10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING A SMALL BUSINESS
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW AND DO BEFORE YOU START YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
Lately i have had a lot of questions from intending entrepreneurs on how to start a business,what they need to know and do and the list is endless..The article below would take you from idea to lauching your own business in 7 days if you follow through carefully.
1) PREPARE YOURSELF: This is ultimately the first step to starting any business, it determines whether your business will succeed or fail. Ask yourself what do you want to go into? Attend trainings or seminar in that field or better still take a course about the area of interest. The essence of this step is to help you get an understanding of what your expectations and customers’ expectations would be in this line of business. The better equipped you are the more ready and determined you are to succeed in the business.
2) HAVE A GOOD IDEA: To successfully start a small business you must have a good idea not necessarily great idea. It is important to note that having an idea is not enough it needs to be backed by a great feasibility studies, this study would determine if the idea is scalable or not.
It would also determine if the market is ready for it and would patronise it.It is important to note that you don’t need to crack your head for a million dollar idea, you can just take an existing idea, learn the ropes and start up something around it.
3) DO YOUR FEASIBILITY STUDIES: My first business venture was in the jewellery line, I was young, ambitious and wanted to prove to myself I could succeed early in life.
To back this up I travelled from Ilorin where I was schooling to Lagos to buy Jewelleries that were a bit expensive because I assumed my friends had the money to pay for it.
When I came back the best I got from my so called friends were compliments and admirations as they felt it was over their budget. I ended up using most of the jewelleries and giving some out as gifts.
What did I do wrong? I had a target market (students) but I failed to do a proper feasibility study to ascertain that the market could afford what I was willing to offer and as I result it was a failed venture. You can totally avoid that by doing the following.
4) UNDERSTAND YOUR MARKET: Before starting your business, you must seek to understand your market, every business line has its secrets and if you must succeed you need to learn them. You can also ask those who have gone before you what the market dynamics are. Ask the following questions:
Who are your customers?
How do they want to be served?
Who are your major competitors?
What gap have your competitors created?
Do you have a chance for survival?
Can you grab some market share in the supposed space?
5. WRITE A ONE-PAGE BUSINESS PLAN.
The key to a successful small business, especially in the start-up phase, is to keep things simple and costs low. Costs don’t just mean your monetary costs, but also your time.
Many would-be small-business owners fall into the trap of trying to create the world’s biggest and most robust business plan. You’re only going to need that if you’re seeking investment or financing, and even if you will be seeking either of those things down the road, I always recommend small-business owners start out with by testing their ideas first before investing lots of time and money.
So to get started, create your own simple, one-page business plan that is a high-level overview of the small business you’re about to start.
1. Define your vision. What will be the end result of your business?
2. Define your mission. Different to a vision, your mission should explain the reason your company exists.
3. Define your objectives. What are you going to do — what are your goals — that will lead to the accomplishment of your mission and your vision?
4. Outline your basic strategies. How are you going to achieve the objectives you just bulleted?
5. Write a simple action plan. Bullet out the smaller task-oriented actions required to achieve the stated objectives.
6. DECIDE ON A BUDGET.
While I highly recommend you keep your costs as low as possible, you’ll still need to determine a budget to get started and how much you’ll be able to spend. If you’re self-funding, be realistic about numbers and whatever you anticipate your budget to be. I’ve found that an additional 20 percent tacked on for incidentals is a realistic overage amount that helps you plan your burn rate.
Your burn rate is how much cash you’re spending month over month. It’s an important number for you to figure out to determine how long you can stay in business before you need to turn a profit.
You should set up your business with profitability in mind the first 30 to 90 days. It’s possible. But have a budget reserve so you can survive if things go leaner than expected.
7] CREATE A SOCIAL MEDIA PAGE FOR YOUR BUSINESS: Any business you want to do on planet earth has its future on social media. Even the biggest brands on earth like coke, Pepsi, amazon etc are on this same social space competing with you for the same customer.
The idea of going there is to engage, connect, educate and eventually sell to your prospective customers both online and offline.
So technically you are launching your business both offline and online at the start up point.
Social media doesn’t mean instant success, it takes consistency, hard work, adding immense value to your audience to get them to know love and trust you, and then they will buy from you.
At this point you must differentiate your personal page from your business page except you are building a personal brand. Make your page exciting, fun and very informative especially in areas or topics surrounding your new business. Be very interactive with your audience, like their comments and respond to them as well.
Take it a notch further and go to their pages and reciprocate the gestures. Customers would do business with you if they know you care about them.
8) GATHER CONTENTS: The fastest way to grow your business is to educate your customers, tell them the features, the importance, what they stand to gain, what they stand to lose if they use your products. You must at all times aim at adding value either by way of information or product based research on your products. Eg if you are into skincare, what are the most popular brand of skincare products that you know? Find out their components, build content around the importance of those components and the benefits and disadvantages.
In creating contents ask yourself the following questions.
1) What is my product?
2) What are the components of my products?
3) What are the advantages of those components?
4) What problem does each of those components solve?
5) What is the outcome of your customer using my product THAT IS my customers overall experience?
6) Why should they choose yours?
7) What need are you meeting that the competition isn’t meeting?
By the time you go through these questions you already have contents for the next 30days for your customers.
A business that shares valuable content would attract buyers consistently.
As intending business owner’s discipline, integrity, accountability are core values you must develop if you want to succeed in a busy and profitable marketplace.
Let’s talk a little about tenacity as a quality for a small business owner. Your business is a mirror reflection of you, so the attribute you possess as a small business owner would determine the outcome of your business.
You need to be determined to succeed, you need to be willing to switch and follow the market demands despite what your comfort zone is.
9) TEST THE MARKET DEMAND BY TRYING OUT SOME SALES: When I say sales I don’t mean promotions. What I am implying here is actual sales to real customers.
Ask yourself, how many people do you have in your network?
Neighbours, co-workers, church members, local government people, family and friends and the list is endless.
Tell them about your business and the solution your business provides, get them excited and willing to buy and try out your product.
For product based businesses seek out exhibitions, farmer’s markets, community events to test whether the market will buy from you.
You can find details of events on ariyatickets.com, Eventbrite.com and so on.
For service based businesses you also need to seek opportunities to speak about your business in public events and community of people, churches etc.
10) START THE BUSINESS: After all is said and done, all of the steps highlighted earlier have been fully understood and carried out, then it’s time to start the business proper.
At this point it’s important to note that you have an association of friends/mentors you can reach out to for support and business advice as you go along.
This would minimise your risk of failure.
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