The election may be a long way away, but it’s not too early to get started!

It’s February, so when you’re looking at a November election, it’s still pretty early. Have you made the decision to run yet? Are you still thinking about it?

Now’s the time when you should be having conversations about your candidacy and doing your analysis as to whether 2017 is your year. Either way, even if you’re having quiet conversations about possibly running, you’re probably finding out that you’re not the only one interested in the race. Which means that if you do plan on moving forward, your campaign starts now.

The good thing for you is that others interested in running, particularly in your own party if your community has partisan elections, are going through the same thought process as you are. You’re at an advantage if you’re ready to go. Once you announce your intent, everything you do from that point forward changes the political landscape – your name recognition, your contact list, your ability to fundraise: At this early stage, all of those things can factor into someone else’s decision as to whether or not they’re going to run against you.

Some steps you can take now to get the ball (and your campaign) rolling:

– At this early stage of your candidacy, if you can get some money in the bank, that’s a big plus. An early fundraiser is a good way to deter opponents. Fill the room with family, friends, business contacts, neighbors, etc.

– Depending on what part of the country you live in, you can actually start walking door-to-door. Seeing someone out working already this early can be intimidating, especially if you’re building on existing name recognition.

– Running a press release or interview in your local newspapers announcing your intention to run also provides you momentum.

These are some easy things you can do early on in the process that will not only help the rest of your campaign, but will also send a message to potential opponents that you and your campaign are for real.

It’s a long road ahead, but you can make it that much easier by building a firm foundation now!