So you’re planning to start your own business? Pull up your socks and hold your breath in.
Being an entrepreneur sure feels great but success usually doesn’t come easy. Mostly. It is therefore important for you to decide if this is something you really want to do.
Setting up a business requires considerable time, effort, and resources. More importantly, it requires consistency and perseverance.
It is nowhere like a job you hate but you nevertheless keep because it pays your bills. It is a lifestyle – your entrepreneurial venture becomes a part of you. So if you’re doing something you’re mildly interested in, it won’t be long before you start looking around for an exit. The key is to recognize what you are truly passionate about – something you can do every day without getting tired of it – and turn it into your business.
Discovered your special interest yet? If you haven’t, try experimenting with your hobbies and interests. Observe what makes you feel good and what makes you outright happy. The latter will prove to be a much better business opportunity for you.
Once you’re done identifying what you’d like to do to make a living, here are the ten steps that’ll help you make it official. It’ll also help you keep away from legal trouble.
Select the Right Name for Your Business and Get It Registered
What’s in a name? It is actually the starting point of establishing your business. Choosing the right name can go a long way in setting up a wining brand identity. More importantly, you usually get to do it just once. So you need to be extra careful about making the right choice from day one.
A few businesses have changed their names in the past but it comes at a massive cost – legal costs of registering the new name, marketing and advertising costs to inform masses about the name change, and the loss of brand equity and brand awareness if the message isn’t conveyed properly and timely.
To keep all this hassle at bay, make sure you select the right name for your business when you do. It should be memorable, unique, and unmistakably clear. If your customers are likely to mispronounce it or mix it up with a competitor, you should consider going for option B i.e. the next name in line.
You can further streamline your options by looking through the local and/or global trademarks and copyrights registry. If you unintentionally end up using an existing brand’s name, you might end up inviting legal trouble.
Most importantly, make sure you book probable domain names early so you can establish your business’ online brand. Given the popularity of internet in our everyday lives, you’ll inevitably need to put up an official company website in order to increase awareness and conversions simultaneously.
Design a Logo for Your Business to Establish Brand Identity
Once you’re done with the name, the next step is to create a logo. Like the name, you don’t change logos often. So make sure you get it right in the first place.
The business name and logo go hand-in-hand – each compliments the other. The human mind is known to process and remember visuals better than words. A logo can therefore work wonders in establishing your brand in the minds of your target customers.
If you’re tempted to design your own logo without having any prior experience with designing tools or techniques, it is an infinitely better idea to hire a graphic design agency instead. It will not only save you time and effort but also cost you lesser when you factor in the probability of mistakes and redesign.
A professional logo should be simple, memorable, timeless and scalable. If you think your prototypes don’t match these criteria, consider getting them revised or hire a different graphic design agency. You need to get it right the first time.
Define Your Target Market and Unique Selling Proposition
You’ve already identified what you are going to do. It is now time to define who you are going to do it for and what makes you different from your competitors offering more or less the same products and services in the market.
You can’t be everything for everyone – even the biggest conglomerates don’t try to pursue this positioning. You need to define who you’ll serve so you can focus your efforts on winning this customer segment. They will be the most relevant consumers of your offering – those who will actually be interested to buy from you.
Identifying and marketing your unique selling proposition enables you to differentiate yourself from the rest, enhancing the perceived value of your offering. It highlights a clear advantage, giving your customers a reason to select your business over others.
Build a Viable Business Plan – From Start to the End Point
Merely having an idea isn’t enough. You need to write it all down, figuring out the minor details that will put your product and/or service in the hands of the consumers.
There has to be a mechanism which allows you to transfer value. Research well and address all primary concerns regarding your business model. Set targets and define ways to achieve them. Define your cost-revenue structure and your sales targets that’ll enable you to achieve a break-even. It helps to have it all in one place.
Lay Out Your Financial Plan
Most businesses will need initial investment in order to get running. You can use your savings, a bank loan, credit card, contributions from investors, or find a partner for your business. In any case, you need to have a financial plan that explains how each and every penny will be invested and how it will benefit the business.
When it comes to managing finances, you need to make sure you’re making wise choices. Squandering isn’t a good idea, especially when you’re starting out. Place necessity before comfort and you should be able to manage effectively.
