Tips to help start your dream business

6 min read
Doug Bonderud

You’ve got the idea. Maybe you’ve had it for years, or maybe it’s something new, something fresh that makes you think, I could really do it. I could start a business and chart my own path.

If something’s holding you back, you're not alone.

While owning a business offers a way to take control of your future and invest in what you’re passionate about, it also comes with risk.

Fully one in five small businesses fail in the first year. And as the last two years have made abundantly clear, sudden changes in public health policy can have significant impact on businesses’ bottom line.

According to Statistics Canada, however, small business owners are once again displaying optimism as the economy begins to recover. Data shows that Canadian consumers are now spending 30% more than they were pre-pandemic.

The result? If you’ve been thinking about starting your own business, now is the time to take the plunge. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

Related: Jasmine Branderhorst starts her own home goods business

Tricks to help get your business off the ground

Man drinking coffee while

So how do you go from thought to action? While there’s no denying the risks involved in starting a small business, the right approach can help you maximize your chances of success.

Here’s a look at some often-cited tricks to get you started on the path to success.

Put your ideas on paper

For many entrepreneurs, the thought of starting a business is overwhelming. From choosing a name to registering the business, getting a loan, or finding a retail space, there’s no shortage of tasks required to get your business off the ground.

It’s easy to dive in with high energy, get overwhelmed and then give up.

Repeat this cycle over and over and you’re in good company with other would-be owners.

To help avoid this problem, start by writing down your goals and then breaking them down into smaller, actionable steps.

So instead of simply saying “I want to start a business,” define discrete steps on the path to ownership, such as:

Then, put reasonable deadlines on these steps to help motivate action.

Related: The Canadian entrepreneur’s guide to setting goals

Talk to someone you trust

Two women with their heads together talking

Keeping your idea locked up in your head keeps it safe, but also makes it easy to avoid taking action.

Instead, talk to someone you trust, someone whose opinion you value and who will give you their honest opinion. Not only can this help better focus your efforts, but it can help keep you accountable for action.

Make a commitment

If you really want to push yourself, put in some serious effort — you’ll find yourself more likely to follow through. Why? You can thank what’s known as the “sunk cost” effect.

A sunk cost is time or money spent that you can’t get back.

Once you’ve invested this time or money, giving up means leaving this investment behind and losing what you’ve put in. Although it’s really just a psychological trick, it works because most of us don’t like wasting time, money or effort.

Making a commitment, no matter how small, is a useful way to move your business one step closer to reality.

Find out if the web address you want is available now 

Do your research

Have a great idea for a product or service? Do your research to make sure someone else isn’t already doing it, and to find the ideal market for your business. If you discover there’s an overlap, you can go back to the drawing board and refine your concept, so it stands out.

If you see a need that no one is meeting, that’s your cue to make the move and start investing time and money.

Take the first step

The first step is often the hardest. Once you commit to a course of action, however, each successive step is easier.

Start your journey with something simple: Register a domain name.

Not only does this give your business a website address, but provides a branded email address for your new startup.

Tips to avoid becoming a failed business statistic

It’s not easy to hear, but it’s true: Running a small business is a significant commitment that requires:

  • Time
  • Energy
  • The ability to get back up when life knocks you down

But grit alone isn’t enough to help you avoid becoming a failed business statistic. Want to beat the odds? Start with these three tips:

1. Give it three years

In the first few years of business ownership, spending typically outpaces revenue. As a result, it’s common for owners to pack it in before the three-year mark — but it’s here that companies often hit the break-even point and start generating profit.

Put simply? If you’re going in, go all-in and give the business a full three years.

2. Understand your cash flow

One of the biggest causes of business closure is failing to understand where your cash is coming from, where it’s going and how it impacts your operations. Check out this post to learn how to create a simple cash flow statement that will keep you on track.

3. Make use of data

It’s not enough to have a solid customer base when you get started — you also need a way to grow this base over time.

This means using the data you collect — from consumer and purchase data to feedback on products to information about the market at large — to make better decisions.

Here, technology tools such as cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) and data analytics solutions can help bridge the information gap.

Related: DIY market research: the small business guide

Take the plunge now!

Starting a small business is no easy task. You’re facing the unknown — possibly contemplating a move from a stable job to a world where you’re in charge, where your decisions determine the success or failure of your new venture.

Yes, it’s hard. But it’s also rewarding to see your ideas come to life and watch your business thrive.

If you’re reading this, now is your time.

Now is the time to turn ideas into reality and see where the world takes you. Take our tricks, use our tips and make the dream you have a reality.