The choice to go into your own business isn’t something to take lightly. Entrepreneurship is a truly personal adventure, unlike anything you’ve had before. My first attempt at entrepreneurialism began in 1993 when I decided to quit the corporate world and start the foundation of my own boutique clothing source agency. As with many others, I believed that it would be a simple job since I was in the same field of work that I had just quit. I knew the industry as well as the back of my palm… at least I thought so.
It wasn’t until after I began my journey into an industry that I saw how little I knew. It’s easy for us to believe that your business will operate well because we know the craft well. However, we did not consider the many different roles we’d also be accountable for, i.e., accounts, administration, operations, marketing, sales, etc. We are a single-person operation. We have all of these different hats.
If you’re someone who’s given a lot of thought to the pros and cons and chosen to take the plunge, here are some must-dos to begin your journey in the right direction.
1. Write a business plan.
Yes, I can hear you right now. “Why should I have to have a business plan if it’s me? I already know what I’ll accomplish.” It is still important to write an outline of your business. The writing of a business plan provides clarity. It lists what it is about your business that is unique (your USP) and provides a clear idea of where you’d like to be and when you’ll get there. Consider your business plan as a beginning point, just like a map of your goal prior to embarking on your journey.
Be aware it is your company’s plan of action is a live document. It’s not a single procedure. Keep it updated when you learn new insights and information about your business. Writing a business plan from the beginning of your business’s existence will give you the opportunity to review it to keep track of your progress and your accomplishments.
2. Develop an effective Marketing & Marketing strategy.
It is vital to develop a marketing and sales plan that describes the way you’ll promote your company to increase sales. Marketing your business today is significantly lower than 15 years ago due to online. For a new business, it is not necessary to spend a lot of money on printing campaigns. However, you should have some sort of marketing and advertising campaign put in place so that customers are aware of your existence. I’ve observed many start-ups which are struggling for businesses and are wondering why they don’t have any customers or clients if they’ve never done any marketing whatsoever. Hope for success isn’t going to be enough. According to CNN reporter Anderson Cooper once said, “Hope isn’t a plan to take action.”
Begin by determining your marketing goals, create the monthly budget, and determine how you’ll distribute the funds across the different marketing initiatives. I’m aware that most new businesses do not have much money to spend on marketing, but that shouldn’t hinder you from doing it. The internet allows you to put your service or product on the market with free business listings on the internet and classifieds, article marketing online (that will only cost you time to write your piece and then upload it), and free news release distribution.
3. Include financials in the plan for your company.
Including financials in your plan for the business is crucial. You must be able to figure out month-to-month what your anticipated income will be getting its source and how much your costs are. In the beginning, the figures are estimates. However, it should provide you with a notion of the amount you’ll have to earn every month to cover your expenses and turn an income.
In teaching entrepreneurs who write a business plan of their own, I am amazed by the figures that contain the projected income and expenses. Yet, they only glance at their sales, failing to realize that their costs are much higher than their sales, and they’re in business long before they begin.
A good understanding of the costs you could incur ahead of time also allows you to consider alternatives and reduce expenditures before you actually invest the cash. Startups should save the most money as they can while waiting for the first sale to occur. Remember the phrase; cash is the king. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your hard-earned savings are taken away.
The preparation of a business plan is among the initial steps of setting the business up, so make sure you write down your plan of business. There’s a saying which is, “if you don’t stick to plan, you’re planning to fall.’ Beware of this trap and prepare yourself to be successful from the beginning.
Pamela Wigglesworth, CSP, is an international speaker, marketing consultant, and CEO of Experiential Hands-on Learning, a company based in Asia. The author is the book The 50-60-Something (TM) The Start-up Entrepreneur. She works with businesses across various industries to help them build brand recognition, boost leads, and ultimately boost sales.