For many people fresh out of college or university, the thought of going to work for the same company until retirement can make them feel as if life’s over before it’s even started. Maybe you’re one of them. I mean, who wants to do that when you can start your own business, work on your own terms, and earn loads of money? That’s the dream, and it can become a reality if you’re ready to put in the effort.


However, whether you see yourself as the next .com billionaire, or the owner of an exclusive café in the heart of the city, take the time to consider these 5 essentials you need to know before you launch your start-up:


1 – Do your research

Is there a market for your product or service? Is there enough demand to support you and your competitors? How and where are you going to sell? How much are you going to charge? Who are you targeting and how will you market to them? These are perhaps the key questions you need to be able to answer first.


2 – Know your competitors

What do they do that makes them so successful? Think about what you’d like to do similarly, or what you can do to differentiate yourself from them. Are they great at marketing themselves? Do they offer a product or service that no one else does? Or are they just incredibly cool and trendy? List your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses and gather as much information as you can about them. This way you can see how you measure up and what will make you stand out.


3 – Refine your concept

It’s great that you want to do so much with your start-up. And yes, while the idea of a cat café come organic deli come second-hand book store does sound awesome, it’s a lot to get going at the same time. Start with the thing you know the most about, get great at it, and then start thinking about expanding. You should also consider narrowly defining your business concept and target market. This will help you create a niche for your business.


4 – Secure funding

Sure, you’ll be working from your spare room at home for the foreseeable future, but whether you’re offering a product or a service, it’s going to cost you to get it to market. Buying stock, building a website, marketing, covering your personal and business costs for the first few months until you start making an income – it all adds up. Do the math, double your estimate, then work on how to get the money you need. Will it be crowdfunding, a small business loan, or your personal savings?


Also read:  8 Tips for Securing Finance for Your Small Business 


5 – Seek advice from friends and mentors in the industry

Talk to people you know in the industry; they’re the ones who’re going to give you honest insight and perspective. And don’t be disheartened if it starts sounding like it’s going to be a lot more work than you anticipated, because it is. But when you’re doing it for yourself, you’ll find the motivation you need.


Once you’ve reached this stage, and you’re confident you’ve got your ducks in a row, you’re in a good place already. Keep at it. Keep that end goal in mind all the time – there’s nothing stopping you from becoming a successful entrepreneur.


Think you have what it takes? Make your dreams a reality by getting the business skills you need with an Entrepreneurship Course from Oxbridge Academy.


Note: This article was originally posted on 21 November 2014, and has been updated for relevance and accuracy.