Starting their own business is a dream for many. But not many would be able to realize that dream. While it is not a walk in the park, you can start your own business and be successful. But not without careful planning and hard work. In this article we discuss some important steps that you need to take to start your own business.
When people want to start a business on their own, the first thought for many is about financing. How may I find money to invest? That probably is the wrong first question. That is because, before finances comes your business idea. The problem is that many people assume that they have the greatest idea. However, the idea needs more time and thought.
Getting to Right Business Idea
When you decide on what business you want to do, you need to explore the idea in relation to practical realities. There are many myths out there on the trends. Everyone wants to do that business which is easy to do and make lots of money. However, the simple economic and business reality is, when there are more people doing the same profitable business, the supply increases and hence the demand goes down due to stiff competition.
You need to be able to test your idea than daydreaming sooner than later. Otherwise, you will fall into the trap of analysis paralysis. Here are some steps you may carry out to help you test your business idea
- Who are the suppliers?
- What is the suppliers pricing?
- What about shipping and transport?
- What are the operational costs?
- What is my pricing?
- What is my margin?
- Who are the customers and where are they?
- How may I reach customers?
- What is my sales target?
- How could I grow this business?
There are ten simple questions you could answer in quick time. You could use a simple document template to help research and analyze your business idea based on these dimensions. Ideally, you should not spend a lot of time for this analysis. Once you have the answers to these questions, you get the big picture of what you have to do to get your business going and what financial requirements would be.
When you start the business as a new entrepreneur, there will be lots of unknowns. Even after a good analysis, the knowledge you have is all theoretical, until you get into the business for real and operate it for some time. The operations realities can only be realized once you are in operation.
Start small initially. Once you start small, you will start sensing the realities and your problems would be small scale. Smaller problems are easier to solve. Once you gain experience though the initial stages, then you can grow gradually.
When you start executing, the business risks surface. Your ability to manage and mitigate risks determine your success. It is the case that you might not be able to foresee all risks and sometimes, you may fail. Failure is an essential part of success. Hence be prepared to embrace failure.
The reason for starting small is not to stay small all the time. The reason is that in case of failure, you will bear smaller loses and you will learn the art of embracing failure with less damage.
All successful entrepreneurs have failed many times before they figured it all. It is not a walk in the park, rather it is a rollercoaster ride. What is critical is not to stop at a failure. In case you fail, take time to reflect & recollect. Analyse
- What went well?
- What did not go so well?
- What could have been done better?
Collect the set of lessons learned from this analysis. Then recollect and start over. When you start over, do not repeat the same mistakes. Make sure that you evolve your execution model in the following attempts to execute. You may even revamp the business model and business domain. It is all fine to make changes, as long as you remember not to repeat the same mistakes. Also remember that evolution is gradual and systematic.
Believe in Yourself
"You have to follow your own intuition and not someone else's.”
– Nicholas Gilio, Owner & Creative Director at O.W. Event Productions
There will be many advisers out there including your close family and friends. They will have lots of opinions. It is perfectly fine to seek mentorship and advice. And when you discuss your ideas with someone else, your ideas naturally get polished, even if the other party just listens. However, no matter what others say, your intuition matters the most. Remember, even if you fail following your own intuition you will learn lot of life lessons. The key is not to lose a lot of money in this exercise and for that the trick is to start small.
Your instincts, your gut feel, will lead you to your success. Sometimes you feel what is not right. Sometimes you feel what is right. Your intuition will help you fine tune your business operations to better reach your goals. Self-confidence and self-trust will help you execute better. And once you reach a millstone, analyze your business data and reason out your intuition against real data. That will help you optimize your intuition beyond mere daydreaming.
Enjoy What You Do
Running a business is not a job. It is a lifestyle. If you are a successful entrepreneur, you will feel the joy of running your business. To check if you are in the right business, good litmus test to see if you are enjoying it.
Don’t fake your joy. If you fool yourself to enjoy something that you really don’t then the real issue it that you are not in a sustainable exercise. We all know that for a successful business we need perseverance and persistence. And if you are not enjoying it, then you will not be able to persist or persevere. In other words, it will be natural to engage and keep going if you are enjoying it.
