How to Start a Business - The Practical Guide

A Straight Talking Guide to starting a successful business the right way
Want to start your own business but don't know where to begin? Find out all you need to know to get started!

Starting a business is a big risk!

New beginnings can be tough, especially for entrepreneurs. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, for 21.4% of small businesses, the journey ends before the first year is over. Only about half of businesses manage to reach their fifth fiscal year. Let's take a look at the reasons why new businesses fail.

The most common reason for small businesses to fail is because there is no need for their product or service on the market. Not investigating the market is a mistake that will cause you to fail from the beginning.

The second most cited cause for failure is a lack of funding. Similar to not meeting a market need, there’s often nothing you can do if your business doesn’t have enough capital to operate.

Another big issue, and this is a tough one, is that many startups don't have the right team to operate successfully. As a founder, it's crucial to find the right partners and associates to back you.

Further typical reasons for startups to fail are competition and pricing. Being outcompeted can happen in every sector, and if you don't put the right price on your product or service you either chase away potential customers or your startup isn't able to make a profit.

Besides all these risks you need to mitigate, there is another big challenge that can hold you back: The right mindset. Maybe you have never been exposed to entrepreneurship. Maybe your parents or relatives started or run their own business and inspired you to do the same.

Either way, starting and managing a business can be very scary and stressful. If you don't know how to react when something doesn't go as planned, this can easily throw you off track and put your business at risk.

All these points (and many more) are important reasons to be well prepared for the different kinds of situations you may encounter during your entrepreneurial journey. In this course, you will learn about both, the hard skills and the soft skills it takes to start and lead a successful business.

Are you ready to become the entrepreneur you were born to be?

Learn how to become a successful entrepreneur!

What you get...

A Simple and Practical Toolbox to Start a Business. There are books about starting up, about fundraising, about branding, and even books about selling and exiting your business. This course addresses all those issues and more, not from theory, but from hard won lessons, from someone who has started, grown, and sold a business more than once.

Start with Why: A discussion of the difference between starting a business from need vs from desire and why that’s important.

    • The 1,000 Day Rule: Why you can’t expect to be living off your business immediately, but why you can begin to look for profit early on.
    • Begin with the End in Mind: A discussion of the difference between a scale business and a lifestyle business and the hybrid of the two that the internet age allows.
    • Nuts and Bolts: Should you have a business partner or partners? LLC or Sole Proprietorship? Bookkeeping vs. Accounting? Do I need a lawyer? Branding and Social Media? We address all these issues.
    • Business Plan: Do I need a traditional 25-75 page one? The short answer is no, but the answer is not to have no plan, but to focus on a Lean Startup model, which we will explain.
    • Funding and Exit: How will your business startup, and how will it end-up? We’ll discuss all the possibilities available to you, and no, you don’t have to have a trust fund.

Who this course targets...

This course is designed for:

  • Those who have never started a business, or who have recently started a business and feel a bit lost
  • Those who have started a business before but have not had it grow successfully
  • Those who have never taken a business class before and are looking to fill in some gaps in their learning
  • Those who don’t know the difference between accounting and bookkeeping or marketing and branding, among other important components of business
  • Those who are thinking about taking or seeking funding
  • Those who are considering bringing on partner(s)

Testimonials about the course

"The course is exactly what I was looking for. It provided useful information and tools to help me create my own business, and also provided simple and effective explanations for key questions and decisions to consider during the process."

Michael Denmon

Small Business Owner

We run two businesses, but much of the information and advice Stephen shared here was new to us. Stephen really gets to the heart and soul of the matter, by explaining not only ‘how’ to make a business successful, but by challenging you to ask yourself ‘what’ you are really looking for out of your business. Concise, engaging, and packed with information, this crash course is definitely worth your time.

Martha Renner

Small Business Owner

"I absolutely loved this course! Stephen is like a friend giving me top notch advice about business. I particularly appreciated him talking about separating your passions from your work. That was exactly what I needed to hear!"

Molli McConnell

Writer and Photographer

What you will learn

As entrepreneurs that have started multiple businesses in two different countries, both with partners and without, we have a lot of practical, no-nonsense information and guidance to share with you. We want to set you up for success by helping you focus on learning the fundamentals without the hype so often introduced by others. In this course you'll learn about:
  • Things to think about when starting a new business
  • Business structure options
  • Recommended professional services to obtain
  • Why branding is important and what to think about
  • How to think about a modern business plan and what to include
  • Options for funding and considerations for each type
  • ...and much more!

Course Curriculum

Click on any section below to expand it and see your preview options.

Meet the course creators

Stephen L. M. Heiner

Writer, Entrepreneur, and Coach

Stephen has been teaching, in one form or another, for over 20 years.  He had a teaching internship right out of high school, went on to become a teacher at every level from grade school to grad school, and even built a tutoring company over a decade which he then sold before moving to Paris to begin a new stage in his life.

Dan Fox

Project Manager, Entrepreneur, and Content Creator

Dan lives outside Seattle and has spent much of his professional life in roles focused on project management, operations, systems analysis, and change management. He recently transitioned out of a career in which he consulted for the U.S. Federal government and has been focusing his efforts on more creative pursuits, including photography, videography, and entrepreneurship. 

