It is not uncommon for a business to have humble beginnings. Think of Microsoft or Apple; they both began in a garage. But what’s really important when launching a business of any size is the strength of the concept and the ability of the founders to deliver it.
No one should believe in you or your product as much as yourself. If your product fulfils a need or a want from your target market, there is absolutely no reason it won’t be a success if you put the work in and be smart about it. If you’re contemplating starting a small business, here’s a round up of the top things you need to consider.
#1 – Everything begins with a winning idea
Do you have a winning idea? If not, you will need to come up with one! Developing the idea is usually the most challenging step for any fledgling entrepreneur. Whilst many people know what industry they want to go into and have a vague concept in their mind, it’s the process of refining and developing the final idea – out of all the possibilities, that sorts the winners from the losers.
If you don’t have one specific idea just yet, that is okay, and it’s best to give the process time. Consider: if you have a wealth of experience in a particular area, investigate ways you can use that to your advantage. Or perhaps you’ve encountered a task in your day-to-day life that you have a solution for? Maybe you have a hobby that you could turn into a business?
If you are struggling to work out which exact direction to go, there are resources that can help you develop a business idea that will match your skills and experience. It’s a fact that most success in business comes from capitalising on skills that you already have.
#2 – Who are you selling to?
After you’ve decided on your idea, the next step is to work out who the target market for your product or service is. Who is going to buy what you are selling? You must identify your market and be confident that it’s big enough and stable enough to sustain your business over the long term.
To assist, some founders create customer personas – these are fictional representations of your potential customers which are based on demographics and shared interests. Going through the process of creating customer personas will make it easier to develop your branding and marketing strategies so that you can capture the interest of the right people.
It’s a known fact that brand new ventures are much better off targeting their marketing to a distinct customer demographic rather than simply marketing to everyone.
#3 – The importance of research
As a budding entrepreneur entering into a market, you need to be very aware of your competitors. Why is your product different or better than theirs? How can you find a point of difference? Conducting research on competitors can be as easy as googling, visit their pages and taking notes.
It’s useful to sign up for any newsletters or free subscriptions from them to see how they market themselves. Once you have a customer’s perspective, you can find ways to market your business differently from your competitors.
It’ll be challenging to win over any customers if your products or services don’t stand out. Using your research, decide what separates you from the rest and push that angle to your target market.
#4 – Make a budget and stick to it
How much capital do you need to get your new venture started? Costs will of course vary wildly depending on what type of business you are starting. A home business will be cheaper as you won’t be paying for an office or storefront – the bulk of your start-up cost will be equipment and marketing.
Try to kit out a designated office space inside your home that is solely dedicated to your business. This will help with creating boundaries between work and personal time, and also keep things clutter free in the living areas. When running a business from home, the benefits of super-fast internet cannot be understated. You will also need a high quality printer, and eventually, as your business grows, you may also need a business phone system.
It’s also necessary before starting to create projections for how much cash you will need to spend before your company becomes profitable. If your business requires funding, these types of numbers will be vital, so be sure to give this part of the planning the attention it deserves.
#5 – Product Testing
No matter whether you’re launching a product or a service, it should be rigorously tested to ensure that your pricing is suitable for what is being provided. It may be an amazing idea on paper, but until you’ve thoroughly tested it, you really won’t know for certain.
When testing, it’s generally advisable to avoid asking your friends and family as your relationship with them can result in biased feedback. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t ask them at all, but the ultimate test is the feedback from a potential paying customer.
#6 – Taking Risks
Launching a business means that you are prepared to take risks. But whilst the whole venture itself presents risks, that doesn’t mean you have to put all of your eggs in one basket. Smart small business owners, believe in taking calculated risks – not chances.
For example, if you are employed, it mightn’t be worth quitting that role to become self-employed right from the get-go. You might be best starting your business as a side-hustle until you are sure it can support you financially.