When starting a business, it’s not enough to just dive in and start selling your product or service to whoever will listen. As eager and passionate you are about your new business idea, without a well-though-out approach, you’re destined to fail. Follow our 7 essentials, and you’ll avoid some of the common pitfalls facing start-ups and be well on your way to entrepreneurial success!
1. Find the perfect business name
Believe it or not, there’s a lot to a business name. Take your time and consider all possibilities to ensure you end up with the perfect name that sums up your brand and offering. It’s vital to consider both your short-term and long-term goals in order to avoid renaming the business as you expand. Think about whom you need to appeal to, what products or services you will sell and where you will find your customers. Decide whether you would prefer a creative and unique name, over a straightforward name that clearly explains your product or service. And if your plan on having an online presence (which lets face it, you should), it’s also important to check what domain names are available for your website, as well as what profile names are available on key social media platforms.
2. Think about your customers
When starting a new business you’re probably pretty excited about what you’re offering, but not everybody else on the planet necessarily is. It’s vital to consider who you’re business really speaks to. Think about what you have to offer and who you’re trying to appeal to. What problems do your potential customers face, and how does your business solve them better than anything else already out there. Determine who your customers really are. Are they old or young? Are they rich or poor? Are they internet savvy or old school with their approach? Once you have identified you target market and know what your potential customers really want, you can tweak your offering and marketing approach to match. If you skip this step and hope for the best, you will waste time and money selling to people that just aren’t interested.
3. Nail your marketing
With the perfect business name and a clear idea of who your customers are, you can now start to think more seriously about your marketing strategy. Consider carefully what type of brand image you want to establish. Does your brand scream quirky and creative, or prestigious and professional? When you have a clear idea of what brand image you are trying to achieve, you can outline how your promotional efforts will build this image. Think about which channels you will use to reach potential customers, to best build brand awareness. Look into what marketing materials will be needed – from a top-notch website and Facebook page, to business cards and brochures. And determine what message you want to push with your marketing efforts, to ensure you’re marketing message is consistent across all channels. With a clear marketing strategy, you’ll be able to reach and appeal to potential customers whilst building your brand image within the market.
4. Identify your business model
Successful business owners have one thing in common, they run a practical business. If you want to build your organisation and enjoy decent profits, you need to have a business model that actually makes you money. It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of your new business and forget to think seriously about how it will actually be profitable. Consider your business at the most basic level. Think about how much you’re products or services cost to produce, and how much you’re able to sell them for. Identify how much demand there is for what you’re offering, and how competitive the market is. Be realistic in your expectations, and ensure you have sufficient research to back up your predictions. Use this information to put together a business plan. Not only will this help you find investors, but you will give something to keep you grounded in the long run.
5. Determine your company’s structure
While not the most fun to consider, you need to think about your corporate structure. You have a few options and you must keep in mind that there are pros and cons for each. When deciding how to structure your company, you need to think of your potential liabilities. Also think of your long-term goals and ownership structure. If you determine your needs and find the best structure for them, you will save yourself trouble in the long run as entrepreneurs who commit errors will open themselves up to a host of potential tax and legal liabilities.
6. Hire some good help
If you want to succeed, you’ll need to surround yourself with great staff who are just as passionate and committed as you. Hire hardworking and experienced workers who can help you improve the customer experience. While you may want to save money, do not try to hire employees or contractors on the cheap. It may seem to work for a while, but will leave you with problems in the future. If possible, hire the best employees and offer what you can to keep them happy and productive. Then, when you keep them for the long haul, your company will experience fewer problems as you can be sure they actually care about the organisation and its goals.
7. Find an objective opinion
When starting your business, you will probably hold a biased belief that everything will turn out, and you and your business will be a huge success. Although this is a good mindset for achieving success in the long-run, it doesn’t necessarily put you in the best position for objectively critiquing your initial ideas and strategies. To avoid rushing into decisions on a whim and getting carried away with your own ideas, it’s important to find good advice. Consider hiring a consultant or business advisor who can help you ponder your ideas, in detail. Then, if the idea checks out, you can proceed with confidence.
Looking for more start up advice and tips? We’ve compiled a list of useful resources to get you started.