The School of Hard Knocks

Years ago, as one of the agents who would help me get temporary jobs observed me displaying "entrepreneur characteristics" and told me I should perhaps consider running a business, I replied telling her that I "didn't have a business degree." In my mind, business was for business people, and I was someone who loved to read and learn. How naive I was!

That said, entrepreneurship was not "cool" in the late 1990s. We're at the other end of the spectrum now, which Gary Vee refers to as "#entrepreneurship," or as Mark Cuban labels it: "wantrepreneurship." People have realized the lifestyle that comes with being in control of your work and schedule, and want it, but perhaps aren't sure how to get it (or worse, are not willing to put in the work to obtain it).

Not another business book or entrepreneurship course

If you ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you that I'm a voracious reader. It's something deep in my soul that pushes me to always learn more - not just about business or personal development, but about science, or literature, or even rock climbing. This course is a marriage of the book learning I have certainly had (including an MBA which you don't need to pay for) and the street learning that was forced upon me (I built a business with two investors and one business partner to a mid 6 figure sale). I've built dozens of streams of income in the last 20 years and lived to tell about them, though I have plenty of scars and war stories to share.

Not a Fortune 500 or Future Billionaire Course

There are no #hustle promises here. I've never built a 9, 10, or 11 figure business, so this course isn't about helicopters and champagne hot tubs in St. Tropez. It's about building something sustainable that not only pays your bills and allows you to do something meaningful, but is built on a platform to grow, so that you can thrive and move beyond profitability to dominance. All successful businesses depend on sound fundamentals, and this course lays them out for you. Join us and learn them for yourself!



Top Rated
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Martha Renner

Concise and experienced advice

We run two businesses, but much of the information and advice Stephen shared here was new to us. Stephen really gets to the heart and soul of the matter, by explaining not only ‘how’ to make a business successful, but by challenging you to ask yourself ‘what’ you are really looking for out of your business. Concise, engaging, and packed with information, this crash course is definitely worth your time.

3 years ago
David Ford

Cut to the quick and exactly what you need to start your own business.

I could have saved myself thousands of dollars and six months of time had I taken this course first and avoided all my University business courses. Stephen's knowledge is spot on and to the point. He has a great ability to cut through the noise and get to the point telling you exactly what you need to know. I thoroughly enjoyed this course.

4 years ago
Mike Denmon

Taking Away the Fear of Starting Your Own Business

I have been involved with business at a local and personal level (although inexperienced) and at an upper level with a Fortune 500 company. I have personally seen a lot of what was discussed in this course, but I have never really had it put in terms that I could readily apply to my own entrepreneurial interests. I've signed up for free courses, asked business owners for advice, and looked at a multitude of businesses for a roadmap, and none of those methods provided me with the type of grasp on intuition that this course has provided. Stephen does a really great job of making the mumbo jumbo of business terminology, understandable and applicable. Fear of failure is a real thing, and oftentimes, that fear comes from not knowing what the second step may be, or the third, or the fourth. After viewing this course, I now know what my next steps are, and I feel that I have a grasp on the fundamentals that will be a major advantage when I do get to a place where my business path may be unclear. Almost like a business path GPS that I can consult when lost. I highly recommend this course, and I look forward to taking on Stephen's challenge at the end of the course. I feel prepared, a little more sure, and a lot more excited for the rewards that come with owning your own business.

4 years ago

How to Start a Business - The Practical Guide

A Straight Talking Guide to starting a successful business the right way

  • Over 1 hour of on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on computer, mobile, and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Access to a dedicated student discussion forum



We’ll get into this a lot more in the course, but the short answer is that while friendship can be a powerful and compelling reason to spend many hours a day with someone, you need to make sure that your friend fills a gap that the business needs. He/she can’t just be a duplicate of you, as you bring a certain set of skills to the business and have your own weaknesses, which at this early stage, become the weaknesses of the business.

Well the truth is, you may not need financing. There are so many mechanisms available today, including crowdfunding, that don’t require you to give up any equity and provide you with ready cash before you have to spend it. This is tied directly to your plan for profitability which should be part of your business plan. Thankfully, all these points and more are covered inside the course!

This is something we’ll discuss briefly in the course, but it is oriented around those who are tax-resident in the United States. You can choose to incorporate in many business-friendly climates around the world, be they Georgia (the country, not the state), Singapore, or Estonia, just to name a few. A lot depends on your own citizenship and tax situation, and that’s not easily answerable in a course.

That’s okay, but it means you need to spend more time thinking and reflecting. While action and execution are perhaps above all else the most important things in a business, if you don’t know where you’re going, why start the journey? I’ll talk about this more in detail in the course.

Stephen L. M. Heiner, Writer, Entrepreneur, and Coach
"I’m excited that you’ve made it here to consider this course! It’s a course I wish I had available to me when I started my entrepreneurial journey many years ago. It’s a shortcut over the mistakes I made and the gaps in knowledge I couldn’t have even begun to guess at the time."

Stephen L. M. Heiner
Writer, Entrepreneur, and Coach