Sayan Biswas, Negosentro | Starting a new business is an adventure, but it can quickly turn sour if you don’t prepare enough. Unfortunately, the majority of startups fail within their first year. This occurs because of poor planning, poor management, and a lack of research. For instance, trying to open up a store in a neighborhood outside of your demographic could prove to be disastrous. You want to be prepared before you launch because mistakes can be costly and you only have a finite amount of time to make ends meet.
That being said, it is small businesses that make a country great. They are the heart of any community, and they are the ones that offer variety to customers around the world. Just because it is hard to succeed does not mean you should ever give up; it just means you should be a bit more cautious and thorough in your preparations before you begin.
What to Research
Most businesses start with an idea and go on from there. Where many companies fail, however, is that they focus too much on their own product and their own business, when they should be learning from those who are already there. Your competition is a gold mine for information, and you should study them religiously before you launch. You need to know which tactics work, which don’t, how they advertise, how they sell, their price point, their history, and more. The more you know and analyze your competition and their business practices, the better prepared you will be to take them on and launch your rival company.
You can also learn a lot from previous competition who have already gone out of business. Making mistakes can cost you dearly, but learning from those who came before you can help you circumvent common issues at the start. Discover and understand where your competition went wrong and what happened and find ways to fix or avoid their problems altogether.
Then, of course, you will still have the industry itself. Not being familiar with the industry is a huge mistake. If you worked in the industry beforehand, you already have a good head start, but you shouldn’t get complacent. You need to know the trends and the predicted trends, and ideally find a way to change the playing field entirely. Disruptive companies gain immediate attention because they have found a way to change the game. Netflix disrupted the traditional television experience, Airbnb the traditional hotel experience, and Uber disrupted the traditional taxi experience. As you can guess, each of these companies has made it big and are now world famous and used by millions.
Not every business idea will be able to disrupt an industry, but by researching predicted trends, you can at least stay current.
Creating Your Business Plan
Once you have your research done, it will be time to create your business plan. The reason why your research beforehand was so important is that your business plan needs to be short and concise. This plan will have your goals and the steps you plan to take in order to get there. For it to be useful, it needs to be one or two pages maximum so that you and any of your employees can refer back to it and change it as necessary. Without adequate research, however, your business plan will lack the power to guide you to success.
There are many ways you can fund your business. You can fund it through your own personal finances; you can fund it by crowdfunding, or by finding investors. Having a business plan and a modest start-up cost can go a long way, and this is particularly true if you want to either use crowdfunding or investors in order to secure the money you need to launch.
It is important to note that before you can gain crowdfunding or investment money, you must have a working prototype for your product. It applies even if you offer a service or an app. People don’t want to fund things that they don’t think will ever exist, but funding something they can see is another matter entirely.
Doing the research and building a great business plan will also go a long way towards securing your funding. That is because people will only invest in what they think is a smart investment. If you are clueless, you are proving nothing except that you are not ready to launch. If, on the other hand, you know your stuff and are intimately knowledgeable about the industry and how you plan on succeeding, you may find you get the backing you need in no time at all.
Organizing as a Business
Once you have your funding, it’s time to set up your business. It will involve several legal processes in order to register your company, as well as patent any product or name you want to keep exclusive. This will also be the time that you will rent out an office and hire employees if your budget allows. The better you can organize and manage your business before launch, the more smoothly you can operate.
Creating Your Online Presence
Once you have your business ready to go, it’s time to be serious about your online presence. It means starting a website and social media profiles. You will need these both to sell products and services as well as to exist as a point of contact between you and your customers. It is a huge mistake not to be online, even if you sell strictly in your store.
How does marketing online grow your business? Simple – by making you more visible to a wider audience. You want people from neighboring communities to find you, and you want people overseas to find you. The more popular you are online, the more visible and respectable you will be to your customers.
To accomplish this, you should first start with your brand identity. Your identity includes your brand aesthetic and logo. You will need these nailed down to create a uniform presence on the worldwide web. If you do not have the experience in these areas, hire an artist who is. You don’t want to skimp out on something like your logo, because your overall brand will suffer for it.
Launching Your Website
Once you have your brand aesthetic, it’s time to launch a website. There are a few ways to do this, depending on your budget and what kind of message you want to send. As a small business, you will want to appear as professional as possible, meaning a free subscription to companies like WordPress.com (different than the content management system WordPress.org, which is free to use), Wix, or Blogger may not be appropriate. You will instead want to subscribe to a third-party host like Blue Host so that you can register your unique domain name and have the speed and support necessary to run a successful website.
Once you have that, it’s time to pick out your CMS and theme. The most popular CMS is WordPress.org, which is open-software and free to use. The reason why this CMS is arguably better than other options is due to its familiar appearance and massive plugin community. While WordPress in and of itself has limited SEO capabilities, you can (and should) install SEO-plugins to make your site more appealing to Google’s algorithms. When it comes to SEO, however, always read up on Google’s guidelines beforehand to make sure you are adhering to their policies. You don’t want to be blacklisted!
Once you have your CMS, you can download a theme and start customizing. With enough time and patience, anyone can do this, even without knowledge of HTML or coding languages.
If you want your website to do very complicated and sophisticated tasks, however, you are better off hiring a web developer. That way you can build a website that works the way you need it. You will want to keep updating your website with valuable content and work on both your on-site and off-site SEO in order to appear higher on the SERPs and be more valuable to your customers.
Tips for Social Media
Once you have your website set up, it’s time to get on social media. Social media marketing has changed significantly since its inception, meaning that gaining a real audience is difficult without a marketing budget. Thankfully, real people still use social media, meaning if you genuinely engage and talk to other users, you can create a lasting relationship in no time.
Things to Remember
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your success. That is why you need to continue with your business for as long as possible. So long as you are making ends meet, both within your business and at home, there is no reason not to pursue your dreams. Try out new tactics, collaborate, make partnerships, and so on. So long as you have the money to keep going, you can try out new methods to find what will work for you. Be persistent, and you will see success.