Starting your own business can be a challenging job but with these simple steps, you will start to see the process unfold in a way that is manageable and achievable.
Before we start though, it’s important to think about how much time and money you have available for this venture. This will determine what type of company you start as well as the direction it takes from the start.
Step #1: Create a Plan, Budget and Timeline
Plan – start by thinking about how much time you have to start your new business. You’ll need this amount of time each week to put towards the creation and development of your product or service (ask yourself what is realistic for your schedule). Think about any vacations that are coming up and factor that in as well.
Budget – start by thinking about how much money you have to invest in this new venture. This could be your start-up costs, monthly operating costs, or simply funds allocated for advertising/marketing purposes. breaking this down into smaller increments can make the goal more attainable
Timeline – start by thinking about how long you can wait for your business to become profitable. This can be days, weeks, months, or years. Break this down into smaller increments if needed (e.g., start in 30-45 days and then start working on it each day).
If you go through these steps at the very beginning of starting a new venture, they will help to keep you on track and organized.
Step #2: Research Your Idea
Make sure you are well aware of the pros and cons of the business model you choose. There are blogs like Netbooks Review that share the ins and outs of methods like drop shipping, affiliate marketing, or lead generation.
Once you have a general understanding of what it is you want to do, start doing some in-depth research about the industry and your specific idea within that industry. This could include reading articles, talking with people who are already in the business or attending trade shows/conferences.
Start by researching your target market and what they want to buy from you specifically – look for common problems that people are trying to solve or pain points in their day-to-day which can be alleviated with a good product or service.
Also have a look at the overall industry as well, reading articles about how it’s changed over the years, what trends are and aren’t working right now, who the leaders in the industry are
Step #3: Create a Product or Service
Once you’ve done your research, start putting together the pieces of what will be created and sold. Essentially this is just brainstorming ideas on how to create value for the customer (through products/services) so that they’ll pay for it.
Start with an idea – this can be a solution to a problem you uncovered through your research, or something new that you think could work in the industry
Create a prototype of the product/service – get this in front of potential customers and see how they react. This will help to validate (or invalidate) your original idea. If it’s invalidated, start over going down a different path.
Next step is to create a business plan – this will help you to start thinking about the steps that need to be taken for your product/service idea to reach the market and then become successful (e.g., what do customers want? How are they paying for things now? what are the unique selling points of your product?).
Step #4: Funding & Advertising/Marketing
Once you have a product or service created, start thinking about how to get the word out there. This will require some financial investment (unless you’re doing everything yourself which can be limiting in terms of growth potential). Consider the following:
Allocate some money to advertising and marketing – this could be online (e.g., Google AdWords, Facebook Ads), offline (newspapers, magazines, trade shows) or a combination of both. Figure out what is the most cost-effective way to target your specific customer
Talk to people who have already been successful in the industry and see what they’ve done to start their business – ask them if you can work for free or at a discount rate until your product/service gets established
Also, talk to professionals who are experienced in getting products out there through advertising (e.g., media buyers, ad agencies) as well as marketing people who can help to craft a story that your product/service is going to solve.
Step #5: Sales & Customers
Once you’ve created an ad campaign, start talking to customers. The first goal is just to start getting leads by advertising/marketing, then start turning those into sales (money in the bank). Here are a few tips for performing this:
Put together a sales team – put someone on who will be responsible for customer acquisition and lead generation
Create an email list/contact database of potential customers. Set up a CRM (customer relationship management) system which will be used to track the activity of your leads and prospects so you can follow up with them in a more organized way.
Step #6: Operations
Are you ready for the next step? Most business people think about their product or service and then start thinking about how to sell it. Start by looking at your operations: what is involved in delivering that great idea daily? What are all of the steps from ordering materials, purchasing them, producing your services/products, shipping them, and billing? You need to have a process in place that will make your business run smoothly.
This is not the time to try and do everything yourself: you need to delegate responsibilities and create processes for others to follow. Start by making a list of all the tasks involved in running your business, then create a process for each task. Start by concentrating on your high-profit areas and using workflow management software to help you create the process for each task.
Do not try to do everything at once: Start with one or two processes, then repeat the process as you add staff or new tasks are added. This will ensure that everyone is working in sync across the business and gives you a process to follow when changes or additions are made.
Using the correct tools and processes will help your business run smoother and give you more time to concentrate on sales and marketing. Start by taking a look at your operations and creating a process for each task!
Step #7: Business Location
Are you ready for the next step? Start by looking at your business location. Do you have a place to set up shop, or do you need an office space that can accommodate both customers and staff?
Most tasks in our businesses will require either some type of equipment or physical work on our part: are there facilities available where people could wait comfortably or work on the production of your services/products?
You may also need to take into account what type of permits or licenses you will require for your business. Start by contacting your city hall and inquire about the specific requirements for your industry: most cities have a website with all of the information that you need. You can also check with other businesses in your industry to see what they did to get started.