Be The Person You Want To Be
“It's important to set high standards for yourself. You need to be good to get better."
– Alisa Brown, Owner & Chief Bouncer at Lost Weekend
The advice on start small was to mitigate risks and learn lessons in quick time in the initial stages. A successful business needs to grow. You need to move on from good to better and then to great. The key here is not to settle and keep lifting the bar of excellence and keep reaching it.
It's The Little Things That Matter The Most
Make people happy. That will make those people to keep retuning for pleasant experiences. Happy customers will be the ones who convert into returning customers. In your business, a key pillar of success are the loyal customers you have. They become your fixed income after some time. Try not to lose those customers.
Often it is those little things that would make customers happy. Your challenge is to keep it simple and identify those little things that matter. Simplicity is key but simplicity is challenging. It is easy to make things complicated. But it is an art as well as science to identify those simple little things that matter the most to your customers. Maybe it is the room to park. Maybe it is the friendly greeting as they enter. Maybe it is the friendly goodbye when they leave. Maybe it is that extra effort you make to help them. Try the little things and observe the customer emotions and reactions.
Sincerity Can Go A Long Way
Cunning gains are short lived in a business. Customers hate insincerity when they figure it out. A successful business needs to live by long term sustainable value set.
Be kind to people. Be very genuine. When you have these qualities, you can have the best conversations with your customers. Look beyond short-term profits and be frank with customer queries. Be candid with your advice when they seek help. People will get know that you are being genuine. And that feeling really goes a long way.
Play The Game
First, you need to have a clear idea about what you want to do. As a start-up founder, you are a front person. You are the face of the business. It is very important to be able to build a brand. So, what should your brand identity be? What will you do that people will relate to your brand? You can take inspiration from popular brands like Uber and Ola and their identity and value proposition.
You also need to know what type of business you want to start. Start-ups come in all shapes and sizes. Do you want to be an online business? What about a store based business? A food delivery service? A pet care service? Do you want to start in a particular industry like logistics, or construction? Then you need to decide which of these sectors you want to enter. It is important to be clear in your choices, and avoid being in a hurry.
Skills You Need
There is no business as an amateur, as you have to be knowledgeable about your domain. The basics of running a business also needs to be solidified. For example, do you know how to manage accounts and processes? Or do you have the right skills for sourcing, purchasing, inventory management, and distribution? You need to be knowledgeable about these basics.
You need to work on your interpersonal skills. As a start-up founder, you will need to interact with many stakeholders and learn how to deal with issues such as conflict resolution, conflict resolution, decision making, organizational skills, and communication. You need to have the skills to create a smooth environment for your business. It is important to be skilled and competent to run your own business.
You need to build and maintain strong relationships with key people who can help your business. These include accountants, lawyers, promoters, investors, distributors, business partners, and so on.
Key Areas of Focus
It is important to set priorities and focus on them. What are your key areas of focus? The areas that need immediate attention are:
- Online store
- Retail store
Also, do not lose focus on your vision. Do not be swayed by money. It is important to have financial discipline and spend within your budget. It is important to be frugal and avoid wasteful expenditures. Your competitors could be spending huge amounts of money, but that does not mean you should also spend in bulk. Spend the money on what works best for you.
Keep yourself updated with the latest technology and trends. It is important to be aware of the latest trends and developments. You need to stay on top of the trends to be successful in your business.
While it is not a walk in the park, you can start your own business and be successful. First, you need to start one as soon as you can, rather than just keep planning. You need to just do it. And you also need to remember that your first attempt could fail. That is not a reason to back up. In fact, you might fail multiple times, when you initially start. All failures need to be looked at as lessons and you need to learn and keep going.
Talk to Your Family and Friends
The biggest hurdle in the beginning of your journey is not money, and definitely not the work. The biggest barrier is mental. That is why you need to talk to your family and friends before you quit your job.
They will be glad to have you around and see that you are not quitting to starve and do nothing. As long as you are not taking money from them, they will be on your side. They will help you come up with money when you need it. They will give you encouragement when you are going down, and motivate you when you are going up.
You can even get a part time job to pay for your expenses. After all, starting a business and getting it to be profitable is tough work. So just take the help you need.
