All businesses start as someone's dream. For me, it's really not about the money, it is about taking control of my life to fulfill my dream.
And with more and more people starting their own businesses each year and with the amazing technological advances offering unprecedented access to information, talent, materials, and products, there has never been a better time to start your own business. At the same time, there has also never been more competition.
Starting a business and being your own boss can be as challenging as it is rewarding. There are so many things that you will have to think about - from financing the initial setup costs to marketing strategies and everything in between. So equip yourself with as much knowledge as possible on the challenges you may face and the options available before you start.
So let me share with you what are the 9 things that you should remember before you start your business:
I. Develop Your Idea
Now you have that idea and that inkling to start a business. Let's get something straight first, business is definitely hard work - well, at least for the first few years until it flies off. Imagine from being an employee with one role, business owners often take on multiple responsibilities. From producing a product or performing a service to carrying out all the admin work and as well as going out and selling your idea. So although you may no longer have a boss to answer to, which sounds very enticing to a lot of people... your working hours may be much longer compared to before.
So at this point it's important to really let your idea develop and consider your options well.
There's really no right or wrong here but it's good to be prepared and to know yourself better as well.
II. Self-Assess First
"Why you?" - Why does this specific business have to be started by you?
Answering this question is a great place to start in assessing yourself. Being your own boss requires a wide range of abilities. And a lot of these you'll definitely need at the start.
Take time to identify the transferable talents that you now have plus the other skills that you would like to develop that would be useful for the business.
And then scrutinize yourself and look for areas of weakness. And think of ways you can overcome them.
Understanding yourself better will definitely help you in serving the people you want to help.
III. Gap In The Market
It goes without saying that in order for your business to succeed there must be a market for it. There must be a group of people willing to pay for what you plan to offer.
A gap in the market is simply a need that is not currently met. This is either the product or service for this doesn't exist yet or the existing ones fail to meet this need.
To find that gap, do your research in the market that you are planning to enter. Look for products and services that are not currently available, which you could offer. You can also look at the existing products and services, and see if you can provide something better.
When you find that gap, take time to consider why they exist. It is also possible that there's the gap because there's not enough demand to justify filling it. Research thoroughly first before committing to anything.
But when you find a gap, it's time to differentiate yourself to stand out.
IV. Stand Out
Unless you're super lucky and found a gap in the market that no one has thought of yet... in most other cases, there will be others who have seen it too.
So in a market with competitors, your business needs to stand out in order to attract clients. What is your unique selling proposition or USP.
Having this USP will give you a competitive advantage. You can create this USP by offering a product or service that's unique or new, or you can offer higher quality and superior customer service, or maybe offer something that the other competitors cannot like guarantees.
Whatever it is, it's definitely important to understand your ideal client and their needs to build this competitive advantage.
V. Ideal Client
Different people will have different needs and interests. Understanding who your ideal clients are enables you to develop the best products and services to meet their needs. It will also help you promote your business using the most effective means.
Study their habits and interests. Know what ticks them.
You can do these by studying your competitors by checking their social media pages for insights. You can also read trade or industry blogs. Or one important thing that you can do as well, is list things that your ideal clients are not. That way, you avoid wasting time on marketing to the wrong people.
VI. Define Goals And Purpose
"What do you want?" This is one of the most important questions that I ask to my clients. And another question that I ask is "For what purpose do you want this?"
I can't emphasize enough on the importance of goals and purpose. This will give you a clearer direction, focus your ideas more clearly, and allow you to start making specific plans.
For example, you may want to open a restaurant, but why? It may be because you want to offer some new exciting food that you tasted in a different country and you want to let other people experience the same thing without the need to travel.
Share your goals and purpose to other people involved in your business right from the start. Share them to you clients, staff, and investors by encapsulating it in a clear and understandable "mission statement".
VII. What's Your Model
One thing that I love in starting your own business, is that you have so many options. Specifically on how you want to set it up and the type of business you want to run.
First, you can choose to run it by yourself as a sole proprietor or you can partner with other people and setup a partnership or corporation.
You can start a completely new business or you can buy a franchise. You can also do it part-time as a freelancer or you can go full on as a solopreneur.
There's also these models: retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, distribution, wholesale, direct sales, licensing, subscription, agency, and many more.
There are also other types of businesses depending on your intentions. Maybe the gap that you are looking to fill in is pursue a social or charitable cause. Then you can choose to start a charitable organization. There are also cooperatives and social enterprises.
And that's just a few of the options that I know. Take time to think of what will be good for your business. And once you've chosen a model, then it's time to strategize.
VIII. Strategy, Strategy, Strategy
Once you are clear with your goals and purpose, and you've chosen your business model. Then it's time to zoom out and plan a well thought out strategy.
There's a lot to consider when you plan your strategy, this includes looking at all your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This is called a SWOT analysis.
Your strategy must also include how you plan to compete. Being clear on how you approach this is essential. You can compete in these areas: price, value, uniqueness, quality, and customer service. You can compete in one area or a combination of these areas. Deciding the best way to compete is key to the success of your business.
Remember when you develop your strategy that it also needs to be grounded in reality. It must be realistic enough so that you can execute it in the timeframe that you want, at the same time fulfilling the needs of your clients.
IX. Get A Mentor Or Even Better - A Coach
I believe that you have everything that you need in order to achieve what you want in life. With that said, if you want to go further, faster, and bigger at a shorter period of time - you still need support from others.
Support from other people who has done it before and succeeded, like a mentor. Or support from someone who can help you uncover and find the perfect answers for you, like a coach.
Left in our own devices, our biggest competitor and critic is ourselves. And by having someone who can help us spot these and call it out is definitely very helpful.
Someone who can help us break our own limiting beliefs so that we can reach for more and achieve more. That's where a coach can help you the most.
That's nine things to remember before you start your business. And if you do follow these, you will definitely have a much better start compared to 90% of people out there.
- This, for sure, not a comprehensive list. There's a lot of other things to consider and take note of in business. But you don't need all of those, you will learn them as you go. And I always say this and encourage my coaching clients, "It's okay to reach 70-80% in your plans and execute than trying to make it always perfect."