Stop! Do you really think you are ready to start your new business venture?
Did you know there are a series of steps you must take before even starting your business?
While you don’t want to spend too much time planning and researching for your business, there are certain tasks you must ensure you have checked off before starting up.
You may want to start a venture, but are uncertain of where to begin, or you have some business ideas, but need to ensure you are heading in the right direction first. Follow these steps carefully so you don’t waste any time, money or frustration after starting-up.
1. Think about the work you enjoy
Before putting together any ideas, it is very important to think about the type of work that interests you the most.
This can have a huge effect on the business you ultimately pursue, so you want to ensure you are happy with the company you end up building.
You can read more about why this is especially important here.
2. Consider your interests
While seeking the type of work you would enjoy is most important, pursuing an industry you have an interest in can also be helpful.
The greater your interest in your business, the greater the likelihood you have of enjoying your work and successfully leading your company.
Thus, you should keep your interests in mind and factor them in when sorting through your ideas.
3. Generate ideas
Utilize brainstorming and other techniques to come up with business ideas. Then, conduct some general research on where a lot of demand lies. Bonus if you can find an area with a lot of demand and less competition.
Once you have a long list of ideas, cross out those that don’t complement your work-related interests as identified in step one, and general interests identified in step two.
Also, look for the ideas that seem to be the easiest to start-up and/or have the highest demand.
4. Conduct market research
By now, you should only have a few remaining ideas. Conduct more in-depth market research online to get a better feel for the demand related to these ideas. You should also look to discover what features and benefits customers favor most from these products.
Knowing this ahead of time will equip you with the knowledge you need to develop a more favored and higher-quality product. By understanding these areas of unfulfilled demand, you can create an item that is head and shoulders above your competition.
One last but very important factor to consider is if the demand for these products are growing or shrinking. ONLY pursue ideas that have a growing demand associated with it.
At the end of this step you should either have one idea you are going to act upon, or several ideas, all of which you will inevitably sell.
5. Conduct competitive research
You want to get a feel for marketing techniques, pricing, accessory or auxiliary products, demographics targeted, and any other consistent strategies you see your competition doing.
If you see repeating tactics among your different competitors, this is because these strategies have been proven to work. Take note of these best practices and consider how to implement them in your own, unique way.
If you can obtain any sales figures or projections, great. But be very subjective if you get this information from larger competitors.
6. Answer all sourcing questions
A business cannot function without providing a product or service, nor can it function without cash.
Consider your manufacturing needs. Will you outsource? Manufacture yourself? Hire staff to do the manufacturing? Is research required first?
Then consider how much money you will need and if you will require external financing. If so, how will you get it? Through a bank? Selling equity? A rich grandmother? Or are you bootstrapping and can get by with financing the venture just through the income from a job?
7. Write a business plan…or not
Are you the type of person who needs a plan in order to move forward? Will you constantly refer to this plan and make changes whenever needed? If so, consider putting together a business plan right away.
You might also need one if you require financing from an external source.
If you don’t require external financing and putting together a business plan feels like a formality to you, don’t waste your time.
A business plan is often an excuse to delay selling your product. So only put one together if you will actually get some use out of it.
8. Write a marketing plan
This plan is much more important. It doesn’t have to be a formal plan (unless you need external financing), but you should at least have a list of different ways you are going to try to market your product.
There are a lot of marketing tactics to test and tweak, so in order to prevent yourself from forgetting any of them, it is important to list your different ideas.
9. Seek financing
Now you have to get money to fund your venture. You have already determined how much you need and where you will try to get financing.
If you have determined you need external financing, you have already put together a business and marketing plan. Seek out your potential sources and start trying to get the financing you need.
If you have decided to bootstrap, save up as much as you need now, or use your current income to fund your expenses. With bootstrapping, funding is an ongoing process until you can be self sufficient, so be prepared to utilize your current income for a longer period of time.
10. Start the venture
There are many more steps you could probably do before launch. But often you learn the most by starting and tweaking as you go along. At least you have all the bare-minimum resources you need to start.
You can always refine your practices later on. In fact, tackling issues after start-up will allow you to confront problems with a much more educated mindset.
Don’t delay! Now is the time to open your doors, begin selling, testing, tweaking, messing up and trying all over again. Good luck!