If you’ve decided it’s finally time to open your own business over the coming months, you’re probably chomping at the bit and can’t wait for the ‘Now Open’ sign to light up. However, while launching your first venture is exciting and motivating, you also need to remember it can be risky.
There is plenty of competition to go up against, and you need to invest much of your own money, time and energy. The more strategic and smart you are in how you set up your business, the more likely it is to achieve the results you’re after.
To help you on your way, read on for some of the key things you should do to increase the likelihood your startup will be a success, sooner rather than later.
1. Learn a Lot
For starters, one of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for entrepreneurship is learn. Running a business well takes a variety of skills and understanding of many different areas, such as marketing, sales, leadership, accounting, finance, customer service, human resources and more.
As such, it pays to consider enrolling in an online MBA where you can learn about these topics as well as hone personal traits like communication, time management, problem-solving, creativity, organization and the like.
There are other great ways to learn, too. For example, read books, blogs, newsletters, reports, white papers, forums, etc.; and attend conferences, trade shows and other key industry and business events. It pays to join various clubs and associations where you get to interact with and learn from others and to listen to top speakers in your field.
2. Know What Your Specific Goals Are
Before you launch a business, you need to know what your specific goals are. Don’t just leave it at “making money” or “creating a big business” or other general, meaningless clichés. You need to drill down into concrete, defined goals with schedules. Everyone’s idea of success and of what they hope to achieve is different, so it’s important to be true to you.
By understanding what it is you hope to get out of your business, such as the ability to buy your own house, be financially free, have a team of 50-plus people, license the brand name, have offices in five countries, work from home or complete some other goal, you will give yourself more direction when planning your business. There’s no point starting a company that won’t ever be able to achieve what you need it to, after all.
Next, don’t launch your startup without having spent considerable time on research. It’s important to learn about the industry and niche you plan on joining. You need to know what’s currently being sold in the market as well as how and who your main competitors will be, what prices they charge and what services they provide.
Discover how other companies brand themselves, advertise to customers, sell their wares and follow up as well as where they’re located and which audiences they’re targeting. This will help you to develop a brand and offerings with a point of difference.
Your research should also delve into who it is you need to be selling to when you open your business. Understand these people or organizations, whether it’s one group or a few different ones. Work out their interests, lifestyles, socio-economic status, work types, where, when and how they shop and what customer service methods they prefer to have access to.
4. Find a Good Team of People to Surround You
Lastly, read about well-known entrepreneurs around the world and you’ll hear them talk about all the people who have helped them get to where they are. This is because business owners can’t do everything by themselves; they need support and to surround themselves with a good team of people.
While at some stage you’ll hopefully be able to hire employees to help your business run and grow, keep in mind that you should also have other people around to help you when you’re first starting out. For example, look for mentors who can pass on their knowledge and act as emotional supporters when you’re having a hard time.
Also, get advice from financial and legal advisors and other people who are experts on particular areas that you need help with. Before you have the funds to hire staff members, you can also outsource certain tasks to contractors, freelancers and firms who specialize in areas you don’t know enough about.