This guest post was written by Jason Lewis
Jason is passionate about helping seniors stay healthy and injury-free. He created StrongWell to share his tips on senior fitness.
The thought of starting your own business can be exciting and intimidating. The prospect of being your own boss, doing something you love, and potentially growing something successful from the ground up fills you with enthusiasm. But you know it won’t be easy, and it will require a lot of preparation. Having a solid plan in place helps to boost your shot at success and lessen some of the apprehension. Here’s a great checklist to help you formulate your plan.
The first step is to define your business. How much time and money can you devote to your new business? Decide if it’ll be a full-time, part-time, or seasonal gig. Also, determine if you’ll have a brick-and-mortar location, if you’ll make a website and have a purely online presence, or if you’ll have more of a hybrid option.
Learn from those who have walked the path before you. If you know anyone who has started a business, whether successfully or unsuccessfully, ask for advice. Likewise, read all about starting a business, ask other small business owners (yes, even if you don’t know them), and speak with your bank and accountant, and the Federal Small Business Administration.
Your bank and an accountant can offer advice on starting a small business, and they can help you prepare for the financial aspects. You definitely want to work out the costs before you dive in. One of the biggest costs will be your physical location. To help reduce costs in the beginning, start your business from home if possible. Create a website, and sell from there. When the time comes for a physical space, be diligent about finding one that’s the right type, size, and price. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of equipment, furniture, and wages.
Develop Your Brand
When starting a business, developing your brand is crucial. Your brand is how your business looks and feels and includes everything from your logo and signage to your web presence and marketing collateral. Because it affects how customers view your business, it’s vital that your branding is clear, consistent, and engaging. Ensure that your “About” page is superb. Some entrepreneurs seek the help of a professional designer when building their website.
Creating a business website is arguably the most important aspect of branding. Often times, a customer will use your website to judge your service or product before making a purchase. Whether you enlist the help of a professional website builder or you decide to use an online website builder and try your own hand at it, you want to ensure that your business website is well designed and easy-to-use.
Find Your Niche
In the business world, many people say you must “find” a niche, but a niche market is not randomly discovered; instead, they must be carefully crafted, which involves following a process. “No business – particularly a small one – can be all things to all people,” says Entrepreneur. You cannot do business with everybody, and you’ll risk exhausting yourself and confusing the customers if you try. Even businesses in the same field have different niches. For example, the Dollar Tree and Nordstrom are both retailers, but they have very different niches.
Start by making a list that includes with whom you’d like to do business and be as specific as possible. Identify the geographic location and age range, as well as the types of businesses or customers you want your business to target. The narrower you can be, the better. For example, targeting women isn’t narrow enough; instead, target married white women with children and a family income over $80,000 who live in the northeastern United States.
Test it Out
Once you have a your niche market and product ready, do a test run. Give your niche market the opportunity to buy your product or use your service by offering free samples or providing a free mini-seminar. Utilize your business website to promote your free offer. Beware that the test shouldn’t cost you a lot of money. If it does, then you’re probably doing it incorrectly.
If you properly prepare for the big launch of your product or service, then entering the market will be a calculated risk instead of a gamble, so you won’t feel as apprehensive about implementing your idea. You can feel confident in your business and in your capabilities as an entrepreneur.