“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.”
Tomorrow you will wish you had started today. So let’s just start and dive in. Shall we? Like they say, the best way to get things done is to simply take the first step. The good thing is you don’t have to have it all figured out at the beginning to move forward and make progress. You’ll learn along the way and new opportunities will pop up where you might never have expected. This is the beginning of a breakthrough.
Think of your idea, product or services you are planning to offer. What is your motivation for starting this business? What differentiates your business idea and the products or services you will provide from others in the market? What problem are you solving? Do you have enough support? What will you do if you are not afraid? Are you passionate enough to dedicate the next period of your life to this
This introspection phase is not to discourage you to drop your business plans and run for the hills. Rather to gain clarity and determination for your next steps. This phase should give you a clear picture of your strengths, resources, talents, interests and life ahead. It is good to know what you can do. It is also good to know what you cannot do or do not want to do.
- Write your Business Plan
This is your moment of truth. This document can be your one-stop-guide for anything and everything about your business. There are plenty of tools and resources available on the internet to get you started. You can access samples or plan according to your industry. Typically, the business plan contains details about:
- description of business
- products and services being offered
- what problem are you solving
- what is your mission statement and values
- leadership / founders / management / core team / organizational structure
- market research/analysis
- understanding your target demographic
- marketing/advertising plan
- competition and risk analysis
- capital and resources requirement and availability
- key customers and suppliers
This is your document and you define it and what purpose it will serve. Largely it can be broken down in three main sections – description, markets and financials. It can be a simple 20 pages document or comprehensive one with each chapter documented in detail. The choice is yours. This will give you a 360-degree view of your vision and how it can be implemented into reality. It allows you to expand your thinking beyond the obvious and uncover aspects you might be overlooking.
- Grab a buddy
You will, assuredly, not have all the answers. So seek answers from people who have them. These can be your co-founder, core team, mentors or coaches. You need a strong support structure and you need to start creating it now. Remember – you can do anything but you cannot do everything. Assess what you bring to the table and then get someone who brings what you don’t. Are you a finance geek? Get a marketing wizard join the party. Let the adventure begin. This flock can take you further than you ever expected you’d go. No matter how talented or passionate you are, alone, you can only grow so much.
- Know all about an industry
Knowing about your industry and competition therein is an important part of your entrepreneurial journey. It is an extremely critical part of business planning. This will tell you about external factors which impact your business. Factors which you cannot control yet learn to work around them. It will also allow you to estimate your cost, cash and profit propositions. You will also want to know and understand your competition. What is the range of products and services of the same category already offered? What are the nuances of your industry which you must understand to grow? You get all these insights right here in industry analysis.
Most industries also have an association that provides support and information to businesses in the industry. You may want to leverage that.
- Figure out Finances
With your business plan and knowledge of the industry, you must begin to estimate your financial needs. You will be able to put down some solid numbers of one-time costs and ongoing costs depending on the nature of product and services you plan to offer. Most often, people underestimate costs and run into financial issues later. Again, there are numerous useful resources available online to assist you on this subject. As a rule, it is better to overestimate your costs than to underestimate them.
Entrepreneurs with innovative ideas may not always be the people with enough finances to carry out their ideas. It can then become a challenging task to attract funds at a low cost without compromising your control over the decision making in your business. Reach out to CWE if you want to learn more on how to fund your business.
- Network… and then network some more
Effectively socializing in a professional setting is priceless skill for an entrepreneur to have. The sooner you learn how to socialize in a professional setting, the better. Your financers, customers, suppliers who will cut you good deals and credit terms all are somewhere out there. Does it mean you will have to attend every trade event and collect parcels of business cards? No. Not unless that is something you enjoy doing. It simply means creating meaningful connections which can be mutually beneficial. This is especially critical when you want to penetrate new markets and increase your customer base. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded individuals. Networking also functions as your marketing tool if don’t currently have focused marketing budget and efforts. Word of mouth can be the best thing happened to your business. Don’t just think of it as networking, think of building a network.
- Structure, Laws and Licenses
This is all about complying with the legal and structural framework your business should be operating in. Any business structure you operate within will have tax and legal implications. Spend a good deal of time learning where to register your business as well as what laws, licenses and permits will be applicable to you. Even if you hire a consultant to do all this for you, you should have an understanding of laws and regulations that apply to your business.
These days government and various authorities offer support and grants to pre-starts, start-ups, and existing businesses to help them start and scale-up. This can be game changer for you when you are ready to take your business on to the next level. Growing a business can be very challenging. It’s only wise to tap into all the support you can find – especially if it comes from the government. Check out the range of grant schemes and tax incentives applicable to your business.
- Stay calm
You do not have to lose yourself to find your business. Surround yourself with inspiring people and activities. You will also need your sanity to make sensible work decisions and take your business to a new level. Live a little and live it up! You will be looking back at this journey and telling stories to the world. Make sure it’s a worth telling.
As you go along, you may realize that you lack some critical skills which can take you places in your line of work. It can be as obvious as managing people effectively or as tricky as learning new algorithm. Build new competencies as you notice them or rather lack of them. As they say, best investment you can ever do is you. Grow yourself as you grow your business.
Give us a shout out for any specific assistance. We are here to make it happen for you, partner with you & coach you.