Starting a business is never easy, it comes with great challenges that are easily overcome with a strong work ethic and a means to success. Most people say they want a business to be their own boss, but you can’t be your own boss if you have no business.
If you’re on Teamchart, odds are you already have the drive, but, you might not know how to start building your empire. So, check out our below steps that highlight some of the important things you need to do before you start your business.
1) Evaluate yourself
Why do you want to start a business? This question will set the tone for the rest of your start-up business life. Once you have the reason why you want to go out and create a business you will have the foundation to build upon.
Think about these questions and assess yourself and be brutally honest with your answers.
- What skills do you have?
- Where does your passion lie?
- Where is your area of expertise?
- How much can you afford to spend, knowing that most businesses fail?
- How much capital do you need?
- What sort of lifestyle do you want to live?
- Are you even ready to be an entrepreneur?
2) Think of a business idea
Do you already have a killer business idea? If so, congratulations, you can proceed to the next section. If not, there are a ton of ways to start brainstorming for a good idea. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Ask yourself what’s next.
What technology or advancement is coming soon, and how will that change the business landscape as we know it? Can you get ahead of the curve?
- Fix something that bugs you.
People would rather have less of a bad thing than more of a good thing. If your business can fix a problem for your customers, they’ll thank you for it.
- Apply your skills to an entirely new field.
Many businesses and 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.
Also, go out and meet people and ask them questions, seek advice from other entrepreneurs, research ideas online or use whatever method makes the most sense to you.
3) Identify your 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. For example, you can conduct interviews by telephone or face to face. You can also offer surveys or questionnaires that ask questions like “What factors do you consider when purchasing this product or service?” and “What areas would you suggest for improvement?”
Just as importantly, it explains three of the most common mistakes people make when starting their market research, which are:
- Using only secondary research.
- Using only online resources.
- Surveying only the people you know.
4) Get feedback
Let people interact with 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, these people will become your first brand advocates, especially if you listen to their input and they like the product.
One of the easiest ways to utilize feedback is to focus on the three basic pillars: prototyping, experimenting and pivoting. By pushing out a product, getting feedback and then adapting before you push out the next product, you can constantly improve and make sure you stay relevant.
Just realize that 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.
- Stop! Your brain will probably be in an excited state when receiving feedback, and it might start racing to bad conclusions. Slow down and take the time to consider carefully what you’ve just heard.
- Start by saying ‘thank you.’ People who give you negative feedback won’t expect you to thank them for it but doing so will probably make them respect you and encourage them to continue being honest in the future.
- Look for the grain of truth. If someone doesn’t like one idea, it doesn’t mean they hate everything you’ve just said. Remember that these people are trying to help, and they might just be pointing out a smaller problem or solution that you should look into further.
- Seek out the patterns. If you keep hearing the same comments, then it’s time to start sitting up and taking notice.
- Listen with curiosity. Be willing to enter a conversation where the customer is in control.
- Ask questions. Figure out why someone liked or didn’t like something. How could you make it better? What would be a better solution?
5) Make it official
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:
- Business structure (limited company, proprietorship or a partnership, to name a few.)
- Business name
- Register your business
- Necessary (business) bank account
- Trademarks, copyrights or patents
While some things you can do on your own, it’s best to consult with a lawyer when starting out, so you can make sure you’ve covered everything that you need.
6) Write your business plan
A business plan is a written description of how your business will evolve from when it starts to the finished product.
- Title page. Start with the name of the name of your business, which is harder than it sounds. This article can help you avoid common mistakes when picking.
- Executive summary. This is a high-level summary of what the plan includes, often touching on the company description, the problem the business is solving, the solution and why now.
- Business description. What kind of business do you want to start? What does your industry look like? What will it look like in the future?
- Market strategies. What is your target market, and how can you best sell to that market?
- Competitive analysis. What are the strengths and weakness of your competitors? How will you beat them?
- Design and development plan. What is your product or service and how will it develop? Then, create a budget for that product or service.
- Operations and management plan. How does the business function on a daily basis?
- Finance Factors. Where is the money coming from? When? How? What sort of projections should you create and what should you take into consideration?
For each question, you can spend between one to three pages. Keep in mind, the business plan is a living, breathing document and as time goes on and your business matures, you will be updating it.
7) Finance your business
There are a ton of different ways to get the resources you need to start your business. Take a look and consider your own resources, circumstances and life state to figure out which one works best for you.
- Fund your startup yourself.
Bootstrapping your business might take longer, but the good part is that you control your own destiny (and equity).
- Request a small-business grant.
It might be a long process, but it doesn’t cost you any equity.
- Start a crowdfunding campaign online.
Sometimes power is in numbers, and a bunch of small investments can add up to something major. If you think your business might be a fit for something like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
- 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 and consulting, along with networking opportunities and 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 fund it, too. Variations on this theme include early licensing or white-labelling agreements.
- Trade equity or services for startup help.
For example, 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.
8) Develop 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 village to create a product. If you want to make an app and you’re not an engineer, you will need to reach out to a technical person. Or if you need to mass-produce an item, you will have to team up with a manufacturer.
You should focus on two things: simplicity and quality. Your best option isn’t necessarily to make the cheapest product, even if it lowers manufacturing cost. Also, 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 and learn constantly.
If you leave the development up to someone else or another firm without supervising, you might not get the thing you envisioned.
- Implement checks and 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 through.
- Manage product development to save money.
Rates can vary for engineers depending on their specialities, so make sure you’re not paying an overqualified engineer when you could get the same end result for a much lower price.
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 enquiries about your service, you’re ready to jump at a good opportunity.
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.
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 role within that mission at the very start.
- 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.
- Establish a strong company culture.
What makes a great culture? What are some of the building blocks? But keep in mind that you don’t need to have Google’s crazy office space to instil a positive atmosphere. That’s because a great culture is more about respecting and empowering employees through multiple channels, including training and mentorship than it is about decor or ping-pong tables.
In fact, office perks can turn out to be more like traps than real benefits.
10) Start getting some sales
No matter your product or industry, your business’s future is going to depend on revenue and sales. Steve Jobs knew this it’s why, when he was starting Apple, he spent day after day calling investors from his garage.
When you listen to your clients/customers, you find out what they want and need, and how to make that 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 into a sale.
- Don’t be afraid of hearing No.
Most people are too polite. They let you make your pitch even if they have no interest in buying. And that’s a problem of its own. Time is your most important resource.
Start by identifying targets who want your product or service. Find early adopters of your business, grow your customer base or put out ads to find people who fit your business. Then, figure out the right sales funnel or strategy that can convert these leads into revenue.