How to Take the First Step to Unlock Economic Freedom

  •    Designer and branding expert. Born and raised in Sweden, she grew up surrounded by an appreciation for good storytelling and great design.

The first step toward becoming a successful entrepreneur is to take a leap of faith and start making your small business idea a reality. Maybe you already have a great idea and basic plan for your business. You know it has potential — so much potential. One of the goals of entrepreneurship is to unlock economic freedom. But how do you begin without jeopardizing your personal financial solvency?

Start as a Side Hustle

The best approach for hesitant dreamers (and those who have dependents) is to start the new business as a side hustle. Keeping a steady source of income while getting your business off the ground not only makes financial sense, it can also take some of the pressure off and allow you to take the time to do it right. It will mean you're basically working two jobs for as long as it takes to get your startup to a place where it can support you, but if there is a will there is always a way. Create deadlines for yourself — make sure they are realistic so you avoid constantly feeling like you're failing — and celebrate the small milestones.

Fund Wisely

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) walks you through the steps of planning, launching, managing and growing your business. It's a good resource that offers funding programs, counseling, local assistance and guides about things like how to estimate costs for starting a business from scratch, which can vary wildly depending on the nature of your startup. Estimate how much capital you will need, then see if you can do it on your own. Owning 100% of your business if obviously the best thing. But don't be afraid to find investors if needed. Partial ownership of something is better than full ownership of nothing.

When you figure out where your capital will come from, use it wisely. Work from home until you absolutely need an office. Do whatever you can yourself and find smart, affordable ways to outsource what you can't. Sites like TaskRabbit allow you to post tasks and quickly and easily connect with someone who can perform them. In the beginning, this can be an efficient way to get help without having to actually take on employees or contract workers.

Launch, Launch and Launch Again

Perfection is sometimes overrated. Striving for total flawlessness can often get in the way of actually achieving something. Sometimes the best thing is to just get something out there. Launch a website, start social media accounts and use them to start building your brand. Think of your business rollout in stages. The first step is testing the waters — launching an inspirational social media account, blog or website with limited offerings. Dream big, start small. Even if you have zero technical experience, Weebly's drag and drop website builder, responsive themes, and integrated eCommerce tools makes building a great site easy. From there, create a plan with milestones on when and how to grow and expand. Remember that few successful businesses started out exactly as they are now. Netflix used to ship DVDs to your house, now they're creating original content and being nominated for film industry awards.

Envision Success

Finally, think about what economic freedom and success actually look like to you — it's different for everyone. Sometimes creative entrepreneurs can get so caught up in the viability of the idea that they may not consider if that is how they want to spend their time. If you have zero interest in coffee, for example, do you really want to start a coffee shop? Take a step back and envision the end goal — for the success of the business but also for your personal happiness and satisfaction. If you're going to spend a lot of your waking time working on your business — and you will — make sure you're actually doing something you love.

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