Step 1: The Idea
A business idea or plan can come to use as a one-line thunderbolt stroke of genius or take months or years to come up with in painstaking detail. When you start getting an itch of a business idea, the first thing is to write it down, so many people forget what their plan was, or miss some key detail. If you want to start a business but haven’t had that brainwave yet, here’s a long list of ideas that might spark some insight.
Second, scope out how original, innovative, useful and if there is a market for it. However good the idea, if there’s no clear use case, it might be not best to launch it or plan for it immediately, but keep it as a future plan.
Step 2: Your Target Market
Having established there’s a market, get some detail on who actual buyers would be. If its a service, how would people like to subscribe to it? If it’s a product, where does your market expect to find it – in stores, online, through specific vendors. With innovative ideas, pinning down these details are essential to success.
Step 3: Research the Competition
Unless your business idea is really new, there’s likely to be plenty of competition out there. See what they do, and how they do it. Look to differentiate your product or service to fill any gaps that they leave. See where your idea can add extra value, or undercut opponents, and see which of their customers you can sell to in an attempt to start taking over the market.
Step 4: Bank on a Budget
With the idea and a sense of the market in place, work out a clear budget of costs. From launch and planning expenses such as prototyping, marketing, and production to regular costs as part of running the business. Go into as much detail as possible, and for any unknown costs, estimate on the high side to avoid damaging your fledgling business.
Step 5: The Business Bank Account
For any serious business effort, you will need a company bank account. Open one as soon as possible, while ignoring the offer of bank loans and credit cards unless the business absolutely requires them. Move all business-related funding through the bank account to make for easier accounting and to improve your company’s credit rating.
Step 6: Finance Your Business
If the business needs capital, then there are many avenues you can investigate. Before turning to the bank for a loan, there are usually plenty of angel investors looking to help get local businesses off the ground, with advice, networking and other forms backing into the bargain. Local chambers of commerce and other business forums might also be able to point you in the right directions for startup funding.
If your business has serious potential venture capital might be an option. You will need a very strong business plan and preferably some previous experience in the market, but many high-growth businesses use the VC route to success. Finally, traditional bank loans, getting funding from family and friends are all perfectly acceptable ways to start up a company, as long as you can provide a reasonable return.
Step 7: Market Your Business
With funding in place, you will want to start spreading the word about the business. This can be done through traditional marketing campaigns where your target market can be reached, or through inviting influencers in your market to try out early versions of your product or service. Using a minimum viable product or betas to start getting revenue in and generating reviews and feedback, or getting out there and selling however you can is all key to building a solid platform for launch.
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