Small Business Guide to Starting a Business
From Small Business Idea to Starting A Small Business in 4 Easy Steps
Start a Small Business in 4 Easy Steps
Research Your Business Idea and Find References
Conduct in-depth market research on your niche. Study the data such as the amount of google searches there are per month. Learn the demographics of the exact potential customer you are going to market to. Separate your opinion and passion and learn what people have to say by running surveys, holding make shift focus groups (large corporations spend a tremendous amount of money and time on this), research your competitors and other public data.
Throughout this one step, you should be able to:
• Refine your business idea
• Brainstorm for your business name
• Clarify your target customers
• Develop the initial building blocks of a business plan
Define Your Target Business Market
Prepare to "Brand" your business.
In order for your business to be successful you need to know who your exact customer is. You can not market to every person on the planet successfully. It can take time to learn who your customers are, but it will ultimately help you to target the right people who are willing to pay for your product or service.
Of course you may decide to simply spend a ton of money and possibly get very little to no results, or use this step for a much more cost effective way to reach your customers and generate actual business.
Do not waste resources by aiming too broadly, or finding out too late that there aren’t enough customers for your product or service.
By understanding your market properly you can promote your product or service more effectively to the right customer group.
Define your target market results by learning:
• Who they are (sex, age, education level, income, marital status, number of children, etc)
• Their lifestyle
• Why they want your product or service
• Where they are located
• Which media channels they prefer
• What their buying habits are
• What they do for a living
• And more.
From this phase, you will start to understand the basic building blocks of your "brand" when it comes to marketing. These are some common factors to consider:
• What are your Customers' interests and buying habits?
• What motivates your customer to make a purchase?
• What are your customers’ common interests?
• Who actually makes the buying decisions?
• How often would your customer purchase your product or service?
• Would your customer shop online or do they prefer to see their product before they buy it?
• How long is the customer journey for them to make a buying decision?
• What form of media does your customer rely on for information?
• How far will your customer travel to make a purchase?
• What other products do your customers buy?
Build a Team for your Small Business
Whether you have remote team members (3rd party contractors for example), friends and family that are planning to help you at the initial stages, or actual employees, by aiming for success you can help everyone involved understand the goals of your company.
Think ahead about the culture you want to build:
Plant the seeds of your business culture in the minds of your staff, partners, contractors and more so it can grow and flourish. This will help to get everyone excited about being part of the team and the environment you create.
Describe your future plans in detail:
An executive summary will help develop a clear, concise, and relevant explanation of what your company does. You can further expand on this to create a vision of where your company should be in the short term, as well as long term. Think in quarterly (3 month) increments for the first year. The sooner you develop realistic financial forecasts and share these with everyone involved, the better off you will be.
Define and explain the environment of customers, prospects and partners:
What does the journey for your customer base look like? How will you handle customer service (reactive) and the customer experience (proactive)? What type of technology will you need? What types of service providers will you need to support your business endeavor? Use diagrams, charts, time management tools and more to show the interaction between all the people around your company, their roles and deadlines.
Start to change the way you think. Use words like "we" instead of "I" when talking about your business:
It's a common startup mistake to take complete ownership of all successes and failures with your business. It's also common to think that you can do everything on your own. If you've read to this point and still think you can truly be a one person operation, we have not done a good job explaining that you can not.
We are just being brutally honest with you with the goal of sparring you the tremendous costs and hardship of starting a business.
Changing your mindset now will help everyone involved to truly feel part of a team and they will help support what you are trying to create.
Set a Business Schedule and Execute
Keeping a schedule and taking detailed notes is very important for any business regardless of its size. It can also directly correlate to the health and well-being of your business.
If you are like many new small business owners, most of the intimate details of your business are exclusively in your brain and your brain alone. This is never a good idea. Get as much as possible out of your brain and onto paper (or other digital form).
Break down the daily tasks in smaller and more manageable portions and write everything down.
End every single day by knowing exactly how tomorrow should begin.
Along with clean and organized workstations, we recommend having a large white board with erasable ink markers, tons of post it notes and plenty of pens.
Effective scheduling of tasks improves the profitability and order of the business and helps to prevent chaos. When a schedule is effective, every person involved knows where they need to be, what they are supposed to be doing and most importantly, it allows everyone to increase their focus and ensures everyone is on the same page.
What We Do
If you're thinking about starting a business, you likely already have an idea of what you want to do.
We try to simplify what you need to do next.
Yes, there are legal business needs, but most small businesses do not need to start there.
We recently ran into someone who wanted to start a dog walking business. Within 24 hours she had started a Limited Liability Company (LLC), got business cards and more. She had spent over $1000 and didn't even have a customer yet. She is now responsible for the $800 annual payment to the state forever, or the $500 tax specialist fee to close the LLC.
Yes, at some point you will need to address these items, but we assure you that these things are in fact not the first step.
In her case, we would have told her to make sure her business is not just an expensive hobby. In addition, at some point, turn your hobby into a successful business.
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