Starting a business requires you to fill so many roles all at once, you often become your own accountant, your own marketing manager, your own salesperson and many more. We loved these challenges when we began however, there were a few things that helped us start our journey.
There are many things that starting a business is, easy is not one of those things. Hence deciding to embark on your own business journey is incredibly daunting. There is no guarantee for success, no refund policy and no map for the road to success. You can of course do your best to predict this road and ensure you are well equipped for the fallen trees along the way. So how can you best prepare yourself for the extremely bumpy road to success?
No one would ever walk a hiking trail in the wilderness without a map, business is much the same, navigating blindly is impossible and a guaranteed recipe for failure. So how do we plan the hike to success? This, of course, comes from research, we began by learning everything we could from those around us, whether they be in the same industry or a different industry there is so much to learn. What challenges does every business face? What challenges might be unique to your industry? I can tell you today, that many of the challenges you will face will have been faced by others across industries.
So what do you need to know? First off you need to research whether there is room in the market for your business. Whilst no business is easy, opening a Chinese restaurant in a strip of Chinese restaurants is going to be harder than opening an ice cream store on that same strip. So begin by assessing your competition. At what price will you need to charge at the beginning? Where can you fit in amongst your competitor, is it as a premium brand, a budget brand or somewhere in the middle? How will you make your money, will it be by selling a once-off product or selling people into a product and through that product an ongoing relationship? How will you retain your customers and gain new customers? These questions of course are just the basics but all form an essential part of your business's road map. Here are some other questions you should answer before preparing your business plan:
Once you have answered these questions you can begin to translate your incredible idea into an amazing plan. In fact, you will likely need to create several different plans for different areas of your business. A great way to start translating the answers to these questions into a plan is by creating a mind map. If you get these foundations right you will certainly be on the right track.
Spoiler alert, this will be the first of many plans that will take your business through each level.
You have done all this work to create your plan, now the hardest part is to rely on it. The beginning is not the time to offer every product or service under the sun, work through your first plan and then begin the process of planning all over again. Hence, every time another great idea pops into your head write it down for your next plan and shift your focus back to your original plan. This is not to say that as you learn the information you cannot update or improve your plan, but do not fall into the trap of following the latest business idea, as you will always be trailing behind and never give your idea the opportunity to really flourish.
It is almost impossible to sell to everyone, so it is a lost cause to try. In fact, trying to sell to everyone will often result in you selling to no one because your message does not target anyone. Even if you have a product that is perfect for everyone, it is likely perfect for different reasons. Hence, start with your product or service, then decide on every potential customer segment. From here work out different factors that will affect the ease of sales, how much information does each segment need about your product? What is your product/service worth to that group? How can you reach that group? What are you competing against in this customer group? Each of these questions will give you insight into the cost it will take to advertise and convince these customer groups and how many potential customers you can reach.
For example: if I was a mobile phone provider, I might identify the elderly as a group that is difficult to sell to, however, there is also little competition in this space, hence, I may choose to create a mobile phone that is perfect for elderly to use, simple, large font and easy to use. Hence, I would then need to work out how to target this group, I might come up with a few different ways, a pop-up store in a mall near a retirement village, a flyer drop homes in an elderly area and maybe even targeting middle-aged individuals who might see the device and purchase it on behalf of their parent.
Your suppliers can make or break your business, this is relevant for most but not all businesses. Hence, when choosing your suppliers ensure you have an understanding of all the possible options. There are a few aspects to consider here including price, shipping times, quality and customer service. Depending on your business different elements will take priority.
Your marketing starts with your ideal customer. Depending on who these customers are you may choose to take a different approach. This means considering first which formats will allow you to reach your intended audience, within those formats how can you reach them. For instance, if you decided on flyers, what suburbs should you target first? If you choose digital, what platforms does your ideal customer use?
A website can have many functions spanning from a fancy business card to the full service you are selling. Hence, a website is an essential part of business today. When deciding how to create your website you will be presented with a world of options. You can build your website yourself, you can outsource the build overseas or you can go local. Each of these options brings its own set of risks and different rewards. When choosing which of these options is right for you, you need to begin by considering how central to your business is your website?
A great start can be to build your website yourself, at least until you have validated your business and established the service and feel of your brand. Once you gain this understanding it is probably time to upgrade your website. Now we highly recommend if you can going with a reputable developer within Australia, this will ensure you are protected and get the best possible end product.
This is only a start to the complex considerations you need to make when starting your business. The more time you take with each of these considerations, the less time you will spend fixing mistakes. In essence, the most essential part of starting and growing a business, it will help you keep on track and help highlight the most important goals you need to achieve.