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TheStreet Open House

Fix a Problem, Enlist Your Clients and Other Tips to Starting a Business

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Looking to start your own business?

Hey, you're not alone.

According to the most recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor from Babson University, new business activity rose 13% in 2012, the highest level recorded by Babson since undertaking the study of U.S. and global entrepreneurs in 1999 and the highest rate of growth among the top 24 "innovation-driven economies."

More than 43% of Americans say the time is ripe for starting a business, a leap of 20% from 2011, the study reports.

If could be that Americans are souring on corporate life, not sure from one year to the next their jobs are safe. It could also mean that more of our 77 million baby boomers are putting off retirement by leaving the corporate world and launching entrepreneurial ventures.

Whatever the reason, don't go into any a business launch with your guard down and no knowledge of what really makes a business work.

Lomesh Shah, the founder of NonProfitEasy, a software services provider for global nonprofit groups, has some advice for entrepreneurs before starting out:

Blend passion with vision and opportunity. Shah says entrepreneurism isn't about "looking for the next big thing." Instead, it's about seeing problems and solving them, grasping opportunity in business areas you really care about. "Look for those holes in the fences, the systemwide time wasters, the places where things don't scale -- then gravitate to those points about which you have the most passion," he says. "Your inspiration will come from passion about the change you want to create."

Test everything. Try out your ideas with a sample of potential clients, seeing if they're solid enough to get commitments and support. "It's easy for people to like ideas, but asking for commitment is where the rubber meets the road," Shah says. "We launched a Kickstarter campaign with local nonprofits that gave us the initial development funds we needed. With these committed nonprofits, we implemented the product in their organizations and to this day, we continue to get great feedback on how we can improve our company."

It's OK to be a little paranoid. Anxiety comes with any new business venture. It's what you do with that anxiety that matters most. "I tell entrepreneurs that it is perfectly normal to live in a world of paranoia, because it drives creativity and action," he says. "In today's market, those who don't stay in front are at the mercy of the competition. You are only one idea away from being wiped out. These thoughts are what keep me on my toes, balanced and grounded."

Stay in the garage as long as you can. Just about every entrepreneur knows the story of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the two tech-geeks who launched Apple Computer out of Jobs' garage back in 1976. A garage is a good place to start your business, and it's a good place to grow it. "Entrepreneurs often ask how long they should spend 'in the garage,'" Shah says. "This entirely depends to what it is that you are working on. Time this decision in anticipation of scaling your business."

"It's never easy, but entrepreneurs are natural optimists, so when the time comes to take the next logical step, do it and own that decision," he says. "My personal advice: Get your financial house in order first, then bootstrap it as long as you can and be prepared to occasionally spend ahead of revenues."

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