Are you interested in starting your own business? Maybe you’re really knowledgeable and passionate about something, or you’ve found a way to fill a gap in the marketplace. Wherever your interests lie, there’s almost certainly a way to turn it into a business.

Running your own company is an intense rollercoaster ride, where the highs are high, and the lows debilitatingly low. This journey isn’t an easy one, though: Starting a business requires a lot of time, effort and hard work, and many would-be entrepreneurs end up failing. But if your company survives, the rewards are well worth the obstacles you’ll face on the road to success.

There’s a lot to consider and plan before you launch, and it’s important to prepare yourself for the entrepreneurship journey. If you think you’re ready to start your first business, here are 5 steps overview of what you need to do to make it happen.

  1. Refine Your Idea

If you’re thinking about starting a business, you likely already have an idea of what you want to sell, or at least the market you want to enter. Do a quick search for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what current brand leaders are doing, and figure out how you can do it better. If you think your business can deliver something other companies don’t (or deliver the same thing, but faster and cheaper), you’ve got a solid idea and are ready to create a business plan. Another option is to open a franchise of an established company. The concept, brand following, and business model are already in place; all you need is a good location and the means to fund your operation.

  1. Know why you are doing what you’re doing

When starting out, most entrepreneurs typically have a rough idea of where they want to take their businesses. But as they are confronted with real-world realities, vision and mission statements quickly become little more than PR tools and words on the company website. It is crucial for entrepreneurs to take the time to formulate the why of their business, as this will drive all their decisions, from who to employ to what processes.

  1. Write a business plan

Now that you have your idea in place, you need to ask yourself a few important questions: What is the purpose of your business? Who are you selling to? What are your end goals? How will you finance your start-up costs? These questions can be answered in a well-written business plan. A lot of mistakes are made by new businesses rushing into things without pondering these aspects of the business. You need to find your target customer base. Who is going to buy your product or service? If you can’t find evidence that there’s a demand for your idea, then what would be the point? A business plan helps you figure out where your company is going, how it will overcome any potential difficulties and what you need to sustain it.

  1. Assess Your Finances

Starting any business has a price, so you need to determine how you’re going to cover those costs. Do you have the means to fund your start-up, or will you need to borrow money? If you’re planning to leave your current job to focus on your business, do you have some money put away to support yourself until you start making a profit?

Experts generally agree that start-up businesses often fail because they run out of money too quickly before turning a profit. It’s never a bad idea to overestimate the amount of start-up capital you need, as it can be a while before the business begins to bring in sustainable revenue.

  1. Brand Yourself and Advertise

Before you start selling your product or service, you need to build up your brand and get a following of people ready to jump when you open your literal or figurative doors for business. Create a logo that can help people easily identify your brand, and be consistent in using it across all of your platforms. Creating a marketing plan that goes beyond your launch is essential to building a clientele by continually getting the word out about your business. This process, especially in the beginning, is just as important as providing a quality product or service.

  1. Grow Your Business

Your launch and first sales are only the beginning of your task as an entrepreneur. In order to make a profit and stay afloat, you always need to be growing your business. It’s going to take time and effort, but you’ll get out of your business what you put into it. Collaborating with more established brands in your industry is a great way to achieve growth. Reach out to other companies or even influential bloggers and ask for some promotion in exchange for a free product sample or service. Partner with a charity organization and volunteer some of your time or products to get your name out there.

Start by utilizing these strategies above – there are no limits as to who can become a great entrepreneur. You don’t necessarily need a college degree to achieve this, a bunch of money in the bank or even business experience to start something that could become the next major success. However, what you do need is a strong plan and the drive to see it through – you’ll be on your way to building the empire you have always dreamed about.