Deciding that you want to become an independent business person takes a lot of guts, and a lot of luck. Being successful is not easy and thinking that you can achieve greatness making full time executive money working part time hours simply doesn’t fly. So having the straight goods on what you should be thinking about when starting a business so that you don’t become one of the 50% of business that fail within their first year is critical.
- Have a business plan. Sure you have a great idea. Sure you may have a great product or service, but how are you going to build your business around it? Business plans are detailed outlines designed to explain your business in real terms. What is the cost going to be, what are the timelines going to be? What are your forecasts? If you need a loan for your business, you’ll need a business plan. Every lending institution wants to know that not only do you have a great idea, but you know what you’re doing.
- Develop a marketing plan. One of the most overlooked steps people make until it’s almost too late. Simply thinking that word of mouth is going to fill your store with customers is lunacy. You should be thinking about your brand, your image, your core market. You should be aware of your logo and your mission statement. This is what people are going to identify with before they even try your product. If you can’t get them to try it, how are you going to get them to buy it?
- Don’t quit your day job. I don’t know how many people decide that once they start making a few dollars they’re on the path to success. Wrong! Money you make during the first 12 months should be used to payoff start up debt,your domain name and build capital. So many people give themselves salaries or start spending the money as if there will be an endless supply. As my father always told me… it’s not how much money you make, its how much you save. Staying in your current job for at least 12 to 18 months will ensure you can pay the bills, while allowing your business to grow without desperation.
- Networking. Get out there and make yourself known. Start handing out business cards to as many people as possible, and selling yourself and your product. There maybe people you’ll meet who’ll be able to help you in aspects of your business. Helping you with marketing materials and advertising. Or running other joint ventures to help you get credibility and exposure. And of course… meeting to clients!
- Manage your time. In the beginning you’re going to be juggling your work life, your home life, your new business life, and your social life. All will be competing for your time and energy. I’ve seen so many new business owners burning the candle at both ends as the try and cater to them all. Like anything have a plan and stick to it. Plan family time and don’t let work creep into it. Work is work, family is family, and balance is everything.
- Attracting sales. Sales are the barometer to how your growth will be measured. No it isn’t rocket science. If you’re selling you’re making money, if you’re not, you aren’t. It’s that simple. Having a well developed marketing plan and getting out and networking will ensure exposure and possible sales. Of course you may want to give out a few freebies to select people who you think may be able to “spread the word” of your product or service. This isn’t about charity and giving things away for free, but giving samples to prospective clients who may be able to help get you other ones.
- Money management. Be smart with the money your company makes. When you start making a few dollars don’t get all excited and start spending frivolously on things that aren’t pertinent to your business. You still have your day job right? The money you make should go back into the business to ensure it’s operating expenses are secure and a solid foundation is built. Spending it before you get it is a guaranteed way to ensure you never leave your day job.
Successful small business owners are great managers. They have learned the hard way to tactfully navigate the pitfalls that so many others succumb to. If you want to be successful in business, then diligently following these steps will help ensure you’re business is around for the long haul.
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