Last updated on May 10th, 2019
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones” – Confucius
Many of us dream of starting our own business. We look for potential ventures on the internet, daydream of making more money than we can spend and becoming a well-known figure in the industry. But beyond the dreams and goals, before you imagined a happy ending, have you ever thought how to start your own business?
Starting Your Own Business – Feeling Excited?
Starting your own business is one of the biggest and most important decisions you can ever make. Following your passion, being your own boss, having your own products or services – these all things may excite them. But the journey is not without bumps in the road. To start your own business requires a lot of planning and hard work.
According to the U.S Small Business Administration, there are almost 30 million small businesses in the U.S.A. with another 540,000 new businesses opening each month. It is quite easy to file and establish a business, but having a clear understanding of whether you are ready to invest your full time and energy to the start up life is a bit more challenging.
Any entrepreneur can advise you that starting your own business may take several months or years of careful planning. Right from coming up with the business concept to set a budget to assembling the team and tools, you need to invest a lot of your time. And what if you are managing everything while dealing with the responsibilities of personal life? It’s like having two jobs at one time – neither of which pays very well, at least to start.
Here Are A Few Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting Your Own Business
01. Do You Have A Business Idea?
The first question you need to ask yourself is what type of business do you want to start? For every entrepreneur, the business idea is the starting point. It is a concept that can be used for monetary gain that is usually focused on a product or service that can be offered for money. It acts as a base of the pyramid when it comes to business as a whole. Your business idea should be unique, problem-solving, innovative and profitable.
Once you are clear with your business idea, you may require developing certain skills in order to make it successful. For that, you may need to take a few courses, spend some time in polishing your skills. For instance, if you are opening your own business as a shirt maker, you should be familiar with the latest t-shirt printing techniques. While choosing a business, keep the following things in mind:
• Choose what you love to do.
• Find that fits in your present life or the life you want to maintain.
• Pick a business about which you think you are good at.
• Select those products or services that are in demand but currently under-provided.
02. Can You Present Your Business Visually?
In order to promote your products or services or an idea, you need to define your brand. It will help you in laying the foundation of all your marketing efforts and strategies. No matter how great is your business idea, when it comes to grabbing the attention of the audience, visuals play a very important role. While creating a strong visual brand identity, you need to consider the following things:
• Create The Right Logo
A logo is a visual representation of a company’s products or services. It also briefly explains the story of a brand. You can create a logo either in the form of image/symbol or text or combination of both. Effective logo design has the power to attract the attention of the audience.
Being a start up, designing a logo with the help of a professional graphic designer or agency can be a little expensive. There are many online logo maker tools that can help in creating an impressive professional logo design within minutes.
• Create A Consistent Color Palette
Think of big brands like Coca-Cola, Apple, etc. They all use consistent colors throughout their marketing materials and designs. This helps them in making them recognizable easily. The color you use reflect the brand’s personality.
Colors have the power to create an emotional connection and change people’s mood. In order to choose the right color, its best to create a ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ color palette.
The primary color is used to create a brand identity, and the secondary color is used to support primary color. Before finalizing the color, make sure it fits in the logo as it will be used on website design, packaging, advertising, marketing materials, etc.
• Choose The Right Typography
Just like colors, typography also plays an important role in creating an emotional connection with the audience. Choose the typeface that matches with your brand personality.
For instance, if you are planning to start a serious business, then you may not want to use Comic Sans. But, on contrary, if you are planning to start your own business that is light-hearted and fun, then this font style may not be suitable for you.
• Choose images that reflect your brand
You must have noticed that there are many companies that use images on their web page design that doesn’t even relate with their brand. It’s okay to have fun with the images but make sure that they reflect your brand personality and communicate with your target audience. Therefore, you also have to be careful about the logo design for your company.
03. Do You Have A Clear Picture Of Your Target Audience?
If you are a first-time founder, you must be thinking that everyone can be your customer or client. But this is not true! In order to make your start-up successful, you need to have a clear picture of your target audience.
Having an unclear picture of the target audience will increase your marketing cost. Here are some tips to define your target audience:
• Start With The Larger Group
Don’t start with the very narrow audience. During your initial stage of opening your own business, start with the larger groups. And afterwards, you can start getting more specific. Use a few simple segments like age, gender, and location to get started. You can also use this segment to remove from the list people who are irrelevant to your business.
• Analyze Your Competition
There are very few business owners that come up with a product that doesn’t already exist in the market. Although the idea of starting a business may be unique, they will still be part of an existing industry. You may also fall in the same category. Thus it is important to figure out how you will position yourself in the industry. And for that, you need to do a competitive analysis.
Find out how they are targeting their customers, at what price they are selling their products or services. Look at their marketing campaigns or advertisements, visit their website, and join their email subscription list.
• Communicate With People
Another great way to know your audience is to communicate with them. You can conduct one-to-one interviews or take online surveys. This will also help you in a better understanding of customer needs, wants, and willingness to pay. And on the basis of that, you can plan or make changes in your strategies.
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04. How Will You Differentiate Your Business From Competitors?
