How to Get Started at Starting Your Own Business
By The Editors

Starting your own business brings a mix of the glory of entrepreneurship and the drudgery of all the little things you may not even know you have to do. Here’s some help to get you started.

How to Get Started at Starting Your Own Business


You know the countdown: 3-2-1, ignition, liftoff. A smart start-up pioneer knows you need a smart checklist.

Here's one: dream, plan, do. Then brag and overspend on a supercar and grow a beard. Here are the details...

Just like Pugsley and Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family, you’ve always dreamed of being an entrepreneur…

Well, what’s holding you back? Fear of failure? Meh. Where to find funding? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s all the fine print of owning a business. All the stuff you don’t want to do that has nothing to do with the art of brewing your prize IPA recipe in your garage or the total disruption of the IT security industry or the gratification of opening your own gym or whatever.

That’s the problem: The difficulty of starting a business rarely has anything to do with the idea itself, but how to execute it in a smart, systematic, and comprehensive way so it doesn’t get bogged down in all those pesky details – in the stuff you don’t know you don’t know.

The difficulty of starting a business rarely has anything to do with the idea itself, but how to execute it.

That’s why we suggest a different approach to starting a business.

Step One: Just say it. “I’m gonna do it.”

Step Two: Okay, good. You said it. Now, it’s time to actually dig into what you need to do next to make your business actually happen: Gather your resources. Or if you’re not a “dig-into-those-kinds-of-details” kind of guy, then find a business partner who does love digging into the details, exploring resources, doing research and following the rules, while you continue to be the brilliant, inspirational and creative can-do front-man who is the face of your new business. You suddenly start calling yourself “the visionary” while those around you roll their eyes.

Step Three: Move from “We’re gonna do it” to “Look, we’re doing it” by actually mining information from places like these:

  • The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) offers sound advice – like drafting a business plan and choosing locations — but you’ll also find guidance about all federal programs that might give you a leg up.
  • Legal Zoom has a really good FAQ section answering questions about things like sole proprietorships and LLCs and you’ll have a much better idea of what legal steps you may want or have to take to set up your business. Unavoidable: If you want a legit business, you’re gonna need some legal advice.
  • And with a tip of the hat to the ladies, Girlboss offers great advice on working on a shoestring. Or no shoestring. The smartest: Make a list of everything you could possibly need in your business – and then hit the interwebs for possible ways to get those things for free. Research chops are your secret weapon.

Step Four: Get good at stealing from others. Shoplift principles, not specifics. Opening a dry cleaner is different from opening a restaurant, which is different from launching the next great competitor to Google, which is different from starting some other business which we will call Startup X. So your Step Four is going to be very different from somebody else’s Step Four. But here’s what you and all other entrepreneurs at this stage have in common:

  • You’re not the first to do whatever you’re doing, or at least doing something similar, unless you’re selling ladies’ leg-hair weaves, spontaneous regeneration of missing limbs, or levitation®.
  • You are going to need to find your competition, study them, understand them, deconstruct them, figure out their weaknesses, learn to hate them while saying you respect them.
  • Once you know your competition’s business better than they do, figure out what they’ve done and are doing right, and steal it to whatever extent you can without breaking the law. This might mean you steal (okay, let’s make the lawyers happy and call it “be inspired by” their business model, their customer base, their future plans, or even just some of the wording on their website, which you just happened to find in the pocket of the prized employee you pirated. And while you’re looking for great stuff to steal, er, be inspired by, also look for the stuff they really suck at, and be inspired to not to make those mistakes with your business. This is a model inspired by the business practices of the mysterious East.
  • Once you’ve stolen everything you can from your competitors, then move on like a locust to others in your industry even if they are not direct competitors, and then on to other great successes that inspire you.
  • Finally, don’t get your panties in a wad when you discover that while you’ve been stealing ideas from so many others, others have been stealing from you, too. It’s just how it works. In fact, when you find out that someone is stealing from you, it’s really cause for celebration: after all, that means you’ve actually done something someone else thought was worth stealing! And that’s a great sign of potential success:

Step Five: Stop wearing panties.