As a general rule of thumb, it is better to have at least six months’ of financial resources at hand before you start out – it takes this long to build up your customer base. There’s nothing worse than running out of money when you need it the most.
And while you’re at it, you need to set the rules about receiving payments as well. For instance, how long will the credit period be that you will extend to your customers? What mechanism will they use to make payments? Will there be any discounts for quick payments? Understand and document how you’ll be spending and receiving money.
Reach Out – Market Yourself
Your customers won’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist. While you’re laying out the financial plan, you need to chalk out your marketing plan as well in order to reach out to your target audience and convince them to purchase.
There are several ways in which you can create awareness about your business. In most cases, social networking and word-of-mouth proves to be the two most-effective and free-of-cost marketing techniques. Make sure you’re using these channels strategically for maximum benefit.
This doesn’t intend to undermine the importance of other marketing mechanisms. You’ll need to invest on business cards, flyers, brochures, banners and other forms of stationery that’ll help you reach out to your target audience. They are a crucial part of establishing your brand.
Advertise your offering on relevant channels to interact with the target audience identified earlier. By and large, this depends on the type and scope of your business. The key is to reach maximum potential customers with minimal advertising and marketing efforts.
Invest In a Professional Website for Business
Do you need a website for your business? Yes.
The world is increasingly becoming digitized. Even if the bulk of your business operations and clientele do not depend on the online world, you still need to invest in a professional website to add credibility to your business, and because that is where the consumers are headed, eventually.
Most people – employees, clients, stakeholders and anyone else who is directly or indirectly involved with your business – are likely to conduct a basic online research before deciding whether to indulge in business or not. You will end up missing out on valuable leads, particularly in the light of businesses migration to the online world.
You don’t necessarily need to shoot for the stars. Web development for small businesses offers you a chance to get your professional website designed at competitive prices. You don’t need to abuse your budget or your resources for it. You can get yourself a viable deal by short listing the right agencies to work with.
Keep in mind that your professional website may be the first touch point for your customers. It isn’t wise to put up a mediocre display of personality for them. Hire a graphic design agency to get the right design elements in place that add credibility and integrity to your business.
Leverage Technological Resources
For most businesses these days, round-the-clock connectivity and availability is one of the prime concerns. It is also becoming a point of differentiation for competitors.
While you can have someone glued to the communication devices (computers, telephones, fax machines etc) at all times, you can alternatively invest in technology that renders it unnecessary. Use smart gadgets and tools to get your act together. It’ll not only save you time and money, it’ll also relieve you (and your employees) from pointless stress.
And while you’re at it, do spend some time to find the right data management tool for your business. Almost every business is required to manage copious amounts of data. Not only this, you’ll be referring through it time and again for various reasons.
If it takes hours for you to sift through the pile and get to the desired document, you’ll end up wasting too much time at it. Invest in an organizer (preferably an electronic organizer) to make this task easy – for yourself as well as for other members of your team.
Hire People Who Fit
You can’t do it all alone. You’ll inevitably need to hire people who can enhance productivity and proficiency of your business. More importantly, they should share your enthusiasm and motivation about your business so they’re working just as hard as you.
Hiring people can be a tricky feat. Hiring too many people will put a financial burden on your business. Hiring too few will lead to inefficiency and burnout. You need to make sure your business is adequately staffed at all times so that it is able to perform at the optimal level.
Seek Feedback and Suggestions for Continuous Improvements
You’re in it for the long haul, right? If you are, then you need to seek feedback and suggestions from your customers in order to implement continuous improvements.
Your customers (in general) are looking for the best cost-value deal. If your competitor decides to bump up their offering, you’ll find yourself in a sticky spot, especially if you have no idea how to outshine them. Customer feedback and suggestions go a long way in reinforcing your competitive advantage.
Wrap Up Word
So, to sum it all, starting up your own business is an exciting experience. And if you’re doing it in the right manner, you can turn it into a rewarding one too.
Before you head out to start your business, you need to find out your passion – one thing that you can’t get bored of. Once you’ve put your finger on it, go about deciding the name, logo, target market, and unique selling proposition. Build your business plan around these to define your value chain.
Set out your financial and marketing plans to further streamline your business processes. Set up a professional website to add credibility to your business. Use technological resources to ensure seamless connectivity and availability.
Add people to your team and make sure your customers’ views are given their due share of importance. These steps will help you get your business up and running successfully in no time. Good luck!