So, you have a business idea!
You’ve dreamed up a service or product you believe could change people’s lives – including yours!
You’ve likely imagined what it would be like to work for yourself – your own office space, financial freedom, making your own rules, helping people on your terms. It’s all very exciting and a little intimidating at the same time!
But where do you start?
Let’s start with the simple and essential first steps for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business.
Focus on your big idea
This is the most exciting part of any startup. This is where you get to brainstorm every single business idea, opportunity and all of the untapped market potential.
Whether you like to throw some paper on the wall or consult with a business strategist, it’s up to you. The important thing is to leave no stone unturned. Consider everything and then start to cull the list of business ideas down to your top three – at a maximum. The goal is to whittle it down to one. Why do you need to get really focused? Because, as Gary Keller author of The One Thing suggests, “Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.”
Conduct market research
Market research is essential if you are going to provide a service or product – especially if you are outlaying the cost for production, a physical location with capital expenditures, fulfillment, marketing, distribution and all of the necessary steps it takes to sufficiently run your business.
You want to make sure that what you are offering – people actually want (the infamous product-market fit you’ll often hear discussed in startup circles), and people are willing to pay you money for it!
Put your feelers out there, ask the questions, speak to other people in the industry, sit down with potential clients (your ideal customers) and ask them if this is something they would want. Study other businesses in the industry and observe where they fall short and how you could serve the market in better ways. Do the research and then zero in on your main product or service that you will offer.
Focus on your business niche
Your business niche is arguably your most important success tool. If what you offer and how you offer it is the same as everybody else, and you lack a unique value proposition, then you will blend into the crowd and get lost.
The goal of defining your business niche is to bring something different to your industry and that something different is usually you! Who you are, how passionate you are about what you do and skills/talent are generally the biggest selling point in any business transaction!
Get clear on what is different about your offering. Get even clearer on why you are different and use those insights to market your business. Many startups fail because they don’t identify and serve their business niche. Instead, they try to cater to everyone because they don’t want to miss an opportunity.
Consider if Apple focused on selling all electronic appliances instead of focusing on innovative computers, phones and various ‘screens’ they wouldn’t be Apple and they probably wouldn’t exist anymore.
Find your business niche!
Create a business plan
This part can sometimes be overwhelming. Many fledgling entrepreneurs aren’t familiar with a heavily focused and detailed approach to planning. You can either do it yourself with the help of free online business planning tools or invest in an experienced business strategist or coach.
A business plan acts as a clear path to achieve those ideas. It is a flexible but firm outline of when you will achieve your plans, how you will get there and what will happen when you do. It will also help you sort out the type of legal requirements and financial backing you need.
A business plan is your projected outline for business over the next 12 months and years to come! You need to have a clear idea of where you are going so you’ll be able to decipher which steps to take and make things work. You need to prepare for what could go right, what could go wrong and for the unexpected!
Take your business plan seriously and once it’s done, keep it near by at all times so you can continuously adjust it and refer to it.
Consider legal and financial support
Starting a business is a serious endeavor, especially if you are opening a brick and mortar business. When you invest that much time and money you need to be laser focused and prepared.
For starters, you need legal advice; marketing, insurance, financial advice, etc. The advice you need is endless and for the most part, it’s never free. So, when it comes to launching a startup, the best thing you can do to ensure its success is to be prepared for all the advice you’ll need along the way!
Make a smart start
No matter how stressful or hard or overwhelming it may be to have a start a business, it’s always good to remember why you started it in the first place. Remember why you made the decision to go for it.
Just because it seems like too much at the time, once it’s all said and done and everything is progressing as smoothly as it can be, you will look back and know that you did absolutely everything you could to ensure that your business will be successful from the beginning.
Daniel Smith is a small business advisor and is sharing startup tips on behalf of Brentnalls WA, an online resource centre for empowering SMEs dealing with the challenges of running a small business.