Starting a business is a brave undertaking. I respect the poor souls that tried and failed, while I admire the pioneers who succeeded. First-time business ownership is a journey into the unknown. You have no idea what you may encounter. It takes real Courage to put yourself out there and attempt something new. You will ask for help, feel vulnerable, and eat your fair share of humble pie if you want to learn and succeed.

Planning is attempting to foresee the trip before you actually take it. It allows you to map your way before hitting the road. It allows you to learn about your industry, competitors, and market. You run-through the products and services you want to offer, pricing them, and branding them. Planning allows you to dream, creating the utopian version of the business. It then brings you back to reality, when you build the financial models. It makes you think about the legal structure, the operations, and your partnerships.

Planning is a safe space to play with your business before investing and building. It is like playing Life or Monopoly; you play with no real consequences. If you have a written plan and are brave enough, give it to family, friends, or trusted mentors. This gives you feedback and opinions while still in the safe zone. All that may get damaged is your ego and not your pocketbook.

Many people ask what drove me to start my own businesses. The best way of describing my drive is to say that I love the challenge and creating something special. It was as if I didn’t have a choice. I had the drive to create something. I liken the experience to having children. It is unpredictable, often times disrespectful, ungrateful, but ‘oh so’ rewarding.

Not every business I started ended well. I had a couple that didn’t amount to much and one that I exited at a loss. Yet, I always said, “At least I tried”, because to me not trying means I had already failed. So give it a go! Take the calculated risk and look at all the pros and cons. Be sure you use your gut instinct to tell you how prepared you are.

The end of the journey is the most rewarding! You don’t realize what you have accomplished until you look back. Someone special says, “How proud we are of your accomplishments” or you receive an honor or award. It will dawn on you how much you have done and how far you have come. You reflect back on all that you have achieved. You see the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, and the highs and lows you experienced. Only then, will it become clear to you all that you accomplished and you can bask in the splendor of it!

Laura Guillaume

Laura Guillaume is a serial entrepreneur, author, and business mentor. She is focused on enabling budding entrepreneurs to succeed in new business ventures. She has created a toolset of materials to help them plan, execute, operate, and eventually exit a business endeavor.
Laura started and operated numerous businesses from restaurants to software /consulting organizations. Some of the businesses were more successful than others each having significant learning experiences that she wishes to share. The last business venture was the most successful, sold in 2010 it landed 215th of Inc. magazines 500 fastest growing companies, and had a significant impact in its industry.
Laura is hoping that this new venture “Think it Thru” will assist her in accomplishing her last business goal of giving back to other entrepreneurs. will be a non-profit company built to teach, encourage, and assist business startup ventures to be successful.

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