If you are dreaming of starting a new business and hope it will be wildly successful, sending you to the top of international rich lists and making your product or services a household name, then there are a few things you need to ensure are in place before you launch. To make your new business venture a success, you must have a solid and clear business plan, with numbers that add up and are not simply based upon what you hope may happen to your turnover and income. You need to know the competition and make sure you have a unique selling point that makes your product stand out. It is also vital that you ensure your finances are in place and that you have a solid marketing plan to reach new customers and give your business the best chance of succeeding. Follow the six steps below to start a successful new business.
Put planning first
Having a sound business plan is vital when starting a new business. A business plan should give you a blueprint of where you want your business to go, helping you to retain focus, as well as setting out the values of your business from the start. It should also contain deadlines and analysis of expenditure and projected profits that are based on reality. Your business plan should be able to be read by someone who knows nothing about your company, and it should give them a good overview and a clear understanding of what you do, how you do it and what the financial projections and earning potential are. A business plan can also be essential when it comes to trying to secure finances through investors or loans. (Important Note: While the LLC is the most popular business structure, a corporation is typically far more favorable in the eyes of potential investors. That said, it’s worth comparing these two entities before forming one.) Begin by writing a five-year business plan with an eye on keeping it strategic. Look at where you want your business to be in five years and what the best strategies may be to help you to succeed and reach your business objectives, for example, should you focus on e-commerce or business-to-business sales. Keep your business plan concise and to the point, but with enough narrative to enable a reader to understand how you reached certain figures or why your product or service is going to lead the market, as without that they may not trust that the plan is grounded in reality and is attainable.
Assess the competition
Knowing your competition inside and out is vital to enable you to position your business appropriately within the market. Take a look at their online presence, how many followers they have and what techniques they employ to get people to engage with them. Do they, for example, create shareable content that is popular on social media? Is their tone tongue-in-cheek, humorous or matter-of-fact? How do they get the attention of their target demographic? Take a good look at their website to know what information they put on there, as it will give you a clearer idea of what their customers want to know. For example, do they include their prices? How easy and self-explanatory is the navigation on their website and what is the process for buying or returning goods? You want to make your website as easy to use as possible so finding any snags in competitors sites can tell you what to look out for on your own. Market research is very valuable when it comes to knowing what your customer wants and finding the best way to give it to them, so if you can, talk to your competitor’s customers about what they like and don’t like, as they are your potential customer base too.
Make sure your finances are in place
Launching a new business can be a costly task, so when you are thinking of starting a new venture, it is important to make sure all your finances are in place before launching so that you do not run out of funds after the first month of operating. There are numerous ways to secure finances for your business, but first, ensure that your business plan is as thorough as it can be as this will help people feel confident enough to invest in you and your idea. You could take the traditional route of a bank loan, and some banks specifically help small businesses so do your research about who can offer you the best rates. If you have run into an unexpected issue and need money urgently to fill a gap, then you could opt for dinero rapido, a quick online loan with relatively few hoops to jump through to get the finances. Finding an Angel investor or investors is another route to getting the finances you need for your new business. Angel investors give finances to start-ups in exchange for equity, and with the hope of getting their original investment back and more. Typically Angel investors invest between $25,000 and $100,000, but this is up to the individual so feel free to negotiate and be clear about the money you need. An Angel investor will want to see your business plan, an elevator pitch for your business model, a prototype and to learn about any existing customer base and potential future markets. They will also want to see your marketing plans and hear about how you will reach new customers to feel safe that they will recoup their investment one day.
Hire the right people
Hiring the right people is essential to success. If you run a small business, each new employee can have a big impact on the success and growth of the company. It is important to hire people who are committed and hard working, especially when you are just starting out. New businesses can be fragile as they find their feet and your employees need to understand that working for a start-up can mean greater insecurity then they would perhaps find when working for a well-established multi-national corporation, for example. It can, however, also mean greater responsibilities, more chance to input into the management of the company, and more growth opportunities. When you hire new employees, take your time to make the right decision. Be very clear about what the role is so only those who are interested and capable reach the short list. A good idea is to offer the chance to make the role flexible. More and more companies are offering flexible working hours, which makes it far more appealing to many people and allows for a greater work-life balance, especially for those with children to look after. If you want expert skills and advice but do not have the budget to afford to bring these in-house then hiring freelancers can be a great way to benefit from specialist skills without paying for them full-time and in-house. Sites such as Fiverr, Dormzi, or Guru are great places to find talented freelancers who possess the skills you need to take your business to the next level.
Make a strong marketing plan
Every new business needs a strong marketing campaign to ensure that they do not simply launch and then fade into obscurity without anyone knowing about them. To start with you must know your niche and who your target audience or customer base is. If, for example, you are selling a new pre-school toy, then parents of young children and pre-school or kindergarten are your targets. Spending the time to find out exactly what they want will pay off as you can then ensure that your marketing puts these qualities at the forefront. The popularity of social media has made marketing a lot easier as now you can reach a wide audience relatively easily and without the need for big budgets. However, successfully managing active social media channels will take a fair amount of someone’s time so look at your budget and if you have the money then hire a social media expert who can help you to raise your online profile, engage with your followers, and encourage people to like and share content. The ultimate win would be to have a social media campaign go viral, although this is very hard to plan, but certain things can help your chances. For example, having a strong follower base is important as is creating original content that is funny, accessible and easy to share, such as gifs or funny images.
Build your contacts
When starting a new business, it is true that who you know can be as useful as what you know. Contact any friends or associates in your field, invite them out for a coffee and ask for their advice on any issues. Not only are they likely to be flattered to be seen as experts in their field, but also being further along in their career means they can help you to avoid the mistakes they may have made when starting out. Attend all networking events you can and don’t be afraid of introducing yourself to new people. The more you network, the greater confidence you will have. You will also be able to talk about yourself and your business with more ease, which will benefit you when making new connections. Remember, you never know where a simply introduction could lead or who they are connected to so never discount anyone.