First of all congratulations for making it to this article, this means you are a dreamer and probably have big plans laid out in front of you about starting your own brand. Owning a startup is not going to be easy but with the right efforts in the right place it will all be worth it.
There’s a lot that goes into starting your company. The apparent tasks, like naming the company and developing the logo, are well known, but what about the lesser-known but equally essential steps? Whether deciding on a business structure or creating a comprehensive marketing plan, the work can be done quickly. Instead of spinning around and not knowing where to start, use this 9-step checklist to turn your concept into a successful business.
1. Refine your idea
Now I know you are here reading this article, you already have a basic idea of what you want to do and the sector you want to enter. But good practice is to take that idea a step further and search for current companies in your chosen industry and see what all they are into and mainly how profitable they are. Find out what current brand leaders are already doing and how you can improve that and offer something better in terms of quality, innovation or price. If you think your business can do something other companies can’t, or if you have a unique concept, then you can start creating your business plan by putting your thoughts to paper.
2. Consider Franchising
If you are someone who is amazing at management but not so much at starting things up and if the initial hustle to set everything up seems too much for you then you can consider opening a ‘franchise.’ This is a little easier because the idea has already worked and is making millions, so now you add your two cents to them by opening and managing a new branch in a new location. The concept, reputation and business plan are all laid out; all you need now is a good location and some investment money.
3. Brainstorm a great name!
It’s essential to understand the reasoning behind your idea, no matter what alternative you choose. Stéphanie Desaulniers, owner of Business by Dezign and former director of women’s business operations and programs at the Convention Center, advises entrepreneurs to develop a business plan or company name before starting a business. Shakespeare once said, ‘What’s in the name?’ but we all know his name don’t we? The name of your brand is very important. It should signify what you are offering as a brand or atleast give a hint.
4. Clarify your Target Customers
According to Desaulniers, too many people start a business without first asking who their customers are and why they would want to buy from them. “You should explain why you want to work with these clients. Are you interested in making people’s lives easier? Desaulniers declared. So make a list of similar questions like this first, and sit down and answer them. This will help you out with a list of goals that you need to go after. You need to also figure out how will you make your customer understand the value that you will be adding to the customer’s life and convince them to pay for it.
5. Make a Business Plan
Now that you have defined your concept, there are a few key questions to ask yourself: What are your business goals? Who are you trying to market to? What is your end goal? We have already covered most of these questions in the last point, but this time to formulate a proper business plan you will need to think beyond, and get into the finance bits of it too. How much are you planning to invest and where. Are you going to self-fund this business or will you be looking for investors? What do you need to do to achieve a certain level of profits initially or at least break even. Startups make many mistakes because they quickly overlook these aspects of the business. But if you spend enough time make a proper structure you will have a smooth beginning.
6. Conduct Market Research
We have already figured out who your target customer is but we need to learn more about them. Thorough market research of your industry and the demographics of your potential customers is an essential part of developing a business plan. This approach includes conducting surveys, organizing focus groups, and analyzing SEO and public data.
Market Research enables you to learn more about your target customers, such as their needs, tastes, and behavior, as well as your industry and competitors. Many small business experts recommend collecting demographic data and conducting competitive analysis better to discover the potential and limitations of your industry.
7. Arrange your Finances
Starting a business is expensive, so you need to think about how you will pay for it. Either you take a loan, or find an investor or self-finance your business. Whichever way you choose, you need to have enough cash on hand to support yourself until you make a profit. Know what your first cost will be.
Many businesses fail because they run out of money before they can make a profit. It is never a good idea to overestimate the amount of startup capital you need, as it can take a long time for a business to generate stable income.
- Perform a break-even analysis
Equilibrium analysis is a way to determine how much money you need. This is an essential aspect of financial planning as it helps business owners determine when their business, product, or service will become profitable.
- Track your expenses
Don’t spend too much when starting a business. Understand what type of purchase is acceptable to your company and avoid spending money on expensive new equipment that will not help you achieve your goals. Track your business expenses to make sure you’re on the right track.
- Consider your funding options.
When choosing a commercial bank, size plays an important role. In the end, the ideal bank for your company will be selected based on your needs. By listing your banking needs, you can focus on what to look for. Schedule a meeting with several banks and ask questions about working with small businesses to choose the best bank for your business.
