Are you thinking about starting your own business? It's a major decision that requires a great amount of dedication, focus and patience.

For students earning their Business Management degree or Business Administration degree online (or really, any student looking to venture into entrepreneurship), starting a business represents a leap of faith with the potential for significant gain. That's the beauty of America, right?

It's also a popular decision for members of the military to start their own business after completing their online degree program as part of a military-to-civilian transition.

If you decide to start your own business, here are six prerequisites to keep in mind:

1. Do what you love

"Fundamentally, what do you have a passion to do? Like a rock star, the worst part about a great song is that you’re singing it for the rest of your life. Trust your passion and your gut to a large degree," Joseph Michelli, author of several best-selling business books, said recently in a phone interview. Michelli will be Grantham University's featured guest in a webinar on Feb. 8 entitled 'How Does a 36-year-old Guy Become a Billionaire?'

2. Understand the risk

Starting a business from scratch means that it may be a little while until your company actually starts to generate any profit. There's a chance, of course, the business plan could fold if there's not enough planning, goal-setting and focus.

"Entrepreneurs have to ultimately be able to gamble on themselves," Michelli said. "They also have to have that sense of adaptiveness and resourcefulness. If you really have a passion, you have to make that launch."

3. Know where the funding is coming from

"All new businesses require some sort of start up fee," said Niccole Buckley, Dean of the Grantham University Mark Skousen School of Business. "What is it and when will your return on investment be reached? It is vital to understand your cash flow, even more so initially."

4. Talk to your customers/clients

Without customers, there's no business to run or profit to generate. Therefore, it's vitally important to interact with your customers so you're aware of their expectations from the moment you open for business.

Network and show the customer you care about their needs and are willing to provide top-flight service. Market your product through a Web site and social media. It may even be beneficial to give away a small amount of your products to heighten awareness at the start.

5. Target your products, services and overall mission statement

I read a couple of articles that said some start-up businesses try to offer too many services and immediately attempt to be the customer's primary destination for services they are not equipped to handle. Instead, take a focused approach of offering products and services that are specialized in your field of expertise. A business plan would help you keep your approach more targeted.

"It doesn't matter if you are a first mover to create a market or if you are entering as a competitor in an already established sector. A business plan is a must," Buckley said. "All entrepreneurs understand the need of the new business. A business plan adds the arms and legs to the idea."

6. Don't get stuck in the past

The marketplace is constantly changing, and your business plan from 2010 is not timely for 2012. Be aware of the latest market trends and don't be afraid to regularly update your products and services. You don't want to be stuck in the past.

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