For entrepreneurs, now is the time
New technologies are creating new business opportunities, and radically reducing costs for startups. Still, success is as difficult as ever.
By Michael V. Copeland and Om Malik, Business 2.0 Magazine senior writers

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - It's the spring of 2006, and the sweet scent of entrepreneurship is in the air. Growing numbers of Americans are pursuing their startup dreams.

According to the National Venture Capital Association, seed-level VC funding nearly doubled in 2005. This year, based on current trends, it could double again. In Delaware, the country's incorporation capital, new business formation was up 19 percent last year, the highest one-year growth rate on record.

In other words, there's never been a better time to start your own company. New technologies are creating new business opportunities on the Internet, on mobile phones, in consumer products, and in information services. At the same time, many of these technologies have radically reduced the costs associated with launching a new venture.

In the late 1990s, a typical VC-funded startup needed roughly $10 million to amass the infrastructure and staff required to carry the company from its first business plan to its first product launch. Today that cost has been reduced to just $4 million -- and in many cases way, way less. The barriers to entry have never been lower.

While birthing a company is easier, succeeding is as difficult as ever. The general rule in the investment community is that only about a third of all startups ever turn a profit. Another third limp along at a break-even level, and the rest end in failure. Top among the reasons young companies fail are problems such as incorrect market focus and misguided executive leadership.

With that in mind, we wanted you to have all the benefit of hard-earned experience without having to actually endure the pain of making your own mistakes. We spoke to dozens of experts -- seasoned entrepreneurs, early-stage investors, venture capitalists, and first-time CEOs -- to understand what they've learned about the art of getting a new company off the ground. Then we set out to create a set of blueprints describing just how to do it.

There are no guarantees in the world of entrepreneurship. But there is a right way to go about it, and we've mapped the process out for you here. Just follow the steps listed below. As for the rest -- well, that's entirely up to you. You can thank us later.

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.