Steps to Starting a Small Business: #1 – The Idea

The topic of starting a small business is ALWAYS a popular one.  If you are a small business owner and you meet someone who is toying with the idea of starting a small business, you’ll probably hear the question asked, “How did you get started?”

Too many times, this question leads to a very dry discussion of accounting methodologies and business structure issues.


Here it is from someone who has “been there, done that”  I’ve not only bought the T-shirt but I’ve worked with HUNDREDS of people in helping them to achieve the dream of marketing and promoting their own small business.

  • The first step to starting a small business is NOT deciding upon a legal structure for your business.
  • The first step to starting a small business is NOT performing a SWOT analysis, a competitor analysis or any other kind of “analysis”.
  • The first step to starting a small business is NOT creating a logo,  ordering business cards or creating a website.

Are you ready – [drumrollfinger on desk]

The first step to starting a small business is the birth of the idea!

“Money never starts an idea. It is always the idea that starts the money.”Owen Laughlin

Starting a small business with the idea that you’re going to make a LOT of money is a piss poor reason to launch a business.   As a matter of fact, if there’s a BETTER way to achieve failure, I can’t think of it.   Some Of The Best Business Ideas begin not with a passion for money, but a passion for something other than money.

There are certain inalienable truths which you should know as you begin the exciting journey of starting a small business.

  1. You’re going to need more money that you thought to launch this business.
  2. You’re going to need more money than you can beg, steal or borrow to launch this business.*
  3. You’re going to have to work harder than you ever have in your life to launch this business.
  4. You’re going to have to turn a deaf ear to the people who think you’re crazy for pursuing this business.

* There is an exception to the “you’ll never have enough money” truth.  You may gain access to venture capital, in which case you’ll have too much money – which surprisingly can be WORSE than not having enough.  Read Monitor110: A Post Mortem, which digs deep into the reasons (hindsight is always 20:20) why Monitor 110 didn’t rise to the ranks of legendary success – one reason was the access to too much money!

By the way, I’m not saying that you WILL NOT make money with your small business, I’m just saying if that is your primary motivation, you probably won’t make it.

So if money isn’t a good reason to start new business, what is?

In a nutshell – it’s an idea.  An idea that keeps you up at night.  An idea that permeates your every waking moment. An idea that has hold of your brain and won’t let go.

Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless” – Mary Kay Ash

If  you want to start a small business in order to improve the balance of your checking account – for heavens sake, go get a JOB and don’t even think about starting a small business!

What’s your passion?  What’s keeping you up at night?

Once you’ve found your passion – then begins the process of bringing your business to life.


  1. Great article.

    If you would like a tool to manage your small business activities and Projects, you can use this web aplication:

    You can use it to manage and prioritize your Goals (for business but also in other areas of your life), Projects and Tasks. It has a Checklists section, for the routines and repetitive activities that any business has to do. Also, it features a Schedules section and a Calendar, for scheduling you time and activities.

    Some features from GTD are also present, like Contexts and Next Actions.

    And it’s available on the mobile phone too, so you can access it from anywhere.

  2. Hi Kathy – what an outstanding post! Should be required reading for anyone contemplating a start-up! Loved the section about what starting a business is NOT. I’ll add one: Starting a business is NOT squandering your capital on office furniture and gadgets. Starting a business is about finding a customer, as your fine example of the trainer shows.

    Betsys last blog post..SMALL

  3. Hi Kathy – Well said. So many people spend their time thinking up ways they can make money, instead of thinking how they can provide value to others – and improve their lives in some way. It’s a ridiculous reason to start a business.

    It sounds like your friends business idea has caused a lot of crap for her but it’s now paying off.

    I have an idea on the burner right now but the details are coming to me so slowly. I know what the problem is and I know who the customers are – but I’m still working on the solution, but trying to keep it simple at the same time. I guess I’ll get there eventually.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..Why Some Of The Best Business Ideas Suck

  4. @Dan,
    Thanks for the heads up on the application!

    AMEN! I think I’d been in business for 8 years before I SPLURGED on a “real” desk and a “real” office chair!

    I hate to admit it, but there were times during my friend’s journey that I kept wondering if she wasn’t “touched”. Maybe she was but it’s sure turning out WELL for her right now!

  5. Hi Kathy. If you have some time, pop over to Marelisa’s Abundance Blog. Her latest post is about being in the flow. That keeps me going. Finding that momentum and the passion for what you are doing that keeps feeding itself; cause we don’t do it alone. That… well, it doesn’t keep me up at night… generally, but it keeps me going and makes me “want” to keep going, even when things aren’t easy.

    Davinas last blog post..Awakening To A Balanced Life

  6. @Davina

    I’m going there right now!

  7. Awesome article indeed. I can’t stress more on the importance of having the right mentality on the get go. Money shouldn’t be the primary motivation, passion is.

    Without idea (or some may call it, dream) and the passion to see it through, all the money in the world is not going to make it happen.

    Oh ya, I love those lovely quotes.


    Blog for Beginnerss last blog post..7 Deadly Sins of Highly Ineffective New Bloggers

  8. I have been working for more than 6 years now. The points made in this post will definitely help me in the future. I would certainly remember this ““Money never starts an idea. It is always the idea that starts the money.”

    Aruns last blog post..Stock Market Lessons

  9. Marianna@franking machine says:


    Indeed. What’s the point of investing if you don’t even know how to execute a business plan? First and foremost, you should have a solid strategic business plan. A business goal, thorough research, knowing your target market perhaps. Start with thorough planning.

  10. Marianna says:


    Indeed. Before you invest in business, you should definitely set a business plan. You can’t expect your business to grow if you don’t evon know how to execute a business plan. Money is secondary. Set up your plan, your company goal, implement, and profit.

  11. It is absolutely true that when going to start a small business, we often have trouble finding an the idea, what business would I run. Looking for the best ideas is very important, because when it start then we know that we are make a mistake in choosing the idea, so the business is not work well, so we have spent a lot of time wasted.


  1. […] first step to starting a small business is you’ve got to come up with a GREAT idea that you’re passionate about.  The second […]