Start Here November '21

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Page 99 of 102 95 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 1 lawyer, and financial advisor. These professionals can best advise you on how to minimize your exposure and liabilities. In business today, everybody needs an online presence to gen- erate activity. This means creating and maintaining a website, social media profiles, and everything else that goes into branding yourself as a professional. A few people will stumble across you online, but a lot of business success happens via word of mouth and networking. You must be prepared to be active on this side of self-promotion as well. Find clubs, conferences, and groups in your specialty that cater to other professionals in the niche. You'll learn a lot at these events (such as Chamber of Commerce expos and industry trade shows like GRAPHICS PRO EXPO) and get the chance to mingle with people who are at the same stage as you, and preferably a little further. Just be sure you have an elevator speech prepared for moments like those. Secure your "first client," even if you have to work for free. Your first customer will give you confidence in your business idea and make it psychologically easier to market yourself. If you do decide to make that first order on the house make sure it's in exchange for a nice online review, testimonial, or some sort of barter that you could use later. Some things you may want to discuss with your SBDC advisor to help you better understand your financial picture include cre- ating a startup expense chart, building a cash cushion, developing a sound cash-flow budget, and completing a break-even analysis. The philosophical approach here is to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Once you make the final decision to go into business, all your other interests must take a back seat. I mean all of them, including and especially your regular full-time job. Business ownership can be wildly rewarding and painfully stressful at the same time. If you take the time to do your home- work and learn from other people's experiences, you should be able to reap many of the benefits of owning a company without the head- and heartache of trial and error. Good luck. Once you make the final decision to go into business, all your other interests must take a back seat. According to the IRS, an activity is a "business" if it has made a profit in three of five consecutive years.

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