1. Conduct a personal evaluation
Begin by taking stock of yourself and your situation:-
- Why do you want to start a business? Is it money, freedom and flexibility, to solve a problem, or some other reason?
- What do you like to do? Your passion?
- What skills do you have?
- What industries are you familiar with?
- Will it be a part – time or full-time venture?
- How much capital do you have to risk.
Your answers to these questions will help you narrow your focus. This step is not to dissuade you from starting your own business. Rather, it will get you thinking and planning. In order to start a successful business, passion alone isn’t enough. You need to plan, set goals, and above all, know yourself. Your strenghts and weaknesses.
As you get started, your business will likely dominate your life so make sure that what you’re doing is stimulating and challenging, but not completely outside of your expertise. Do a SWOT analysis on yourself to think through what you want your life to be like, not just what you want from your business.
2. Analyze your Industry
Once you decide on a business that fits your goals and lifestyle, evaluate your idea. Who will buy your product or service? Who will your competitors be? How much money will you need to get started? There are various ways in getting information i.e performing general GOOGLE searches, speaking to people already working in your target industry, reading books, researching key people, relevant news sites and industry magazines or even taking a class or two (if possible).
3. Evaluate your target audience
Guide your research by thinking of:-
- How urgently do people need the product you offering or selling?
- How big is the market? Do you know exactly who your target market is?
- How much money and effort will it cost to deliver the value you would like to be offering?
- How long will it take to get to the market? A month? A Year?.
- How much up-front investment will you need before you can begin?
- Will your business continue to be relevant as time passes?
- How easy will it be – and how much will it cost you – to acquire a customer?
If you like, you can even take things a step further and consider all the consumer needs currently not being met by similar businesses in the industry. This is also a good time to take a look at potential competitors. Remember, the presence of competitors is a good sign. It means that the market for your product or service already exists, so you know that have potential customers who are willing to spend money on your product or service.
4. Set up your business
Realistically, registering your business is the first step toward making it real. However, as take your time to get to know the pros and cons of the different business entities.You will also need to get proper business licenses and permits. This is also the time to check into insurance and to find a good consultant that can help with your business plan and planning if necessary.
5. Start the planning process
If you seeking outside financing, a business plan is a necessity. But, even if you are going to finance the venture yourself, a business plan will help you figure out how much money you will need to get started, whast it will take to make your business profitable, whast needs to be done when, and where you are headed. In the simplest terms, a business plan is a roadmap – some tool to help you chart your progress and that will outline the things you need to do in order to reach your goals. Rather than thinking of a business plan as a hefty document that you’ll only use once (perhaps to obtain a loan from a bank), think of it as a tool to manage how your business grows and achieves its goals.
6. Have a plan for funding
Depending on the size and goals of your venture, you may need to seek financing from an investor or bank. To stand a realistic chance of getting hold of the funds you need to get started, it will help do a “pitch” as well so that you can get feedback on your potential business from investors. Most investors will need a proper and well constructed business plan backed by strong fiancials also showing how you are going to repay your loan.
7. Set up your space
Your business location will dictate the type of customer you will attract, what type of promotions you can run, and how long it will take you to grow. While a great location won’t necessarily guarantee your success, a bad location can contribute to failure. As you’re thinking about where you want to set up shop, consider the following:-
Price – Can you realistically afford to be where you want to be? If not, or if you’re cutting it fine, keep looking.
Visibility – Will people easily be able to find you? Are you in the center of town or further out? How will this affect you?
Access to parking & public transportation – Can people easily find you from available parking options and transportation routes? If they have to look too hard, they may give up.
Distribution of Competitors – Are there many competitors close to you? If so, this may be a sign that the location is premuim for the clientele you wish to attract. It may also mean that you do no business at all.
Your store’s layout, design and placement of your products will decide not only the overall atmosphere of the store but what products people see and buy. Consider the areas you want well lit; how you will display products (if necessary); what various colors will impress people, and how people will move through your store.
Your choice of products and how you decide to price them will create a reputation. Rather than stock everything of a similar price range from one or two catalogs, consider only choosing those items that will create the feel you want to become known for.
8. Prepare for trial and error
Whether you’re starting or expanding a business, expect to make mistakes. This is natural and so long as you learn from them, also beneficial. If you do not make mistakes, you do not learn what to do less of nd hat to emphasize. Be open – minded and creative, adapt, look for opportunities, and above all, have fun. The great thing about owning your own business is that you get to decide what you want to do and where you’ll grow.
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