Starting a business is challenging. Keeping it going is even tougher. No one can predict the future or control everything that happens, but there are certainly things you can do to make it more likely that you will succeed. The tips below can help increase the chances of that success.
Make a Business Plan
If you are not seeking loans or investors, you technically do not have to make a business plan, but nearly all entrepreneurs would benefit from creating one. Failing to make a comprehensive business plan is one of the big errors that can sink a new company. The reason is that the act of making the plan can show you where there are holes in your planning. For example, one of the biggest mistakes that many would-be entrepreneurs make is failing to fully market test their idea. What this consists of will vary based on the industry that your business is based in, but essentially, people often do not look outside their circle of friends and family to see what others think of the concept.
Of course, your friends and family want to encourage you, so most of the time, they are inclined to be positive. However, what you actually need is honest feedback and real data. You can do research online into similar businesses, send out surveys and even conduct focus groups to get a better idea of how to refine your concept into an enterprise that will succeed. In writing this document, you may also identify other weak points. Among the other points you should address are the company’s structure, including an organizational chart if appropriate, and financial projections.
Have a Marketing Plan
That business plan that you need to write should have a section about how you plan to market your service or product. You need to ask yourself a few questions—and find the answer to them—before you launch. First, how would you describe what you are offering? It needs to be something you can convey quickly and simply to your potential customers or clients. Next, what sets you apart from the competition? Why should people come to you and not to a competitor? Finally, who are those customers or clients? You need to start building an idea of this customer, with details such as age and how much money they have to spend.
The answers to these questions will help you with your all-important query: how will you market to the population you have identified as your potential customers? This will vary based on who they are. Different types of people tend to use different social media platform or are more or less likely to be reached by email, print, TV or other types of advertising. You may also want to consider if and how you will gather information on your customer base once you are up and running. One reason companies use loyalty programs is because it allows them to collect more data for these purposes.
Identify Funding Sources
There are a number of different ways to fund your company, and to start with, you need to have your own personal finances in order. This helps ensure that you know how much money you will need to be able to pay yourself and support yourself entirely from the company. You should look at whether you can cut back on your spending each month. This might involve not just examining your regular budget but also taking a look at whether you might be able to reduce some of your bills or other payments.
You could find out whether you are eligible to consolidate your student loan balances into a new loan. A private lender from this site here can offer this option, and it could mean paying less each month. You should also try to identify other places you might get funding from. This could include business loans from private lenders or the government, grants, angel investors, venture capitalists and crowdfunding. Once you are is up and running, there are types of insurance that can protect you as well and can help you keep a cash flow going. For example, invoice insurance can help tide you over if you are waiting to be paid.
Consider the Day Job
One thing to think about is whether you want to keep your day job at first while running your company on the side. This can relieve financial pressure, but there are a lot of factors to consider, including whether it is even possible. Your new venture may consume too many hours or may require your availability during the same hours that you work. However, there is another important aspect to consider.
Some companies do not allow their employees to moonlight. Others will claim ownership of any intellectual property you develop while you are employed by them. You could also run into problems if the business you are setting up will be in competition with your employer. You should check what your employer’s policies are, and if you have questions, you may want to run them past a lawyer.
Get Professional Help
An attorney is just one of the professionals you may want to talk to or work with on a semi-regular basis. Attorneys can help you with your initial paperwork, including setting you up as a business entity. They also may be able to help you create contracts and with any employment-related issues, if you are hiring employees. Another helpful professional might be an accountant or a bookkeeper.
If you are going to be storing sensitive information, including people’s personal data, talking with an IT person about security precautions can be valuable. You also might want to consider hiring someone to help with marketing or just with your social media presence. If you need someone sporadically to work on spreadsheets or do other admin-type jobs, you might want to look into getting a virtual assistant. These are people who work remotely, and since they are usually on a contract or freelance basis, they can be ideal if you don’t need a regular employee.