Starting a business is like having kids. It’s the beginning of an exciting – and sometimes, (very), challenging period in your life. A great small business always starts out as an idea, but you have to transform that idea into action. That’s where many of us start to feel overwhelmed. It’s understandable to get stuck at the list of things that are required to get a business started, but could getting going actually be easier than you might think?
Like any big goal, if you start by breaking it down into smaller tasks, you’ll be able to tackle enough of the steps necessary to get started. Here are five ways to break down the process and simplify getting started with your own small business.
1) Determine if you really are ready
Going into business for yourself for the first time will change your lifestyle, professionally and personally, and can involve a significant financial commitment.
Whether your business succeeds or fails depends on many things including your abilities, initiative and capacity to work, as well as the economic and business environment.
Assess whether you and your business skills are ready.
2) Assess your business idea
Short of jumping into the deep end, with a trial and error approach, the only way you can know if your business idea is going to work is by undertaking market research. This could involve researching information on the industry, undertaking competitor analysis and surveying potential customers. Determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) of your business idea.
Analyse your market research with an open and unbiased mind. If your research shows that a proposed business venture has a high probability of failure it’s probably unwise for you to proceed, without changing your idea.
3) Write a business plan
The key to a successful small business, especially in the startup 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, it’s recommended that small-business owners start out with by testing their ideas first before investing lots of time and money
4) Figure out your finances
Speaking of money, an important part of running a small business is understanding how to set up and manage your finances. You will need to work out whether you can afford to start the business and how much money you will need. It’s not just your start-up costs, you will also need to assess how you will access the money to fund your future plans.
If you are considering obtaining finance you really should complete some financial forecasts beforehand to provide to your financial institution or investors.
5) Market your business
Many small businesses come up with a great business idea and then fail to market it successfully. You need to get out and spread the word about your product or service to the right people to generate business. Advertising and selling are part of the process but there is much more involved. If you have a service-based business, get involved with your local chamber of commerce and/or small-business groups immediately and ask what resources are available for you to speak, present or share information about your business. If you have a product-based business, test the viability of your product at local markets, community events and again in business groups to find what people really think (and if they’ll purchase) from you.
Drive traffic to your website through simple Facebook Ads with capped budgets, or set up a simple Google AdWords account with a budget cap to test if traffic is going to your site. Oh, and don’t forget that there are about a million ways to spread awareness of your services, products and brand message around social media… without spending a cent.
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