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What steps would you take in order to become an entrepreneur?

I've wanted to become an entrepreneur since I was young, but I am not sure how I would go about " starting a company." Also, I know that I want to start a business, but I am not yet sure what field I want to work in, or what service or product my business could offer. How would I start a company? What do I need to start a company? Do I need any credentials to start a company? #business #entrepreneurship #entrepreneur #investors #startups

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Victoria’s Answer

Hi JC,

This is a such great question! I see you are in Daly City, California.

There is so much going on in the area of entrepreneurship!!!
Why is this? Well it is because there have been so many new technologies created to help entrepreneurs track inventory, create applications, reach customers all over the world using social media, and just in time logistics. You are living in an incredible time to be an entrepreneur.
You can literally run a company from anywhere in the world if you have an Internet connection.

It's really important to learn some basic things about business. There is actually an organization in your area that teaches entrepreneurship to kids and young adults. Here are some links that might be helpful:


Search the site, see what interests you. Keep a journal or bookmark all the things that seem interesting to you.

Then also search/Google the word "entrepreneur" and "best ted talks on entrepreneurship". Entrepreneurs learn to become entrepreneurs by listening and learning from all kinds of other entrepreneurs.

It's really important to have a good business background so that you can manage your business and make sound financial decisions. If you are more of an idea/creative person, you still need a foundation in business - speak the language of business - but you might want to work/partner with someone who has these business skills.

Start small. Start with $20 - $40 dollars as seed capital.
Start by making something or selling something.
It could be as simple as starting your own lawn business or cookie baking business.
By starting small you will learn first hand how to make a budget, price your product, sell your product, market your product, and hopefully turn a profit.

If you don't succeed at first, figure out what isn't working. Talk to other entrepreneurs. Keep a journal of what works and what doesn't. Try a new business model or a new idea.

Consider an internship in entrepreneurship in Daly City. Google "entrepreneur internships in Daly City". See if something looks interesting. If you don't find something you like, research businesses you like or admire.
You asked some great questions: why not try out a couple of different internships to figure out what industries and products you like. Think about what products or services that you are very excited about. Choose and industry that you feel strongly about. Maybe you love working on video games, or designing apps, or cutting hair, or making art. These are all things that require entrepreneurship. Whatever you decide to pursue, make a resume and go talk to someone about becoming an intern or shadowing an entrepreneur for a day.

Entrepreneurs hear the word "no" a lot. What makes an entrepreneur different is that entrepreneurs figure out how to get to "yes" . It might take many tries, a different direction, or a major change, but they keep going.
Also, if you get a "no", thank the person for their time and ask them for 3 ideas/contacts that they think could help you solve the question or get to "yes."

There are many entrepreneurs who have learned to become entrepreneurs by teaching themselves or mentoring with other entrepreneurs. There are also entrepreneurs who have degrees in business, healthcare, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and these areas are going to be amazing cutting opportunities.

A business degree is super helpful and you can find courses in high school, community college, college, and beyond. Some of the decision about what degree you need is driven by what industry you choose and whether there is a licensing requirement. Also, entrepreneurs have to follow standard business practices, pay taxes and payroll, so definitely work on the business courses. Combining a business degree with another technical area can give you a big competitive edge. Partnering with team mates that are experts in different fields and work really well together can be very valuable and rewarding. Assess your strengths and interests and add these to your journal/bookmarks.

I hope this helps you start your journey to becoming an entrepreneur. This is such an amazing area and I know you will learn so much by pursuing this career.

#stem, #entrepreneurship, #business, #startups

Thank you so much for your response! I will look into some some internships nearby and I will continue to learn more about the diverse field of entrepreneurship. JC S.

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G. Mark’s Answer

I've been involved in several startups, and I can share some basic guidelines that I think will quickly summarize what I've learned. First, you need to address a need -- i. e., solve a problem -- that people consider valuable to solve. Without solving a problem, a business is doomed to failure. One approach is called "Design Thinking". Again, material on this approach is readily available, but to give you the essentials, you don't just solve a problem, but you spend as much effort as possible to understand the environment, concerns, goals and experience of the customer. For example, if you're solving a problem for a baker, you don't simply look for a product, like an oven, that you can sell. You interview, observe, learn, experience as much about what the baker does and what challenges he or she encounters, even throughout their day. A good analogy would be the difference between someone reading an article about things a baker uses in the business as compared to being in a family business of a bakery. Second, you need to be passionate about the goal, because a business will be competing against others, and those others will most likely include people that live and breathe what you're trying to get into. This will also make the fact that approximately 86 percent of startups never turn a profit, so this is not a trivial thing. Third, get as much advice as possible. Don't get caught up in being overly optimistic. Or pessimistic. If someone says you have sure-fire idea, find someone else who will criticize it. You need realism from folks who have the most knowledge, experience, and contacts to others with such experience. And listen. I've seen businesses fail miserably because the task got overwhelming, the people lost focus, they blundered around kludging new things into the business, and generally exhausted the patience of their financial backers. And the fourth thing -- something that many people ignore due to the effort and stress and fear -- fail soon, fail often, fail quickly. This means prototyping. Being too conservative, too cautious, not trying new ideas and, worse, not learning from failures and changing the newest version of your product or service or system to take advantage of what you learn is a recipe for failure of the business. So, as Edison said, "I haven't failed -- I've succeeded in finding a thousand ways this won't work." Failure isn't failure but learning to succeed.

