What are the first steps you need to take when starting a business? I have outlined some crucial steps that will help guide you in the right direction with your start-up business.
Brainstorm ideas – What kind of business do you want to start?
This is a fun step that will help you decide what you are good at, and what you are passionate about. What gets your juices flowing? Can you picture yourself doing that for a long time? Is it something that you don’t mind working on from sun up to sun down because you enjoy doing it, this is vital to your success. Make a list of 4 things that you see yourself doing, now write down what your strengths and weaknesses are for each one. Let’s say you have an eye for fashion but you can’t design an outfit if your life depended on it, you might want to consider being a stylist instead of a designer. Write down all the areas you think you could add value for each item on your list.
Do some research- Are there businesses like yours out there? If so how well are they doing?
This is another really important step, we are very lucky to live in a time where information is at our fingertips so use the resources available to you. Look for companies who are doing what you want to do (competition is a healthy thing, so don’t be discouraged if you see a lot of people doing what you want to do. It is also an indication that there is a lot of demand for that type of product or service).
Find about 4 businesses that do what it is you are trying to do, and write down their information. Study their website, brochures, and their product or service. Write down what you think their strengths and weaknesses are, and what you would do differently. If you can, find out how they are performing financially and if they are successful.
Put a business plan together -Do you have a plan worked out?
Okay! This is one of the most boring things you will have to do, but it is essential. Jot down a quick business plan, it does not have to be elaborate (not yet anyway). This will be your road map to guide you where you need to go. Write down your business idea, and how you plan to make it a viable business. What kind of startup capital do you want to invest? What do you plan to accomplish in 6 months, 1 year, and finally 5 years. What forms do you need to make your business legal?
Test the market – Do you know if your idea will be well received?
Do NOT jump into any business without testing the market. This is important for two reasons; it let’s you know if there is a demand for your product or service, and it also helps you to see if this is a business you can actually do. If you are starting a service business, I suggest calling a couple of non profit organizations to see if you can offer your service for free. If you cannot offer your service to a non profit, put together a focus group (I would advise against using friends or family for this as their opinions tend to be biased). If you have a product, you can try to sell at a market fair or online on websites like eBay, CafePress or Etsy.
Count your dollars – How much money do you need?
Making a lot of money is an amazing side effect of doing what you love. In order to start a successful business, you don’t need a ton of money to start it. In fact, the less money you spend the [better it is for you in the long run (trust me I learned this the hard way). Some of the most successful multi million dollar companies out there were started with less than $1,000. Write down how much money you think you will need, without sending yourself to the poor house. Do NOT quit your job until you are financially able to do so, and try not to borrow money if you can help it.
Just have fun – Are you still in the game?
Okay you’ve done all the serious stuff, now it’s time to have fun (that’s assuming you still want to pursue your business idea). Get excited and look for other individuals who share the same vision as you, and network, network, network. I don’t know about you, but I do love a good party every now and then.
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