“Everything you need to know about how to start a business” I bet you have read that before? Unfortunately, that is not really possible. It’s possible and often that you can give you a very good guideline to follow. Every business is different.
There are no limits on who can become a great entrepreneur. You just need to get it together to make it happen.
You don't necessarily need a college degree, a bunch of money in the bank or even business experience to start something that could become the next major success.
What you do need a strong plan and the drive to see it through.
If you're online searching for this topic, odds are you already have the drive, but you might not know how to start building your business or blog etc.
This is a basic guide to help turn your big idea into a realistic business. Plus one that is professional in not only appearances but Actual business practices.
Let's start with, Why do you want to start a business?
Use this question to guide what kind of business you want to start. If you want extra money, maybe you should start a small business of your own If you want more freedom, maybe it's time to leave your 9-to-5 job and start something you have wanted to do and think you can earn too.
After you have given a lot of thought and have arrived at the reason, start asking yourself even more questions to help you figure out the logistics of a business you start, and if you have what it takes to make it real and profitable.
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 in business?
Be 100 percent honest with your answers. This will create a foundation for everything you do in your life from this point forward, so it's better to know now than rather than later.
Think of a business idea.
Do you already have a killer business idea? If so, congratulations! You can proceed on quickly through this section. If not, there are a ton of ways to start brainstorming for a good idea.
Here are a few pointers:
Ask yourself what's next. What technology or advancement is coming soon, even what policy changes or social changes happen. Learn by research, how will that change the business landscape now and in the future? Can you get ahead of the competition?
Think this way. Fix something that bugs you. People would rather have less of a bad thing than another of a good thing, which what the see always. If your business can fix a problem for your customers, they'll thank you for it.
Apply your ideas or talents 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.
Get Social! You do this going out and meeting people and ask them questions, seek advice from other businesses, research ideas online or use whatever method makes the most sense to you.
Do 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. You break down the objectives you need to complete with your research and the methods you can use to do just that. For a long time, I conducted interviews than in the old days by telephone. Now online 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?”
The most common mistakes people make when starting their market research:
Using only secondary research.
Using only online resources.
Surveying only the people you know.
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 Lean Startup” approach (read more about it here), but it involves 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.
Standardizing the feedback process is essential for a positive feedback culture. You need to establish standards about who gives feedback to whom, how often feedback should be shared, the official processes and mediums by which feedback is shared, and more.
Once you have created these standards and processes, make sure to follow them to a “T”. This makes it easier for everyone involved to understand what's expected of them.
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 to be 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?
Also, one way to help you get through negative feedback is to create a "wall of love," where you can post all of the positive messages you've received. Not only will this wall of love inspire you, but you can use these messages later when you begin selling your product or service. Positive reviews online and word-of-mouth testimonials can help make a big difference.
Make it real and 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 (LLC, corporation or a partnership, to name a few.)
Register your business
Federal tax ID
State tax ID
Permits (more on permits here)
Necessary bank account
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.
Here are some questions you can ask when looking for a small-business lawyer.
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.
You can probably cover everything you need to convey in 20 to 30 pages of text plus another 10 pages of appendices for monthly projections, management resumes, and other details. If you've got a plan that's more than 40 pages long, you're probably not summarizing very well.
Here's what should be in your business plan:
Title page. Start with a name 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. (Here’s what you should include in the summary and how you can make it appeal to investors.)
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.
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).
Pitch your needs to friends and family. It can be hard to separate business from personal relationships, but if you’re considering asking for a loan, here’s a resource you can use to make it as straightforward as possible.
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 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, you should read up on 10 of the best-crowdfunded businesses ever or check out the most popular crowdfunding websites.
Apply to local investor groups. Online platforms such as Gust and AngelList and local networking can help you find potential investors who relate to your industry and passion.
Solicit venture capital investors. VCs typically look for big opportunities from proven teams that need a million dollars 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 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-labeling 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.
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 Small Business Administration.
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.
Sometimes you might struggle to find a product or new service to offer, and aren't even sure where to start.
What's a product you hate using? Would you like to completely rebuild that product, or simply fill the gap it's missing? Just think about problems,
and then imagine what would solve that specific pain point.
Before you invest any serious time and money
into developing a product, you need to do a bit of
"Pre-sales." You need to make sure some interested buyers would buy your new service or product.
Your product will need to beat out the competition, so you need to make sure you can solve a need that other products can't.
You have to assess the costs of developing this product or service.
How big of an investment is it going to be? Do you need to hire another employee with a
specific skill set to create this product? Do you need to promote someone to handle managing this new service?
Time and development creating this product or service is something you need to map out before you sit down and invest your company's money into a new idea.