Thank you for the response! Starting a business seems a lot harder than it sounds. But it is definitely worth it in the end. JC S.

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Simeon’s Answer

You'll want to develop a detailed business plan. Understand your costs including insurance, leasing, taxes, employees costs, advertising, etc. There are business plan softwares that you can purchase that will guide you through this process. Do a market analysis to see what the demand is for the industry you're looking to get into and if you have a unique way of breaking into the market. Talk to people from the industry to see what challenges are unique to that industry. It does help if you have credentials, especially if you are looking to secure a business loan.

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Chuck’s Answer

Hi JCS.: Here is my experience with startup companies:

What I have learned working with startup companies and entrepreneurs:

In reflecting back on over 100s of sessions and many hours of working hands-on with entrepreneurial leadership teams, I’ve observed and learned some great lessons that will help you and your leadership team.
My hope is that these lessons will serve as constants for you as you build a great company and that they’ll give you insight, something to shoot for, peace of mind, a wake-up call, and a few ahas.
It is said that 90% of startup companies fail.
Not ready to start a business
Did not define and validate their business
Not enough focus on the customer and too much on building of the product
They do not meet market needs
They don’t solve a specific problem in the market
Scale-up at the wrong time
Ran out of cash
Timing is almost half of all the elements that lead to startup company success.
Tip: Try using the Business Model Canvas: a one-page document to detail your startup ideas. This is not as detailed as a Business Plan.
Always keep your head up: move forward in all adversity; never give up Life is like a normal curve: “good, very good, bad, very bad and somewhat normal days”………… and long nights into daylight….
Talk to other startup companies and entrepreneurs: you will always learn something new from anyone you talk with along the winding road…..collaborate and work in the spirit of cooperation. Adversarial relationships do not work.
Use Pareto's 80/20 ABC Principle; PLAN AND WORK BY PRIORITIES: WORK DAILY ON THE BIGGEST BANG FOR THE BUCK DOWN…..to lower priorities. Don’t say, “I have too much going on; too many balls in the air, wait a minute: stop and think……PRIORITIZE THESE ISSUES…..now!! Work on the right issue at the right time
What is the biggest challenge or priority for a startup company or entrepreneur? Answer: Financial Assistance: Investors; Pitch Deck Pitches to Investors; Fundraising; MONEY: PERIOD: Suggestion: do not borrow money from family and friends. This may come back to be your worst enemy………$$ Think before you borrow: use common sense; check your gut before you pull the trigger and shoot yourself.
Roll with the punches!! There will be many UNPLANNED roadblocks and many punches to the gut, some good jabs when you least expect it. LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS WHILE YOU ARE PLANING. Risks will occur: be ready to BRAINSTORM your way out of the unexpected problems…and they will come…………….GUARANTEED!
To start: What is missing in the world? Write the idea down and bounce ideas around. Next, make a prototype and show the prototype to 100 people. What is their reaction? Iterate on the prototype until it makes sense.
Woman-Owned Small Businesses are included, but have different criteria:
To meet the small business size standard for primary NAICS (North American Industry Classification Code) code and conduct.
At least 51% unconditionally and directly owned by women who are US citizens
The woman must operate day-to-day operations
The woman must make long term decisions for the business
The woman must hold the highest officer position
The woman must work full time during normal business hours
Get a look at your overall business by using a Business Model Canvas.
Next, create your Business Plan. I recommend the pdf SBA Business Plan template. The difficult areas of the Business Plan are: The Financial Plan and The Forecast.
If completed effectively you could get an SBA loan.
Know your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and profitability
Select a name a legal structure: You have four basic choices:
Sole proprietor
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Corporation or S-Corporation
Name your business
Obtain your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
Obtain a business license
Apply for a tax identification number
Open a company bank account
Obtain Federal and State licenses and permits
Set up an accounting, cash flow, and recordkeeping system: most startup companies use Quickbooks
Obtain business insurance
Get the word out: Marketing/Social Media
Set up your physical location
Staff your business
If you are ready, open your business
Obtain a domain name (URL) and focus on an effective SEO website that brings consumers to you. Crete a good Marketing and Sales Campaign. Be creative; a “me-too” company will not work: a UNIQUE company with a proprietary item will work effectively.
It’s all about healthy relationships: Genuine teamwork makes a dream work
My most effective clients are those with healthy leadership teams. They have strong relationships and connections with each other. While this sounds soft and maybe obvious, I’m now convinced of it. “Healthy” equals “less effort” and “faster results.” Stephen Covey’s book The Speed of Trust is the best at technically describing this phenomenon. Patrick Lencioni’s book The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team is still the simplest. Are you proud to have each person sitting across from you on your leadership team, and do you feel he or she has your back?
People do a lot of things right on the way up
But unfortunately, they do a lot of things wrong on the way down, and they do them before noticing they’re on the way down. Jim Collins’s new book How the Mighty Fall is a great read on this subject. A lot of times, as soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, you lose your edge and start bad habits. Are you taking your success for granted? Be a collaborator and work in the spirit of cooperation.
There is no easy business
