If you’re considering starting your own business, we applaud your efforts and envy your focus.
Focus? Correct, you may have the latest and most innovative idea, but can you stay focused and determined enough to see it through? That’s for you to answer, on our end, we’ve prepared this list of tips for your consideration. If even one of them is helpful, then perhaps this time is well spent.
Look in the Mirror
Do you have what it takes to start and run a business? This isn’t said to cast self-doubt, simply to cause you to think. There are hundreds of details you’ll need to accomplish, be certain you know that well in advance.
Making Your Idea a Reality
Don’t jump on the bandwagon, just because there is a new trend. While trends are great, will they stand the test of time? If you can create a business around an idea that you’re passionate about, that should be your focus. Then, take that idea and build a product around it.
Does Anyone Care?
Take the time to research your product and idea. Is it something that people need, will it make their lives better? Can you manufacturer then sell at a reasonable profit?
The Dreaded Business Plan
Even if you have never written a business plan, there is a first time for everything, and this is the time. Do NOT start a business without a sound business plan. It is your blueprint, your map, your introduction to potential investors. It can be altered down the road, but the time to think through problems is before they become insurmountable.
Know Your Market
Don’t venture blindly into uncharted territory, research your market. Identify with your customers, create something that satisfies a need.
What Are Your Costs?
As much as possible, chart your costs ahead of time. Determine what it will cost you to manufacture and deliver. Where possible, build in a contingency for emergencies. Not only will this help you better understand your market, investors will want to know the details.
Determine a Budget
This should also be part of your business plan. Decide or determine the cash you’ll need to get your first product to market. What are the manufacturing costs, operating costs, etc.?
Once you’ve determined your budget, decide how it will be funded. Will you talk with family and friends, use savings or credit cards, or seek venture capital.
Listen and Learn
When talking with investors, listen to what they have to say. Often they will present ideas you may not have thought of. Whether you follow their advice or not, is a separate decision, but always listen.
Don’t Forget Family and Friends
Anytime you begin something of this magnitude, your time is going to be precious. Have conversations with family and friends, letting them know what will be happening and how much time you’ll have to invest. You’ll want them on your side, helping you when and where needed, if only emotionally.
The Business Entity
Vist sba.gov for details on starting a business and understanding what type of business entity to create. Will you be a sole proprietor, an LLC or a corporation? Each has different implications, make sure you understand which is best for your situation.
Decide on a business name
The name of the business is an interesting thing and something that has really evolved over time, in years gone buy businesses usually had a name from which you could instantly tell what they business did such as “ABC Taxi” or “Fox News Channel”, however, the modern trend, perhaps started by Richard Bransons “Virgin” is a one word catchy phrase like “Uber”. Give it some thought, decide on your style and take your pick!
Check with the County Court Clerk
Find out if your business name is available. If it is, then register it, trademark it and buy a domain with that name. Each step is an additional piece of protection for your long term success.
America loves new businesses, so take advantage where you can. If you spend time at SBA.gov, you’ll find a myriad selections of content designed to help you succeed. Plus, you’ll find resources in your local area and people who donate their time to help people just like you.
The Tax Man Cometh
Understand your tax obligations and understand them well. If you need to speak with an accountant or attorney, do so. The last thing you want is the government knocking at your door saying where is my money?
Permits and Licensing
While it would be nice to simply jump in and start doing business, there are permits involved. Depending on how your business is structured, you may need a Federal tax ID. Check locally to see if you’ll need any special zoning consideration.
Check with your insurance broker to see if you have the right type of insurance for your business. If you’re working from home, it’s possible your home owners insurance will cover things, but check to be sure.
Someone must keep the books, that’s just one of the costs of doing business. There is software to help or speak with a CPA if necessary.
In Real Estate, it’s location… Location…. Location… It’s pretty much the same for business. If your business depends on walk-in customers, then be sure and locate your offices in a suitable area. You’ll need to consider parking and be certain your entrance can easily be found.
Protecting Your Idea
While in some cases a patent is needed, you may not have the funds initially. The first to market can works wonders in protecting an idea, and the patent can come after the cash flow begins. Feel comfortable with your decision on this, speaking with an attorney if necessary.
