Well heck. I am ready. Let’s go. I have all the backing I need, and I am cut out to be an entrepreneur. I have the code written. People tell me that they like what I am doing. This is a lifetime dream of mine.

Really! What’s your plan?

This is a simple question. You wouldn’t start on a long vacation without having a defined destination, a way to get there and all the reservations you need, would you?  If you wouldn’t build your dream home without a professionally prepared set of blueprints, the right contractors, all the permits and the money in place either, would you? You wouldn’t put on a big event without all the logistics in place either. In general, you wouldn’t take on any major undertaking in your life without really having a plan in place, would you?

Well then. You shouldn’t start a business without really being prepared with a well thought out plan either.

Are you really ready?

Starting a business without having a reasonably well thought out plan will undoubtedly lead to failure. You will not have done the things that are necessary to be successful, and you will fall behind because you are not prepared to do the right things. This will eventually overcome you, and you will run out of energy and money.

It doesn’t matter how much you think you know about starting a business. Get engaged in a solid entrepreneurship education program and have an experienced entrepreneur mentor you through it. If you already have experience in business, it will serve as a reminder of what you need to be doing. But, if you are a first-time entrepreneur, this is a must.

Consider the Six Steps to Success entrepreneurship education program that is offered by Bunker Labs RDU and EntreDot. Here you will learn the very important disciplines of business and how to perform them in your business. What you have to be super-smart about is:

  • Clearly knowing the premise of your business, the problem you solve and your solution for it, or the opportunity you are pursuing and what you offer
  • The complete market ecosystem in which you will have to operate
  • How you will win against all competitors
  • Everything about what makes your buyer (customer) tick
  • The quantitative benefits you bring to your customer
  • How you will prove that your business concept works
  • A well focused and precise marketing and sales plan
  • How you are going to fund your business

The “Ever Ready” entrepreneur

Want to learn what being ready is all about as well as the passion and energy it takes to start a business? Take the time to meet Jim Raschella, Marine veteran and co-founder of Off Duty Blue. Off Duty Blue is an online platform for police departments, security departments of corporations and universities, and security agencies to schedule and manage all the overtime and off-duty services of their officers. I have met few entrepreneurs that have his energy and drive. When presented a task, he gets focused and gets it done. I am sure his military experience in being prepared has contributed to this ability he has.

Throughout his participation in the Six Steps to Success entrepreneurship education program, Jim’s focus and applied energy to his business was and still is, incredible. This was all after completing the Launch New York mentorship program. He completed a well-thought out business plan, validated the platform through an MVP of his software with early users, prepared a launch plan for his business, raised seed financing through pitch competitions and is now launched and working through its early customers.

What is noteworthy is that this is Jim’s first business. In the course of all this planning, he has taught himself the basics of financing and negotiated the earlier financing of his business. He has managed the development, along with one of his partners in the business, of a pretty complex piece of software that is not an operational online platform. He taught himself how to put together a solid marketing plan, complete with a well-designed website, an Agile CRM with workflow management, Facebook ads to drive people to his website and a management system to follow up on leads. He is doing all the right things to be ready for business.

One of his funniest characteristics is how much he prepares for presentations, especially for pitch competitions. He practices, and practices and practices, to make sure the content fills the time allotted. If he is to do a 90-second pitch, he does it exactly; not for 88 seconds or 92 seconds, but 90 seconds. He gets that right on the dot without looking at a clock.

Jim’s energy is infectious. He inspires all who are around him and pitches in to help others create their businesses.

Be an educated entrepreneur

Like for any endeavor in life, you need to have a great plan to start with, and then be able to respond to whatever happens next. Starting your own business without a solid plan is like entering a war without a well thought out mission, an objective and plan of attack. You will get hurt.

In the Six Steps to Success entrepreneurship education program, you will get the education you need as well as the mentoring to guide you through the planning, launching, and operations of your business.

About the author: Bill Warner is the Cofounder and Director of EntreDot, a non-profit organization that provides entrepreneurship programs that help entrepreneurs start and operate their businesses, and a member of the management team of Bunker Labs RDU. He is the Managing Partner of Paladin and Associates, a business-consulting firm in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and is a Fund Executive of the Inception Micro Angel Fund of Research Triangle Park (IMAF-RTP), an angel investor seed fund that invests in technology and life science companies.