Many think so. I haven’t seen one yet. The grass isn’t any greener. Stop looking over the fence-it’s dangerous. The most difficult challenge of an entrepreneur or startup company is getting investment money and funding your small business
Most people would rather not solve their problems: BIG MISTAKE!!
It’s amazing how many issues get dusted over during issues solving. People truly would rather ignore them and hope they go away. The irony is that by going to the root and solving them, you save unbelievable amounts of time, pain, and suffering. Someone must be the force to call it out and go there. That someone is you!
Build a culture, not a company
I heard this statement about three years ago, and it’s really apparent now. Leaders who constantly focus on their core values and make every decision with them in mind find that everything is a little easier. If you hire, fire, review, reward, and recognize every person, along with walking the talk, the rest takes care of itself. You’ll have more fun, get more done, and have a culture, not a company. Listen to the Voice of the Employee (VoE). Engage your employees. They must be invested in the company and enjoy what they do. If you treat people well, profits will follow. Answer the WIIFM question: What’s In It for Me?
It still always comes back to The Six Key Components
Keep them strong, and you’ll always be in the upper tier. Our clients with strength in The Six Key Components noticeably have fewer issues, are healthier, make more money, have more balance, and gain much more traction, in good times and bad. How strong are your Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process, and Traction Components?
Slow down to go fast
The old proverb is as true as ever. Leaders who take time off, work “on” the business frequently, take clarity breaks, and plan with their teams actually grow faster and get more done than ones who work morning till night, seven days a week. I observe that they are often more creative, solve problems better, and solve them faster. When was the last time you took a clarity break?
Leaders obsessed with providing value to their customers beyond their expectations have fewer issues: be customer centric: listen to The Voice of the Customer (VoC); use Lean Six Sigma
The ones who obsess stay ahead. Your company exists for the customer. The moment your company stops providing value to customers, your problems will multiply.
Every process, person, system, and service in your company needs to be aligned to solve a problem or fill a need for your customers. If you don’t clearly know what your customers love about you and what they don’t-you’re missing the point.
Establishing and accomplishing quarterly goals and weekly To-Dos will have the fastest impact on your organization
This requires no additional explanation. Of everything we do for clients, this gets the fastest results.
Staying on the same page is vital
You’ll save time, money, and stress if you make it a habit to stay on the same page with everyone in your life. The sessions I do when people aren’t on the same page require almost 50 percent more time to accomplish the same result as a team that’s in sync. Are you seeing eye-to-eye with all of your people?
All team members must have Job Descriptions and agreed upon Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Continuous Improvement: how else will you know if you are Continuously Improving?
Most leaders are terrible time and project managers
It pains me to say this, but it’s scary and true. Most people have trouble laying out and executing a plan of attack for their goals/milestones, special projects, and big goals. Investing in teaching your people to manage projects and their time will bear plenty of fruit. Incidentally, figuring out a simple solution to this is going to be one of my focuses this year now that I see what an epidemic it is. Use a Gantt chart to manage projects
Follow-up to meet all dates: be credible: do what you say you will do on the day you said it would be done!
Doing the right thing gets you further in the long run, although not always in the short run
It would make your head spin to watch leadership teams decide on the easiest or quickest solution to a problem in order to move on and then watch them rehash it over and over, session after session. Time and again, observation shows that if they had chosen the right and best (though sometimes painful) solution, they would have saved considerable time in the long run. Are you choosing the right solution or the easiest solution?
Defining Your Brand
Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:
What is your company's mission?
What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
Do your research. Learn the needs, habits, and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don't rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.
The fear of doing something is always greater than actually doing it
This applies to everything. Are you letting fear slow you down? Enter the danger. Do it! It will catapult you.

Negotiate everything/everything is negotiable: never just take the stated price; obtain the best value available for you from domestic and international suppliers co-packers, distributors, warehouses, transportation. Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Service Providers or sub-contractors/co-packers
Eliminate all waste!! Use Lean initiatives to organize, Lean Six Sigma for quality and Daily Continuous Improvement as a team goal
Meetings can be a Lean waste: always have a short, effective meeting: start on time: Take the conference room table out: have a “stand up meeting” to stop the chatter and stop checking your i-phone or tablet
Treat your Suppliers collaboratively. Your relationship with any supplier has to be “win-win” Yes, your Supplier must profit as well. Find middle ground.
Get your name out there in your community. Contact your local newspaper. See if they are interested in putting your idea in their paper. Use social media to expose your new idea.

Chuck recommends the following next steps:

Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA has a great entrepreneurial program: Try the HotHouse in San Luis Obispo, CA

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Marcel’s Answer

<span style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.75);">Research, learn, adapt. When you're building something from scratch, it's inevitable make some mistakes. Being flexible and able to adapt to the unexpected will help you stay focused on what matters, rather than allowing yourself to get derailed over the little things.</span>