Question: I have an idea for a new business. Where do I start to develop a strategy?

Answer: A business, whether commercial, retail, not-for-profit, or non-profit is “your baby” and has similar requirements, the main one is planning.

Say you just learned you are going to have a real baby in your family. You have about nine months to prepare for the arrival, so do not wait eight months to plan. What do you do first? Start thinking of names! No, the first thing you need to do is get a notebook; call it a Baby Plan.

So too must you treat your “your baby” business. You have to do research. You have the idea for your business but you probably do not know what questions to ask. When you start talking to people and doing research on your idea you will come across questions you did not think about.

Whether planning for a baby or starting a business, one needs to plan, to form a plan, meaning write it down, rewrite it, formalize it. In business this is called a Business Plan. Get the notebook and start writing your ideas down. Make a heading such as funding. Later you may change that to economics or financial but that only is natural as you gain insight and your Plan begins to look like it might work.

Remember it is “your baby” and you want to develop the most complete plan you can. You need to do research, market analysis, competition, find people and costs for advertising, social media, suppliers, delivery, state and federal registrations, rules and regulations.

Along the way you will add information, and delete ideas that do not appear to work, that is natural and needed. When you have taken your plan as far as it will go, seek professional help from various sources including SCORE Naples that has over 70 Business Counselors with business experience in just about any business you can think of.

They also have planning guides and booklets to help create and improve business plans. They can help with state, county, and federal regulations. This is all free and they offer inexpensive workshops every month. You will come to realize what is possible and what you have to change.

Every business and business owner/boss/entrepreneur knows that their business and the markets are always changing (just like a baby growing). Each problem or opportunity is a learning experience.

You have the idea, the passion, the energy and want to start your business, it’s “your baby,” but it takes time, planning, and a lot of work including consulting, just to get started. You can’t go to a store or school and walk out a business owner. SCORE can help “your  baby” to grow and be a success.

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About the author – William McKinney is a SCORE Business Counselor and entrepreneur. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit https://naples.score.org/mentors .The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building. Office hours are 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.