneur—and it’s only a matter of time before you’re ready—then there are a few things you can be doing in the months (or years) leading up to taking the plunge:

1. Make sure there is a market need for your idea.

Do you have a few ideas brewing for a future business? Recognize the ones that keep you up at night—the ideas that you just can’t stop thinking about. Once you’ve narrowed down what you think are your best ideas, get laser focused. The best ideas are the ones that have a distinct market need. This means that you’re filling a void, solving a problem, or relieving a painpoint for people.

One of my favorite entrepreneurial quotes is something along the lines of: Startups must sell painkillers. Not vitamins.

2. Write a one-page business plan.

Once you’ve determined your best idea with a distinct market need, write a one-page business plan. This is something you can do on your lunch break or after work with a glass of wine. The one-page business plan should include:

  • Your vision. (2 sentences)
  • Your target market. (2 sentences)
  • Your competitive advantage. (3-4 sentences)
  • Your business model. (2-3 sentences)
  • A financial summary. (3-4 sentences)

A good business plan should always be changing, so the best thing to do is get your first draft on paper. Remember that you aren’t bound to anything. The goal is to start thinking about your idea as a financially-viable product.

3. Use social media to connect with others in the industry.

Set up a personal Twitter account with a professional photo of yourself, and write a brief bio that describes the things you’re interested in that relate to your future business. Follow people within your niche (for example: sustainable fashion, fashion entrepreneurship, American makers, etc.) by searching similar hashtags. Start a conversation with those people by sending out friendly, personalized tweets, and try to start an ongoing dialogue.

Don’t get discouraged if they don’t respond at first. Sometimes it takes a few retweets of something that person has written for them to notice that you’re awesome and someone worth getting to know.

When my cofounder and I were first starting {r}evolution apparel we built almost all of our early following through Twitter. Some of those people are still friends today. Twitter is a great way to surround yourself with like-minded people in the entrepreneurial world without spending a huge amount of time sending out individual emails.

4. Cultivate the “entrepreneurial mindset.”

Because traditional education (and the corporate world) don’t do much to cultivate entrepreneurial thinking, you’ll have to unlearn a lot of the beliefs that have been embedded in your mind through conventional thinking.

There are books, blogs, and podcasts available to show you that you are not limited by your preconceived notions of what is possible. Some of my favorites are:

Books: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte, and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
Blogs: The Blog of Tim Ferriss, The Middle Finger Project, and The Art of Non-Conformity.
Podcasts: The Unmistakable Creative and The Lively Show.

No one wants to feel like they’re not living their purpose. By focusing on these preliminary business-building steps, you can know that you’re moving forward in the direction of eventually creating your dream business.

And then I’ll be here waiting when you’re ready to take the plunge.

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Photo: Hero Images / Getty Images

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