The old cliché about tomorrow being the first day of the rest of your life is actually irrefutable. Think about it! The question is really what will you do with the rest of your life? Will you continue the same routine, stick with the relative comfort of the status quo, or stick your neck out and finally go for your dreams?
If that dream is; owning your own business, why not go for it? Your dream may be a business to business enterprise such as CBAC Funding or a business to consumer one like Nixon … regardless, these 10 steps to will get you to the place you’ve been dreaming of; they are a roadmap, if not a stairway, to your goal.
Step # 1 – Draft Your Business Plan
The very thought of writing a business plan has stopped many a budding business person dead in their tracks. This is usually caused by fear of the unknown, procrastination or a lack of confidence.
Understanding what a business plan is will eradicate the fear of the unknown. A business plan is simply a written description of your business’s future. It describes your plans and how those plans will be implemented.
Stop procrastinating! It isn’t that difficult to do and there are countless sites on the Internet that can help you organize your thoughts making the task almost painless.
If you are lacking self-confidence, toss in the towel. Self-confidence is the key characteristic every entrepreneur and business person on the planet has in common with one another.
Step # 2 – Define Your Market
This is not so difficult. Unless you are selling food or water, only a defined subset of the consuming public will have a need for your product or service. Defining your market is nothing more than determining the size and demographics of that subset.
For example, you plan to sell pet supplies. You need to determine how many pet owners are in your market because pet owners are the subset of the overall market. Additionally, you need to know your competition and what share of the market they may have. Knowing your competition, the level of service they provide and their pricing can shine a bright light on the things you need to do to compete successfully.
Step # 3 – Establish Your Brand Identity
Branding is not so different a concept from the “old West” practice of branding cattle. Once that bull or cow carries a brand, it will be instantly identified as belonging to a particular ranch and/or rancher. The “Circle K” and the “Diamond B” are two examples of cattle brands. The same concept applies to creating a brand identity for your business. Develop a logo or “brand” that is immediately and uniquely associated with your business. This is very important. There is an excellent piece on the topic here at Entrepreneur.
Step # 4 – File Your Articles of Incorporation
The scope and nature of your business dictates the need for incorporation, an attorney to draw up a partnership agreement, trademark ideas and so forth. Not every enterprise needs to be incorporated, although in most instances is prudent to do so for tax and personal liability reasons. If there are no complexities that demand the services of an attorney, there are many sites on the Internet for do-it-yourself incorporation. These can save you some money.
Step # 5 – Build Your Team
If you think you are going it alone … think again. Even sole proprietorships have employees. Technology can play a major role in the success of your enterprise, but don’t fall for all the hype. When you are starting up, you don’t want to buy into technology that you will later find inappropriate for your needs, overpriced or useless in the day to day conduct of your business.
Step # 6 – Sell, Sell and Sell
There is no substitute for aggressively marketing your product or service. Networking is a key component of any successful business. Let people in your personal network know what you are doing. Enlist them as cheerleaders for the business. Join the Kiwanis, Rotary, Junior Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations. A direct personal network is just as important as a virtual network.
Step # 7 – Use the Media
Issue a press release. Invite the local paper, radio and television station to do an interview with you and feature a story about your business. If you generate “buzz” you generate revenue.
Step # 8 – Fake As Needed
Regardless of your track record, your humble beginnings, your anemic bank account, you must always think big and act as though you belong. Assume the attitude of a bigger company. Never think small or feel like the underdog. Some companies, just starting out, go so far as to create email addresses to various departments that do not yet exist in order to give the appearance of being larger and more established than they actually are.
Step # 9 – Work In and On Your Business
No one wants your business to succeed more than you. Don’t hand it off to a caretaker. Work in your business. Learn its strengths and weaknesses so that you can work on your business. There is no better way to improve and grow your business than through your intimate knowledge of its operations.
Step # 10 – Celebrate & Network
You are up and running, well … maybe jogging, but you are on your way! Celebrate a little … keeping the business in mind of course! Invite your network, vendors, clients and would-be clients to celebrate your grand opening. You will generate buzz and goodwill in your market and demonstrate that you are open for business and a serious player. Use the occasion to solicit feedback from your guests. Let’s be honest; some of the best ideas are not our own.
These are the ten steps almost every business follows. It’s not that complicated and there is no reason you can’t start now.
Dipti Parmar, a digital marketing wiz is associated with E2M Solutions. She’s been journeying through the world of digital marketing for 6 years and is a blogger and networker. She’s also a movie buff and loves taking long walks by the seashore. She is @dipTparmar on Twitter.