Kevin Gardner, Negosentro | As a kid, there’s a good chance you might have dreamt of owning your own business someday when you grow up. Fast forward to today, that dream might still be alive and strong. Let’s face it, no one wants to grow old working for someone else. If you are determined to make it as an entrepreneur, here are five tips to help you kick things off.
Validate Your Business
Does your business have a market to entertain? An idea might sound good on paper, but the potential use cases for it in the real world might not be as multifaceted as you think. Before you start investing money into building a prototype or ordering inventory, validate your business idea first. Ask your family members or friends for painfully honest feedback about your business idea. Research your potential competitors and see how they are doing. Is the market large enough for you to actually take interest in it or is the market on a current downward slope? Answering these questions will help ensure that you get started on the right foot.
Create a Business Plan
While the advice that you should create a business plan may seem painfully obvious, a business plan or model is actually the first real piece of paperwork you need to start a business the right way. Just as how a builder makes use of a blueprint to build a house brick by brick, a business model will serve as your guide to building your company piece by piece. Also, keep your plan short. Remember that, over time, your business plan will undergo changes to accommodate the real world challenges that you encounter along the way.
Now that you have market validation and a business plan, it’s time to look for funding. Without cash, businesses cannot take off, no matter how promising your idea is. It’s difficult to find funding from venture capitalists and angel investors this early in your business’ life cycle. Instead, start by asking close family and relatives for some cash. Make it clear that this is a loan and that you will be paying back the money once your business hits its break-even point. When you do approach banks and private lenders, have your business plan ready, particularly your customer acquisition model, which is one of the key data points that investors want to see.
Stir Up Public Interest
Public interest is key to getting the traction you need for your business to move forward. Stir up the public’s interest by launching press releases, YouTube tutorials and walkthroughs, and blog posts. Encourage your customers to leave glaring reviews about your brand. For example, consider personal-care company Nu Skin. Positive Nu Skin reviews help the company connect with potential clients via word of mouth — essentially letting their customers advertise for them. Your brand can tremendously benefit from the positive reviews and testimonials left by your valued patrons, all at little cost to your business.
As the old adage goes, no man is an island. Hiring more people is key to expanding your business. But in the initial phase of your business when capital is scarce, be careful which positions you fill first. Make sure you only bring people who you immediately need, such as an accountant to handle your taxes and cash flow or a lead software engineer to manage the tech side of the product/service.
You don’t need to be super smart or well-off to start your own company. By following the practical steps laid out above, you’ll be able to build the basic skeleton of your brand. That being said, there is still a ton of work to be done. Filing for business permits, licenses, and copyrights and marketing your brand through the web are some of the many other tasks you’ll need to focus on.