“It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hard work of running a business and completely forget that – while solving problems and building something, you can be proud of, you also have an incredible opportunity to shape the future. Even better, you have the chance to meet amazing people and do amazing things along the way. It’s important not to get lost among the trees and forget about the amazing, beautiful forest you’re planting.”
—Colin Wright, co-founder of Asymmetrical Press
Startup Topics: Type, Idea, Research, Feedback, Legal, Biz Plan, Fund, Perfect, Team, Location, Marketing, Grow.
Who? There are no limits on who can become a great entrepreneur. You don’t necessarily need a degree, a bunch of $$$ or even experience to start something that could become the next major success. However, you do need a strong plan and the drive to see it thru. If you read Entrepreneur Zines, odds are you already have the drive, but you might not know how to start building your biz. Check out this step-by-step guide to help turn your big idea into a successful business.
1. Am I the Entrepreneur type?
Why do you want to start a business? If you want extra $$$, maybe you should start a Hustle. If you want more freedom, maybe it’s time to leave your 9-to-5 and start something new. Once you have the reason, start asking yourself even more questions to help you figure out the type of business you should start, and if you have what it takes.
- What skills do you have?
- Where does my passion lie?
- Where is my area of expertise?
- How much can I afford to spend,
- How much extra capital do I need?
- What sort of lifestyle do you want to live?
Be brutally honest with your answers. This will create a foundation for everything you do – moving forward, so it’s better to know the truth now than later.
2. Think of a Gr8 Business idea.
Do you already have a killer Idea? If so, congrads. You can skip to the next section. If not, there are a lot of ways to start brainstorming for a good idea. An article on Entrepreneur, “8 Ways to Come Up With a Business Idea,” helps people qualify potential business ideas. Here are a few pointers from the article:
- Ask yourself; What’s next? What technology or advancement is coming soon, and how will that change the business environment, as we know it? Why don’t you try to get there first?
- Fix something that Bugs you. People would rather have < of a bad thing than > of a good thing. If your business can fix a problem for your customers, they’ll thank you for it w/ $
- Apply your Skills to an entirely new field. Many industries do things one way, because that’s the way they’ve always been done. In those cases, a fresh set of eyes from a new perspective can make all the difference.
- Use the “Better, Cheaper, Faster” approach. Do you have a business idea that isn’t completely new? If so, think about the current offerings and focus on how you can create something better, cheaper or faster.BCF
When you have an idea: 1) research it online (to see if it’s already out there, 2) ask everyone you know about it & 3) find & ask advice from other entrepreneurs – verify you have a good idea. If you’ve exhausted all the above and you’re still not sure, here are 55 great business options you can consider.
3. Do extensive Market Research.
Is anyone else already doing what you want to start doing? If not, is there a good reason why? Start researching your potential rivals or partners within the market by using this guide. It breaks down the objectives you need, to complete with your research and the methods you can use to do just that. Significantly, it explains three of the most common mistakes people make when starting their market research, which are limiting:
- Using only secondary research.
- Using only online resources.
- Surveying only the people you know.
Getting it. If you have a plan or prototype, let people try your product or service and see what their take is on it. A fresh set of eyes can help point out a problem you might have missed. Plus, if these people are impressed, they will become your first brand advocates – especially if you listen to their input, make some modifications & they like it.
Using it. One of the easiest ways to utilize feedback is to focus on “The Lean Startup” approach (read more about it here), but it involves three basic pillars: 1) prototyping, 2) experimenting & 3) pivoting. By testing a product in the market, getting feedback, then adapting applicable change before you put the product out there – for more feedback, you can constantly improve and make sure you stay relevant with each revision. Just realize that only some of that advice, solicited or not, will be good. Some of it won’t be. That’s why you should have a plan on how to receive feedback.
5. Make it Legal.
Get all of the legal aspects out of the way early. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone taking your big idea, screwing you over in a partnership or suing you for something you never saw coming. A quick Checklist of things to shore up might include: Structure (Corp, LLC, etc), Name, Local Registration, Trademarks, Copyrights, Patents, Fed & State tax ID
Getting a Lawyer. While some things you can do on your own, it’s best to consult with a Llawyer when starting out, so you can make sure you’ve covered everything that you need. Here are some questions you can ask when looking for a Small-business Lawyer.
