Nowadays, the concept of entrepreneurship is becoming more popular and people are focusing on owning their own businesses. There is no rule that says you can’t start a business. In fact, you can start a business without a college degree, having a bunch of money in the bank, or even without any prior knowledge or experience about business.
Many people think that money and experience is the main barrier to becoming a successful entrepreneur. This is actually not true. The first thing you need to start a business is a killer business idea and an executable business plan. Moreover, you have to do market research to see if your business idea/product/service has customer demand in the market and if it has a future. So if you are wondering how you can start a business then keep reading the article. Below I have provided a step-by-step guide to help you walk through the whole process.
A Step By Step Guide To Starting A Business
1. Evaluate Yourself
2. Pick a Business Idea
3. Do a Market Research
4. Collect Feedbacks
5. Compile a Business Plan
6. Identify the Target Audience
7. Make Your Business Official
8. Understand the Finance
9. Find Investors for your Business
10. Develop the Product or Service
11. Hire Expert Employees to Build your Team
12. Build a Support Network
13. Increase the Brand Value
14. Spread the Word
This is the first step to starting a business. Moreover, if you don’t have knowledge or experience in running a business then this step is very important for you. Before making any decision you must evaluate yourself. You can start with the question “Why do you want to start a business?” and then use this question to guide what kind of business you want to start. Moreover, you have to identify if you have any skills that can help you run a particular type of business. You have to take a look at different facets of yourself, what are your skills, what are your interests, what makes you happy, etc. Here are three common approaches while starting a business:
1. Take a moment and look into the skills and experiences that you have gained over the years and think about how you could package those skills and offer them as your own services or products.
2. Study other businesses that you like or have an interest in. If you found interest in any business then learn about it and emulate it.
3. Try to find a problem that you can provide a solution to. You can look for a gap in the market where you can bring a new product for the customers.
Here Are A Few Other Questions To Evaluate Yourself –
1. Where does your passion lie?
2. Where is your area of expertise?
3. How much can you afford to spend?
4. How much capital do you need to run the business properly?
5. What sort of lifestyle do you want to live?
6. Are you even ready to be an entrepreneur?
The answer to these questions will give you an overview of whether you are the right person to start your own business. Make sure, you remain completely honest with your answers because it will create the foundation for your business and everything you do moving forward.
Pick A Business Idea
To become a successful entrepreneur you will need a killer business idea. If you have a business idea then it’s great. You can proceed to the next section of our step-by-step guide. However, if you don’t have a business idea then read this section with proper attention.
Many people become disappointed and lost the courage to start a business only because they don’t have a business idea. If you don’t have a business idea then there is nothing to worry about because there are thousands of ways to start brainstorming for a good business idea. Below are some tips to help you generate potential business ideas.
1. Research and gather information about the upcoming latest technology or advancement. See what type of changes it will bring to the business landscape as we know it. Can you get ahead and take advantage of that latest technology?
2. Do you have any particular skill or knowledge of fixing something or providing a solution to problems? People don’t want bad things in their life so if your business idea can fix a problem then you should take it as a positive sign.
3. You can apply your existing skills to an entirely new field because in many cases a fresh set of eyes from a new perspective has made a lot of differences.
4. If you have a business idea that is quite old or have established competitors then you should try a better, cheaper, and faster approach to outcome your competitors.
Do A Market Research
If you have an innovative business idea then your next step is to do market research. Market research is very important and without doing it you should not spend a single penny on your business. Proper market research will give you a complete overview of your business idea and whether it would be right for you to stick with that idea. You will get to know if anyone else already doing what you want to start doing. How the existing businesses are doing and if they are not doing great then what are the reasons. If you decided to stick with the business idea then research the potential rivals or partners within the market. Competitor research will break down the objectives you need to establish a successful business and the methods to successfully complete the objectives. There are some common mistakes that people do while conducting market research that includes:
1. Only using secondary research
2. Only using the online resources
3. Surveying only the people they know
So it clearly shows that we can’t completely rely on online resources and tools to do the market research. Therefore; it’s wiser to conduct face-to-face interviews and if not possible then over the telephone.
Interact with people and share your business idea, what type of product your business will produce, or what type of service your business will provide. Now see the reactions of the people and their feedback. The customers can help you by pointing out a problem you might have missed for your business concept. Moreover, if you hear their opinion then these people will be your first brand advocates. Moreover, you can use the feedback to improve your product or service before start selling them. This way you can easily have a negative experience for your customers.
Compile A Business Plan
A competitive business plan will help you get to market faster. Moreover, a business plan will help you gain clarity, focus, and confidence. It will make sure your business becomes successful. There are many ways you can compile a business plan. It’s not necessary to make a huge business plan. You can start planning a part of the business at a time. You can start with writing down the business goals first, then you can write down the strategies and action steps and your business plan become real. There are a few questions that will help you make an actionable business plan –
