9 Sources of Inspiration for Starting a Business

By Consumer Dummies

Part of Starting a Business All-In-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Maybe you’ve been talking about your great business idea for a long time now. You know you can do it — so what’s stopping you? Or maybe you started taking steps toward making your idea a reality, but something came up and you just haven’t gotten around to committing yourself. The following suggestions can help you get some traction on your idea. They can also serve to inspire you and spur you on in your business endeavors.

Start reading about great new businesses

Business magazines featuring entrepreneurs and small business owners are among the most popular on the newsstands. If you want to inspire yourself with the possibilities, check some of these titles:

Join a community business organization

Almost every community has an organization where you can meet and talk with other business owners. If you get involved, you’ll have no trouble finding people who offer encouragement to take the next step in starting your business. You’ll also find people who can help you take that step.

One highly respected community organization is Rotary International, a humanitarian group of businesspeople who dedicate themselves to improving their communities and providing scholarships and other benefits. The advantage of Rotary is that wherever you travel in the world, you are likely to find a local chapter. To become a member of Rotary, you need to be nominated by a current member.

If you don’t know anyone who is a member, start by joining your local Chamber of Commerce and the various trade organizations for your industry. Chances are you’ll find a Rotarian in one of these organizations as well. Rotary membership is a great way to start feeling comfortable about wanting to become a business owner.

Hang around a university business school

Nowhere will you find a larger hotbed of entrepreneurial activity and new business startups than at a university, particularly in its business school. That’s because most colleges and universities now have courses in entrepreneurship. Talk to the faculty in these programs about finding a student or students to help you do a feasibility study or business plan.

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Getting some energetic, motivated students on your team is one way to jump-start your business venture. You can also inquire about seminars and courses in such things as feasibility analysis, business plan writing, and technology commercialization, to name a few. Schools often offer these opportunities through their extension programs to people from the community who are not registered students. The exciting environment alone is enough to get you enthusiastic about sharing in the excitement of starting a business.

Tell a friend

If you announce to a friend that you intend to start a business, that friend will ask how it’s going every time you meet. The need to report progress should be enough to motivate you to make at least some headway. Nothing is better than to have a friend keep nagging you about your great idea — that’s what friends are for!

Leave your job (or get laid off)

Leaving your job is a pretty radical step, but some folks can never quite get up the courage to start the businesses they’ve been dreaming about without having a cataclysmic event push them into doing it. One of the big reasons the 1980s is called the Decade of Entrepreneurship is that so many people were laid off because of downsizing by big corporations.

Some of the suddenly unemployed even started new companies to compete with their old workplaces. Leaving a good job is a major decision that must not be taken lightly, and it needs to be considered only after you’ve done your homework on the business concept you want to execute. You can do all the feasibility work for your new business while you’re still at your job and not leave until you’re ready to devote full attention to the new business.

Discover an industry

Immerse yourself in an industry and find out everything you can about it. Talk to all types of business owners, suppliers, distributors, and industry experts. Become the expert on your industry and soon you’ll find the opportunity that’s right for you. Because you’ve made important contacts in the industry and understand how the industry works, your knowledge will motivate you to give your new business a shot.

Spend time with someone who has already started a business

What better way to inspire yourself to start a business than to spend time with someone who has done just that? Spend a day with an entrepreneur or business owner you admire — perhaps someone in your favorite industry. Shadow that person, observing what he or she does on a day-to-day basis. Entrepreneurs love to talk with fellow entrepreneurs, especially budding entrepreneurs. Your chosen person can give you personal advice based on his or her experience on how to get started, what pitfalls to look out for, and how to balance your personal and business lives.

Besides, business owners are great cheerleaders, and yours may say just the right thing to motivate you to start your new life. If you join a community organization, chances are you’ll have the opportunity to meet several entrepreneurs at various events. One of them just may be the perfect one to shadow.

Find a mentor

When you’re starting a business for the first time, it’s wonderful to have someone you can turn to when you need advice, when you’re frustrated or discouraged, or when you want to share a small win. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes, but the best mentors are ones who believe in you and can be honest with you, who introduce you to important people you need to meet, and who pick you up when you fall down.

A mentor may be someone who has had a successful business in the industry in which you’re interested or someone whom you admire regardless of whether he or she happens to have experience in the same area as you. That’s why it’s so important to network, get out there and meet new people, because you never know when you’ll meet your mentor, the person who ultimately starts you on your way.

Do something — anything

Leap into your opportunity with both feet and start doing something that makes your business happen. File for your DBA (“doing business as”) or your incorporation papers with a business name. Set up your home office to accommodate the new business until it’s ready to move to a more formal site (or like many entrepreneurs today, keep your business at home and operate it virtually over the Internet). Get your domain address for the web. Have some business cards made up. It doesn’t take much to start building a critical mass of activities so that, before you know it, you feel like you’re honestly in business.