10 Steps to Open For Business


Start Your Entrepreneurial Journey!

Find resources needed by following StartupNation’s 10 Steps to Open for Business.

With our 10 steps, you will learn how to choose a business model, how to create a business plan, how to find funding for your new business venture, how to establish your brand and more.
Starting with step one, you will create your life plan and learn how mapping out your personal mission, values and what drives you forward will position you to do what you love.
Each step may also include articles, downloads, worksheets and more to work through each step to the next.
Get ready to build your business and live your dreams with StartupNation’s 10 Steps to Open for Business!

Step 1: Create a Life Plan

As we always say, plan your life, then plan your business.

Some of the most successful and happy people we know are entrepreneurs who created a business that’s in perfect synchronicity with what they want out of life. If you do what you love, the kinds of things that fit with your life plan, you’ll work harder, better and more happily.


  • Elements of your life plan
  • Using your life plan

Elements of your life plan:

Your current status in life

This is the grade you’d give your life on a scale of 1 to 100. Consider work, recreation, relationships, finances and anything else that’s important to you.

A definition of your ideal life

Create a very short description of your vision of a perfect life. Remember, the sky’s the limit, so don’t be afraid of being bold or maybe even a little grandiose.

Remember, this is a snapshot of your “ideal” life. Factor in things like family time, hobbies, charity work, early retirement, anything that gets you really excited.

Your skills

List the abilities, experience and strengths you can build on to attain that ideal life. What do you do well? Bear in mind that your skills need not be strictly from your professional life. List skills developed in your personal life, as well. It may be a combination of skills that leads you to a startup that’s best suited to fit your needs.

Your ideal work style

Whether full-time or part-time, at-home or on the road, working behind the scenes or interacting with lots of people, understand what your work style priorities are so you can define the best kind of work for you. Another way to look at this is, what level of risk do you want to take? You may want a relatively low-pressure first-go at entrepreneurship.

Your personal manifesto

This is your personal mission, your values, what drives you forward, all wrapped up into a one-page (maximum) statement. To write this, you should draw on everything you’ve already discovered about yourself in steps one through four, and bring it all together into a clear statement of your principles and priorities.


Work as freedom: We think work is about pursuing our dreams, not for the benefit of some nameless, faceless company, but for ourselves. We believe that owning our own business leads to the liberties and freedoms that the forefathers of our country envisioned for us. We’re free to choose the kind of business we conduct. We’re free to choose the way we spend our time. We’re free to choose the people we work with. We’re free to set our priorities.

Work as family: We’ve tried to create a workplace environment where employees feel like they’re actually members of a greater family. There’s a sense of common purpose, mutual respect and deep trust. Everyone should feel important and as though they’re a meaningful member of the collective effort. It’s an environment that empowers people to share in the hard work and in the benefits.

Work as fulfillment: We’ve made it a priority to ensure that our work gives us a sense of satisfaction. When we wake up in the morning, we can’t wait to get on the phone, get online and get our team in gear. The work we do is truly the work we love. For us, there’s nothing that turns us on more than facing a challenge and transforming it into an opportunity. There’s nothing more thrilling than seeing a customer use our product. There’s nothing more gratifying than helping someone else turn a dream into a real business. Over time, we’ve found that our fulfillment comes as much from the process of trying to achieve our goals as it does from actually achieving them.

Key moves to get you where you want to go

These are simple strategic action items you must develop in order to transform your life plan from a self-assessment into an action plan. At this point in life planning, you know where you want to go, what skills you already have, as well as what type of work suits you best. From that, draw a list of moves you’ll need to make to achieve your ideal life.

Using your life plan:

Check out this sample to get a sense of how to construct a life plan document.


Download this life plan template and use it to start filling in the blanks.

All of the above elements get consolidated into a very brief document called a life plan.


It’s very important to print your life plan and keep it in plain view. You’ll find that its presence (even in your peripheral vision) will constantly remind you of what you want, what’s important and what to do next.


Ideally, you should revisit the life plan periodically to measure your success and to make adjustments and additions where appropriate. It’s ok if things change over time: life is a fluid and dynamic thing, and your life plan should be, too!

Use your life plan to provide context for most strategic decisions you’ll make, including what niche you choose to operate in, what business model you’ll use, whether you’ll have lots of employees or you’ll be a home-based, one person operation.

Most importantly, your life plan will position you to do what you love and that always brings out the best in an entrepreneur.

More about life planning


  • Finding the Authentic YouAre you a victim of “image management”? When you’re operating from a more authentic space, great things begin to happen
  • Just Touch ItWe’ve all heard that balance is important for health and well-being, but what is it and how does one attain it? This article provides insights and action plans
  • Tips for Moving That Great Idea Along: Now is the time! To get your great business idea moving, read on for some helpful tips!

Key Moves

  • Starting Part TimeLindsey Wieber and Gwen Whiting started their company, The Laundress, on holidays and weekends

More Steps Coming Soon!

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