It feels like the right time of year to talk about starting new things. For many, starting a new business is an item on the resolutions list for 2018. However, moving that wish from the paper to reality is a long and very complex process, especially if you've never done it before.
It would be impossible to explain what it takes to start a business from scratch in just one blog post, but I will give 4 simple steps to follow as your frame and in the next few weeks we will expand on each of them to give you a better idea what to do. Don't miss any of the posts in January if you are planning to start a business in 2018 and you are not quite sure where to start from.
Step 1. Research and Plan
Starting a business because you think you have a great idea is the best recipe for failure. You need to know that you have a great idea and you can only do that through extensive research. The best practice includes primary (where you go out and ask questions directly to people) and secondary (where you read information and studies that have already been made by someone else) research. What are the questions to find answers to?
What is the problem in the market? (Market Gap)
Does my product service/product bring a solution to that problem? How? (Market Gap Solution)
Who are the people who need that solution? (Target Market)
Are they willing to pay for it and how much? (Product/Service Feasibility)
Are there other solutions to the same problem already available on the market? (Competitors)
How is my solution different and better than the other available solutions? (Unique Selling Point - USP).
Sometimes research can take months and even years depending on the product or service you want to launch. Do remember that encouraging research outcomes do not always guarantee success, because the execution of your idea will have the highest stake at determining whether your business will succeed and grow. This is why you need to plan all of your actions from the stage of inception to the stage of evaluation. Writing that plan down in details is extremely beneficial as many research studies show, but we will explain further why you need a business plan next week.
Step 2. Brand Your Idea
Getting branding right is crucial to your business success. Branding goes beyond logo creation and flyers to give out to people. Later this month we will talk about what exactly is included in a full branding package, but now I want to tell you why it is so important to get your branding done correctly before you launch.
You look professional, capable and confident that you bring a valuable solution to the problem in the market.
You easily attract the right type of people (your target audience).
You are less likely to give up because you have already put efforts and/or money down to create your branding.
It helps you create and refine your business processes and values.
Copyrights and patents (also part of the branding process) help you protect your ideas and methods from dishonest competitors and ill-minded individuals.
Step 3. Get on Social Media
After you are convinced your idea is great, you are going ahead with it and you have completed your branding, it's time to let the world know you are out there. The best way to do that in 21st century is through social media. Create your profiles on the channels that are most relevant to your target audience (you will know which those channels are from the research you have done earlier). Why should you get your startup on social media as soon as your branding is done?
Promote your website, products and services to the right people for free or at a minimal cost.
Build relationships with your (potential) consumers.
Tell your story. (brand storytelling - check content marketing trends for small businesses in 2018)
Provide easy-to-get-to customer service.
Not sure how to find your way around social media as a startup? Subscribe to MBC's blog to get the answer later this month.
Step 4. Find Resources & Help
I know that many people who decide to take the direction of being their own boss, don't always have the ability to put down a heavy financial investment into their startup. That's why I see many entrepreneurs trying to work on as many aspects of the business themselves as possible. I've been there too, but the reality of running a business is much more complex. No matter how knowledgeable and skilful you are, you just can't be an expert on everything and you will end up compromising value for cost.
A good businessman or woman knows what and when to outsource to the relevant specialist. Here's why this is important:
Saves you time and lets you concentrate on creating strategies for your business.
Saves you money in the long run for trying to fix mistakes you didn't see or from sales loss.
Saves you energy to continue with your business.
Provides expert knowledge and insights on various aspects of business.
Improves the quality of your products and services, as well as various business processes by adding an external point of view and expertise.
What should you outsource if you are not sure you can complete to an outstanding level:
Social Media Management
And really, the list goes on and on. There's nothing wrong with seeking and asking for help when you needed it. Just make sure you are choosing the right professionals to do the job for you.
Does starting a business from scratch seem like it takes a lot of time and efforts? It really does, but planning, identifying the things you can do yourself and outsourcing the rest makes it much easier and speeds it up several times. For all of you who have put 2018 as the year they start their own business, I wish you best of luck and if you ever need us, MBC is here for you.