Because our business model is recurring revenue, we were able to make some accurate budget predictions on how we could afford the cost of creating a new product.
Never settle for comfortable, instead continue pursuing new avenues, develop new products, and still, keep pushing to improve.
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 specialties, so make sure you’re not paying an overqualified 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.
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.
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. 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 building blocks?
Building effective teams require more than an abstract commitment to teamwork; it requires input from managers to foster it.
Without team building skills, a manager risks
limiting the productivity of their employees to
what each member can do on their own, whereas
if you foster team building you can unite your
the team around a common goal, which will raise
productivity as a result.
As your team starts to cooperate more, examine
the way they work together and take steps to improve communication, cooperation, and trust amongst the team. This goes beyond simply holding meetings, and includes things like being open to suggestions and concerns, asking about each team member's work and offer assistance where necessary, and doing everything you can to communicate clearly and honestly with your team.
Finally, you can begin officially establishing your team by creating team values and goals, as well as evaluating team performance alongside individual performance.
Find a location.
"Location, location, location" is a popular maxim frequently heard in the real estate industry where placement, it seems, is everything.
For your business, a good location is just as important as your product, employees or marketing.
So here are tips you can follow to help you decide on the perfect location for your business.
For a fee, you can make use of location analysis tools, such as Locate, Grow and Optimize that can give you information like traffic patterns and lifestyle data of those who come and go in the area.
You can save on the cost of location analysis by looking at where your competitors are.
A good location should have several nearby parking spots and gas stations to cater to those who drive.
Besides the base rent, consider all costs involved when choosing a location.
This could mean an office or a store. Your priorities will differ depending on need, but here are 10 basic things to consider:
Style of operation. Make sure your location is consistent with your particular style and image.
Demographics. Start by considering who your customers are. How important is their proximity to your location? If you're a retail store that relies on the local community, this is vital. For other business models, it might not be.
Foot traffic. If you need people to come into your store, make sure that the store is easy to find. Remember: even the best retail areas have dead spots.
Accessibility and parking. Is your building accessible? Don't give customers a reason to go somewhere else because they don't know where to park.
Competition. Sometimes having competitors nearby is a good thing. Other times, it's not. You've done the market research, so you know which is best for your business.
Proximity to other businesses and services. This is more than just about foot traffic. Look at how nearby businesses can enrich the quality of your business as a workplace, too.
Image and history of the site. What does this address state about your business? Have other businesses failed there? Does the location reflect the image you want to project?
Ordinances. Depending on your business, these could help or hinder you. For example, if you're starting a daycare center, ordinances that state no one can build a liquor store nearby might add a level of safety for you. Just make sure you're not the one trying to build the liquor store.
The building’s infrastructure. Especially if you're looking at an older building or if you're starting an online business, make sure space can support your high-tech needs. If you're getting serious about a building, you might want to hire an engineer to check out the state of the place to get an objective evaluation.
Rent, utilities, and other costs. Rent is the biggest facilities expense, but check out the utilities, as well, and whether they're included in the lease or not. You don't want to start out with one price and find out it's going to be later.
Once you know what to look for and it's time to start searching for a place that fits all of your qualifications, these four tips can help.
Think on your own timeframe. Landlords are starting to offer shorter-term office rentals. Don't get stuck in a long-term lease if it doesn't make sense for your business.
Play the whole field. There are all sorts of places to use -- co-working spaces, office business centers, sublets and more. Keep your options open.
Click around town. You might be able to find the perfect place by using online resources.
Do the deal on your terms. Again, you have options. Don't get roped into something that makes you uncomfortable.
After you have a location, you can focus on the aesthetic. You can check out a few design ideas here.
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.
There are a ton of different sales strategies and techniques you can employ, but here are four tenets to live by:
Listening. 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."
Timo Rein said, "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."
Gary Vaynerchuk said, “Actually creating revenue, and running a profitable business, is a good strategy for business. Where are we that people think users or visits or time on site is the proxy to a successful business?”
But how do you actually make those sales? 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.
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.
To succeed in business today, you need to be flexible and have good planning and organizational skills. Many people start a business thinking that they'll turn on their computers or open their doors and start making money, only to find that making money in a business is much more difficult than they thought. You can avoid this in your business ventures by taking your time and planning out all the necessary steps you need to achieve success.
To be successful in business you need to be organized. They may be doing something right that you can implement in your business to make more money. The key to being successful is taking calculated risks to help your business grow. Always be looking for ways to improve your business and to make it stand out from the competition. Just because you open a business doesn't mean you're going to immediately start making money.
The lead-up to starting a business is hard work, but after you open your doors, your work has just begun.
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