You might be starting a small business, but rest assured that it is no small decision…
Starting a small business of your own is accompanied by countless challenges and equally as many sacrifices. The idea itself is a huge undertaking.
Whether you are focusing on e-commerce or opening your own storefront…
Providing a product or a service…
Looking to make millions or just keep it as a side gig…
There will be several unforeseen challenges that come your way, therefore, it is vital you are equipped to handle them.
Success starts with preparation.
But, despite all the hurdles that are placed in their way, it is reported that 84 percent of small business owners say they would do it all over again if given the chance.
So, if you are thinking about taking the plunge and starting your own small business, we cannot promise it won’t be hard, we cannot even promise it will be worth it – you could fall into the 16 percent who wouldn’t do it again – but we can promise…
Once you make the decision to dive into the pool of beginner entrepreneurship there are a few things you should do first to make the process easier:
12 Things You Must Do Before Starting a Small Business
#1. Research, Research, Research
If you are going to start a business, you can never be too informed on your industry. While your idea might be brilliant, someone else might have still come up with it first.
One of the key aspects to being successful as a small business owner, especially if you jump into an already saturated market, is making yourself stand out. Your target audience will not go searching for why you are different than the competitor they just heard about on the radio – you have to make it obvious to them.
Stay on top of your research:
- Is your idea unique?
- Is your idea competitive?
- Why is your idea competitive?
- Do people need/want your product or service?
You should be able to answer those four questions before you take a single step further into the ownership of a small business.
#2. Get – and Stay – Organized
Aside from gathering all your information, you need to keep it organized.
Between all the startup information, the legal aspects, and the financial aspects of starting a small business, the paperwork and files can make it seem as though your office or home office walls are literally caving in…
As the business owner, you will likely start out – and possibly continue – wearing many hats:
Accountant, handy man, secretary…
Oh – and business owner.
When it comes time for an audit or to show your worthy business model to an investor, the last thing you want to be worried about is if you will even be able to find the proper documentation.
You should have detailed records of everything you are using – from the PVC cards used for identification down to where office supplies are ordered.
Get organized from the beginning and staying organized will be a much simpler task.
#3. Remind Yourself of your “Why”
You did not decide to start a small business “just because” …
A big decision like that typically comes with a pretty strong reasoning behind it.
You should always be prepared to answer the question:
Why are you doing this?
And, inevitably, there will be times when things go wrong and you will need to remind yourself of your “why.” As your hope is dwindling down and you feel like you just can’t press on, look back and remind yourself why you began this journey in the first place.
#4. Find a Mentor
Remember in college when you were assigned your first advisor?
It was almost annoying how much they tried to help – always making you take the hardest chemistry class or putting you with the professor who was known to be tough…
But, somewhere along the line, you learned to value them and their opinion. Without them, you might have fallen into the trap of skipping class – and getting dropped – or taking the easy way out with the professor who never gave tests.
When it comes to starting a business, you still require that same type of mentorship…
While your mentor might not be as involved in your business venture as your college advisor was in your course list, they will help you avoid timely and costly mistakes by offering their advice and helping you learn from their mistakes.
#5. Boost your Credit Score
As a small business, chances are that you will start out running off of your own credit.
What does this mean? Well, that $100,000 business loan you need…
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They will pull your credit report before deciding if you qualify or not.
The worse your credit score is, the less you can borrow, therefore meaning you will need extra funds of your own – such as a savings account or 401K loan.
#6. Survey your Target Audience
Earlier in the article, we mentioned asking yourself if your target audience would want or need your product…
Keep that in mind for this part.
Once you have answered “yes” to that question, move on to figuring out why they want or need it and how to best reach them.
While you might have the greatest invention of all time, if your target market is 13-17-year-old males, advertising in the local newspaper is probably a waste of time…
And, guess what?
Even if they need it, they can’t buy what they don’t know about.
#7. Develop a Powerful Message
Once you have successfully narrowed down your business idea, determined a need, and selected a target audience, it is time to focus on how you will reach them.
Your message needs to be clear and concise – grabbing their attention from the very beginning and maintaining it.
By developing a powerful message and understanding how to best market to your target audience, you will be on your way to success.
#8. Focus on Starting Small
It is easy to just take your idea and your marketing plan and run with it…
However, many new business owners find themselves quickly overwhelmed with work and the stress of building a large business, and are unable to even see the benefits of being a business owner anymore.
Rather than making it a race to the finish line, find the beauty in a small business. You will continue to grow as time goes on, but for the beginning stages, focus on the tasks at hand.
Master your small business before you switch your focus to expanding.
#9. Understand your Own Skills, Strengths, and Time Available
As you are getting all your ducks in a row to start your small business, make yourself aware of your skills, strengths, weaknesses, and how much time you plan to have available.
This step in the preparation process is vital to proper time management and will help you hone those skills.
Being properly prepared and understanding what you can and cannot do will also help you avoid burnout and help keep everything running smoothly. Know when it is time to hire an accountant, a lawyer, or other professional.
#10. Write a Business Plan
Now that you are in the final stages of preparing for your small business, it is time to put it all together…
Your business plan should detail:
Your basic concept, products and services, your competitive advantage, target audience, a background of employees and which ones are key players, financing needs, and expectations for the future.
#11. Get Legal Advice
Unless you happen to be a lawyer already, a lawyer is probably the first professional you will need to consider hiring.
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However, in the beginning stages, even if you have a friend in the business you can consult, do so.
You should understand all the legal aspects of what you are getting into – what you can and cannot do and especially the entirety of the necessary legal documents to even get started in the first place.
Have you ever heard it is all about who you know?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but it is…
By knowing the right people in the right industries, you can easily spread the word of your small business faster and gain more credibility through your contacts.
While your marketing strategy might be great, it never hurts to have a little cushion behind you.
Surround yourself with other small business owners or even large business owners who started out small.
This is also another great way to gain a mentor.
Starting a small business is a big decision…
It takes dedication, time, effort, and money. But with tips like these, you can adequately prepare yourself for the market you are entering, putting you one step ahead of a majority of your competitors.
While you might be new to entrepreneurship, there are several tools in each industry – such as a mentor – which can make all the difference.
Before you dive right into small business ownership and start drowning, take adequate time to properly prepare, seek advice, and improve the overall profile of your financial life and the plan for your business.
While it might take extra time, in the beginning, it will be well worth it in the end.
Are you a small business owner? What tips would you give to others looking to join the crew? Let us know in the comments!