Do you have a great business idea? You’re ready for a new endeavor, you’ve got your entrepreneur hat on, and you’re excited about making your mark?
That’s great. The silver lining of an economic upheaval is that a lot of the bigger brands closing down gives startups room to breathe. You will soon be stealing customers from bigger businesses that didn’t survive the troubles of the past couple of years, with a new avenue that you will carve out for yourself.
Is there anything else you could consider before you get started? Well, obviously, there is a lot. We breakdown the ducks you should get in a row before you start approaching investors with your well-rehearsed speech.
Have a plan
It’s obvious but necessary: have a plan. The basics of it will come to you immediately, but if you’re going to make a go of it, you’ll need to outline all the ins and outs of the practicalities. You might even find some glaring holes in your basic plan if you give it more in-depth thought, and you will have to find a way around those problems.
Far too many entrepreneurs go forward with their plans thinking that because their product is a better version than any other, not yet done, that that will be enough for the world to beat a path for them to success. The product won’t speak for itself. And, furthermore, it can’t do more than that. It won’t outline how it will be made, how it will be marketed, and how it will be distributed, for example.
A carefully thought-out business plan with a secured business plan template is not only essential to the success of your business but will perfect all the ins and outs of getting it off the ground, so that even you have a clear picture of what will happen and how it will happen.
The fundamentals of a good business plan are to study the market, the investors, and the producer. Make sure all three of these viewpoints are covered in your business plan. Too many plans are simply written from the perspective of the producer: the entrepreneur or inventor, which is probably you.
Take a look at some online guides to give you the ins and outs of all that you need to study and cover to create a good business plan.
Wipe your debt
Debt has a nasty habit of getting in the way of anything to do with finance. It gets in the way of a mortgage, a car loan, savings, and, crucially, business loans.
What you are considering is risky. No matter how much faith you have in your business idea, if it’s not handled right it will fail, so to walk into this endeavor already on shaky ground is just adding pressure.
To convince lenders that you can handle a business loan, and to make sure you are on better footing before you go ahead with your business venture, think about wiping away your debt first. There are a lot of underdog stories out there about how people like Elon Musk started with mountains of debt or were on the brink of bankruptcy. Don’t believe it. People like Donald Trump for example, who has gone bankrupt multiple times, had a backup source of income, be that old money or another business going.
If you’re having trouble paying off all your debt, you can get a balance transfer card to avoid the increasing interest for a couple of years and make things easier. Or you can look into refinancing an auto loan or read this guide to a debt payoff planner to get your budget in order.
Know your customer
You might have a very vague of what your customer is looking for, but it probably won’t be enough. Who your customer is will affect every aspect of your marketing, so it’s important that you understand them.
You can’t simply make a new mop and think “people who clean will want this”. You will need to much deeper than that. Analyze every aspect of their life. The basics start with age and gender, but then you’ll have to get into their lifestyle and habits. What problems do they have? What is their outlook on the world? Write out a long list of everything in their life you can imagine and be as specific as possible.
Once you’ve done that, create lists for various customers. Sure, the doting housewife might use your wonder mop, but so will janitors, working women, restaurants, etc. From there you can decide which one is the most lucrative option.
The age of digital media has made communication and community easier than ever. Whether you’re sending out feelers on Twitter or wading through groups on Facebook, you will find kindred spirits.
Start making friends. There is lots of people who are going through the same thing you are and can advise on what gave them setbacks and what was profitable. Do not underestimate the power of peer learning.
At the very least, you will gain some valuable advice and insights, and even better, you might find some industry professionals that can help you. There is a photographer out there somewhere looking for work and you’re here needing a product shot for marketing. See how easy that is?
The internet is the most basic place to start, but industry conventions are still going on for a reason. Take a trip and see who you can meet. You will hear some valuable insights from the speeches given and make useful “friends” that you can trade business within the future.
You might even find yourself a mentor, which could go a long way to making the whole endeavor a lot easier. They can push you towards better strategic decisions, prompt you on what to aim for and open doors for you. For one thing, they might make networking at these industry events a lot easier with a simple “Have you met…?”