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MyOwnBusiness Institute

What is an entrepreneur? And other frequently asked entrepreneurship questions.

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What is an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is a person who starts a new business.

What is entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is the process of starting a new business.

Is it hard to start your own business?
Many people dream of owning their own business. While there are many benefits—you can be your own boss, make decisions, set your schedule, hire your team, and profit from your success—it’s important to recognize that there are risks as well. As the business owner, you will be responsible for everything that has to do with the business. Owning a business takes hard work and dedication, and success is not guaranteed. The best ways to improve your chances for success are: 1) pick the right business to begin with, 2) learn as much as you can about the business you plan to start and the industry (maybe work for a competitor first), and 3) prepare and plan: learn about important business fundamentals like marketing, finance and accounting, business insurance, legal organization, and more.

MOBI’s free online Starting a Business course teaches you the fundamentals of starting a business in an interesting, easy-to-understand, step-by-step format. You will learn how to decide on a business, what is required to start a business, and how to get started. There are many resources, blog posts, success stories, and more to educate and inspire you. Many of our students finish the course in just 20 hours with the knowledge they need to start a business. Students also earn a Certificate of Completion from MOBI at Santa Clara University when they finish the course and pass the final with a score of 80 or higher.

What is needed to start a business?
One of the most important things you need when starting a business is a business plan. A business plan is your strategic vision, your checklist, your inventory, and your roadmap. Your business plan will help you put your ideas on paper so you can identify what you need to do to start your business as well as your plan for getting there. In addition to your business plan, there are several key items you might need, which will vary depending on your type of business. These might include a permit, a business license, a business tax license, a fictitious business name filed with the county, and business insurance, to name a few. Two great MOBI resources are the Home-Based and Freelance Business Readiness Checklist and a guest blog post about how to establish your business as an independent contractor entitled, “Independent Contractors Set a Course for Entrepreneurship.”

MOBI’s free online Starting a Business course teaches the fundamentals of starting a business, and each session walks you through a different section of your business plan using MOBI's free business plan template as an example. The sessions also help you learn what is needed to start your business and how to obtain these essentials. Many of our students finish the course in just 20 hours with the knowledge they need to start a business. Students also earn a Certificate of Completion from MOBI at Santa Clara University when they finish the course and pass the final with a score of 80 or higher.

What are the legal requirements to start a business?
The legal requirements will vary depending on the type of business you would like to start. All business owners will need to decide on the type of organization for their business. For example, will you start a sole proprietorship, a partnership, limited liability company (LLC), corporation, S-corporation, social purpose corporation, or nonprofit? Each of these will have liability, tax, and other implications for you as the business owner. There may also be permits, licenses, and insurance required for your type of business, and if you plan to work as an independent contractor there are laws that vary by state with specific requirements. Requirements may also differ if you plan to hire employees or operate on your own as a solopreneur.

To learn more about these topics, visit these sessions in MOBI’s free online Starting a Business course: Business Organization, Licenses and Permits, Business Insurance, and Home-Based and Freelance Businesses. Also learn how to establish your business as an independent contractor in a MOBI guest blog post entitled, “Independent Contractors Set a Course for Entrepreneurship.”

How can I start my own business with no money?
There are many Businesses You Can Start for Little or No Money! In today’s flexible “gig” economy there are many opportunities to start businesses on the side. Whether you begin working as an independent contractor utilizing skills and expertise you’ve gained in your career (like bookkeeping, graphic design, or music lessons), you start a home cleaning or decorating business, or you sell specialty food items, there are many ways to be an entrepreneur. One strategy to minimize risk is to start a business “on the side,” before you leave a full-time job. This allows you to test your product and the market before giving up other sources of income.

To learn more about how to start a business, take MOBI’s free online Starting a Business course. The course covers 15 fundamental business topics to help you learn everything you need to know to start your own business. Many students finish the course in just 20 hours! And if you finish the course and pass the final with a score of 80 or higher, you earn a Certificate of Completion from Santa Clara University.

