I get a request a week from someone in my network looking for advice in turning their concept into a business. They are talented people with great ideas but I like to get people thinking about, “Does your idea support enough margin and a large enough market to build a business?” The reply I usually get is; “All the people (read friends & family) that I have talked to LOVE the idea.” There is a big difference between a hobby that you love and business that can support you. Just because you love to cook does not mean you are cut out to build a menu with the margin needed to pay the rent on 5,000 square feet on Church Street. The majority of people I talk to might be better off keeping their endeavor as a hobby. Where it is still fun, the time commitment is manageable, and the extra money makes for a nice winter vacation to the Caribbean. Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge supporter of starting your own business. I’m on my 6th and we clearly need more entrepreneurs/small business owners in America. All I’m saying is start your dream with an assumption and a spreadsheet. Then go test those assumptions as cheaply as you can.
sba.gov – Actually has some good resources especially around Loans
score.org – Can hook you up with a local mentor and has extensive online courses on the basics
Jaxworks.com – A set of free basic excel files
ShipIt – Seth Godin’s great workbook on helping you to be inspired and ship often.