THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

So You Want to Start a Business? Here's How

I'm speaking at the Maria Shriver Women's Conference in LA this week. Very exciting. I am honored to have been invited again.

For those who won't be attending, I wanted to share what I am going to be speaking about. Here are top tips on how to start a business and create change.

1) You must do something you love.
It must be your passion, what you most want to do, the thing that tugs at your heart, no matter what.

This is the only necessity, your reason why you want to start a business. Your intention is what will guide your business. It cannot be about ego, significance, money or something else. It must originate in your heart, in the part of you that knows this is what you must do. Starting a business will reveal so much to you about yourself, life, other people and give you good days and really tough days. And yet the most important factor that will guide you, get you off the couch, put you back on the path is the underlying reason why you wanted to start this business.

2) Find a way to serve, contribute, help other people.
Nowadays, businesses that are sincerely helping others, that have that as one of their core reasons for being, are thriving. Find a way to take away some type of pain from people's lives. You can do that with any type of business. If you are starting a business to make money, to be a success, to get freedom, know that the bigger driver not only of success but also fulfillment is always including others in your journey. Power moves through those who serve. You will never feel weak or overwhelmed or a failure if you know without a doubt, that you are making a difference with what you do and who you are.

3) Know how your business makes money.
We need to be clear on what the path is to revenue. It doesn't mean the business is going to make money on Day One. But you do need to know who your customers are, how you are going to rise above the noise and how people will know you exist. If you need to distribute something, know who is the best at doing that, and so on. Also, allow yourself to be flexible. Your business can't just rely on one source of money, or one big customer or one success factor. Many small businesses find other ways to make money as they get going. Yours can, too.

4) Negotiate everything.
We live in a time where everything is up for discussion. Barter, trade, exchange services, ask for discounts, do whatever it takes to get started or to maintain. It's cheaper to start a business now than ever before. Everyone needs some business, so whether it's a logo, legal advice, PR, web design, go with 50% of the quotes people are offering you. Do not fall into the trap of thinking it costs money to get going. Everything is going for cheap now. Make the most of it. And if you don't have money, look at what you do have and what you can trade. For instance, if you need a web site done, perhaps you can offer for trade editorial or copy help if that's your skill.

5) Know what to expect.
a) Time. Plan for your business adventure to take at least twice as long as you'd thought. Yes, we all think it's going to be an easy ride. But it really will take longer than you planned

b) Teamwork. You really are not supposed to know most things. It's OK and necessary to ask for help and to do so early on. Don;t try to go it alone. There's no shame in asking any and every question along the way.

c) Mistakes. You are going to make them, tons of them. It's part of your journey. Fellow entrepreneurs can tell you things, but starting a business is purely experience. You get your own ticket to the party and learn along the way what you need.

d) Friends/Family. Do not ask their permission and do not expect their approval. Very often, pursuing this kind of a change is disruptive for the people around you. They worry. They face their own fears. They don't relate to you, your choices or your days anymore. Just know this upfront. Continue to love them, of course. Brand new people are coming into your life who are fellow business leaders, dreamers and agents of change.

e) Be a woodpecker. Pick your tree--your idea--and just get up everyday and peck away. Other people may laugh or disapprove. Your beak will hurt at the end of the day and you will never know when your tree will fall. But it does and it will. Stay clear and committed to that tree. It's each little action, each little chip that makes your business grow. And I can tell you, the days when a tree falls are great days. And they will surprise you. Many times they happen when you want to give up, you're tired, other people are telling you you're crazy. And when one tree falls, pick the next one to focus on. Yes, one little bird can make a giant tree fall. One brave woman--and of course man--can change anything in the world. Anything!!