Are you thinking about starting your own business? Join the club, because many budding entrepreneurs do the same thing every year. That means competition can be stiff, hours are often long, and the result is anything but guaranteed. On the positive side, there are several concrete actions you can take to up the chances of being successful.
There are no guarantees in life or in the world of profit-making. But smart owners know how to begin on the right foot, build a solid plan, get help from others, analyze the competition, and network like crazy. There’s a lot to do when you make those first tentative moves, so make sure you’re on the right track by reviewing the following strategies.
Get Your Personal Finances in Shape
It makes no sense to open the doors to a brand-new company when your personal finances are in disarray. The first piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle is getting your own money situation straightened out. Make sure your credit scores are as good as they can be, and don’t forget to check with the three major bureaus in case you find any errors on your reports. Equally important is to arrange your personal debt so that it’s a manageable as possible. For instance, if you have multiple student loan payments, go online and find a lender who can help you with a consolidation. Combining all the debt into a single monthly expense is an effective way to simplify and organize your payments to get your own finances in check before you start creating a for-profit entity. Your new consolidated agreement often comes with more favorable terms and extra time to repay the entire amount.
Study the Competition
An often-overlooked piece of business-building is competition analysis. You can approach this task a number of ways. Make a list of companies that have a mission and customer base similar to yours. Visit their stores and websites. Study their sites to see what kinds of local and national events they attend. Delve into the details of their shopping cart mechanics, payment portals, and blogs. Make a few notes about what you think each is doing right and doing wrong. Try to get an idea how they handle transactions that go wrong, interact with clients, and resolve payment disputes. It’s possible to find much of this information from other sources, like review sites and Better Business Bureau reports.
Spend Hours Creating a Detailed Business Plan
Make a business plan that includes as many details as possible, including two years of prospective financial statements, customer demographic descriptions, marketing plans, and a list of ways you intend to find your first customers.
Network with a Purpose
Networking is only worth the effort when it’s targeted. There’s no sense in making contacts and socializing unless you have a specific strategy in mind. For example, get connected with trade associations in your field, attend relevant conventions whenever possible, and get friendly with prospective vendors. For the first few months, collect business cards and email addresses until you have a database of contacts.