Top 8 Steps to Take When Starting a New Business
There are many things that go into making a small business successful. Inevitably, these are the same things that go into being a successful small business owner. If you can accomplish all of these efforts, you will be well on your way to achieving your business goals!
Without a clear vision, it can be challenging to know what steps to take in order to achieve success. Define your goals and create a plan of action that will help you reach them. Successful business owners have a clear idea of where they want to be and how they will get there. Without this direction, it’s easy to get lost or sidetracked. Define your goals and put together a plan of action that will help you reach them.
Additionally, make sure to review and revise your goals regularly to make sure they are still relevant and achievable. By revising your goals, you can also figure out what’s gone wrong and what needs to change in order to help you achieve success. Therefore having goals written down in your business plan is important as it will keep you focused.
Understand Your Customers
You can’t just open up a small business and hope that people will come. You need to know who your target market is and what they want. Understanding your customers is essential to being able to provide them with what they need and keep them coming back. To really understand your customers, you need to talk to them. Ask them questions about their needs and wants. Find out what they like and don’t like about your business and other similar ones.
The more you know about your customers, the better equipped you’ll be to give them what they want. You should also keep track of your customer data. This includes things like their contact information, purchase history, and any other relevant details. This data can help you better understand your customers and make more informed decisions about your business.
Refine your idea.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, you likely already have an idea of what you want to sell online, or at least the market you want to enter. Do a quick search for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what current brand leaders are doing and figure out how you can do it better. If you think your business can deliver something other companies don’t (or deliver the same thing, only faster and cheaper), or you’ve got a solid idea and are ready to create a business plan.
Define your “why.”
“In the words of Simon Sinek, ‘always start with why,’” Glenn Gutek, CEO of Awake Consulting and Coaching, told Business News Daily. “It is good to know why you are launching your business. In this process, it may be wise to differentiate between [whether] the business serves a personal why or a marketplace why. When your why is focused on meeting a need in the marketplace, the scope of your business will always be larger than a business that is designed to serve a personal need.”
Another option is to open a franchise of an established company. The concept, brand following and business model are already in place; all you need is a good location and the means to fund your operation.
Brainstorm your business name.
Regardless of which option you choose, it’s vital to understand the reasoning behind your idea. Stephanie Desaulniers, owner of Business by Dezign and former director of operations and women’s business programs at Covation Center, cautions entrepreneurs against writing a business plan or brainstorming a business name before nailing down the idea’s value.
Clarify your target customers.
“You need to clarify why you want to work with these customers – do you have a passion for making people’s lives easier?” Desaulniers said. “Or enjoy creating art to bring color to their world? Identifying these answers helps clarify your mission. Third, you want to define how you will provide this value to your customers and how to communicate that value in a way that they are willing to pay.”
TIP: To refine your business idea, identify your “why,” your target customers and your business name.
During the ideation phase, you need to iron out the major details. If the idea isn’t something you’re passionate about or if there’s not a market for your creation, it might be time to brainstorm other ideas.
Write a business plan.
Once you have your idea in place, you need to ask yourself a few important questions: What is the purpose of your business? Who are you selling to? What are your end goals? How will you finance your startup costs? These questions can be answered in a well-written business plan.
A lot of mistakes are made by new businesses rushing into things without pondering these aspects of the business. You need to find your target customer base. Who is going to buy your product or service? If you can’t find evidence that there’s a demand for your idea, then what would be the point?
Free download: Here is our business plan template you can use to plan and grow your business.
Conduct market research.
Conducting thorough market research on your field and demographics of potential clientele is an important part of crafting a business plan. This involves conducting surveys, holding focus groups, and researching SEO and public data.
Market research helps you understand your target customer – their needs, preferences and behavior – as well as your industry and competitors. Many small business professionals recommend gathering demographic information and conducting a competitive analysis to better understand opportunities and limitations within your market.
The best small businesses have products or services that are differentiated from the competition. This has a significant impact on your competitive landscape and allows you to convey unique value to potential customers.
Consider an exit strategy.
It’s also a good idea to consider an exit strategy as you compile your business plan. Generating some idea of how you’ll eventually exit the business forces you to look to the future.