While talking to your family and friends is very important, when you receive advice, watch for negativities. Sometimes, you might be overwhelmed with negative advice on the difficulties, risks and the like. It could be that they think that it cannot be done. While you must listen to the concerns and understand the risks, that is not a reason to not start. Rather, these negatives are good insight for you to plan better. Learn from them and plan accordingly.
Get a Mentor
You can't do this alone. You need a friend or someone to look after you and help you in anyway that they can. You should not only have a friend, but also someone who knows and is good at something you are not. If you have a friend who is good at computers, you can go to them for advice. If they are into blogging, you can go to them for help. If you are not good at talking to people and handling people, you can go to someone who is good at that. A good mentor will give you the ideas you need and help you to be inspired.
Don't Do Things on Impulse
This is the big one. As humans, we are programmed to act on impulse. This is what we are good at. But, we are not good at thinking and coming up with better options. Even the smallest of decisions can make or break us. If you are going to start a business, you need to have a plan of action in mind before you do so.
A good business idea can change your life and your future. But, you don't want to jump into it without thinking it through. You need to think about your plan and how it can best help you. If you know exactly what you want, you won't be able to make that idea worse. Don't act on impulse.
You need to set priorities. You need to focus on something you want to accomplish first. If you have too many ideas when you start, list them all. When you list all those ideas, note them down without worrying about the sequencing. And then do another pass and try to sequence them in the order of priority you think you want them to be done. You can also set goals against each activity.
You could revisit your priorities time to time, may be monthly. When you do that, you might want to reprioritize the list.
Priorities help us keep focus and execute. We are not good at doing too many things at the same time.
You need to review your progress at the end of every month and evaluate how you are progressing. If you have deviated from your goals then you can refocus the next month and execute.
It is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Success in entrepreneurship needs perseverance, persistance and focus.
You can compare entrepreneurship with the long-distance runner. In many ways, the marathon runner, just like entrepreneurs, is attempting to run a marathon at just 10 miles per hour. For the marathon runner, however, running a mile at 10 miles per hour is already impressive. That speed may not even be possible for a new business person. With the focus similar to that of a marathon runner, success can be achieved by focusing relentlessly on the goal.
Like any marathon runner, the entrepreneur must set goals for what success is, how to achieve success and then commit. Successful entrepreneurs, in spite of the massive odds stacked against them, will not focus on failure, they will focus on success.
You could start with one product and a challenging enough revenue target for the first three months. Then either expand to two products or expand the customer base for the same product in the second three months.
Successful entrepreneurs cannot be distracted by their achievements, their success or the successes of those who preceded them. Successful entrepreneurs want to have profitable businesses, but if they focus on that, they will not get to it. Instead, they must put their complete focus on succeeding in an industry that creates opportunities to reach profitability.
Every successful entrepreneur has his or her own unique story, but it is also clear, through the success of many entrepreneurs, that following a proper focus can lead to success.
Here are some qualities of successful entrepreneurs
- Open minded
- Strong people skills
- Never give up
Customer success is a key focus of any successful business. Successful entrepreneurs focus on creating solutions that provide a good value on investment for their customer. If they do not focus on value provided to customers, the business will not grow. There are a lot of companies out there offering similar products and services that you are planning on providing. The only reason that customers would consider buying from you is based on the added value that you provide them. In other words, you can succeed in a very competitive market based on the value that you provide over your competition.
It is not just about customer success, though. Business profitability depends on a positive customer experience.Successful entrepreneurs are focused on improving customer experience, and this focus has been the driving force behind every business success of the past. Customer experience includes the full cycle of engagement with customers, including marketing, visit to the shop/store, pre-sales support, sales cycle and after sales service.
When potential customers have successful experiences with the businesses are motivated to become customers and brand advocates. The same satisfied customers will do a great service with word-of-mouth marketing for your business. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing and comes to you free from those satisfied customers. This is why successful entrepreneurs are constantly improving their customer experience, offering the right product at the right time, and delivering services that add value to their customers. Positive customer experience lead to a wide-ranging positive effects such as loyalty, profitability, brand loyalty and more customer growth opportunities.