6. Write a Business Plan.
It’s a written description of how your business will will be structured and many other important factors, Here’s what we suggest should be in your business plan:
- Executive Summary. This is a high-level summary of what the plan includes, description, the problem the business is solving, the solution & business structure. Peter@Wiz4.biz can help you with this because he’s written over 30 Exec Sumy’s. ( I have a 30 point Template )
After the Exec Sumry is completed, reviewed & approved, you can create the following
- Business Description. Now & future.
- Market strategies. What is your target market, and how can you best sell to them?
- Competitive analysis. What are the strengths & weakness of your competitors? SWAT How will you beat them?
- Design & Development plan. What is your product or service and how will it develop? Then, create a budget for that product or service.
- Operations & management plan. How does the business function on a daily basis?
- Funding factors. Where is the money coming from? When? How? What sort of projections should you create on Income and what should you take into consideration?
Keep in mind, the Business Plan is a living, document – which should be updated as circumstances change and/or you change Vision.
7. Fund your Business.
There are lots of different ways to get the resources you need to start your business. Here are 10 ways. Take a look and consider your own resources, circumstances and life situation – to figure out which one or combo works best for you.
- Pitch your needs to Friends & Family. Here’s a resource you can use – to make it as simple as possible.
- Fund your Startup yourself. Boot-Strapping your business might take longer, but the good part is that you control your own destiny (& equity).
- Request a Small-business Grant. Start by checking out our guide to small-business grants. Then, head over to Grants.gov, which is a searchable, online directory of more than 1,000 Federal Grant programs. It might be a long process, but it doesn’t cost you any equity.
- Start a Crowd-Funding campaign. Sometimes power is in numbers, and a bunch of small investments can add up to something big. If you think your business might be a fit for something like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, you should read up on 10 of the best-crowdfunded businesses ever or check out the most popular crowdfunding websites.
- Apply to local Angel Investor groups. Online platforms such as Gust and AngelList + local networking can help you find potential investors who relate to your industry & passion.
- Seek Venture Capital investors. VCs typically look for big opportunities from proven teams that need a $M or more, so you should have some “traction” before approaching them.
- Join a startup Incubator or Accelerator. These companies are designed to help new or startup businesses get to the next level. Most provide free resources, including office facilities & consulting – along with networking opportunities & pitch events. Some, also provide Seed Funding as well.
- Negotiate an Advance from a strategic Partner or Customer. If someone wants your product or service bad enough to pay for it, there’s a chance they’ll want it bad enough to help yourfund it, too. Variations on this theme include early licensing or white-labeling agreements.
- Trade some Equity or Services for Startup help. (ie, you could support a computer system for office tenants in exchange for free office space). You might not get paid for this, but you won’t have to pay for an office, either, and a penny saved is a penny earned.
- Seek a Bank Loan or Line of Credit. Here are 10 questions you should ask before applying for a bank loan, including whether you will qualify. If you do meet the requirements, a good place to start for loan opportunities is the SBA, Small Business Administration.
8. Develop/Perfect your Product or Service.
After all the work you’ve put into starting your business, it’s going to feel awesome to actually see your idea come to life. But keep in mind, it takes a Team to create a product. If you want to make an App and you’re not an engineer, you will need to reach out to an App Techie. Or if you need to mass-produce an item, you will have to team up with a manufacturer.
Product. Here is a seven-step checklist — including finding a manufacturer and pricing strategies — you can use for your own product development. A major point the article highlights is that when you’re actually crafting the product, you should focus on two things: “Simplicity & Quality”. You need to make sure the product can grab someone’s attention quickly. When you are ready to do product development and outsource some of the tasks make sure you:
- Retain control of your Product. If you leave the development up to someone else or another firm without supervising, you might not get the thing you envisioned.
- Implement Checks & Balances to reduce your Risk. If you only hire one freelance engineer, there’s a chance that no one will be able to check their work. If you go the freelance route, use multiple engineers so you don’t have to just take someone at their word.
- Hire Specialists, not Generalists. Get people who are awesome at the exact thing you want, not a jack-of-all-trades type.
