As a founder, you’ve got your hand in everything imaginable, from legal paperwork to hiring to product management to support and everything in between. You’re pulled in every direction from anyone who’s got your contact information, and you feel obligated to tackle every obstacle on your own. One of the hardest lessons to learn is that “busy” does not equal “productive.” In the hours that it takes to launch your business, there are a few key tips that I think everyone ought to consider.

1. Have a Plan

Ask yourself the following questions when starting your new venture: What are my goals with this business? Make your goals specific, measurable, and realistic. Act on your goals and make them measurable. Commit your goals to paper – in other words, write your goals down. Then tell someone else about your goals. How important is making money to you? How important is it for you to feel personally fulfilled by this business? Are both goals equally important? To better understand and sort through these issues, list out all the reasons why you intend to proceed with stating this new venture.
Who is your target audience? Who do you want to sell to? Who do you want to work with? These questions will help you to start to write your business plan. The business plan will be your guide. As your business evolves, your business plan will change.

2. Set Up Your Business Before You Advertise

Consider the following issues when starting your new business: Open a business checking and savings account. Do you need a loan or a line of credit to start your business? If so, how much are you able to afford? Open a business credit card. Use the business credit card only for purchases made for the business. If you plan to incorporate, hire an attorney. An attorney can write your articles of incorporation, complete a name search, and register your company name. You will also want to think about trade marks, trade names and service marks. If you are developing products, you will need to find a patent attorney. If you are designing a clothing line, you will need to learn about trade marks and service marks.

3. Find an Accountant to Help You With Your Finances.

Your accountant will advise you on running your business legally and efficiently. Talk to your accountant about a method of invoicing your clients. Do you want to bill your clients or receive payment at the time of service? Do you want to use merchant services so your clients can pay for your services or products with credit cards? Create files for tracking your hours and your income. Either use a computer program, such as, Quicken, or use columnar pads to record sales and expenses manually.

4. Get Creative and Be Professional

You will also want to hire a graphic artist to design your logo, business card, brochure, invoices and promotional materials. If your business warrants a web-site, a graphic artist can help you design and set up the web-site and get the site up and running. Be professional. Your business card, brochure, web-site, and any materials with your company name on them reflect who you are and what your business is about. Be clear and precise in what your promotional literature conveys.

5. Network

Find out if there are professional associations related to your business. One of the most important things you can do as a business owner is to affiliate yourself with professional associations. You will gain a wealth of knowledge from these organizations, and you will also make connections with other professionals in your field. In addition to professional associations, networking groups are other sources of benefit. Networking groups connect you with people outside of your field who may need your services or products. These groups also give you the opportunity to connect with other professionals and learn from their expertise. When you run a solo business, it can get lonely; therefore, it is nice to make connections with other professionals.