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The new year is upon us and there is no better time than NOW to jumpstart your business or introduce that product you’ve been thinking about for months. I want you to follow through on your New Year’s resolutions to finally realize your goals!

Many of my private coaching clients want to build businesses. But, they don’t really know where to start and don’t have a formal education in how to go about setting up their own shop.

Let’s go through the steps that are needed for entrepreneurs like you to build a successful photography business. And here’s a bonus: it doesn’t always take a lot of money to start one! I love the tips in this “oldie but goody” article about starting a business with only $100.

Combine the tips from Chris Guillebeau with my strategies below and you’re on your way to an exciting 2015 already!

1.) Seize your idea. Every invention, ground-breaking method, service, or business starts with a single idea. If you are thinking “what if there was a way to… (do something better, faster, different)”—you are on the right path.

2.) Define your idea. This is the part I call: create “it.” What is “it?” What does “it” feel like and look like? What does “it” do and who will buy “it”? I cannot overemphasize the importance of this step and these questions. This is the part where I often give tough love to my clients. If your idea hasn’t been done before, then either the world is stupid or you are. Wait, please take no offense—I am going to explain. If your idea is original and doesn’t already exist, then you may very well be a genius. But, what if it has been tried and others discovered it just doesn’t work? There are three things you can offer in business: price, quality, and service. Pick two of these. You’ll never survive by offering all three. For example, Walmart offers price and quality, not service. Target offers price and service, definitely not quality. Violate this rule at your own risk.

3.) Run the numbers. Sometimes a great idea can’t be successfully executed because the numbers don’t work. If the numbers don’t work, your business will fail. The TV show Shark Tank has shown us many great ideas that don’t make any economic sense. Under no circumstances will I ever allow you to start a venture if you don’t know what your break-even point is. And while we’re on the subject, please make sure your personal salary is part of your business plan and included in your numbers.

4.) Do a limited beta launch and test “it”. Thoroughly. Don’t be blind to the possibility your way may not be the right way. The beta launch gives you an opportunity to tweak and correct problems before the real-deal launch. No amount of passion can convince the world that they need your idea. Your goal is to make your buyers wonder how they could have existed until now without your product or service. Facebook is the best example to demonstrate the point. The site is continuously tweaked and tested to make improvements. How did we even live before Facebook?

5.) Time to launch. A launch does not mean you open your door, put the sign out, and wait until someone just happens to walk in ready to buy. This strategy doesn’t work in a brick and mortar business and it certainly doesn’t work online where you compete with millions of other sites. You need to do a real launch, which is something I have assisted my clients with. You need to offer something that is “magnetic” and it’s got to be a great value so people are enticed to check it out. Offer a special deal for your launch. This will usually be the best deal you will ever offer. Your launch is a one-time opportunity to tell a lot of people about something very cool.

Remember, it takes time to build a successful business, and you’ve got to be smart about it.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions about your business plan or the steps to take.

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