Get in financial shape -
Creating a budget is a pre-requisite for successfully starting a business. Since it can take around three years or more for it to get rolling, budgeting can help you in determining how you are going to cover the costs involved. Experts state that it is never a bad idea to overestimate the amount of startup capital you need as it can take time before your business begins to bring in sustainable revenue.
Many businesses fail because they run out of money before turning a profit, and starting a business without money is an entirely different ball game altogether. Therefore, it can be a good idea to perform a break-even analysis. That is an essential element of financial planning
and can enable you to determine when your company, product, or service will get profitable.
Another thing that you should keep in mind when starting a business is to avoid overspending. Before purchasing innumerable fancy equipment for your business, it is necessary to understand the types of purchases that make sense for your business and segregate them from those which won’t help you reach your reach business goals.
You can also get in financial shape by cutting down on other unnecessary personal expenses. Financial advisors state that debt is another reason that drags many businesses down and also limits your flexibility. Therefore, keeping a check
on your spending, having a great credit score, and trying to get financially fit can help you overcome cash flow challenges in the early days of starting your business.
Write a business plan -
Rushing into a business without creating a well-written business plan can be a bad idea. Several questions you need to ask yourself once you have your idea in place include - what is the purpose of your business? How will you finance it? What are your end goals? Who is your target customer base? Who is going to buy your product or service? Etc.
Once you create a business plan, you will get the answer to all these questions. The aim is to find evidence that there is a demand for your idea because otherwise, the entire purpose of beginning the business would be pointless.
You can gather information about your target customer base by conducting thorough market research on your field and the demographics of potential clientele. That can get done through surveys, public data, and adequate research.
Once you understand your industry and competitors as well as the needs, preferences, and behavior of your target customer, you become better equipped to understand opportunities and limitations within your market. Therefore, gathering demographic information is also an important aspect of a business plan.
Essentially, a business plan is a written description of your business’s future. It can help you think strategically and craft a way of reaching the desired point in the future when your business will have a different set of resources. It allows you to express your value proposition and differentiate yourself from the competitors. The unique value that you offer to potential customers is what will ultimately set you apart from the rest and make your offline or online business successful.
Stress-test your business idea -
It is always wise to stress test your idea with real customers before you take the leap. That can give you an idea of whether a real opportunity exists or not and also help you in finding out more about your niche as well as competitors. Experts suggest that before leaving your existing career, you should work on your business plan, get financially stable, test your business idea on initial clients and fine-tune your product or service.
Go through all the legal requirements to start a business-
Once you have a suitable budget and a proper business plan in place, the next step would be to evaluate all the legal requirements to start a business. These legal requirements can include registration and incorporation of your business, compliance with local regulations, working on getting a permit/license (if required), taxes, etc. Different states may have different laws and regulations that qualify your business as a legal entity, so ensure that you check all those boxes before proceeding further. Spending time doing market research or even networking can help you understand more about the requirements of your business and also help in crystallizing your idea.
Business structure- Once you evaluate the legal requirements of your business, you would have to set up an apt business structure for your business. There are conventionally four types of business structures- Sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company, and Corporation. You can read up about how to register and incorporate your business here in detail
Line up sources of funding -
Once you finalize your business structure and sort out the legalities and the compliance framework, the next step would be to line up your source of funding and put together a team. There are various types of options for funding your business such as credit unions, banks, angel investors, etc. If you are starting a business without money, some sources of funding can include personal savings
, friends and family and crowd-funding websites.
Put a team together and develop customer acquisition strategies-
After finding a source of funding for your business, it gets recommended to cultivate a network of advisors, partners, and team members. To get your company off the ground, you will need to hire a team and figure out how it will work together. Defining roles, responsibilities and division of work will save you a lot of stress and also help you grow
the business more efficiently. You will need to set up a marketing team to make people aware of your company, after which a sales team needs to be put together to sell your products or services. Keep in mind that customer satisfaction and loyalty is the most important factor in a business.
Marketing your business-
The first thing you need to be aware of is who your target customers are, and what their needs and preferences are. Who is your product or service targeted towards? How can you attract the attention of such customers, assuming you have many competitors in the market?
Once you’ve conducted a thorough market research, move on to developing a strong brand identity. Your brand identity is what separates you from the rest of the crowd. Your brand identity should be in line with what you offer as well as your vision and values. This projects a more professional image and can help you acquire new customers.
Post this, you will have to build your presence online. In today’s world, where literally everyone is hooked on to their smartphones and PCs, there’s no better way to attract customers than online. Develop a website, create your business pages on social media sites, start a blog, etc. After this, have your sales or business development teams start generating leads for you. This can be done online, through the phone, etc. Lead generation is a process of converting people interested in your products to customers through a pipeline.
Before forming your sales team, set up a customer relationship management database to ensure that key customer data is not lost. A CRM database can keep track of your existing and prospective customers and data can be accessible from any location. Once a CRM is set up, identify your sales goals based on relative metrics. Keep sales targets based on how much revenue you need to generate to keep your business afloat and make profits. Once you have all these targets in place, form a sales team that share the same vision as you and understand your company’s offerings well.
Last but not the least- customer satisfaction and loyalty-
Never make relationships with customers just transactional. Resolve customer queries or problems quickly, keep track of key milestones of customers with your company, create a channel or mode through which customers can provide important feedback and create an FAQ section on your site covers almost all topics.