How to start a business successfully in these turbulent times
It’s one percent inspiration, 99% perspiration, so “GET GOING!
There’s been a lot of talk in the recent presidential debates about which party has done the most to help small business owners to start a business and support business start-ups. The truth is, our government has done pathetically little to create an environment that fosters a high rate of new business start-ups.
To help you in your planning to start a business, I have summarized my suggestions (consider it a list of best practices, really) experiences helping entrepreneurs, start-ups and small business owners plan, launch and grow successful businesses in today’s transformational, global contract business climate.
Begin with the product of YOU. What are the things that you are most passionate about AND enjoy the most. Find where those two intersect and those are the things you should focus on trying to start a business around.
What makes you uniquely qualified to plan, launch and grow this business? You must be able to define your unique selling proposition. Your U.S.P will answer the question: “Why am I ideally suited to start a business and make this business a success?” If you cannot answer this question honestly/objectively, then you will merely create a “Me-too” business that is like others in the industry.
Therefore, you will only be able to compete on price and WON’T be able to build a loyal following of raving fans.
By answering these questions, you are in effect writing your 1-2 page executive summary of your business plan.
Speaking of business plans…you’ll need to write one. Here are the sections that a well-defined business plan must include:
* Market research
* Executive summary/business description
* Marketing and Sales sections
* Operations & business location(s)
* Human Resources
* Legal/compliance: permits, licenses, taxes and incentives
* Financials: Balance sheet, Cash flow statement, Income statement
* Financial request: obtaining financing
* Financial projections
Research EVERY conceivable aspect of your potential industry, from key competitors to suppliers, potential vendors, influential bloggers, industry trade shows, conferences and events.
From the very start you will need to speak with potential lenders/investors, to bounce your business idea off them. Can you convince them that your potential business fits a set of needs/demands in the marketplace? If so, you’re on the right track. If not…you will need to entirely rethink your offering.
Speak to the people that most closely resemble your ideal customer, in order to gauge their interest/receptiveness to your product/service offerings. How much would they be willing to pay for your product/service?
Create a demo or beta version that can be tested by a select few trusted power users. Become a subject matter expert in the industry your business will compete in. Begin writing articles, white papers, and case studies on the topics associated with your business, products, services…anything to build your reputation/personal brand.
Develop a consistent brand on your social media profiles from Twitter to Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MeetUp, MySpace. Begin monitoring your brand by searching on your name in Bing, Yahoo, and Google every few weeks.
When you start your business, your personal brand will be synonymous with your corporate culture. you must have a written vision statement, mission statement, and a written code of ethics to represent your new business moral compass. Your written standards of ethical behavior will guide you through the life of your business, define your business dealings, how you treat employees, set forth what you want to leave behind. Call it a road map for your organization’s future social corporate responsibility.
Understand that while you cannot expect to excel at every phase of running a business, you WILL have to have a basic knowledge of marketing, sales, product development,
leadership, human resources, operations, financial planning, accounting.
Whatever areas you rate yourself a 6 or less on a scale of 1-10 (1 being absolutely clueless, 10 is technically expert) then you need to acquire additional skills, training ,exposure in those areas.
Spend LOTS of time with entrepreneurs, start-ups, and folks that recently launched their own businesses. Learn from them as much as you can about their lessons learned, what they would do differently, what advice they have.
Find as many local resources in your community to support your fledgling business, from business incubators to economic development centers, SCORE, WIBO, SEEDCO/ New York City Business Solutions Center, economic development centers, small business development centers, to business planning competitions. Many colleges and Universities are funding/partnering with private industry to form start-up initiatives.
Will you qualify for special city, state, and/or federal business start up funding or grants. Will your business be a minority or woman run business? If so, you may be eligible to receive start-up funding assistance.
Defend your intellectual capital (patents, trademarks, and copyrights) from the very beginning. If you are developing new products, offering new services..whatever new ideas you’ve developed…defend them at the very outset.
Here’s to your new business success.