So, you’ve got a brilliant idea for your new business. You’re bursting with ambition and enthusiasm, and you can’t wait to set the wheels in motion. Well, good for you! You’re about to join the ranks of the 10 million people who are self-employed in the US. That’s a pretty big club and one that is growing year on year.

Working for yourself, or setting up a business, can feel daunting at first but if you take things step by step and keep calm and collected, there should be nothing to worry about. Follow the six steps below, and they will give you the confidence to leap into the exciting world of being your own boss.

  1. Write a detailed business plan
  2. Find a mentor
  3. Think about branding
  4. Cultivate contacts
  5. Be realistic
  6. Enjoy the ride
Write a detailed business plan

I know you may think of this as being dull, but consider it time spent wisely, and that will pay dividends in the long run. Besides, if you require funding or a bank loan, you will need to present a beautifully laid out, comprehensive business plan to each respective funder.

Your business plan should include concise descriptions of your:

  • Action plan
  • Description of your goods or services
  • History of the business, or a brief synopsis of your CV
  • Summary of the market and competition
  • Marketing and sales strategies
  • Operations: where you will operate
  • Financial forecasts
  • Risk analysis

Make sure you research how to create and draw up a strong business plan. After all, your business depends on it.

It goes without saying that your business plan should be free from spelling and grammar mistakes, look good and be easy to read. Pay attention to the layout, the font size and use bullet points to enhance key areas in the report. As your business expands, be sure to update your business plan: use it as a working document. By keeping it up-to-date, you will have a valuable resource at your fingertips to show to further funders or possible partners.

Find a mentor

Everyone needs help at some time in their lives, and the world of business is no exception. If you’re lucky enough to have access to someone prominent in your line of business, ask them if they’d mind spending an hour or two answering your questions or offering sage advice when necessary. Don’t forget to say thank you for sparing the time to help you. You never know, maybe in a few years’ time, you’ll be doing the same for a new business or self-employed entrepreneur!

If finding a mentor isn’t feasible right now, research business leaders you admire and keep notes on how they started their business, what strategies they used and write down any inspirational quotes. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and keep an eye on their posts for tips and ideas.

Think about branding

You may not consider branding to be important if you are a sole trader but think again. Every business, entrepreneur and a self-employed person should adopt a coordinated brand image that shows the world what they are and what their business is about.

Choose your colors carefully and create a memorable logo that you can add to your website, personalised stationery, business cards and any products and packaging. It’s always a good idea to play around with branding ideas before committing yourself to the final design for your logo and marketing. Be brave and ask your friends and family for honest feedback as they may notice design flaws that could be problematic in the future.

Cultivate contacts

Now’s the time to get out there and show the world what it is you can do. No hiding under a bush in the hope that new clients come to you. You’re going to have to subdue any shyness and reach out to customers in myriad ways.

It goes without saying that you will have a web presence, right? A gorgeous website will direct people to your business faster than any other marketing method. It’s easy to set up your own website template through sites such as WordPress, Weebly and Wix. Make sure you have a contact page so that prospective clients can contact you with queries.

Never underestimate the power of physical networking. Join local business network groups and attend their meetings. Always ensure you have plenty of your business cards at hand. If you work at home, try spending one morning a week working in a local shared hub where you can meet other lone workers. This can be a great way to make new contacts and share expertise.

Be realistic

Don’t promise the earth. Set realistic goals for yourself and your new business. Becoming self-employed, or setting up a new business, is extremely time-consuming in the first few months. There’s a lot to get to grips with all the legalities and the new ways of doing things; these take up much more time than you may expect. If you overstretch yourself in the beginning and miss a few deadlines, this will have a detrimental effect on your business and reputation. Be realistic in what you can do in the time available. Be honest with your clients and tell them you’d rather do a good job with fewer outcomes than a rushed job resulting in diminished quality.

Enjoy the ride

Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! You are now your own boss doing something you love and getting paid for it! What’s not to like? So, let your enjoyment show. Smile and be happy and pinch yourself if you can’t quite believe how lucky you are to be able to spend each day doing work in your own way to your own agenda.

First impressions really do count. If you exude enthusiasm and happiness, then chances are you’ll ensure your clients or customers are happy too as you’ll want to spread the love. What could be better than that?