There are chances that the types of products or services you are going to deal with already have established competitors in the market. Thus, in order to make your brand stand out from the competitors in a positive way, it is important to differentiate yourself from them. Differentiation will give advantage to your brand. Here are a few ways to differentiate your business from competitors:
• Define Your USP
For every business, the unique selling proposition (USP) is a secret recipe that cannot be easily copied. It is something that quickly grabs the attention of the audience. It also offers a clear-cut, marketable benefit to customers.
• Offer Low Prices
Another great way to differentiate your business is to offer a low price as compare to your competitors in the industry. For instance, if you keep a lower margin, you can reduce the price.
It will ultimately reduce the total cost of the product. And in this case, you are not incurring any loss. Instead, you are creating value for the customer. If it increases the number of sales, it will ultimately turn to bigger profits.
• Provide An Unbeatable Customer Service
In order to attract and retain potential customers, it is important to provide high-quality customer care service. You may have a live chat with them, reply to emails within one or two working days, uncover your customer’s unmet needs, don’t expect customers to understand that you are busy are some of the ways to differentiate our business through customer service.
05. Do You Have A Realistic Business Plan?
Just like other newbie’s, while starting your own business, you must also have thought “Do I really need a business plan?” “Do I really have to invest my time in writing a business plan?” The answer to these questions is “Yes!” A business plan is a blueprint for your business. It is a document that explains what to do and how to do.
Many people think that one needs to write a business plan only at the time of starting your own business. But in reality, as business grows and develops, it changes over the period of time. Here are a few reasons why you should have a realistic business plan when starting your own business:
• Most of the times, business plans are a great way to check the feasibility of your business idea. Sometimes, the idea to start your own business may get discarded at this stage. It helps in coming up with some better or improved idea.
• Business plans help in getting finance for business. Investors will invest their money and time into your business when they feel be confident about the success of the business.
• Well planned business strategies will help you in prioritizing your work to achieve both short term and long term goals.
• Your business ideas will give you a clear deep understanding of market or industry.
• A realistic business plan will inspire you and your team and helps everyone to stay focused.
06. How You Are Going To Plan Finances For Your Business?
Before you start your own business, this is another important question you need to ask yourself. If you have planned to start your own business on small scale, you may not require a lot of money. But every business required some investment during the initial phase to cover up the expenses till the time they turn to profit. Here are a few tips to plan your finances for your business:
• Be clear on what you want your business to accomplish and what the significant aspects of it are.
• Seek out the more borrowing options.
• Examine your cash flow.
• Have a clear understanding on your tax liability.
• Forecast your expenses and sales either on a monthly or quarterly basis.
• Make sure you pay to yourself first.
07. What Will Be Your Marketing Plan?
No matter what stage a business is, every company needs a solid marketing strategy to retain its position in the industry. Before you start your own business, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how you will promote your business. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to survive.
In today’s modern world, promoting a product or services is not like the way it used to be. Today, the digital world provides endless opportunities to promote products or services.
Here Are A Few Ways Through Which You Can Promote Your Business
• Offer an exclusive preview of your products or services to your customers. You can do it in the form of online preview, pre-launch party, special invitation to test, etc. You can also distribute a few samples and ask them to share their feedback. It will help you in gaining trust and getting content for your web page design.
• Another great way to promote your products is through email marketing. You can share discounts, offers, reviews, etc. with the recipient in order to encourage them to make their buying decision.
• There is no doubt we live in digital era, but that doesn’t mean we ignore the offline marketing techniques to promote business. Business cards are one of the most effective direct marketing tools. Unlike the old days, today you can create an idea that is ideal business card inspiration. All you need to do is to take help of some software and start designing.
• Make use of social media channels to get connected with a larger audience. Running contest, providing social proof, sharing creative visual content are some of the ways to do promotion and generate leads.
• If you are planning to have a physical store, you can take advantage of it by doing in-store promotion.
• You can also design a brochure to provide information about your company’s product or services. According to Bentley University, 70% of tourists and visitors pick up business brochures, 95% of visitors became aware of business through brochures, and 83% of people plan to visit a business they saw in a brochure.
08. How Many Employees Have You Planned To Hire During Your Initial Journey?
Operating a business is not one man’s job. You need an efficient team who can help you to run things smoothly. Each employee has a cost to your company. Thus it is important to have clarity on how many employees you need to hire to start up your operations. In today’s market, hiring professional talent is a little tricky. In order to hire or attract the best professionals, here are a few suggestions:
• Have a great mission and vision.
• Do not restrict yourself to hire people from your local area. Consider the applications of remote employees as well.
• Start building your brand identity from day one.
• Take out some time and speak at meetups and events.
09. Are You Willing To Fail?
In spite of all the planning and hard work, there are other factors that may affect the success of your business. There are chances that you may fail to take your dream to the next level. Such type of situation breaks the person from inside. Thus, before starting your own business, be prepared for failure.
By saying this, we do not want to discourage you to take a risk. As an entrepreneur, you should always welcome risk. Risks help business to develop and grow. But it’s advisable to take reasonable risks.
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Starting your own business may look very exciting but as said earlier, the journey is not without bumps in the road. The above questions are a guide that can help you in determining if you are ready to start your own business or not. So, take your time, answer all the above questions to yourself and then, start your entrepreneurial journey. Good Luck!