How do I become an entrepreneur?
Many people think that because they are good at something or have a great idea, they should be an entrepreneur. This may be true for some people, but it’s also important to realize that the job of the entrepreneur is totally different from the job of the expert. For example, you may be an exceptional chef, but this skill and talent does not mean you will be equally successful at owning a restaurant where you have many more responsibilities that may not have to do with preparing fine meals at all. So before you begin your journey as an entrepreneur, think about whether you are as passionate about the business of the business.

To become an entrepreneur you need to learn everything you can about starting a business and about the industry and type of business you plan to start. One of the first steps you can take is getting a job in the industry you wish to pursue. A second step is to write a business plan. Your business plan will help you put your ideas on paper, so you can identify what you need to do to start your business as well as your plan for getting there. Your business plan will help you set goals and objectives

MOBI’s free online Starting a Business course teaches the fundamentals of starting a business, and each session walks you through a different section of your business plan. The sessions also help you learn what is needed to start your business and how to obtain these essentials. Many of our students finish the course in just 20 hours with the knowledge they need to start a business. Students also earn a Certificate of Completion from MOBI at Santa Clara University when they finish the course and pass the final with a score of 80 or higher.

What is the easiest business to start?
There are many Businesses You Can Start for Little or No Money, and it’s often easiest to start a home-based business that does not require additional office or storage space or a lot of inventory, equipment, or materials. Many aspiring entrepreneurs will begin to pursue a business idea on the side while keeping their current job. This also makes the transition from employee to entrepreneur easier, and less risky.

Visit MOBI’s Resources & Tools page to view our list of Businesses You Can Start for Little or No Money and our Home-Based and Freelance Business Readiness Checklist. If you want to learn the fundamentals of starting a business, you can enroll anytime in MOBI’s free online course:  Starting a Business. The first topic discusses Deciding on a Business, and the first steps to take when thinking about becoming an entrepreneur. The course covers 15 topics and many students finish in just 20 hours. 

What are the basic steps to start a business?
When you decide to start a business there are several steps you should take. Here is a list of some key steps (but other steps may depend on your specific business and the requirements of your industry or region) and you can learn more in MOBI’s free online Starting a Business course.

  1. Decide what type of business you want to start

  2. Write a business plan to organize your ideas in one place, your business plan will be your blueprint for starting your business

  3. Evaluate your financial situation to determine capital requirements and projections, secure additional funding if required (Visit MOBI's blog post "Financing Your Business: Evaluating Sources of Capital" for helpful information.)

  4. Decide on your business organization: sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, etc.

  5. Obtain the appropriate permits, licenses and business insurance

  6. Complete preparations to start your business such as those included in the MOBI Home-Based and Freelance Business Readiness Checklist or the Before You Start Your Business Checklist

How much money do I need to start a business?
It is difficult to say how much money will be needed to start a business. There are many businesses that you can start for little or no money, such as those included on MOBI’s list of Businesses You Can Start for Little or No Money. Many aspiring entrepreneurs start businesses working as independent contractors providing services in areas for which they have expertise, such as bookkeeping, graphic design, or teaching music, to name a few. Visit this MOBI blog post to learn how to establish a business as an independent contractor.

To evaluate how much money you will need for your business, visit MOBI’s Financing the BusinessAccounting and Cash Flow, and Microfinance for Entrepreneurs business topics on our website. Two blog posts provide additional information: "Financing Your Business: Evaluating Sources of Capital" and "12 Smart Tips for Getting a Small Business Loan." You can also enroll in MOBI’s free online Starting a Business course which includes both sessions and everything you need to know to start your business.

How do I decide on the best business for me to start?
One of the most common mistakes many aspiring entrepreneurs make is not choosing the right business to begin with. The first session of MOBI’s popular free online Starting a Business course teaches you how to decide on a business, including a checklist to evaluate potential business ideas, and questions to ask yourself to identify the best fit for your interests, goals, lifestyle, resources, and more.