Negosentro | Yes, You Can Start a Business in 2020: Here’s What You Need To Know | With a chaotic job market and an unsteady economy, now might seem like a strange time to become an entrepreneur.
But in fact, hundreds—if not thousands—of successful businesses got their start during periods of economic contraction, including notables like Netflix, Apple, and Microsoft. If you can’t find a job that will take advantage of your skills, why not make one? For those who have always wanted to go into business for themselves, now could be an exceptional time to offer a better solution to unmet needs in new and emerging markets.
However, the turbulent waters of the business world in 2020 mean that it’s more important than ever to think through your business plan before you jump into the exciting world of entrepreneurship. Read on for five key areas worth extra time and consideration before you open for business.
Understand How To Manage Expenses
You don’t need to be a math whiz to manage the accounting side of your business, but you do need to have a head for certain numbers, particularly gross spending and income. Every business has different associated costs, and before you open, it’s hard to know exactly what yours will be. The first thing to consider is what type of business you’re starting: Will you be selling goods online or at a physical storefront, or will you offer a service?
Keeping a picture of your daily operations in mind, walk through the things you’ll need to do or purchase to launch and operate and estimate the cost for each one. For an eCommerce site, you might need to pay for the cost of purchasing your initial inventory, site design, shipping, and a marketing consultant. If you’re planning a business that provides services, labor will be one of your biggest cost centers, and you’ll want to think about how many employees you’ll need, how you’ll pay, and how you’ll manage everyone’s time—even if “everyone” is just you and a partner.
Once you understand the costs involved in startup and launch, take your planning one step further and think about how you’ll manage costs on an ongoing basis. For businesses that sell physical or digital products, establish a baseline number for the cost of goods sold and your expected margin on each before you add in monthly costs like renting space, business services, or advertising. Labor-intensive service businesses should focus on managing hours and employees; you’ll benefit from a time tracking app that lets you keep tabs on employees without interrupting them as they work. Specialized time-tracking solutions are available for service industries from hairdressing to construction, so do some up-front research on the tools that will work best for your business to avoid future frustrations.
Keep Your Startup Cost-Conscious
There’s no way around the fact that most businesses require serious capital investment up-front to get off the ground. However, there are various ways to approach getting the cash and equipment you need. You’ll have the most freedom and least cost if you can put some of your savings toward your business, but it’s challenging for most people to manage both personal expenses and a savings effort large enough to start a business.
If you’re comfortable with it, you can ask friends or family for help, but tread carefully; borrowed money and unspoken expectations can cause unexpected rifts in previously sturdy relationships, and many—though not all—entrepreneurs find that doing business with friends and family is toxic to both the business and the relationship. Your other option for getting money is a loan. Working with a bank is one possibility, but you can also seek out federal loans and grants earmarked for small businesses. Be prepared to have a well-written business plan to be approved; lenders will want to be confident that you can pay back the money.
When you obtain your startup capital, reflect on opportunities for sweat equity before you start spending. If you’re in a service business, can you render services yourself without hiring first? If you’re selling products, do you have a background in marketing or design that you can leverage to keep advertising costs low? You can’t do everything and run the business, so try to choose one or two areas where you know your efforts will save money. For businesses where equipment is a consideration, research what you can buy secondhand and take advantage of government surplus or liquidation sales for expensive items like restaurant appliances or construction tools.
Find Your Niche Before You Start
Your niche is the part of the market where you can offer something that none of your competitors can match. In 2020, there are almost no wholly-unexplored markets, so your focus should be on how you can satisfy a group of customers whose needs haven’t been specifically met. Depending on your geographical area and market sector, you may be competing on cost, location, or exceptional service, but it’s important to know what makes your business unique; these characteristics form the basis of both your promotional strategy and your business operations.
For example, suppose you’re starting a florist shop. What would make you unique compared to other nearby florists? Perhaps it’s the style or complexity of the arrangements you make, fast turnaround times for deliveries, or a unique app-based ordering experience that makes buying flowers simple. Whatever your business does, understanding your niche will help you decide where to focus your marketing and operational efforts, and it can even allow you to test your idea before you commit to your business plan.
Start Building Your Website
Whether your intended market is consumers or other businesses, your prospective customers are most likely to find you online. Consequently, your website might be your business’s first chance to make a good impression, so it’s imperative that you make sure your website has an effective, contemporary design, loads smoothly on mobile and desktop devices, and offers potential clients all the information they need to make a purchase or get in touch.
The good news is that it’s never been easier to make a beautiful, functional website that serves whatever business purpose you need, from selling products to advertising a location or encouraging prospects to contact you. Anyone of several website building tools can meet your needs with no coding experience required. Still, if you don’t feel confident in your web presence, don’t hesitate to hire a professional designer or developer. Your website is like your business card, and you can’t afford to underinvest here.
Get Creative With Marketing
Without an effective marketing strategy, customers won’t know that your business exists to meet their needs, so don’t shy away from becoming an expert salesperson. Even on a limited budget, there are numerous options for new businesses to make a name for themselves. Online, consider social media marketing, search engine ads, and influencer partnerships. Brick-and-mortar and service businesses will earn valuable positive press from getting involved with the local community by partnering with other local businesses or becoming partial sponsors of charitable events in the area. Businesses with a physical service area should also refine their online marketing to target local customers only to get the most out of their advertising dollars.
Starting a business is a massive undertaking even in the best of circumstances; still, in troubled economic times, you and your business might be able to offer a solution that’s exactly right for the current market. With careful planning, you can take this opportunity to create your own uniquely fulfilling career path as a successful entrepreneur.