Every business begins with a vision or an idea. From there, businesses are either launched to success or they land in a heap of failure. The difference, for most entrepreneurial efforts, is likely to be found in the critical first steps that were undertaken in the formulation and implementation of the business plan. Even those businesses that initially failed to launch, stand a good second chance of success if the right steps are taken. Every aspiring business owner needs a start-up starter kit that includes the 10 things you absolutely must do to launch a business.
1. Develop a plan
No matter how big or small the idea, a business start-up is destined to fail without a business plan, if for no other reason than to crystallize the idea and establish a goal for the business. The chances of success are greatly enhanced when deliberate steps are outlined, milestones established and resource needs are specified. The more detailed the plan, the more realistic its implementation. If any financing is needed, a detailed plan is essential for any serious consideration by a lender.
2. Get the name right
Naming a business has always been an important element in the start-up phase. Branding is the key to building recognition and it begins with the name. The name needs to imply how the public will benefit from getting to know your business, and, with the internet fast becoming the dominant form of marketing, the name must be able to translate into a domain name that is search engine friendly.
3. Location, location…..
For brick-and-mortar start-ups, there may be nothing more important than location. If the business is more service-oriented, then much of its presence can be built through an effective website. Still, if the services are specialized and are to be marketed to a specific geographic location, it is important to create an identity within the target community.
4. Get linked in
Even before the plan is finished, networking in the business and public community is essential. Ultimately, networking fills a key marketing need to build brand awareness, cultivate business relationships and develop client referrals. It is also an invaluable source of information and ideas that can be used to develop strategies, so it should be done early and often throughout the start-up process. Spending time on related forums on the internet is a great way to learn, share and network with like-minded entrepreneurs
5. Get on the web
It is never too early to build a web presence. The internet can be the quickest means to creating exposure and interest in your business. The business plan should be the source of much of the content needed for the first stage of the website, such as a company profile, mission statement, value proposition and a description of services or products. Websites can be built quickly and on a shoestring then refined or upgraded as time and budget allows. A complete website including design and content, optimized for search engines can be created for less than $1,000.
6. Make it legal
Among the first decisions that need to be made is how the business is to be structured. Most businesses can be created instantly as a sole proprietorship by obtaining a federal tax ID number and registering a “DBA” with the state. Additional consideration needs to be given to tax and legal liabilities that may require using other forms of ownership such as an LLC or corporation. If your idea can be trademarked, steps should be taken to do so.
7. Know your limitations
No single individual can do it all. Even if you think you can, the cost of your time for completing a task may be much more expensive than if the same task could be completed by someone charging $20 an hour or for a flat fee. Learn when it is more cost effective to outsource.
8. Find a mentor
Most successful people, especially entrepreneurs, have a mentor or a coach that they can turn to for advice, collaboration, moral support, and even business connections. Start a business can be a lonely venture and even the most motivated individuals need accountability and feedback to keep them on track.
9. Begin testing your idea
You probably already have which is why you’re ready to go to market with it. Don’t stop. Now, it is a matter of exposing your brand, building credibility through testimonials, and building goodwill. Don’t be afraid to give your service away as you are starting your start-up. It is an investment that will begin to payoff in short time.
10. Stick with the plan
If your plan is detailed and deliberate, it is important to follow it and stay focused on hitting the milestones. The best way to stick with a plan is to share it with a mentor or confidant that will promise to hold you accountable. The best plans are always subject to refinement or adjustment, but you won’t know what may be needed if you are not following the plan.
The views expressed herein are those of Rich Best, as of the date above and are subject to change. This publication is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as a recommendation for any specific insurance product or service. Information has been collected from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been verified for accuracy. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Bryn Mawr Trust, its directors, officers, affiliates, and/or any/all of the contributors to this site. It does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described herein and assume no liability for your use of this information.