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Start a

So you want to start a new business? Well, you're not alone. According to Dun & Bradstreet, close to a million new businesses are launched each year. Thousands of would-be entrepreneurs with their sites set on personal freedom and financial independence are taking their best shot at the American dream. The challenges and opportunities of owning a business are what many people dream about but relatively few ever achieve.

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The benefits of owning a small business can be exceptional. One of the secrets of small business ownership lies in the "sweat equity" that can be created over time. In their book The Millionaire Next Door, the authors point out that most of the affluent people in this country are business owners. In fact, their research shows that self employed business owners are "four times more likely to be millionaires than those who work for others" (see Thomas Stanley & William Danko, The Millionaire Next Door, Pocket Books, NY, NY, page 227)

Starting a small business can be one of the fastest ways to financial independence that there is. In addition to earning a living, you will also begin immediately to build up "sweat equity" in the business. Over time, this equity can become very valuable indeed.

Each year Forbes magazine publishes a list of the 400 wealthiest individuals in the country. The most recent Forbes lists show that business ownership is by far the dominant source of wealth creation in this country today. What is more, the incidence of 1st generation business owners making the prestigious Forbes list is rapidly increasing.

This is an astonishing fact considering that it used to take many years or even generations to accumulate the kind of wealth that is now being created in just a few short years.

Obviously not every new business owner will join the Forbes 400. Indeed in 2001, the wealth threshold for making the list was an astounding $600 million! If you are careful and patient, however, you will have a very good opportunity to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while building a substantial equity position over time. You will also have the security of knowing that you are in control of your own destiny and not at the mercy of a cost-cutting CEO.

Of course, there is substantial risk associated with a business start-up. This is evidenced by the rising incidence of business failures in this country. Total business failures have been increasing in lockstep with the high rate of business start-ups.

Fortunately, with a little planning and up-front effort your overall risk can be substantially reduced. The following steps are designed to help you minimize your risk and hopefully put you into the category of long-term wealth builder rather than joining the ranks of the "also-rans".

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