The 8 essential steps to starting your own business
The allure of starting your business fosters the image of freedom in the workplace. However, it is also entails a labor of love that equates to long hours, tight budgets, and high-stakes pressure with your own investment money. Only half of new businesses survive past their fourth year.
Business success is premediated. If you want to be a part of the other half of businesses who survive and thrive, here are eight necessary steps you should consider before diving in head first.
A good idea is a start, but a unique one is essential
Every business venture starts off with the following thought: “What a great idea. I should sell that idea.” However, for every good idea you have, there are hundreds of people out there who have the exact same idea.
- A prudent approach is to research your idea from top to bottom looking to see if your idea already exists. If it does, it’s certainly not the end of the world. Markets can sustain multiple successful competitors. Simply ask yourself if you can find a unique angle or a different, better approach to the idea.
- Investigate the economics of the idea. Is there a good business case or model? Are other people that are pursuing the same concept making money?
- Finally, you will want to know if the idea is legally protected. Is there a patent issued or pending? If so, it’s best to go back to the drawing board.
Behind every great idea, there is an ever greater plan
Simply put, you need a business plan. Many people skip right pass this step and end up backtracking. Creating your business plan at the beginning will help guide your vision and direction as you continue along you entrepreneurial journey. Think of your business plan as the blueprint to the new house you are about to build. You wouldn’t just start building a house without a plan would you?
What kind of business entity?
Your business needs a legal structure — and there is a lot to choose from. LLC? S Corp? C Corp? Deciding how to legally structure your business can become very tricky. They have their pros and cons. You might be best to consult with a CPA or lawyer to figure out what is best for you.
Customers make the world go round
Do you fully understand your customers? Age? Gender? Purchasing preferences? Likes? Dislikes? Without fully understanding your target audience, you will never be able to craft an effective marketing strategy. Your customer demographics may change over time as well, so you must be vigilant in how your track and monitor your audience. Google Analytics is a powerful tool that breakdowns customer data so you can augment your marketing based on observable trends. Which brings us to the next important point…
Creating your website is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Whether you are creating a brick and mortar store or an online business, the website is your virtual storefront, your online salesperson, and the first interaction a potential customer might have with your company. A recent study found that a new customer will make up his/her mind about your business in less than two-tenths of a second when visiting your website. And if you are not even on the web, you are selling yourself short of countless leads. Now is the time to start searching for a unique domain for your business if you haven’t already.
Creating buzz about your business
What is your go-to-market strategy? How will you get the word out and create buzz? Start with the basics and build from there. Understanding the basics of marketing is essential in getting your name out and gaining clientele. If people don’t know your products exist, how will they ever buy? Develop a strategy that leverages efficient messaging, attracts attention, and is consistent amongst various platforms.
Money, money, money
How will you fund this business of yours? How will you get paid, and do you know how to maximize your tax benefits? Finances and accounting can be one of the most tedious and intimidating aspects of running your business, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowledge is power so start reading up on how others have done it and research the tools that are available to help you!
However, don’t take your eyes off of the prize. Tim O’Reilly, CEO and founder of O’Reilly Media, best described the role of money in your venture: “Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.”
Visit with Region 10 and the SBRC
Region 10’s Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) should be on your list of to-do’s before starting your business. Our seasoned professionals can help guide you, whether as a sounding board for ideas or for deeper-dives into your business plan. Learn more by visiting www.region10.net/smallbusiness or calling 970.249.2436 to schedule an appointment today.
Seth Godin, founder and CEO of Squidoo, once said, “The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.”