Have you ever been jealous of your neighbors, the ones who get to take off every winter and head to warmer climes in their fancy RV? Or have you had a little envy of your other neighbor because he gets to work from home and doesn’t have the typical 9-to-5 office job? Or ever been jealous of your best friend because she has a Prince Charming of a spouse, and you’re single and alone?

You get the idea. We’ve all been there, sometimes forgetting that we too can be “living the dream.” Obviously we don’t know exactly what’s going on behind their closed doors, so we turn our attention back to our own hopes, wishes and desires so that we too can live our own dream, be it personally or professionally.

Living the dream typically refers to living the ideal life in relation to one’s career. Here are a few tips, strategies and approaches to visualizing what the future could look like and making a plan to get there:

Set Achievable Goals With a Business Plan

Dream big or small. It doesn’t really matter as long as you’re taking steps in the right direction and doing the necessary work. Let’s say you want to start your own fitness business, for example. It takes a lot of planning to see if it’s even feasible to open your own gym. Most people don’t have upward of $50,000 sitting in their bank accounts to get started.

You’ll need to take out a loan. If you go that route, you’ll need to show your lender a detailed business plan because they won’t give you a loan without one. Securing a business loan can be an arduous process, so don’t be afraid to talk to friends with experience or someone with an education in accounting and business. If you need help with your business plan, the U.S. Small Business Administration provides assistance in getting loans and offers services to people developing their plan. This kind of government-backed loan for business is known as a SBA loan, and you can get one of them from trusted private lenders, such as Kapitus.

You’ll also want to know about the details of building a business model. According to an article on Fiscal Tiger, business models are more than just a list of questions and answers. They are “stories” that identify who the customer is, what those customers value and how you plan to make money. Business models explore the future, make predictions about industry changes and can even be flexible.

Remember: You’re planning the business in order to work in an industry you love and to avoid a pointless pursuit.

Seek Professional Advice

Let’s look at the gym example for a minute which relates to any start-up business you are considering. Before jumping into your big dream, you’d want to spend several months talking to other gym owners in your area and even throughout country to hear their tips and struggles they’ve encountered along the way.

You’d have a prepared list of questions for industry veterans and an organized note-taking system to refer back to. Ask them to identify hurdles and unforeseen problems. Inquire about management of their own employees. Ask them about expenses, operating costs and revenue sources. Ask them about their successful media campaigns and marketing efforts. Ask them what they think are the best apps for small business owners.

This is just a starting point, but after a few months, you’ll have a good idea of what you’re up against and find similar themes among other gym owners.

The more you dig in with detailed questions, the better your grasp will be on starting your own business.

Embrace Marketing

If you have a good business plan and offer unique services, that’s a great start. But you also need marketing chops before starting your endeavor. It will be part of your overall business plan.

If people don’t know you exist, they won’t automatically jump on board. Plus, what works for other brands might not work for you. During your planning phase, you’re already thinking about and employing your marketing efforts.

Putting the right product in front of people at the right time is a simple definition of marketing. The marketing mix typically consists of the 4 Ps: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

Digital marketing efforts will be key, especially if your business involves online sales. Becoming familiar with Google Adwords, search engine marketing, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter could all be part of your efforts.

Take it a step further by analyzing your social media and online data; otherwise, what do you really know about your customers? You’ll have to take a deep dive into analytics and today’s consumer.

“Some businesses develop highly customized experiences in which web pages or apps shift to match a person’s past activities or purchasing,” according to Villanova University. “Companies are always looking for more efficient ways to drive conversions with their web presence, convincing someone who shows a casual interest in the business to buy something or request further information; analytics can show them the path to reach that goal.”

Follow Your Passion

Focused and happy people tend to attract bigger and better things into their lives. Basically, what you give, you get back — or at least that’s the idea. We all want purpose on our paths. Do you think living the dream is a state of life or a state of mind? Freedom and choice are part of living the dream but so are setting specific goals and working toward them. Who cares what your neighbors are doing.

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