Starting a business is an exciting ambition for many, but it can also be an intimidating endeavor. You may have heard the statistics on new businesses that fail within the first few years, which can be disheartening.
However, proper preparation before launching the business can significantly improve your likelihood of success. Check out these tips on steps to take before you start to ensure your business is built on a solid foundation.
Develop a Business Plan that is Rock-Solid (But Not Written In Stone)
It may seem self-evident, but developing a thorough business plan is critical to starting a successful business. You might be surprised how many entrepreneurs try to take a short-cut on this step, which sets them up to fail.
Drafting a comprehensive business plan is an exercise in thinking through all of the important aspects of your business, including: the value-proposition of your product or service, current and future competitors (and how you are differentiated), detailed financial projections, your target customers, the resources you need to reach your objectives, and much more.
Once complete, this document can be distilled into an investor ‘pitch-deck’ to assist with any fundraising (if necessary), and by starting with the more comprehensive plan, you will be prepared for most questions that will arise in your investor presentations.
While it may seem like you have considered every eventuality in drafting your business plan, you will undoubtedly learn new information within the first several months of starting your business and you should not be afraid to adjust your plan accordingly.
Just be mindful to put as much thought into your updated plan prior to making a decision to pivot vs. persevere.
Understand Your Limitations
Legal? Marketing? IT? Many entrepreneurs feel they can or must do it all. However, each of these areas requires a very specialized skillset – not to mention time commitment. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses will be critical to ensuring you get the right support.
For example, hiring both a knowledgeable and experienced attorney and accountant as you form your business structure can ensure you are prepared for both the legal and tax implications of running a business, obtaining financing and selling your business.
A small investment in these areas upfront can save a business owner significant amounts in the future.
Similarly, you may feel like you have a strong grasp on marketing, but even a slight oversight can waste a ton of money on ads with little or no return.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be Superman; today more than ever before it is easy to outsource to a team of experts who can provide high-level technical support on an ‘a la carte’ basis.
This will allow you to focus your time and efforts on driving strategic value for your business.
Networking is Still Important
Whether in-person or through social media, growing your professional network will provide a surprising amount value. You can find and vet potential partners, investors, vendors, brand ambassadors and other resources that will be invaluable for your business’s success.
While networking does take time – something that is all too scarce while launching a business – networking will pay off exponentially, particularly once you find and focus on the events and organizations that are the best fit for your business.
You can start by attending Chamber of Commerce meetings, register for industry events (including events for your target customers), connect with influencers on social media – really anything to get you in front of other entrepreneurs and business owners – and be ready to listen.
Not only will you learn from their experience, but you will have the opportunity to demonstrate your own value and expertise.
Don’t Rush into Starting Your Business
It is very exciting to make the leap from “wantrepreneur” to a true entrepreneur – you are really going to launch that business you have been dreaming of for years!
However, if you want to set yourself up for success, be patient; one of the worst things you can do is try to rush the process.
Create a thorough business plan, consult with the right experts and wait until you are really ready to get things off the ground. While people love to bring up the negatives of starting a new business, don’t let that discourage you. Proper preparation up front can help you avoid becoming a statistic.