"If only I had known." That phrase is not the one you want to be uttering shortly after embarking on a new business venture.
Ideally, beginning your own business should be a time of excitement and joy. The way to keep the joy flowing long-term is to start off on the right entrepreneurial foot from the very beginning. Here, then, is a short list of things you should know before you become an entrepreneur.
1) Consider Research as Your Best Friend
Long before you hang that "Open for Business" sign, you need to be seriously involved in the right research. Ian Wright, founder of British Business Energy, notes:
"One of the most important things to do before starting a business is to research the competitive landscape. Just because you have a brilliant idea does not mean other people haven't also had the same idea. If you can't offer something better and/or cheaper than your competitors, you might want to re-think starting a business in that area."
Good market research enables you to fully visualize the marketplace, identify the true need for your product or service, and identify your target audience. Armed with this information, you can make smart decisions about development of your product, marketing plans, and pricing strategies.
2) Tap into the Right Professional Expertise
Once you have established that you have something truly unique to offer as an entrepreneur, it is time to put the expertise of others to good use. Talk with your accountant and lawyer about how to set up your business, check with local tax authorities to see what licenses will be required, and so on. A small investment in professional consultation in the beginning phase of your business helps to ensure that you avoid preventable headaches down the road.
3) Strategize to Cover Your Bases
What will it take to get your business off the ground? Will you be going solo, or will your business require additional employees to be truly viable? At a minimum, you should have the skillset and a plan in place to perform all the necessary functions to bring your product or service to life.
If that includes potentially hiring employees, you will need to embrace the fact that managing other people will be a substantial part of your job as a business owner. Additionally, you should have an idea about how to scale as needed as your business grows.
4) Craft a Solid Business Plan
While your natural bent of mind as an entrepreneur may be to brainstorm great ideas all day, you may need to harness that enthusiasm a bit and channel it toward making a realistic business plan. Exuberance is great. Foolhardiness is not.
Taking time to develop a strong business plan puts you through the mental paces, so to speak. Your business plan is the roadmap for getting your wonderful idea to its ultimate destination, a successful business venture.
At a minimum, your business plan should include:
- An engaging executive summary
- A detailed description of your business
- An outline of market strategies
- A competitive analysis
- A design and development plan
- An operations and management plan
- Financial information
5) Explore Your Business Funding Options
For many budding entrepreneurs, the most difficult part of trying to start a business is the challenge of finding the right small business financing to get started. Many traditional lenders have slashed their business lending departments greatly, making it difficult for a new business owner to obtain funding.
The good news is that there are more lending options available than you might think. Sometimes, all that is needed is a little bit of "out-of-the-box" thinking. In addition to traditional lending solutions like bank loans secured by a personal guarantee, you might want to consider other options such as funding your business with your 401(k) or IRA savings.
Your unique circumstances dictate which funding options are more desirable. Benetrends Financial helps new business owners find the funding they need every day. If you are looking for funding for your business, take a moment now to use our free funding tool to explore all your funding options.