Ask any entrepreneur or business owner when the moment was that their big idea struck, and they can likely recall it.
All business owners remember where they were when they started, whether in a cafe, pub, or canteen. They can remember the trepidation and uncertainty, but they can also remember the excitement and freedom they experienced when finally pursuing their dreams.
For anybody wanting to launch a business, having a solid plan is the first step. Some businesses can flourish instantly, but others are slow growers, needing regular tender loving care before they can harness their full potential.
Whatever the case, for those wanting to start their own business there are important steps to tick off as you progress into the first step of your journey. Here are 8 of them:
Brainstorming is essential because a shocking number of wannabe entrepreneurs try to grow a business that is unsustainable from the outset.
This is why brainstorming — an often overlooked and dismissed concept — is the first place any new business owner should start.
Not only can it generate concepts, it can also throw up questions entrepreneurs may not have considered, as well as potential complications to run into down the road. Having this knowledge allows for business owners to make a plan and often see the business through to succession by anticipating the things that could hold it back.
2. Analyze your industry
Once you’re past the brainstorming stage, some business ideas are great in theory – like a car that could wash itself, for example – but either impractical or undesired in the exact industry you’re hoping to enter.
Ask questions: Who is your business, product or service made for? Is there a need? Would there be a long term need, or is this something that is riding off the back of sudden popularity or seasonal interest?
Evaluating competitors will also help because if the market is too saturated, you won’t receive your slice of it.
Another thing to consider is a personal evaluation: How much money and time will you need to get started?
A personal evaluation is just as beneficial for your business as it is for you. You need to know that you are in a stable enough position to see your business through to completion, and to stand up to any problems in the industry.
To conduct this research do a general Google search, but also reach out to existing members of the industry. Ask them questions or read their literature, like books or relevant industry magazines.
3. Conduct market research
Now you’ve analysed the industry, it’s time to undertake market research. If all has gone well from your industry evaluation and you know there is a need or desire for the product, as well as there being a slice of the industry you can take advantage of, you now need your general buyers advice regarding your product or service.
One mistake some entrepreneurs make is to presume that everybody wants their product without actively determining the need for it, and also how much their audience is willing to pay. Asking for consumer feedback helps to mitigate this risk.
You’ll understand the general price range your audience will be willing to pay, what benefits they see from using your product or service and also how you can go about making it the best possible product.
As you’d be a new business, it could also give you some ideas as to how to build trust as a small business.
4. Draft a business plan
Next comes your business plan. All the data you’ve collated from your industry analysis and market evaluation can be poured into this document to compile a concise action plan.
Formal business plans include executive summaries, followed by descriptions of the business goods and services it will produce. Market analysis and financial workings out then follow this.
Business plans are essential for investors and funders, but they’re just as crucial for business owners too. Business plans most commonly include goals, even if these are in the short term and these can help new business owners stay on track, giving them a clear blueprint for their future.
5. Form your business
Congratulations! Your business plan is written, you’ve sent it off to investors and now you’re ready to register your business.
All you’ll need to decide is whether to form a sole proprietorship or an LLC.
If forming an LLC, whilst the cost is under $100, there are extra cost-saving ways to register your business and open your bank accounts. Free company formation apps that allow you to do this in just a few clicks are available, or alternatively you can go online.
Make sure you identify trusted attorneys and small business accountants to help you with these tasks. Often these tasks will bring up paperwork that can be complex to understand, so it’s beneficial to make sure you’re signing the right things.
6. Deploy your marketing strategy
One of the most important, but also fun, parts of starting your new business is getting it out into the world.
Marketing makes all the difference for small businesses, and it’s essential that they undertake it in at least some manner.
Local marketing strategies can work wonders for cost-saving at the expense of only needing to print out a few fliers, but it’s also worth creating a blogging schedule. Websites or blogs can be hosted on free platforms, and blogs can be laden with the best SEO practices to drive organic (free) traffic from Google.
Using social media platforms can also advertise your business – mostly for free – and send it reaching out onto the screens of brand new consumers.
7. Secure online domain names
Whilst starting a blog on a blogging site can be one cost-efficient way of beginning to get the word out about your business and drive traffic, another is to build a website.
Websites don’t need to cost the earth and can be created on a plethora of free website builders. In the digital world, it’s more important than ever that businesses do, at some stage, create a website and secure a domain name.
This helps online consumers find your business, and it’s also the best type of free advertising. Social media profiles can link back to this website, meaning that the audience who have found you on Instagram can now contact you directly.
Domain names start at around $35, so they’re not hugely expensive. Make sure you pick one that is original but is also true to your business name too so that it makes it easier to find you.
8. Make an early habit of setting goals
Finally, set goals. Goals help us stay on track and when we first start a business we can become distracted with the crazy amount of things we want to achieve.
Little goals help keep us motivated when perhaps things aren’t going so well, and give us a sign post for all the things we want to accomplish.