While you may never feel fully prepared to take the leap and start a new business, there are ways to make your long-term success more likely, whether you’re starting a marketing agency, a pet care product line, or a software development firm like BairesDev. Check out these areas you should consider before embarking on your new business journey.
- The Market
Make sure the product or service you plan to offer is in demand. Be clear on the need or problem your company will respond to and then test out that market. If you discover that need doesn’t exist, stop and rethink your idea. Don’t remain rigid in the face of new or unexpected market information.
Understand your target audience, including their wants and goals, and know specifically how you can help them. Interview or survey potential customers to determine which of your solutions interest them most. If what you discover surprises you, be ready to make adjustments to better meet their needs.
Find your particular niche by checking out the competition. If another company is already doing what you plan to do, figure out if you can do it in a more efficient or appealing way. For example, if a competitor’s app requires 10 steps to accomplish its objective, see if you can design one that does it in 4.
Even if you have a good product-market fit starting out, don’t expect those conditions to remain unchanged. You should always be ready to adapt as the market evolves.
When starting a business, you’ll need money for a whole range of things like legal fees, licenses, equipment, and software. It’s essential to line up your funding, both for initial startup costs and to cover the time before you start turning a profit.
Potential sources include:
- Gifts or loans from friends and family
- Bank loans
- Venture capitalist firms (companies that provide capital to startup businesses)
- Angel investors (private individuals who offer backing for startups, usually in exchange for ownership equity)
- Crowdfunding like Kickstarter or Indiegogo
Self-funding, or “bootstrapping,” from your personal savings is another option. It keeps full ownership in your hands and gives you a chance to demonstrate success with your offering before you approach investors for longer-term support. However, you should be very careful, as you might get too protective when it comes to your own money.
Understand the likely timeframe to get through your startup phase. Overestimate how long it will take before you start generating profit, so you don’t find yourself short of funds. In addition, identify backup sources in case the primary ones fall through or your funding needs increase.
No matter what product or service you plan to offer, you can count on needing technology. You probably already expect to purchase computers and printers and set up internet service, but there are some less obvious types of technology that might make running your new company a little smoother, including those listed here.
Shopping cart software
- Allows you to accept payments on your website
- Calculates shipping and taxes
- Tracks inventory
- Creates sales reports
- Guards your computers and networks against viruses, spyware, and malware
Credit card processing services
- Uses encryption technology to protect your customers’ sensitive information
- Prevents fraudulent credit card use
Online data storage
- Protects valuable information in case something happens to your company’s physical location
- Allows you to access data from anywhere since it’s stored in the cloud
- Frees up hard drive space
Project management software
- Organizes and manages project tasks and deadlines
- Promotes communication within a project team
- Tracks expenses, invoices, and customers
You may have a great product that meets a real need but, if no one knows about it, your company could stall or fail. That’s why you need marketing. Start out by listening to your target audience to find out more about them, so you can better personalize your marketing messages.
Begin with social media marketing, a vitally important channel for reaching today’s consumers. Consider not just posting content but also paying for ads on those sites to improve your impact and boost your reach.
Video content can help you “show” as well as “tell.” Videos engage and entertain potential customers, so they’re the perfect vehicle to offer insight and education, instead of just promoting your product. Consider featuring yourself in video intros when launching your new business.
It’s important to know that getting your business up and running is likely to have an impact on your lifestyle, including longer hours and less pay than you’re used to. There can be lots of stressful ups and downs, like when your product launch brings in many orders, but your manufacturer backs out and you must scramble to fill them.
One way to mitigate these impacts is to implement effective cash flow management. This process involves setting aside funds for slow times, billing customers efficiently, and creating a steady cash flow whenever possible. By performing these steps, you can reduce your stress level and free up more personal time.
Try to find a mentor to encourage and help you through the difficult startup period. That might be a local business owner, online coach, or nonprofit organization volunteer. Mentors have made it through the tough times and into the other side so they can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If you follow these suggestions, you’ll be able to put aside your fears and take decisive action to get your new business off the ground.