1. What are the costs of this business?
2. Who is your customer?
3. How much you can charge your customer?
4. What will you name your business?
5. What are my objectives, strategies, and action plans?
6. What is the promise I am making to my customers?
Usually, A Business Plan Is A Written Document And It Covers Everything You Need To Operate Your Business Successfully. A Business Plan Should Have:
1. Title page
2. Executive summary
3. Business description
4. Market strategies
5. Competitive analysis
6. Design and development plan
7. Operations and management plan
8. Finance factors
Identify The Target Audience
Before you start a business it is very important to research the market and identify your targeted audiences. Don’t spend a penny on your business before knowing the behavior of your customers and you have to find out if people will actually buy your products or services. You also have to validate your markets like who will buy your products or services other than your family or friends. There are a few questions that will help you identify the audience –
1. What is the size of your target market?
2. Who are your customers?
3. Is your product or service relevant to their everyday life?
4. Why do the customers need your product or service?
Moreover, Researching The Target Audience Will Help You Develop Effective Marketing Communication Strategies For Your Business. Some Other Key Benefits Of Identifying The Target Audience Are –
1. You can spend the marketing budget effectively
2. You can reach the appropriate audience for your brand
3. Easily form an effective niche for your company
4. Utilize the feedback to improve the product or service
5. You can do demographics marketing for your business
Make Your Business Official
If you have gone through the above steps and are determined to start a business then your next step is to make your business official. It’s very important to get all the legal aspects out of the way as early as possible. So, you don’t have to worry about any legal problems and give full concentration to the development of your business. Moreover, completing all the legal procedures make your business safe from problems like someone taking your business idea, forcing you over in a partnership, or suing you for something that you have never expected. Here is a quick checklist to help you out –
1. Business structure to form a legal entity
c) Limited liability Company (LLC)
2. Business name
3. Register your business
4. Federal tax ID
5. State tax ID
8. Necessary bank account
9. Trademarks, copyrights, or patents
There are few things from the above checklist that you can do by yourself but many experts suggest that consulting with a lawyer will save both your time and money as well as you will remain stress-free.
Understand The Finance
For an entrepreneur, personal life and business life are interconnected. Therefore, you have to be more cautious about the finance of your business. This is because; if you are starting your own business then you are likely to be the one and only investor of your business. So, you must have a detailed and deep understanding of your personal finance. Moreover, tracking the finance is very important and you must have the ability to track down your finance before you start looking for investors. What amount of money you should invest depends on the type of business that you are planning to open.
Find Investors For Your Business
Once you have started running your business you might need investors to boost your business and make a strong financial backup for your business. “Not finding the proper investor” is a key reason many startups fail at the beginning of their journey. So if you are running a startup business with a proper business plan and you know how much funding assistance you need then it’s time you start looking for investors. There are several different ways you can find investors for your business. They are:
1. Do researches and compile a list of investors
2. Through the industry mentors
3. Look out for the investor networks
4. Apply to different accelerator programs
5. Contact your city’s entrepreneurial community
6. Use the crowdfunding platforms
7. Use the angel investor networks
8. Use the start-up launch platforms
9. Ask for funds from your friends and family
10. Take a bank loan or apply for a credit card
Develop The Product Or Service
You have done all the hard works and now your dream business has come to life. But that’s only half the job done. Now you have to take your focus on the product or service of your company. If you want to provide services to your customers then you have to reach out to technical persons. On the other hand, if you want to mass-produce an item then you have to make a partnership with the manufacturer. If you are producing your own product then you have to keep a close eye on simplicity and quality. It will help your product grab the attention of your targeted audience/customer quickly. If you are outsourcing the product from the manufacturers then you have to keep control of your product and constantly check the quality of the product. You have to make sure that the best quality is maintained for all products. You can hire expert professionals to monitor the quality of your products. It will make sure that your customer is always buying the best product for their money. This way you will easily and quickly build your brand reputation.
Hire Expert Employees To Build Your Team
If you want to grow your business and make your business remain successful then you have to ensure to hire expert employees. You have to identify what skills you don’t have but are required for your business. This way you can assign tasks to employees who can boost the quality and efficiency of your business. If you do so then you will have the time to focus on the elements that are most important to you or the business. You can check the industry expert job listing websites for expert employees. Moreover, when hiring employees you have to state your goals clearly. It will help the employees understand their role from the very start. You should maintain a hiring protocol so that you end up hiring the best person for the right job. Once the hiring process is completed and you have built your team now it’s time to establish a strong company culture. You can create a great company culture through multiple channels that include training and mentorship.
Build A Support Network
Strong support is required to make your business successful. So if you have finished internal commitment to your business then it’s time to build a strong support network for your business. You have to make s support team of advisors, partners, allies, and vendors. You can build a network locally, nationally, or socially. Here are some tips on how to build a support network –
Attend different networking events and ask others what they do and how your service or product can help them. The key here is listening more and talking less. Be generous with others and always try to help them no matter what group you join. Try to become a leader so that others will come to you first if they require service related to your business.
Increase The Brand Value
It’s very important to increase the brand value of your business. People purchase products and services every day and the more products you can sell the more money you will earn. Therefore, you should focus on serving more people. While considering your customers or clients you should ask yourself –
1. What can I offer to my customers/clients?
2. How can I make them successful in their own pursuits?
It will help you deliver more value, which your customers will appreciate.
Spread The Word
You must have the courage to say who you are and what you do with conviction and without apology. You can use the online platform and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn to promote your business and create brand awareness. Apart from social media, you should also focus on other methods like word-of-mouth marketing, website, and internet marketing tools, public relations, blog posts, columns and articles, speeches, email, newsletters, and many more.
Magalie D. is a Diploma holder in Public Administration & Management from McGill University of Canada. She shares management tips here in MGTBlog when she has nothing to do and gets some free time after working in a multinational company at Toronto.