So you have this great idea and you think to yourself, “Hey I should start a business to sell this thing.” The problem? You don’t have any idea of where to start. Not only don’t you know how to start but just the thought of starting a small business is enough to keep you up at nights.
You’ve heard the horror stories about the lady who started her own beauty salon and within a year was declaring bankruptcy. “Face it, only the rich can start successful businesses”, you say to yourself. The system is rigged.
There is Hope
Before you throw in the towel, let me tell you, not only can you start your own small business, but it is a lot easier than you think. There is always risk in everything, but if you do some planning, research, and put in effort, you can become a small business owner.
Here is a step by step guide to Starting your own small business.
Depending on the city you live in, the requirements may vary, but in general, all businesses have a basic structure and procedure to open. The most important part is that you do some research before starting and secondly, don’t quit your current job until you absolutely must.
Step 1. Find a Product, Niche and Need to Fill
In this first step, it is critical that there is actually a market for your fantastic idea. The question you want to ask yourself is, “How can my product, service or idea solve the needs of the people who will ultimately purchase it?” or “Does my product or service create a need that before it came along, no one knew existed.” In either case, in order for your product to be successful it must be desirable to your consumer base.
Step 2. Create a Vehicle to Solve this Need (Your Business)
Now that we have identified the need in the market, the next step is to create the vehicle to solve that need. This is your business. Whatever your business may be, now is the time to create a tangible asset or prototype that you can see and feel. This may be a process or product. Whatever it may be, now is the time to make it.
Step 3. Write a Business Plan
Step 3 has several parts 1. Creating a Business Plan. Your Business Plan is a roadmap which you will use to guide you through the life of your business. It gives you and possible investors a clear picture of your business. It also serves to show investors you are serious about your business. 2. Funding- We could write an entire chapter on this subject, because it involves finding the startup and working capital for your business.
You’ll need at least 6mos-1yr in the bank so don’t overlook this. 3. Corporate Structure– In most cases you’ll need to file with the State to become a corporation. In addition, you’ll need to pay for a Business license to open your doors. 4. Depending on the industry, you may need certifications, licensing, and special training. Do some research. Find a mentor in your industry and ask questions.
3a. Do a test Run– In a perfect world, your product or service will become the next iPhone, everyone will be lining up at your door days beforehand just for a glimpse of the new model. As a matter of fact, you’ll have pre-orders waiting.
The reality is most businesses spend several years building a clientele. So we’ve inserted a dose of reality in our ideallic plan. There is nothing worth having which doesn’t take some effort to achieve.
Proof of Concept
Before you go signing a lease and picking out new curtains, spend some time actually selling your product, goods, or services. Make sure there is an interest in purchasing your new wonder product.
Is it an online item? Do you need to create a relationship with a foreign manufacturer, or do you manufacture the item in-house? The point here is that you must actually sell the item first before you go out and lease a space to distribute it.
Once you have created a buzz with your creation and you are making sales, you will need to look at opening up a shop for distribution. You may even have to hire employees and distributors because the workload is too heavy for you and your family.
Brick and Mortar
Step 4. Find a Location to Sell Your Product
If you haven’t heard anything I’ve written, please pay attention to this section. Your business will live or die based upon its location. Do your market research before signing the lease for that cute little shop or that office with a view of the lake. Many great businesses have failed not because they had a terrible product but because they had a horrible location.
Secondly, don’t listen to Leasing Agents whose only purpose in life is to get as much money out of your pocket as possible. They are not your friends. They represent the owner of the lease space and as such are not concerned with your well-being. There are several great books you should read before signing any lease.
Location applies to online just as it does to Brick and Mortar. Invest in a quality website, a simple domain and an appealing homepage. People will only spend on average 2 seconds before deciding to scroll your site, so pay attention to details.
Step 5. Open for Business
Finally, after you’ve done all of your market research and have your product and team ready to take the next step, set a date to open. During this planning and pre-opening period, which may take several weeks or months, you’ll be outfitting your new digs, sending out pre-opening flyers to all of your fans and future customers.
Make this soft opening a time when you can iron out the kinks in your new business. Don’t worry, you will make mistakes, it’s part of growing but don’t let that discourage you. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The important thing is that you are now open, and the future looks bright.