The unemployment rate continues to climb upward and it seems employers are continuing to slash costs to cope with falling demand for their product or services. You may have been one of the many who have already been laid off or maybe you are worried you will be next. The big question is what to do now?

Starting your own business today is not an easy task and it involves risk for those who have never had to worry about managing, marketing, accounting, and many more other little things a new business will require of your time. You have to be confident and have a lot of self motivation so you can succeed and remain positive through the ups and downs that EVERY business experiences.

A great business idea will only become a success if there’s a market for it. You should know if there’s a demand for the product or service in your area, who your competitors are, what your target market is and why your idea is unique or different. Build your business around your skills. If you are not a good bookkeeper, hire someone who is and focus on what you do best.

You should then set some goals and a strategy by writing a business plan. This may sound overwhelming but simply you should go through the process of deciding what you want to do and how you plan to accomplish your goals. Write a brief description of the business including your sales, marketing, advertising, promotion and location plans. A good business plan will help you to be realistic and determine all the costs and logistics.

Try to avoid leasing or purchasing expensive office space if you do not have an established client base. Try to work from home or an office where you don’t need to rely on walk-in customers. Getting financing for a new business can be challenging and if you can do it without borrowing money, that would be ideal!

Talk with an accountant and set up the formal structure of your new business so that you understand the tax and liability ramifications from the many business entities available. Don’t wait until you have issues to seek help from an accounting and financial expert. These experts will help guide you in a number of aspects including tax and employer identification documents, licenses or permits, trademarks, copyrights and how you will survive without a paycheck until your business starts to generate a profit.

Consult a marketing specialist who can create an overall marketing program that will help you define your target market and help your company to grow. One of the reasons you should hire a seasoned marketing consultant is because they have the expertise and experience that no other person can bring to your business. They can help you to avoid costly marketing mistakes because they have been there and done that many times over.

Marketing and advertising are critical to your success—and in the start-up stage, cost is always an issue. Ask around and find an agency whose niche is in small start-up businesses and find a shop that is creative! The very first questions they should ask is who you think your target market is, where do these perspective clients go to get information about similar products or services and what would make them want to buy your product or service over the competition?

Planning before you start your business requires no investment and saves you from any major financial loss. Chat with other business owners before you make any final decisions to get an idea of the time commitment and estimated capital investment that a new business will require. And, always remember that the key to long term success is good service and business integrity.