Starting a business is a huge commitment and where exactly do you start?
If you've ever wanted to accomplish something great, you know that getting started is always the most challenging part.
Maybe you have some vague idea about where to start, but you have no clue exactly where to start.
Or perhaps you sat down in front of Google to research how to start a business. Then you got utterly intimidated, freezing up with cognitive overload from too much information.
Startup confusion is a common experience, and it's the reason why so many people don't turn their dreams for the future into a reality.
When it comes to starting a business, the vital key is to think of it as an EXPERIMENT. If you think of your new business venture this way, you'll stop the overwhelm because it's only just an experiment.
So let's get you started on your experiment. Here are the exact steps for startup business success ...
Evaluate Your Strengths & Weaknesses & Resources
Define Your Target Market
Analyse the Industry
Analyse Your Competitors
Do a PESTLE
Validate Your Business Idea
Refine Your Product
Set Up Shop
1. Product Ideation
You've done this step already because this is when you thought of a product idea that you feel pretty confident will help solve a problem for people or will bring them delight. Indeed great products do both btw.
So look at that .... you have already started your business!
The next, crucial thing for you to do is:
2. Evaluate Your Strengths & Weaknesses & Resources
What are you good at? This is a question we all want to know about ourselves, as well as: What aren't you good at?
When starting a business, identifying and evaluating your strengths and your weaknesses isn't just an exercise to make you feel good (or bad) about yourself.
It's a process that allows you to understand:
how you can be most effective at what you do, and
where you'll need to improve if you want to be successful.
When you're evaluating your strengths and weaknesses, you will also identify the resources you can access. A resource could be something as simple but necessary as access to fast wifi. Or it could be a substantial network of professionals who can introduce you to investors.
Simply being aware of your strengths, weaknesses, and resources is the necessary second step for startup business success.
This leads us to the third step ....
3. Defining Your Target Market
An ideal customer is made up of more than just age, gender, and income. More importantly, they're defined by their values, habits, attitudes, and culture. Understanding how these attributes influence your ideal customer helps you to create a profile of your target audience. The more accurate your audience profile is, the clearer your marketing message will be to your customers, and the better you'll be able to connect with them.
4. Analyse the Industry
Industry analysis lets small business owners see what the market looks like. It helps you plan for the future by identifying threats and opportunities you may not otherwise be aware of.
5. Analyse Your Competitors
A competitive analysis is a review of your rivals. It helps you learn their strengths and weaknesses and compares them with yourself and your own product.
Studying your competition lets you know what makes you and your product unique and how you rank against them.
This information is critical for staying relevant and outdoing the industry standard.
Competitor analysis also provides you with a benchmark against which you can measure your growth.
6. Do a PESTLE
A PESTLE analysis is the essential next step in a successful start-up. PESTLE stands for "political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental" factors that directly impact your business. By looking at these factors and keeping an eye out for them as your start-up grows and expands, you can ensure its success and longevity.
7. Validate Your Business Idea and Refine Your Product
The most critical step your company can take to validate your idea is to create a minimum viable product and then refine it. To do this, you should either launch a website or directly show your tangible product to a large sample of your target market. Getting feedback from users as early as possible will help you improve your product and get people excited about what you're doing.
8. Write a Marketing Plan
Writing a marketing plan can be one of the most rewarding things you do, but it's also one of the most intimidating. This is why you need to do all the steps listed above BEFORE you create your Marketing Plan.
In fact, what you have done in the steps above are (usually) included in a 'proper' strategic marketing plan once you have your product ready to market.
But in this instance, when starting a business, your marketing plan will actually be a Marketing Communications Plan for the purpose of creating brand awareness for your new business.
Within this Plan, one of your objectives will be to create your brand identity, leading to the next step ...
9. Get Branded
Branding will be so much easier for you because you've done the above steps. Your new brand should reflect what your business stands for and what sets it apart from your competitors — it expresses the qualities, strengths and 'personality' of your business. Launching a business with a strong brand will give you a greater chance of success.
10. Set Up Shop
Setting up shop is generally the most stressful time for a new business owner, but because you did the steps above including your Marketing Plan, you will know, for certain, the ideal place to set up your first 'shop':
simple landing page
market stalls / trade shows
distributors or wholesalers website
dining room table perhaps?
When setting up your shop, you will also need to make your business legal. Luckily you did the PESTLE so you know what legal obligations you have.
11. Have Fun
When you're having fun, you are effectively managing and improving everyone's emotions. Having fun is proven to be an excellent way of building customer relationships and increasing employee retention. There's no reason why you shouldn't be having fun when you're setting up your business for success. Having fun reduces stress and it also improves creativity.
The ability to generate profit is crucial to the survival of your new business. It is about more than just making money — it's also about the ability to invest in and grow your business in the future.
For your business to succeed, you need to know that the steps you're taking will increase your probability of success. Of course, having a great product is key — and as you know, a great product can't make up for lack of planning or a bad strategy.
Wishing you so much success and plenty of fun as you go about setting up your new business. Your experiment will work ... if you follow the steps in this blog.
Exciting times ahead for you.