They are so many variables to look at when you are planning to start a business. Here we look at the common factors that can act like the basic things to consider.
- First Conduct a personal evaluation – Begin by taking stock of yourself and your situation. Look at things like:
- Why do you want to start a business? is it Money, Freedom, Creativity, or some other reason?
- What skills do you?
- What industries do you know about?
- Would you want to provide a service or a product?
- What do you like to do?
- How much capital do you have to risk?
- Will it be a full-time or a part-time venture?
Your answers to these questions will help you narrow your focus. This step will help to get thinking and planning. In order to start a successful business, passion alone isn’t enough. You need to plan, set goals and above all know yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? How will these affect day-day operations? You could conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on yourself to figure out. It is better to enter a market you like and know well. As you get started, your business will likely dominate your life therefore choose something that is stimulating and not dull since you are going to be in for the long-haul.
Good questions to ask yourself include:
- What would you do if money wasn’t the problem?
- Is money really important? or rather, is making a lot of it really important? If it is, you’re probably going to be cutting out a number of options.
- What things really matter to you?
- Do you have the support of your family, especially your immediate family? They will have to make sacrifices at the beginning, so it’s important to have them behind you.
- What do you admire in business? Perhaps in the industry you’d like to go into? What do you admire them? What are their likable traits? What can you learn from them?
Being able to answer these questions, and asking more about yourself and your abilities will get you thinking about your goals and about what motivates and inspires you. Use this time to make sure that you are matching the business you want to start to your personal aspirations.
2. Analyze your industry – Once you decide on a business that fits your goals and lifestyle, you need to evaluate your idea. Who will buy your product or service? Who will your competitors be? At this stage you also need to figure out how much money you need to get started. You can do this by doing Google searches, going out and speaking to people already working in that industry, reading books by people from the industry, researching key people, reading relevant news sites and industry magazines and taking a class or two if possible. If you can’t perform research on your own, you can seek advice from government departments that are concerned with business start-ups.
You can seek information from the following sources:
- Advertising representatives for statistics and data on your competition or the industry.
- List brokers (to get an idea of the number of prospects out there)
- Students who will likely be happy to perform research for you at an affordable fee
- Suppliers of your industry ( to get a sense of demand and for market information)
Evaluate your market – How urgently do people need the thing you’re selling or offering right now? In order to identify how attractive your prospective market really is. You can consider the following:
What is the market size? Are there a lot of people paying for this thing?
How easy is it? and how much will it cost you to acquire a customer?
How much money and effort will it cost to deliver the value you would like to be offering?
How long will it take to get to market?
What size up-front investment will you need before you can begin?
Will your business continue to be relevant as time passes? If your business is only relevant for a specific period of time, you will also want to consider your future plans.
Consider the consumer needs currently not being met by businesses in the industry. This is a good time to take a look at potential competitors. Note that the presence of competitors is often a good sign. It means the market for your product or service already exists, so you know that from the outset, you’re not flying entirely blind. You can learn more about your competitors, like what they provide to their customers, how they attract attention, and whether or not their customers are happy. If you can figure out what’s missing before you get started, your job will be made much easier when you finally set up shop.
3. Make if Legal
Registering your business is the first step toward making it real. Take time to know the pros and cons of different business formations. If possible work with an attorney/lawyer to iron out the details. You will need to get the proper business licenses and permits. This is also the time check into any insurance you may need for your business and to find a good accountant. We have the following types of business formations:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Take time to know the pros and cons of each of the above business formations. You will also decide on a business name and research on the availability for that name.
4. Start the planning Process – If you will be seeking outside financing or by yourself, a business plan is a necessity. A business plan will help you figure out how much money you will need in order to get started, what needs to be done, and where you are headed. This is like a road map-something you will use to help you chart your progress and that will outline the things you need to do in order to reach your goals i.e. Outline key milestones you hope to achieve, and regular progress checks where you review and revise your plan.
A business plan can be used as a pitch to investors and banks, or it can be used to attract potential partners and board members. Also it can be used to define your strategy, tactics, and specific activities for execution, including key dates, deadlines and budgets, and cash flow.
A standard Business plan comprises of nine parts, including:
- The executive Summary
- Company overview
- Products and services
- Target market
- Marketing and sales Plan
- Milestones and Metrics
- Management Team
- Financial Plan
You can check online of information on how to write a business plan.
5. Get financed – Depending on the size of your venture, you may need to seek financing from an ‘ angel’ or from a venture capital firm. Most small business begin with private financing from credit cards, personal loans or help from the family. As a rule, besides start-up costs you should also have atleast 3 month’s worth of your family’s budget in the bank. In order to finance your company, you will need to match the company’s needs to the appropriate financing option.
The main types of investment and lending options include:
- Venture capital
- Angel Investment
- Commercial Banks
- The small business administration
- Accounts receivable specialists
- Friends and family
6. Set up shop
Your business plan has been laid out, the money is in the bank, and you’re ready to go. There are more things you got to do like: Find a location, Negotiate leases, Buy inventory, get the phones installed, Have stationery printed. Hire staff. Set your prices etc.
You Business location, will dictate the type of customer you attract, what types of promotions you can run, and how long it will take you to grow. Consider the following factors when you are setting up a shop:
- Price – can you afford where you want to be? If not keep looking
- Visibility – Will people be able to find you easily? Will they see your promotions and offers? Are you in the center of town or further out? How will this affect you?
- Access to parking or public transportation – Can people easily find you from available parking options and transportation routes? If they have to look too hard, they may give up.
- Distribution of competitors – are there many competitors close to you? If so, this may be a sign that the location is premium for the clientele you wish to attract. It may also mean you do no business. Consider carefully how you wish to approach this type of situation.
- Local, city and state rules and regulations – Look into regulations, as some areas may be more stringent than others. Ensure there are no restrictions that will limit your operations or act as barriers to your store.
Your Marketing will set the stage for the future of your store. It will set expectations, generate hype (if done well), bring business in from day one and ensure that people know where you are and what they can expect from you.
You can also read: How to create a successful business culture.
Your store’s layout design and placement of your products will decide not only the overall atmosphere of the store, but what products people see and buy. Consider the areas you want well-lit; how you will display products ( if necessary); what various colors will make people feel, and how people will move through your store.
Your choice of products and how you decide to price them will create a reputation. Rather than stock everything of similar price range consider only choosing those items that will create the feel you want to become known for.
7. Expect to make Mistakes – Whether you are starting your first or third business, expect to make mistakes. This is natural and so long as you learn from them. Be open-minded, creative, adapt, look for opportunities and have fun doing your job.