Starting your own business and being your own boss may sound like the ultimate dream. Pair that with a great market-changing idea, and you might as well be well on your way to success.
However, there is much more to starting a business that has any chance of making it than a mere idea. While the idea is incredibly important – and without it, you are probably doomed to mediocrity, the right business plan is what will actually make you successful. The best idea in the world can only get you so far. Everything else is research, legwork, and a lot of hours sitting down and actually doing the work.
Millenials are proud to say that they are the most tech-savvy and the most entrepreneurial generation yet. They have opened the doors to innovation, productivity and progress like no other generation before them has. What that means for you, even if you are not a millennial, is that you can easily learn from those who have already walked in similar shoes, and try to build your foundations on solid ground. Here are a few ideas to get you going.
What type of a business are you?
You may feel all companies are the same, and know nothing about the different legal and administrative implications of different business registration options. Most people are completely ignorant of the intricacies of the business world until they come to register their own company, and are faced with a bunch of questions. Are you going to be a sole proprietorship or a partnership, or even a corporation or a limited company? All of these questions are very important, because they will define the way you pay taxes, the way you operate and the liability of each employee. Think this issue through very carefully, read up on the different options, and only once you are sure you understand the implications, fill out any paperwork.
What will be the name of my company?
This question has likely been crossing your mind from the very start – but there are a few things to consider that may not have yet occurred to you.
First of all, you will naturally be coming up with a name that says a lot about your business, and the services or products you have to offer. You also need to make sure that no one else is already using your name. Branding is also important to consider – with the market as overcrowded as it is, you need to make sure that you stand out in some way.
Finally, you need to think about the website you will associate with your company, and how you can incorporate your brand name into your future domain name. Doing a simple search for available domain names can help you come up with a name that will stick in people’s minds, and help you promote your brand down the line.
Who is your target market?
While target markets are a term most often used by digital marketers, they also naturally exist offline. It is important to identify this segment of your business early on, because depending on who you are trying to sell to, you will develop services and products.
Your target audience should influence all of the decisions you make, both in terms of branding and marketing, and crafting your actual offers. Don’t make the mistake so many businesses make, of believing they are a universal brand that can appeal to everyone, because that is not really true of any brand.
Focus on the customers that your offers can actual help, and who are already in the market for what you are offering. That way, you will be sure that you are spending your marketing dollars where they will make the most impact.
Who are you competing against?
Doing competitor research is always advisable – both before you launch, and as you go along. Knowing what is already on offer will help you craft a story that will draw in customers to your brand, and not someone else’s. You can also steal some of the best ideas out there, especially marketing-wise. These ideas will help you as you start out, and you can later adapt them to convey your own unique message.
What is your website going to be like?
Living in an online world means that you have to adapt, and that you can’t risk not having a web presence. Even if you don’t sell anything online, and only exist in the physical world, you should create a page that will help your target audience find out more about your services, and come see you in person.
Digital marketing also offers a ROI that can’t be matched by offline marketing tactics, so having a website that you can promote will be of huge help. Even a little promotion across the right channels will help you make the most of the research you have already done, and drive more sales.
What is your goal?
Finally, this is actually the question you should ask first. Where do you want your business to be in a year, in two years, in five? What is your unique sales proposition, how can you help people, what makes you stand out?
Make your goals SMART – not having a goal, and simply blindly setting out to form a company is a recipe for disaster. If you have a goal you are working towards, you will find it much easier to go to work every day, to measure progress, and to constantly strive to improve yourself and your business.
We hope that these tips will help make you the best business owner you can be. Just bear in mind that you constantly have to work on yourself and your skills and knowledge. Even if you do reach your milestones faster than you thought you would – that does not guarantee you will not trip up soon, or that the market won’t shift, that someone else won’t steal your customers. Comfort is the death of progress, so always strive to achieve something more, something better, and keep your eye on the ball.