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It's been a life-long dream of mine to run my own business. It was a perfect opportunity to do something that I thought would have a long lasting effect upon my community.

Charles Garrett STATE FARM AGENT Los Angeles
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You have to have the support of your family and you have to believe you can do it.

Jesse Romero STATE FARM AGENT Lakewood
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Little by little as my business is thriving I get more flexibility.

Jackie Morales-Sanchez STATE FARM AGENT Redondo Beach
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State Farm doesn't want you to forget your previous experience; they want you to bring that to the table.

Eddie Quillares STATE FARM AGENT Santa Ana
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It's a lot of hard work. It takes a lot from both you and your family.

Rene Hawkins STATE FARM AGENT Gardena
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I always knew I wanted to run my own business. What business that was I had no idea. But I was lucky enough to stumble upon this great company and was lucky enough to get an opportunity.

Darin Tsukashima STATE FARM AGENT Valencia
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Every day every client gets a little easier, gets a little better, and before you know your agency is growing.

Michelle Allman STATE FARM AGENT Martinez
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It's given me the financial freedom I hoped I'd have at this stage of my life.

Rob Casares STATE FARM AGENT Paramount
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Key Questions Every Startup Must Ask (Pt. One)

Successful entrepreneurs don’t just happen by accident. When you look more closely, you realize they are the result of planning - sometimes formally, sometimes informally (in the mind of the entrepreneur). To be successful as an entrepreneur you need to create a plan before you begin, and then you need to work the plan. These questions from the Small Business Administration are helpful as a first step in planning for your new business.

Why do I want to start my own business?
If you have come this far, you probably have already answered this question. Make sure you do. Do you want more freedom? Do you want to earn more money? Do you want to change the world? Do you want more challenge? Do you want to be the boss? Knowing why you started your business in the first place will help you keep your life priorities and your business priorities on track as you go forward.

What does my ideal customer look like?
This is critical to the many of the other decisions you must make. Knowing your ideal customer will help drive many aspects of your new business. Where you locate, how you market, and your target demographic; all this, and more, is driven by the type of customer you target. Do want to target younger or older, married or single, a specific income level, etc. - these factors impact what you sell and how you sell it.

Have I considered the time and money it will take get my business started?
You have probably already answered this one, but it’s good to revisit it. Starting a business, any business, takes time and effort. While you may be able to start your business on a part-time basis, that will still require major effort. Your leisure time, your “down” time, even your sleep will be affected. Make sure you are committed before you start down the entrepreneurial road.

What makes my business idea or products or services unique?
You are probably going to sell products that others offer.Unless you are doing something that no one else has ever done before, you will need to differentiate yourself from others in your market. Will you give better and more personal service? Is the company you are partnering with stronger/better than the others? Will you provide personal follow-up? What makes you better than the rest?

Where do I want to start my business?
Do you want to start a business in California? Texas? New Hampshire? In this day and age location can be anywhere, and sometimes you don’t even have to live there. However, some businesses or services will require licensing in a given location. In addition, you will need to pay attention to the actual location if you have a storefront or physical location. Make sure you consider these issues when you decide to start your own company.

How many employees will it take?
At first it may only be you. But you want to grow, and that will mean you will eventually need some help. If you are providing a service, that might mean hiring an administrative assistant at some point. If you are opening a restaurant, you will need employees immediately. Consider how and when you will want to add employees to your startup.

As you can see there are many factors to consider when you plan to start a new business or career. These are just a few of them to get you started. Next time we will look at some of the financial and legal questions you need to consider.