Nowadays, it's easier than ever to start a business but it’s very hard to keep one going. I could sit here and give you the statistics for how rare it is for a business to make it past the one-year mark, and then the five-year mark, and then to $1 million in revenue but I don't think it's worth anything to discourage you. You know how hard it is to do something you set your mind to, no matter how much you “want” it. What’s important is giving you the keys to getting from an idea to a business plan to a successful business.
Have a novel idea
First off, don't start a business if you're just going to sell T-shirts or keychains or mini fans. Basically, if you can find it in a flea market, think very hard before you start a business based on it, because chances are there's already somebody doing what you want to do at a better price price point and with more experience and know-how. You have to start with a novel idea which will add value to people's lives and that they can really fall in love with. The best way to do this is to get opinions on your idea before you start anything; and not just from your friends and family, from people who know success, business, and products. This way, you'll have your best shot at having something that will succeed with a large audience.
Create a plan of action
Next, have a real plan. You’re going to have to work hard to come up with a real business plan that you could present to investors, friends, and family given the opportunity. You have to be able to pitch this in order to make people believe in your idea, more than just enough to buy it, but to bet on it for the future. After all, no one likes feeling like you just want to make money without putting any work in: so, put the work in!
Do your research
Know about the field, about the market, about your typical customer, about how much it's going to cost to make your product, etc. You can never do enough research! Now, don't get bogged down knowing every little fact and figure but go in with knowledge about what you want to do, how you want to do it, and how you can get it done. It'll give your business the best chance to succeed and will make you more confident going forward.
Make connections in the industry
You want to make connections with people doing what you're doing, or similar to what you're doing. That means having a mentor, peers, or friends you can toss ideas around with and having people you can talk to about your product that would possibly be prospective buyers. The more people you know that know what you're doing, the less likely you'll be willing to just drop out or to give up. As crazy as it sounds, the fear of embarrassment can actually keep you going! So have some friends and consultants who are going to hold you accountable.
Be innovative and find solutions
You're really going to have to be innovative and find solutions! Like I said before, people won't want your product unless it's adding value to their lives and to add value you're going to have to look for where value is needed. Get creative, don't be afraid to fail or to have an idea that doesn't exactly work out and just get after it! After all, there's no penalty for trying and failing. You'll learn and be better for it! The only time you truly fail is when you quit, so don't quit and you truly won't ever fail.
Don’t give up!
Finally, and the most important piece of advice, don't give up! If you follow every other step and it still hasn't worked out, your breakthrough is coming! Just keep pushing and doing what you know to do, and don't be afraid to change directions but just don’t quit. It's better to have marks on your "resume" rather than having nothing at all.
Right now is your time! Stop waiting and looking for the perfect opportunity; it's not coming! You have to make it happen, so start somewhere and finish where you want to be down the road.