So, you’ve had a brilliant idea and want to turn this epiphany into a tangible business but have no clue of what to do next. The first (and most important) thing to starting your own business is...
1. Research, Research, Research!
Any successful entrepreneur puts an incredible amount of time in to research and you should do the same! Research your market, identify potential customers and look at some of your competitors - what are they doing right and what could you improve upon? Are you meeting a real need? Why should people buy your product or service? Is it better than an existing one or is it an entirely new concept?
If possible create a prototype you can show to people in your existing network to get some feedback. Talk to the people you already know, your family, friends, friends of friends and work colleagues. Would they buy the service or product you’re thinking about selling? Listen to what they have to say, they could be your first customers!
2. Develop a Plan
Writing a business plan, even a basic one, will help organise your thoughts and ideas. Aim to cover these areas in as much depth as you can:
3. Set Realistic and Achievable Goals
The setting of short, medium and long-term goals are extremely important in helping you stay motivated and keeping you focused. They push you to push yourself. Setting goals provides a clear way to measure the success and progress of your business. If you didn’t hit a goal then you need to take a step back, re-evaluate and see where things went wrong. Goals hold you accountable for failure but they also help you understand why it happened. This is valuable information because you can use it to avoid future failure. Learn from your mistakes!
4. Who is Your Ideal Customer
It’s better to have the majority of a small pie than a sliver of a large one. The same concept applies in business; find a small niche where you can make a real impact instead of being a part of a large market where you may not be noticed. You want to be as visible as possible to potential customers.
Do you know who your ideal customer is in terms of age, gender, education and location? What’s important to them? What other products is your demographic interested in? How do they communicate with each other? How can you communicate with them? Once you know this information, you should be able to effectively target the people who are most likely to buy your product or service!
5. Find Suppliers and Premises
Keep your profit margins high by sourcing materials from the cheapest suppliers, but do not compromise on quality. You’ll make more money from repeat customers and referrals as opposed to lots of one-time buyers. If you’re an e-commerce or drop shipping business look for suppliers that meet your needs. A quick search on Google will provide a multitude of possible options.
If it’s a physical shop you want to sell your product in, try to find premises in a location that both pleases your target demographic and sits within your budget. Finding the right balance can get tricky! Before choosing this option, consider your target customer and their purchasing strategy. Do they tend to do all their shopping online? Or do they prefer to go to a physical shop where they can browse? Use this information to determine whether a bricks and mortar business would outweigh the benefits of an e-commerce store.
6. Invest Heavily in Marketing
No one is going to buy your product, however magnificent it is, if they’re unaware of its existence. Utilise the power of marketing to let people know how good your product/service is! Send newsletters, print flyers and speak to people. Be sure to also use more modern forms of marketing; a very popular and effective method is to start a blog. Writing content brings people to your website of their own volition where they can then see your products and/or services.
Do not overlook the power of social media, it can be a wondrous way to market your product and interact with customers. But be sure to choose the correct social networks for your business; Facebook may have over a billion users, but if your potential customers don’t make up a big part of that user base, then it’s not the right social network for you. Use your social media pages as a platform to network and build relationships, not just with customers, but other businesses as well.
7. Stay on Top of Things With Good Business Management
Running your own business can be tiresome and stressful, luckily there are lots of tools out there to help you. With apps becoming more prevalent and more powerful, many SMEs are relying on these useful little tools to help their businesses grow and run more smoothly. You can automate parts of your business, connect with customers and have a virtual personal assistant all located, quite conveniently, in your pocket. Select the right app and make things a little easier for yourself!