Every entrepreneur starts with big dreams. Launching a business takes an enormous amount of risk and effort, and the payoff for that, at least in theory, should be equally grand. After all, something has to keep you going through all of those ramen-fueled nights of spreadsheets and market reports.

And those dreams can vary.

Some people want to start their business and strike it rich, taking an idea and turning it into eight figures and a home in the Hamptons. Others want freedom. They want a world in which they call the shots, set the dress code and decide when work starts or stops. Still others just want a chance to do something they've always wanted, whether that's launching a social media network or selling fresh cut flowers.

The question is, what does it take to transform those visions into real (rent-paying) success?

To start, don't try and start all at once. It can be overwhelming to think about the scope of what you're trying to do. Starting a business is like writing a book, training for a marathon or planning a wedding. If you sit down with a blank sheet of paper and write "new business" up top the sheer scope of the project can break you. Instead, get started by breaking it down into these three components:

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Editors' pick: Originally published Sept. 5.

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