So, you’ve been thinking about starting your own business? Maybe that idea is elevating your mind into higher levels of thought, tempting you to take the jump. Or, maybe you’ve grown out of working for someone else, and you want to make it happen for yourself. The very first thing you have to know is what your business will do in explicit terms that are highly structured.

If you’re still unsure what you’re going to be doing, you should think about moving in the direction of a franchise—which means, opening an outlet for an existing successful business. If you have this grand idea, the very first step is to write it down on paper. It starts with an idea, and from there, you build on it, slowly shaping it like a genius sculptor. The majority of people have a broad idea of what they want but have no plan. Simply thinking “I want to help people” or “I want to create ideas” isn’t enough. Your small business won’t be Sony overnight—you need to channel yourself if you want to separate from the rest.

Putting your thoughts on paper moves your idea one step closer to reality. There will never be a substitute for that very first step. Jot down your ideas, and then test them against the finer, hidden details: Who will you serve? What will you offer? Write something descriptive about your products or services and who would repeatedly buy them. Never assume the masses will love whatever you’re trying to sell—know where they come from, how old they are, how much they make, male or female. You have to understand our customer before you can make the jump into the marketplace.

Knowing exactly how your ideas will play out is the most important step in starting a new business. Once you know what you’re going to be doing, you can move your research on to the daily process of things. Where will you open a store? Who is the competition? Will the demand keep you going in the long run? Are there other similar businesses in the area? What are the start-up costs for necessary equipment? The same questions apply to franchise businesses as well. One of the benefits of a franchise is that they come with tested knowledge about expenses and have rules for location, marketing, and the design of the store. Still, it’s up to you to see if a franchise is a perfect fit, and it’s worth it to spend weeks researching about the subject.

Some researching tips you can use include visiting similar businesses or even volunteering for one so you gain a deeper insight in how to run that business, if you’ve never worked in that field before. Understanding how a business operates on a daily basis is critical to knowing how well you could run it on your own.

If you’ve never owned your own business before, or you have no idea what type of business to start, you should talk to as many people as possible about their own business histories. Their advice will save you priceless time and help you avoid unwanted situations or circumstances or find the right solutions as soon as possible.

As you move forward with your research, you’ll have more information to fill in the gaps that you had in the beginning. Your business plan will consist of all the knowledge you acquired during your research phase, and you can use that data in a highly detailed outline for your new business.