How do you begin? From the very first moment you have to decide where you want to end up and you have to visualize the end result and begin to analyze the cost before you proceed. What is your goal? Is it just to have a business? What kind of business will you have? Will you sell something or deliver service? Is it your own invention or someone else's product? Will this be part time or full time? From an office? Storefront? Home? Or door to door?
Before you begin to spend your last dollar you need to visualize, as much you can, the steps you will need to take to get you where you would like to be. Doing this will help you understand what you want and what you don't want and where you really need to spend your money.
Some of the questions that you will ask yourself are; What am I selling? Who is my most likely customer? How will my customer find me? How will I get my product to my customer? Which method of selling will it entail? Post card and direct mail? Stores? Wholesale? Face to face contact? Phone sales? Flyer delivery? Push Cart? What do you feel most comfortable with? What is the part of the business that you most like to do? If you are a chef and you are too shy to talk to your customers and just prefer to work your magic in the kitchen, then you will need to hire someone who a) likes people, b) genuinely likes selling and c) may even have a professional background in selling. At the very least it should be your partner or your friend who has a gift of the gab and is thrilled with your product. Once again determine how much it will cost you, before you begin.
If you write a business plan most of these questions will be answered. This is a good thing to do because it keeps your goals and your plan immediately in front of you, and it show your target spending goals and earning goals. If you find yourself slightly off course or far off course, reflecting back on your business plan can bring you back on track and keep you organized and pushing forward towards your goals. It also helps you to make adjustment if your original idea was bluey!
You should know that most small business owners out of necessity have to wear many hats. They have to manage the books, create the product, talk the talk, create the promotional and marketing material, create new avenues of selling and product distribution, and close the store, or lock up the push-cart at the end of the day.
You also have to do some homework to find out if there is a similar product being marketed and how is that product being marketed and at what cost? They would be your direct competition. But just because they are competition doesn't mean that you can't also succeed with your product or services. The exact opposite is most often true. If there are a few out there selling or marketing similar services, it usually means that yours will also sell. If someone doesn't like one place they can move down the block to the next person or business that is selling the same. If you are in the right place at the right time, and your price is right, that could be you. That is one of the keys to succeed in business.
The other is consistency. If you begin to develop a customer base, they have to be able to find you consistently; and you have to be able to deliver consistently what you promise, and you need to stay in touch with them on a consistent basis.
If you have the push-cart first on Second Ave and then on Tenth and then back on Lemoine, your customer will give up trying to find you to buy the sandwich or tostada from you. Day in and day out you have to be at that designated spot, and you have to be there in the rain, in the snow, in the hot sun and with ample product. If you get your product from some other source, you have to have a reliable distributor, if not you have to find one who is reliable and who takes your account or business as seriously as you do even if you are only placing relatively small orders. If you are consistent at delivering, and keeping in touch with your customers, and consistent at ordering pretty soon you will be placing larger and more frequent orders.