Change is Inevitable
Don’t let your business be forced into a corner, change, move, adapt as necessary to ensure your success.
It’s not wise to tell everyone your idea, but its mandatory you tell someone. You want to get feedback from family and friends. Ask them to be honest and let you know what they think. Often these ideas can help you spy a problem you may not have noticed.
There will always be naysayers but never listen to them. In most cases, they are simply jealous of what you’re doing. Believe in yourself, your idea and those you trust. Forget the rest.
Learn and Adapt
If you give things your best shot, but people don’t like your idea, stay the course. Ask them what they didn’t like and how you can improve the product to make it better. Remember, you can learn something from everyone, even if its what not to do.
Get your product delivered and delivered fast. No customer likes excuses, they want to get what they paid for, so make it happen. On batch number two, you will have learned, possibly improved. In business, it is always a journey, never a destination.
Don’t be a One Hit Wonder
Think of Apple and the iPhone, always improving, innovating and offering new products. Don’t let your customers buy, then never to be heard from again. Innovate, create and keep your customers happy.
Stay the Course
It’s the rare business that makes a profit from day one; it’s going to take time and effort. Stay the course and never give up on your dreams, but be ready to adapt as needed.
Stay in Touch
Keep in touch with your customers. Let them know of your struggles and successes. If you’re a real person, you’ll gain a real following.
Be Kind but Firm
If you have difficulty with a person, be it an employee or partner, be honest, be frank, but never be angry. Yelling and screaming aren’t good for morale, and the stress ian cause a negative work environment.
Hire a Professional Writer
Every business must communicate their ideas ins a professional manner. They’ll be emails, white papers, press releases, sales pages and more. Each of these can make or break your business. As soon as able, unless you’re a professional writer yourself, hire someone who is.
Be a Boy Scout
The motto of the Boy Scouts is always be prepared, it’s true for them and should be for you too. Never go into a meeting unprepared, be the leader others are expecting.
Beating Your Competition
Don’t be afraid of competition, instead thrive from it. There isn’t just one type of candy bar; there are hundreds, each appealing to someone different. Having competition means there is a market. If there’s a market, then learn what it is and fulfill the need. Study your competition, then deliver your product in a better manner.
Spread the Word
Attend meetings, be a speaker at luncheons, blog often, help others, offer solutions and you will be helping your business grow. Remember always that word of mouth is the best form of advertising.
Always, always treat your customers well. This has never mattered more than it does today. With social media, you can quickly and easily spread either good will or bad. Make sure yours is good will.
Have a Professional Website
In today’s world, you MUST have a professional website, one that is mobile optimized and loads fast. This is the front door to your online identity, make it shine.
It’s crucial that your cash flow is consistent. While everyone has a bad day, week or month, make sure you are paid, and invoices don’t slip into arrears. Give customers multiple methods of payment, deliver top-notch products, but make certain you are paid for what is given.
Hire Good People
Don’t be a control freak; you can’t do it all yourself. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to perform every task and to do it well. You need good people and when you find the right ones, treat them like gold.
Be Straight Forward
When problems arise, address them, don’t put them off till tomorrow. This holds true whether you’re speaking with employees or suppliers. Be kind but be honest speaking directly with the person, never behind their back.
Hire people who are smarter than you and have different skills. While you may be the perfect manager, you might not be skilled in other areas. Hire people that are, and it will make you and your business stronger.
The Last in Line
Ultimately, you as the owner/CEO will make the most money, but likely that won’t be on day one. Make certain your employees are paid and paid well, put yourself last in line till revenues allow your deserved salary to be paid. Do not spend more than you have coming in (regarding your personal wealth outside of the business at this time as there will be ups and downs. Consider some other side investments at the same time.
What does success mean to you? Is it making a million dollars a year or is it fulfilling your dreams? Money is important, but determine what success means to you. Perhaps it is having enough money to spend time with family and friends. It’s your choice, but don’t forget to live the life you’ve created.
The University of Hard Knocks
The very best advice I can offer is possibly none at all. No matter what I or anyone says, you are the person in charge. You may make mistakes, but when you do, learn from them and move onto something better.