Starting a small business is both exciting and nerve-wracking. During the process, you have many choices, each of which can impact whether your business succeeds or fails. Considering the high failure rates for new small businesses, each business decision should be carefully planned. Don’t let the planning and high stakes ruin your entrepreneurial journey. Follow these tips to get your small business up and running on the right foot.
1. Make a Plan
A business plan is critical to helping move things forward. It is like a blueprint for your business, detailing everything from the foundation to the final finishing touches that make you stand out from the competition. A comprehensive business plan should include your executive summary, a business description, market research, a sales strategy and funding streams.
In addition to being a start-up strategy, your plan will also guide you for years to come. For that reason, it should be solid enough to provide guidance while also being malleable enough to grow and change as your business does.
2. Research Your Market
Market research is a key component of any business plan. However, constantly changing markets demand that it is also something that must be done continuously. Luckily, there are lots of resources online and at local business centers to help you learn how to conduct market research. You can also hire a firm to handle it for you., although that may be out of reach for many small businesses.
Once you have the data, use it to inform your product and service offerings. This will ensure you are providing value to current customers. It can also help you attract new customers.
3. Develop a Recognizable Brand
Brand recognition is an area where you want to really stand out — literally. Brand recognition is when you see a logo or read a company name and have an instant idea of who the business is, what it sells or provides and how it interacts with the community. For a small business, you want to start creating this on a local level.
Some solid strategies include attending community events, sponsoring a local sports team and donating to charities. These all help consistently put your logo and business name in front of potential customers, prompting recognition.
4. Get Training on Unfamiliar Topics
There will undoubtedly be topics and tasks that pop up that you have no background in. For many small business owners, these tend to be management related. However, they can be just about anything. You will need to overcome this lack of knowledge to create success.
Luckily, help is often readily available. For example, if you struggle to work with other businesses, you may want to invest in negotiations training to help you better understand the back-and-forth process. Help is also available if you need help more specific to your manufacturing processes or packaging. Consider reaching out to your local community college or small business center for assistance.
5. Have Solid Funding In Place
Many small business owners do not earn a steady income from sales for the first several years of operation. Yes, you read that correctly. Unless you have a solid funding plan in place that allows you to draw a salary, you will need to plan for an alternative income source during this period.
There are several approaches to earning a living while starting a small business. Some entrepreneurs choose to use loans to fund their initial operations. If planned properly, these can include a salary to help you stay afloat. Others may start their business as a part-time operation while working an income-producing job.
You will face many trials when starting a small business. Having a solid business plan, conducting market research, and getting training where you lack skills can help you find success.