- Don’t put all your Eggs in one Basket. Make sure you don’t lose all of your progress if one freelancer leaves or if a contract falls thru.
- Manage your Product Development to save $$$. Rates can vary for engineers depending on their specialties, so make sure you’re not paying an over-qualified engineer when you could get the same end result for a much lower price.
To help you have peace of mind, start learning as much as you can about the production, so you can improve the process and your hiring decisions as time goes along.
Service. This process will be very different for Service-focused entrepreneurs, but no less important. You have several skills that people are willing to pay you for right now, but those skills can be hard to quantify. How can you establish yourself and your abilities? You might consider creating a Portfolio of your work — create a Website to show your artwork if you’re an artist, writing if you’re a writer or design if you’re a designer. Also, make sure you have the necessary Certificates or Educational requirements, so that when someone inquires about your service, you’re ready to jump at a good opportunity. 105 Service Businesses to Start Today
9. Start building your Team.
To scale your business, you are going to need to hand off responsibilities to other people. You need a Team to fill your short-comings gaps. Whether you need a partner, employee or freelancer, these three tips can help you find a good fit:
- State your Goals clearly. Make sure everyone understands the Vision and their potential role within that mission at the very start. Are they enthused by it. Good commun
- Follow hiring Protocols. When starting the hiring process you need to take a lot of things into consideration, from screening people to asking the right questions and having the proper forms. Here is a more in-depth guide to help you.
- Establish a strong Company Culture. What makes a great Culture? What are some of the Core Values? You can see our list of 10 examples of companies with great cultures, but keep in mind that you don’t need to have Google’s crazy office space to instill a positive atmosphere. That’s because a great culture is more about respecting & empowering employees through multiple channels, including training & mentorship.
10. Find a Location (if you need to) Go to End of this Post
11. Marketing to meet Sales targets.
Marketing Plan: is a comprehensive plan that outlines a company’s overall marketing strategy of how to reach its Target Market to generate leads & sales – that includes use a resources to achieve goals. A marketing plan includes:
- an Overview & Objectives
- Market environment, including demographics
- SWOT analysis to determine strategy
- Research to support pricing decisions & new market entries
- Brand & Promotional strategy
- Actions, deadlines & budgets
- Metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts & their reporting timelines
Sales Strategies: No matter your product or market, your survival is going to depend on revenue & sales. There are many sales strategies you can employ. Here are four of the best strategies to use:
- Listen. When you listen to your Customers, you find out what they want & need, then plan how to make it happen.
- Ask for a Commitment, but don’t be pushy about it. You can’t be too shy to ask for a next step or to close a sale, but you also can’t make customers feel as though you’re forcing them.
- Make Sales your priority. Anther Biz Wiz said: “Actually creating revenue, & running a profitable business, is the only strategy for business”.
But how do you actually make those sales? Start by identifying Targets who may want your product or service. Find “early adopters” of your business, put out useful info, network, research, etc, to grow your customer base – to find people who fit your business. Then, figure out the right strategy that can convert these leads into sales.
12. Grow your Business.
There are a million different ways to grow. You could acquire another business, start targeting a new market, expand your offerings and more. But, no growth plan will matter if you don’t have the two key attributes that all growing companies have in common.
First, they have a plan to market themselves. They use social media effectively through organic, influencer or paid campaigns. They have an email list and know how to use it. They understand exactly who they need to target — either online or off — with their marketing campaigns.
Then, once they have a new customer, they understand how to retain them. You’ve probably heard many people state that the easiest customer to sell to is the one you already have. Your existing customers have already signed up for your email list, added their credit card information to your website and tested what you have to offer. In doing so, they’re starting a relationship with you and your brand. Help them feel as good about that relationship as possible.
Start by utilizing these strategies, which include investing in your customer service and getting personal, but realize your work will never be done. You’ll constantly be competing for these customers in the marketplace, and you can never simply rest on your laurels. Keep researching the market, hiring good people and making a superior product and you’ll be on your way to building the empire you always dreamed about.
Comments: Do you know of any other Steps that are important?
fm Entrepreneur.com 2/20 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4.biz
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