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updated 2/18/2011 1:19:19 PM ET 2011-02-18T18:19:19

If you want to say goodbye to corporate America and embark on a journey to entrepreneurship, we can help. From coming up with the perfect business idea to creating your business and marketing plans, follow this two-week action plan to start a new venture.

Day 1. Finding the Right Fit

Day 2. Research and Evaluate Your Idea

Day 3. Calculate Your Costs

Day 4. Write Your Business Plan Day 5. Find Financing

Day 6. Name Your Business

Day 7. Develop a Marketing Plan

Day 8. Build Your Support Team

Day 10. Hang Out Your Shingle and Sell

If you took our advice for Day 7, you've already created a marketing plan designed to help you spread the word about your business. Now's the time to establish your marketing infrastructure. You work against yourself when you're not prepared to respond to opportunities that result from your marketing efforts.

Your Web site, stationery, business cards and marketing materials should be ready for distribution. Set up autoresponders to handle customer email queries. Have a phone system in place that allows customers to easily get in touch with you. Your Web site should offer information on your company and its products and services. Whatever response methods buyers can use to contact you, you should have materials that can be sent via those same media.

Jump into action: Mail a press release to the local media announcing the opening of your business. Do a joint mailing with other complementary businesses to widen your reach. Beat the deadline for your Yellow Pages ad, and talk with your manufacturer about co-op advertising opportunities. Take advantage of all free directory listings. Contribute an article to a trade journal. Send out special offer postcards to prospects. Create a coupon offer. Make a speech at a networking event. Track the results of your devices by asking all respondents how they heard about you.

Whatever you do, don't just sit back and wait for business to fall into your lap. Despite popular opinion, if you build it, they will not just come. You've got to get the word out and keep working your contacts in order to attract customers to your new business.

More

Find Low-Cost Marketing Ideas.

Browse our How-To Marketing Guides.

Tomorrow: Day 10. Hang Out Your Shingle and Sell

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