In these economic times, starting a business is often a scary proposition, but also a possible avenue to financial security. Manta.com, the largest online community for promoting small business, reports large percentage increases in small businesses each year. If you want to start your own business, here are 5 quick-tips to consider and follow.
1. Inspiration and Intention
It is generally best to start a business with a clear set of intentions. Have you run out of options or are you truly inspired to strike out on your own? Is this something that inspires you or is simply an attractive money-making venture? What aspects of this venture will sustain you over the long run?
2. What is your Business?
Is this something that people will actually want to buy or simply something you want to sell because it interests you? Additionally, many new or potential business owners are afraid of competition. In fact, competitors can coexist just fine. So it is not always necessary to invent something completely new, but rather focus on putting your own individual twist on an existing concept. If original, consider how novel your idea is. Is it truly something that is valuable and/or indispensable? At the end of the day it’s often a good start to take a proven model/business and put your personal stamp on it.
3. The Business Plan
If you haven’t already, in this stage you should probably answer whether there is actually a market or need for your product or service. In this step is generally advised to overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues. Actually, the business planning never ends. Many new business owners create lengthy business plans with all sorts of projections and figures, but once they are on their way, there may not be much time or motivation to stay clued-in to some of the parameters and reporting that is vital to this process. It’s perfectly fine to make a one page business plan and keep it rather simple. Over time, however, you might want to hire a good accountant or bookkeeper to help you objectively understand some key reporting such as profit/loss etc… With consistent engagement with these hard facts, you can continue to plan, and adjust, your business to stay competitive and strong.
4. Start-up Money
You should find a way to bring money into the equation as soon as possible. Cash-flow is the life-blood of business. If using your own personal savings isn’t an option for you, or if you don’t want to try for a loan, then there are creative ways to raise funds. One of the fastest growing ways to raise funds is through crowdfunding. Not only is it a way to raise awareness about your business, but essentially allows you to tap into your network of friends and family (and beyond) for contributions, assuming they like you or your small business idea. Another consideration in this stage is also keeping your costs low, which basically means bringing in more cash than you pay out. From how to furnish an office to innumerable other little details such as paying vendors and leveraging discounts, there are always areas to cut costs and save money over the long run.
5. Finding Customers
Perhaps nothing else matters much if you don’t have customers. You should focus on sales and marketing with some real gusto. At this point this should comprise most of your sweat and tears. From the get-go, you’ll need to find ways to get solid business leads and convert those leads into sales. These leads are more important than getting your business brand right, and/or your whole ship in perfect working order. You simply won’t survive long without good leads.