8. Getting Legally Prepared
Before you can register a business, you must first determine its legal form. Its legal condition affects everything from filing your tax return to your liability if something goes wrong. There are a few options here that you can consider:
- ·Sole Proprietorship – If you are the complete owner of the business and want to take full responsibility for all debts and obligations, you can start a sole proprietorship. Be aware that using this route can harm your credit.
- Partnership – On the other hand, a partnership is, as the name suggests, two or more people who are personally responsible as entrepreneurs. You don’t have to do it alone when you find a business partner who will compliment you with their skills. Usually, you need to hire someone to help your business grow.
- Limited Liability Company – One of the most common types of small businesses is a limited liability company (LLC). In this combination structure, the legal guarantees of a corporation are combined with the tax advantages of a partnership.
Lastly, you need to choose the type of law firm that best suits your current needs and future business goals. It is essential to understand the many types of law firms. If you are having difficulty making a decision, it is best to seek the advice of a lawyer or business advisor.
9. Purchase an insurance policy
You may skip this as something you will deal with later, but buying the right insurance for your business is an essential step before you get started. Dealing with incidents like property damage, theft, or even a lawsuit can be expensive, so make sure you’re covered.
Although there are many different types of business insurance, most small businesses can benefit from some basic insurance. If your company employs workers, you need workers’ compensation insurance and unemployment insurance.
Depending on your region and industry, you may want additional insurance coverage. Still, most small businesses are encouraged to purchase General Liability (GL) insurance, commonly known as the Business Owners Policy. GL is responsible for personal injury, property damage, and personal injury inflicted on you or a third party.
If your business offers services, you should consider purchasing professional indemnity insurance. It protects you if you make a mistake or don’t do something you should be doing while running your business.
10. Build your team
If you don’t want to be the only employee in your company, you need to find and hire a great team to get started. According to Joe Zawadzki, CEO and inventor of MediaMath, entrepreneurs must take care of their business’s “people” component in their core products.
Your product is also the people in your team. They are the front face of your company, from your receptionist, customer care, salespeople, retailers, partners, etc. People will not remember your product, they will remember their experience that they had with your product. So make sure that each person from your team understands the vision and mission of the brand.
11. Choose your sellers
Running a business is demanding, and you and your employees almost certainly won’t manage everything on your own. Third-party sellers can help. Companies want to work with you to help you run your business more efficiently on everything from human resources to the company phone system.
It would be best if you were extremely picky when looking for a B2B partner. These companies have access to critical and potentially sensitive business information, so choosing someone you can trust is important.
12. Get your marketing assets set up
Another important step while starting your company is to develop your brand and create an audience that is ready to join when your door opens, in black or figurative terms. You need to have some basic marketing elements like the ones mentioned below in place:
- Make a website
Create a business website based on your online presence. Many customers use the Internet to find out more about a business, and a website serves as digital proof that your business exists. This is also an excellent opportunity to interact with new and existing customers.
- Social Media
Use social media to promote your new business and then use it as a promotional tool to offer coupons and discounts to subscribers once you start. Your target audience selects the best social media platforms.
A CRM software can record customer data to help you improve the way you market to them. A well-planned email marketing strategy can help you reach and connect with consumers. To be effective, you must carefully create your email marketing contact list.
Create a logo that your company recognizes immediately and uses consistently across all your platforms.
Maintain these digital assets by regularly posting valuable and engaging content about your brand and industry. Creating a marketing plan to continue after your initial presentation is key to building your customer base and growing your business. This approach is as essential in the early stages as providing a high-quality product or service.
As a business owner, your first sale and launch is just the beginning. To make a profit and stay afloat, you need to improve your business continually. It will take time and effort, but you will be well rewarded for your efforts eventually.
Working with well-known companies in your industry is a great way to grow your business. Request a promotion from another company in exchange for a free sample product or service. Join a non-profit organization and donate your time or products to help increase your brand awareness.
While these guidelines can help you start your business and prepare it for growth, there is no perfect approach. Before starting a business, you need to ensure you’ve done your research. To run a successful business, you must be able to adapt to changing conditions and remember that failures are just stepping stones to success.
Starting a business is very tricky and more challenging than that is to give it a boost. Thus, if you follow the pointers mentioned above, you will be able to kickstart your startup smoothly. You have to keep in mind not to lose hope. A startup always takes time to get a good name and stand in the market; you have to be patient. Best of luck!