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Five Steps to Becoming an Entrepreneur

by Bronwyn Timmons

Driven by the desire to spark innovation while working on their own terms, entrepreneurs are self-employed business owners. From photographers and inventors to boutique owners and corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs exist in many sectors and come from all backgrounds. If you've always harbored dreams of trading in your 9-to-5 schedule for a life as your own boss, entrepreneurship could help you achieve your goals. Not every entrepreneur finds long-term success, and there is no guarantee your business will take off or hit it big. However, by following the same path as many successful entrepreneurs, you can increase your odds of success.

Identify the niche you want to serve. Every successful business started as someone's idea to provide a product or service, and your business will be no exception. Whether your dream is to open a restaurant and serve fresh food to your community or invent a product that will make peoples lives easier, it's important to focus on your passion or skills.

Create a business plan identifying your target audience. Having an idea is one thing, but having a plan to make it a reality is an entirely different manner. Sit down and formulate a rough plan for your business that includes what products or services you will provide and your strategies for success. Identify the type of people who are most likely to purchase your product or utilize your services and include information about your target audience in your business plan. Assess customer demand. Research what competitors are charging for the same products or services in your market. Create objectives to guide you as you establish your business and estimate the expenses, revenues and profit your business could generate.

Calculate how much it will cost to obtain the space, equipment and materials needed for your business and create a budget. Unless you are independently wealthy, you'll need to attract investors willing to cover the start-up costs needed to set your business plan in motion. Investors will provide you with the money to start your business and will share a portion of the profits once your company begins to generate revenue. Search for potential investors online or through industry connections you may have. Present your business plan along with your budget and profit estimates to convince people to invest in your company.

Market and sell your products or services. Your company will probably start small and grow over time as you attract new customers and generate profit. To foster that growth, spend time marketing your business through multiple outlets to attract the widest audience possible. The Internet is the easiest marketing outlet in the modern world; you might be surprised how a well-designed website and a little bit of online marketing and social networking can help your business grow.

Analyze your successes and be prepared to adapt to your market. Successful entrepreneurs regularly analyze their losses and profits and search for new ways to help their company evolve. Failure to adapt to your customers' changing needs will most certainly cause your company to struggle. Analyze how your business plan is working while considering changes that could help you grow. For example, if you own a restaurant and notice a particular menu item is scarcely selling, consider removing it and trying out a new item.

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