Have you dreamed of owning a business but don't know where to start? Do you have the passion and work ethic but need more education and guidance?

SCORE has partnered with Canon to create the Simple Steps for Starting Your Business online course for entrepreneurs. The program consists of five, free online workshops and a downloadable workbook. To enhance the online class, we recommend working with a SCORE mentor to develop your individualized strategy.

The first course, Simple Steps for Starting Your Business: Startup Basics, highlights the top reasons businesses succeed and fail, different types of business structures, legal and financial concerns and business plan essentials.

Pros and cons of entrepreneurship

Being a small business owner is exciting, but understanding the lifestyle will clarify if it is right for you. You may think you don't have a boss, but in fact, you must cater to many bosses--your clients and customers. Yes, you don't have to work the 9-5 grind, but entrepreneurs on average work longer hours than employees. You may work on what you love but running a business also involves many tedious, difficult tasks. But if you believe in your dream, the pride and joy of working in your own business will outweigh the potential difficulties.

Often we hear that most small businesses fail, but statistics show that within the first 2 years of ownership, 76% of businesses succeed. After 5 years, 50% will succeed. Insufficient capital is a major reason for business failure. Also, many people have great ideas but lack the important traits of a strong business leader, such as:

1. Self-motivation

2. Resourcefulness

3. Solid management and multi-tasking skills

4. Education or experience in the field

5. Willingness to ask for help

Different business structures and skills

Starting from scratch is not the only way to own a business. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages:

1. Start a new business

2. Buy an existing business

3. Buy a franchise

4. Establish a non-profit

5. Home-based business

6. Online business

No matter the type of business, entrepreneurs need to wear many hats—CEO, accountant, marketer, salesperson, customer service representative, administrator and more. Even if you have the necessary skills, you won't have time to do it all. Each owner must decide what can be delegated.

Legal considerations

Gathering a strong support team will help when handling legal and government concerns. Find an accountant, attorney, banker, insurance agent and of course a SCORE mentor you trust. You and your team will first decide the company legal structure. The options are:

1. Sole proprietorship

2. Partnership

3. C corporation (conventional)

4. S corporation (subchapter)

5. Limited liability company (LLC)

Be sure to comply with government regulations such as labor, immigration, IRS and social security laws. You'll also need to register your company, possibly apply for state or local licenses, and purchase appropriate insurance for your type of business. This may seem like an overwhelming amount of paperwork, but your support team can help with each aspect. You can work with several SCORE mentors who specialize in different subject matters.

Take the Simple Steps for Starting Your Business: Startup Basics online workshop. Then, download the workbook and be sure to complete the entire program for the best preparation. 

About the Author(s)

 Bridget  Weston

Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.

How to Start Your Business: Startup Basics