Few countries are more synonymous with entrepreneurship than the United States. In fact, more than 600,000 new small businesses are launched each year, according to the Small Business Association. If you’ve ever dreamed of starting one of your own, there’s no time like the present to take the plunge. However, before you quit your day job, make sure you’ve laid a strong foundation for success by following the tips below.

Write a Business Plan

As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan, plan to fail. A business plan is an absolute must. In short, it’s a document that details the services or products you will offer while outlining the specific goals of your company. It should cover all of your financial, operational, and marketing components. Everything should be thought through before launch – from your sources of capital all the way to small details, like the best blog writing service you’ll use to build awareness. You can get started by investing in good business plan software.

Make Sure There’s a Market

Before you even start writing a business plan, take a step back and ask yourself if people really need the product or service you plan to sell. Too many entrepreneurs make the often-fatal mistake of believing that their new idea (or twist on an old concept) is so brilliant that the world will beat a path to their door. What you should instead do is remove the emotion from the process and realize that the market will be the ultimate judge of your idea.

It’s imperative that you know that market inside and out. Start by researching all existing competitors. Who offers the same or similar things that you do? How long have they been in business? Is the overall market growing, or is it mature and static? What is the combined annual revenue of your competitors? What percentage of that revenue do you reasonably believe you could capture? Answering these questions will be critical.

Hire Great People

With small businesses especially, it can be tempting to try to do everything yourself. However, spreading yourself too thin, or trying to master tasks you may not be good at, can lead to reduced quality and increased stress. Therefore, consider taking on only the responsibilities that are in your skill set. Hire strong team players who understand your vision, and then define specific roles for them. If you’re unsure of what you need to delegate, ask your staffers what they think their biggest strengths are. By matching employees with jobs they will enjoy, you’ll likely get their very best efforts moving forward.

Hold On to Your Customers

If all goes right, your business will attract a solid customer base. At that point, you’ll be faced with the question that every successful firm must answer: just how big do we want to be? If you do consider building your business further, just remember that attracting new customers or purchasing marketing share can be a very expensive growth strategy. Alternatively, building loyalty among your existing clientele via repeat business allows you to focus on customer retention, rather than new customer recruitment. This is less expensive from a marketing perspective because you will spend less to retain a loyal customer through great service than chasing a new one through costly advertising. Few strategies are more cost-efficient than positive word-of-mouth.

These are just a few of the many areas you should investigate before cutting the ribbon on your new business. Your idea may indeed be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but you’ll be left holding crumbs if you don’t do your research.