Flowers are poking their heads up. Trees are showing their leaves. It could be time to give some serious thought to getting your own business underway.
You'll need to plant some ideas and nourish the concepts that are driving you forward. The good news is that, from start-up consultants to specialists at Illinois Small Business Development Centers and website help from the Small Business Administration, there is advice available that can help you turn your ideas into reality.
(You can find SBDCs at https://viewer.blipstar.com/blipstar?uid=5161672. Take a look at the SBA's 10 Steps to Start Your Business website at https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/10-steps-start-your-business/.)
• You won't need much in the way of costly equipment if your entrepreneurial role essentially will be consulting. You'll need a tablet, phone, file cabinet and something akin to a desk.
What you also will need is knowledge of the marketplace -- whether or not businesses in the market you've chosen know they need the type of service or support you plan to offer and whether you can convince the marketplace that you're the provider it needs.
Is there as much potential demand for your product, or service, as you think? How much competition will your new business face?
• The SBA, most consultants and virtually every potential financing source are big on written business plans. Rather than the formal plan your banker or investors will want to see, others are interested first in your idea -- i.e., what thoughts and concepts are in your head.
You will need a plan, though, based on information that will help you determine whether your idea actually might work -- and, from inside the industry you've selected, some informed opinion as to whether a newcomer (you) can compete.
Talk to non-competing business owners you know in the sector. Talk to trade association leaders. Lean on SBDC mentors. Check out the College of DuPage's new Innovation DuPage incubator -- or one of the other incubators in the region. (There are enough incubators and similar start-up support services to be confusing, which perhaps makes the SBDC your best initial contact.)
• Talk to your accountant and choose a business structure: Sole proprietorship. Partnership. C-Corporation. S-Corp. The accountant matters because your corporate structure will impact your taxes, and that situation calls for accounting and tax expertise.
• Talk to an experienced business attorney. A savvy business lawyer can help with such basic niceties as contracts and leases that include protections for your business.
• You'll need money, of course -- especially if you intended to begin by buying an existing company. Early on, talk to your banker about her institution's willingness to provide start-up financing.
If you're going to self-fund your start-up, know that credit card financing is expensive and, therefore, maybe not a good idea. Be aware, too, that bankers and investors will ultimately want their money back, which means they probably would like to see a written business plan.