Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to go into business for yourself. That’s a huge accomplishment – and responsibility. With these four tips, you can be on your way to being one of the greatest success stories ever and not become a statistic of business failure.

Formulate your idea.

Write it down, from start to finish. This is about your company and no detail is too small. Have a great idea for a marketing strategy? List it. Give as much detail as you can think of. When the list is complete, turn it into a real plan. And, one of the first things to be done is to run it past other people. Talk to those who will give you honest opinions and challenge your plan. It will give a totally different perspective.

Know your market.

Have a clear definition or reason why consumers would choose your product or service over those in your field. Know what makes you unique and compelling. Chances are good that plenty of people can do what you do, it’s up to you to tell them why you do it better. Understanding who will buy your product or service will also let you launch it at the right time, because every market is cyclical. Poise yourself for the upswing.

Be prepared to work hard.

New enterprises take a considerable amount of effort, including time, space and money. If you have a family, they need to understand that there probably won’t be as much time spent together. This can be a blessing and a curse. There is the chance they can work with you, which is good. New ventures take extreme amounts of money and that might mean some lifestyle modifications.

Use your local resources.

Every U.S. state and territory has at least one Small Business Development Center. Find them at community colleges, universities or in their own space. Here in the Fox Valley, we are lucky enough to have two centers for local entrepreneurs, at Waubonsee and Elgin community colleges. The SBDC provides assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs, helping them realize their dreams and stay competitive in the ever-changing market. They should be on your list of people to show your business ideas and plant to.

We want you to enjoy all the success and rewards entrepreneurship brings. With these tips, you can assess all the opportunities and make informed decisions.