So you’re thinking of starting your own business, but you’re not sure of how to begin. Well, you should be commended for just the thought of wanting to run your own business. It takes a lot for someone to step out of the box and make the decision that they no longer want to work for someone else and are willing to take the risk of starting your own business.
The first question you is, what kind of business do you want to run? Will you be providing a product or a service? For example; are you selling merchandise such as clothing for retail or services such as styling hair or massage services? Are you willing to put in the hard work that it takes to be a successful business owner? Are you ready for the challenge? Are you committed and are you a risk taker? Whatever business you choose you should be committed, dedicated, willing to work harder than your job required and have as much knowledge in the selected business as possible, as it will only help your business to succeed.
The next step you need take is to research your line of business. Is it in demand? Who are your competitors? Is there a market for your product or service in your area? Who will be your potential customers? How will you market your product or service? Conducting research is crucial to anyone starting a business because if you go into a business blindly with just an idea and no concept on what it takes to run the business it can lead to trouble down the line. This can result in the failure of the business. Some tips to begin your research include any of the following;
- Use the internet and search what others are doing in your field. See how their business is presented and how they solicit customers. How’s there website layout? Do they have a social media presence? What can you do differently to make your product or service better than the competitor?
- Make connections and build your network! Networking is one of the best things you can do in order to gain information, build relationships and possibly collaborate with others to help your business as well as your networking associate.
- Find a mentor. A mentor is someone who has experience in business and is someone who is willing to share their expertise with you. It can be someone in your church, at work or a perfect stranger that is doing just what you are trying to do. Don’t be afraid to enter their place of business on a slow day and ask to speak with the owner or manager. You would be surprised how someone you don’t even know would be willing to share with you their mistakes of do’s and don’ts. Business owners can relate to you because of your hunger to succeed. They too were once where you are with just an idea! Remember to be professional and to respect other people’s time. Have your questions prepared ahead of time along with your notepad to take notes so that you don’t miss an important question.
Begin your action plan! Your plan entails your start-up cost, location, choosing a name for your business, filing required paperwork such as licensing, (if required) state paperwork (Articles of Incorporation) and type of entity, (LLC, Corporation, Sole Proprietorship, etc.) Obtain your Tax ID which you can obtain from; http://www.ein-gov.us/ Make sure to set realistic goals by creating a business plan.
- Create a Business Plan. Many people have started businesses without a business plan and have done well but, having a business plan is the blueprint for your business and will be required if you need funding from the banks or investors. Your business plan will include expected sales, revenue, and much more pertinent information. If you are not sure how to write a business plan there are free resources available such as Score that gives you a break down in each area of what should be included in a business plan. There are also companies that will create your business plan for a fee.
- Your start up is the funds necessary for you to begin selling your product or service. Having good credit will help you to obtain funding along with start-up capital, depending on the type of business. (For tips on how to rebuild your credit http://nyahmag.com/?p=1580 ) Some people have started their own business by using their credit cards and or loans from family members. If your credit is in need of improving you may want to focus on repairing your credit first or have a partnership with someone who has the funds. Each individual should bring something to the table. Maybe your partner has the funds and some knowledge in business management and you may have the accounting background and an idea for a niche product. This is a choice that you will have to decide because everyone has different circumstances that is unique in how they make their decisions. Your cost includes operations cost, merchandise and office equipment needed in order for your business to function for a physical business. An online business requires less start-up cost and cuts many of the overhead expenses. Many individuals are starting their businesses this way because it is more cost effective. When searching for an office, choose a great location where there is sufficient traffic, find a place where the rent will be at a low cost and makes sense financially. If the rent is too expensive, you may need to find another location. Commercial lease owners are willing to offer you several months FREE in order to occupy their spaces. This gives you time to build additional funds and grow your business. Be sure to discuss in advance the terms with the owner after your free rent expires and get in WRITING!
- Choosing a name for your business. It should have true meaning related to your business and what it represents. You should conduct a corporation search for your state to make sure the name is available. Along with the business name you can add a catchy phrase or slogan. For example; Apple, “Think different” and Nike, “Just do it!” These are just a couple of companies with catchy taglines or slogans.
- Creating your mission/vision statement (This should be included in your business plan)
In short, your company’s mission is the purpose and objectives of what your business does. The vision statement is what your business will become and why it will continue to exist in the future.
- Promote your business! You should begin promoting your business before your official grand opening. Consumers will get a buzz of your existence and you will more likely have more visitors at your website or grand opening. If you have a physical location you may want to place free or inexpensive ads in your local community paper. You can hand out flyers describing your business and better yet, you can create a social buzz buy using social media sites like Facebook, Twiiter and Instagram and other media sites. Social media are useful tools in gaining potential customers. Remain relevant by mentioning your grand opening, display photos of your product or services, include a part of your network affiliates to be a part of your event and include them in your tweets! Your network affiliate who bakes pastries for example are looking for potential customers and maybe willing to attend your event as a way of free promotion and supply pastries for your customers.
- The Grand Opening! This is the day you have been longing for and you’re full of excitement! First impressions are a lasting one and you want your customers to be one that will return and share their experiences with others who can potentially become new customers.
- Come in early and make sure all your equipment is operable and everything is in place. If you have staff then they should have been briefed already on your expectations and display great customer service. This cannot be stressed enough! Great customer service can be the determining factor of whether or not customers will return to your establishment.
- Create a mailing list for customers to be a part of your e-mail list for notifications of new merchandise or newsletter and offer discounts to customers that join and follow you on social media sites.
- Engage with your customers. Learn what consumers are looking for and ask their opinions. You can discover new ways to market or add new products and services to your business by valuing their opinions.
- Thank them for shopping with you and let them know you look forward to seeing them soon. Even if they don’t make a purchase on that day it does not mean they won’t return. Customers want to feel a sense of comfort and want to be shown that they are valued. Send a thank you e-mail to those that came out to your grand opening or thank them on your social media sites.
Remember to keep the same spark and energy up just as you did on opening day. In all businesses there are busy days and slow days, but never the less you must keep your quality level and standards high. You should always re-evaluate and create new strategies periodically while being in business and know that the success of your business is measured by your input. Hopefully this article has provided you with some insightful information and much success on you new venture!
For information on How to write a business plan visit; http://www.score.org/resources/business-plans-financial-statements-template-gallery
For more on mission/vision statements; http://biznik.com/articles/mission-statement-vision-statement-definition-and-purpose
For information on types of entities; http://taxes.about.com/od/taxplanning/a/incorporating_2.htm
For tips on Ways to Brand Your Business; http://www.manta.com/marketing/become-your-own-brand?referid=14352