If you have a business idea and you’re keen to get started, you might be on the verge of making a big mistake. You might be about to do something there is no return from. You might be on the precipice of launching a business without having prepared everything first. If you do this, if you rush things through just because you are excited to make a start, you’ll find that the first impressions people have of you are not overly positive ones. The problem is, this first impression is crucial in business; you can go back and change things or ensure you have elements in place that were missing initially, but you will still have disappointed people and missed out on that first rush of enthusiasm.
This is why planning ahead and making sure that everything is in place before you launch your business to the world is so important. When you do this, things will run much more smoothly, and you will make a much more positive impression which will lead to more sales, good testimonials, and higher profits. So what should you do before starting a business? Read on for some of the best ideas.
Have Business Knowledge
It’s not mandatory for every business owner to have a vast amount of business knowledge. However, when you do have this knowledge, you will be much better placed to understand exactly what to do in specific situations, and you’ll know what it is people want from you when you’re running a business. You’ll know more about business in general; you’ll know more about marketing and you’ll know more about finances and how to keep your customers happy.
It’s clear that having this knowledge and experience can make a big difference to the success of the business you’re just about to start. Yes, you can launch without any of this knowledge and try to work it out as you go along, but this can be a long process, and while you’re learning through trial and error, those errors could become too large, and your business might fail.
You don’t have to have run a business before to have this knowledge. A business degree will teach you a lot – perhaps even more than you realized when you consider that Suffolk’s online MBA prepares future thought leaders and therefore help you to position yourself as an expert – and you can learn online at your own pace, meaning that even if you’re starting your business as a ‘side hustle’ and you’re working full time, there is no reason why you can’t earn your MBA and all the priceless knowledge that goes with it.
Start Small And Grow
It’s so tempting to launch your business to a global audience and throw everything you have at it, mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. The problem is that unless you can guarantee instant success (which is not something many businesses can promise), you could lose a lot when you choose this option. By the time you’ve understood that something has gone wrong and you’re not earning the profits or gaining the recognition that you had hoped you would, it will be too late. You will have lost everything and not be able to start fresh either.
It is far better to start as small as you can and work up. Although this might not seem right, especially when you know you have an excellent idea, it’s the best option by far. When you start small, perhaps with just one product or service, or only selling in your local area, or whatever it is that small means to you in your particular niche, you can test the waters without losing much at all should things go wrong. This testing phase is crucial; it will help you to understand who your target market is and how they like to buy, and it will enable you to gradually build your business and take the right options and opportunities as they are presented to you. If you rush and race ahead, you may miss these avenues that would have led you to success and find that you can’t go back to them at a later date.
Although starting small will mean your success takes a long time to manifest, it also means that your success is more likely, and therefore it is a worthwhile strategy.
Create A Business Plan
The majority of people won’t especially enjoy writing a business plan. They will need to carefully consider every element of their potential business, including everything that needs to be purchased and how much that purchase will cost. If you only have a vague idea of what your business will do or even what it will entail, your business plan is going to take much longer to create, and therefore you will need to have a more tangible idea of what you intend to do. Some people won’t like this because it will slow down their launch, but it’s clear that it’s crucial.
Writing a detailed business plan will force you to think about your business in much more detail, and this will ensure you are more successful and have everything in place before you actually start. It will also create a personal roadmap for you to follow to reach your goals (and it will ratify what those goals are), plus, if you intend to borrow money or find an investor for your startup, it will give them all the information they need to agree to your terms.
Without a business plan, it would still be possible to start a business, but it would be much more of a challenge. Trying to make good business choices when you don’t know what you’re doing or where you want to end up could end in disaster.
Of course, it might be that, once you have started writing your plan (there are templates online to help you), you realize that the business idea isn’t viable. Perhaps it would cost too much money, be too complex, or isn’t sustainable. In which case, knowing where the problem areas lie, you can rethink and start again. It’s far better for this to happen at this stage than it would be for it to happen later on.
Check Out Your Competition
Competition in business is inevitable. Even if you think you have the most unique idea possible, there will be someone who has done something similar. That’s not to say your idea isn’t unique – your own spin on a familiar topic could be enough to make all the difference – as it may well be, but it’s crucial you know if there is anyone who has already developed something similar or even something exactly like your idea already.
Firstly, by knowing whether you have competition or not, you can see whether you can compete in terms of scale and popularity. A small local business may find it hard to go up against a large national chain, for example. This might cause you to rethink once more or to find a niche within the sector that you can exploit; finding a gap in the market is an excellent way to make a profit, but it will require plenty of research and understanding more about your competition is the only way to do this accurately.
Secondly, if you know your competition, you can watch what they do. You can learn from them. If they are doing something especially well or particularly poorly, you will be able to take that knowledge and use it to your advantage. You won’t be able to copy their marketing, website, or products exactly, but you can look at what is popular and gear your own business in that direction. You can also stay away from anything the competition has done that caused a problem. You might even use that issue and show that you work in a different way, gaining you more sales in the process.
Find A Mentor
Starting a business is a great thing to do. It means you are only working for yourself (and your clients), you have a better work-life balance, and you can make all the decisions regarding your business yourself. However, starting a business is also one of the biggest challenges you’ll have to face in your life. There are so many things you need to think about that you wouldn’t if you were working for someone else and only had to focus on your job.
When you have a mentor to ask questions of and gain advice from, the challenge will be a smaller one. Starting a business with a mentor behind you means you will have confidence when it comes to making important decisions because there will be an objective observer with you to guide you. The mentor will discuss all your options and talk about mistakes they’ve made in the past so that you can avoid them. They won’t be able to run your business for you, and neither should you expect them to, but you will be able to find peace of mind and a much better business with them to assist.
If you are starting your own business, consider all of the above for the best results.