Thinking of Starting a Business: Here’s a Checklist of Things You’ll Need
It needs to be stressed: The most important factor in the success of your business is you. Your expertise and your passion are the building blocks of your business. It takes monumental personal effort to get a business off the ground, so your skills and commitment are vital.
Is that all you need? Not quite. It takes a village to raise a child, as they say, and the same is true of your business. That village includes friends to give you encouragement and professionals to give you advice and provide critical business services.
What does it take to build a business? Here’s a checklist for starting a small business that can harness your passion and allow you to create a lifestyle that works for you.
1) An Idea and the Passion to Pursue it
You can’t create something out of nothing. The dual pillars of any business is an idea and the passion to make it work, come what may. You need to offer a product that other people value and desire. What will that product be, how will you get hold of it, and how will you offer it to customers?
Because creating a business is so hard, you need to be passionate about the product that you’re offering or else you will burn out. Do you have experience with your idea? Get some. You need to see yourself living and breathing the product day after day for years, so make sure you can handle that.
This is probably the most difficult stage. Finding an idea that excites you and addresses a pain-point for a sufficiently large number of customers is hard. Coming up with this idea requires patience, creativity, and plenty of ideas. Don’t rush into business with the first idea that strikes you, it needs to be a good one.
Next Step: Get a Moleskine notebook - Get creative and jot down all your ideas.
2) A (Basic) Business Plan - Map Your Route to Success
A business plan sets out the path to a sustainable business, i.e. a business that predictably and consistently makes you money. To start with, your business plan really shouldn’t be a messy stack of spreadsheets with numbers and projections. Instead, it should be a basic roadmap that provides you with a path to get your business from your mind and into the real world.
What specific steps do you need to take to start making money and, as quickly as possible, turning a profit? What do you need to get into place to make this happen? Will you have to spend money to launch? Where will you get it? These questions must be answered as part of your initial business plan; you need to know exactly what it takes to start up and become profitable.
Next Step: Download the Value Proposition Canvas - Visualise how your business will function and make money.
3) A Support Network - Be Ready to Learn From Others
While your own skills and passion are paramount, you’ll also need a little help from your friends. Are there potential business partners who can cover for your weaknesses somehow, even informally? Or maybe your existing friend group can help you with the mundane matters of running a business, which includes relaxing after a busy week.
Your fellow entrepreneurs are a great, perhaps the best, knowledge resource. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Get help and advice from people who have trodden the same path; there are plenty of groups you can investigate and join. The ability to learn from the mistakes of others is a fast track route to success, so surround yourself with people who know more than you.
Next Step: Visit MeetUp.com - Find entrepreneurial networking groups near you.
4) Business Services - Your Critical Infrastructure
Your personal support network can keep your spirits up when the going gets tough, but you also needbusiness help from the professionals. The administrative burden of any business can weigh you down and it’s often a false economy to try and do everything yourself on the cheap.
Who will keep the accounts and make sure you're on top of your taxes? Are all your contracts up to scratch and actually enforceable? What service will you use to make sales and process payments? There are ways to do these things yourself, but you’ll find that investing in the best services will help your business grow faster.
Professional services help with the nitty-gritty of running a business, and you need to decide on your critical infrastructure early; it undergirds everything else that you do with your business.
Next Step: Start a trial with IntelligentPOS - You need to be able to take payment and collect vital sales data.
5) Customer Centricity - Always Be Listening
Last on this list but first - always first - for your business, think of your customers. Whether you’re at the planning stage of your business or running your business after years of success, never have these people wonder far from your trail of thought. If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.
Begin marketing the moment you think about starting a business, even if this is simply asking people if they’re interested in your idea. For your business to work, you need to solve a problem that enough people urgently need help with. Try to validate your idea by surveying the people who you think are in your target market.
Next Step: Sign up to Google Customer Surveys - Conduct market research from the comfort of your own home.
Starting a business isn’t easy - break down your tasks to make progress manageable
This 5-point list introduces the building blocks that you need in place to get your aspiration to start a business off to a solid start.
You need passion, a plan, and the right people to help you get things done. Your focus always has to be ondelivering value to your customers; the people who will exchange their hard-earned money for your product. If you can’t find enough people to do that, you will struggle.
Working through this checklist will help you to get to the stage where you do have enough customers to support a sustainable business, one that will allow you to do something that you're passionate about and make money.