“Too often, new entrepreneurs are so excited about their business and so sure everyone everywhere will be a customer that they give very little, if any, time to show the plan on leaving the business,” said Josh Tolley, CEO of both Shyft Capital and Kavana.
“When you board an airplane, what is the first thing they show you? How to get off of it. When you go to a movie, what do they point out before the feature begins to play? Where the exits are. Your first week of kindergarten, they line up all the kids and teach them fire drills to exit the building. Too many times I have witnessed business leaders that don’t have three or four predetermined exit routes. This has led to lower company value and even destroyed family relationships.”
A business plan helps you figure out where your company is going, how it will overcome any potential difficulties and what you need to sustain it. When you’re ready to put pen to paper, these free templates can help.
8 Steps to Starting Your Own Business
Starting your own business may sound like an undertaking of epic proportions. The truth is, it’s not. Yes, you’re going to have to work hard, and commit to working on it at all hours of the day, but actually getting set up is simply down to making sure you’ve “checked all the boxes,” which is exactly what this business startup checklist aims to help you do.
We’ve broken the tasks down into manageable categories. Here is an overview of the “8 Steps to Starting Your Own Business” checklist. The SBA Guide will include more detailed information on each section and provide resources that will help you complete each stage of getting started.
Your answers to these types of questions will help you narrow your focus. This step is not supposed to dissuade you from starting your own business. Rather, it’s here to get you thinking and planning. In order to start a successful business, passion alone isn’t enough.
A great business idea isn’t just one that makes money. It’s one that’s a good fit for you personally and plays to your strengths and skills. Great businesses are fueled by owners that have a passion for what they do. Without passion it becomes a job. Hopefully you’re going to be in business for a long time, so pick something you love.
Once you decide on a business that fits your goals and lifestyle, you need to evaluate your idea. Who will buy your product or service? Who will your competitors be? At this stage you also need to figure out how much money you will need to get started.
Your “personal evaluation” was as much a reality check as a prompt to get you thinking. The same thing applies when it comes to researching your business and the industry you’d like to go into.
If you like, you can even take things a step further and consider the consumer needs currently not being met by businesses in the industry. This is a good time to take a look at potential competitors. And remember, the presence of competitors is oftentimes a good sign! It means that the market for your product or service already exists, so you know that from the outset, you’re not flying entirely blind.
While you’ve got the time, learn as much as you can about your competitors, about what they provide to their customers, how they attract attention, and whether or not their customers are happy. If you can figure out what’s missing before you even get started, your job will be made that much easier when you do finally set up shop.
Realistically speaking, registering your business as a business is the first step toward making it real. However, as with the personal evaluation, take your time to get to know the pros and cons of different business formations.
If at all possible, work with an attorney to iron out the details. This is not an area you want to get wrong. You will also need to get the proper business licenses and permits. Depending upon the business, there may be city, county, or state regulations as well as permits and licenses to deal with. This is also the time to check into any insurance you may need for the business and to find a good accountant.
While incorporating can be expensive, it’s well worth the money. A corporation becomes a separate entity that is legally responsible for the business. If something goes wrong, you cannot be held personally liable.
If you will be seeking outside financing, a business plan is a necessity. But, even if you are going to finance the venture yourself, a business plan will help you figure out how much money you will need in order to get started; what needs to get done when, and where you are headed.
In the simplest terms, a business plan is a roadmap-something you will use to help you chart your progress and that will outline the things you need to do in order to reach your goals. Rather than thinking of a business plan as a hefty document that you’ll only use once (perhaps to obtain a loan from a bank), think of it as a way to formalize your intentions.
Even if you do not think you need a business plan, you should go through the planning process anyway. The process of doing so will help to uncover any holes or areas that have you have not thought through well enough. If you do need to write a formal business plan document, you should follow the outline we’ve put together in Write Your Business Plan.
Depending on the size of your venture, you may need to seek financing from an “angel” or from a venture capital firm. Most small businesses begin with private financing from credit cards, personal loans, help from the family, and so on.
As a rule, besides your start-up costs you should also have at least three months’ worth of your family’s budget in the bank. In order to finance your company, you will need to match the company’s needs to the appropriate financing option.
You’ve got a long list of things you need to do: Find a location. Negotiate leases. Buy inventory. Get the phones installed. Have stationery printed. Hire staff. Set your prices. Throw a grand opening party.