When you order a cup of coffee, the transaction is usually a straightforward one. You order, pay, and wait until your order is ready. Simple! However, a business owner like yourself sees the end result of a process that’s well beyond what the consumer experiences. Lifting the veil behind that simple transaction will reveal the coffee beans, the employee, the cup, and so much more – all of which came from different places and wound up together as a result of a premeditated plan. And this is still only a fraction of the bigger picture.
01. Define your goals and objectives
Before you run with the big dogs, swim with the big fish (or any other positive affirmation that is usually associated with success), you need to start at the ground floor. Your business begins with an idea and that idea needs to evolve before any other actions are taken. The first thing you want to ask yourself is: “what do I want to achieve?” At the end of the day, what is it that will make you feel like you’ve accomplished the small idea you started out with? It’s imperative to define these goals early on and return to them often, as they can help steady your balance if you begin to veer off track.It’s also important to be creative and ambitious, while retaining an overall practical and realistic view. Sound hard? Well, it is. Far too often do small business set lofty, unrealistic goals that result in either a missed projected goal, disappointed investors, or a combination of the two. It’s imperative to look at the bigger picture and realize that some of those unrealistic goals you have, while great, may be better suited to be pushed further down on your timeline. Find reasonable, attainable goals that will solidify a successful launching point.
02. Do your market research
Researching the market you’ll soon find yourself in the middle of is crucial. As serious as it may be, the good thing is you probably have some genuine interest in the market so your process may be more fun and educational. Learn everything you possibly can about the industry without having to physically do it (yet). Take courses, read books, watch or listen to interviews with influencers. Make this a daily priority for yourself. The more you know about your market, the more confident you will become, the more you will be a force to be reckoned with.
Once you know your market, the next major step is to familiarize yourself with something that is almost more important: your customer. At this point, you should already have some idea of what your target market is like, but it’s time to take a deep dive into their world and learn their behaviors in any way you possibly can. From general customer behavior analytics to more specific research of your market, there’s plenty you can learn about the people who will be interacting with your business before you officially launch.
Not to rain on your parade, but unless your business idea is uber-unique, someone, somewhere is probably already doing what you’re doing – or something very similar. The trick is to know your competition and see how they operate. If you’re offering a seemingly identical service in the eyes of your customers, there’s still a good chance that they’ll do business with the older company that already has its footing than your newer one. However, this won’t always be the case and if you’re the new kid on the block, you have a distinct advantage. What’s that you ask? Well, your business can adapt to the existing market landscape out of the gate, offering features and services that may have taken your competition a long time to offer. This may leave you at a neck and neck race, but it will also give you the opportunity to adapt your services into something better, up-to-date, and wholly your business to stand out to your customers.
03. Give your idea a test run
Don’t even think you can take your business into the market without putting the proper testing behind it. A silly bug or simple mistake can be the difference between a stellar and disastrous launch. Your job is to to make the latter possibility almost impossible. Regardless if you’re providing a service or a product, test it with your friends and others you know in order to get a feel for how the experience will be for your customer. Be sure to either record or take extensive notes so you can return to them. Ask for feedback and hear what your friends have to say about what could have made the experience a more pleasant one. Take this data and try to improve what you have to offer.
04. Make sure you have enough money in your pocket
Unless you can spin your dreams into gold, you’re going to need money to fund it. This can, of course, come from other parties interested in your business. You’d be surprised at the wealth of options available to you. For the young entrepreneur, funding for your business can come in the form of a bank, fund, state or national institutions, and more. However, before you waltz into a bank, expecting to walk out with a business credit line, be sure to arrive prepared. Do your research and see what materials are needed in order to apply. Another avenue you might want to consider is an investor, which will front a certain amount of funds to you for something in return from your company. Usually, this comes in the form of taking a percentage of your business’ profit.
05. Create your logo and other branding assets
Your logo will be one of the most memorable parts of your business, so make sure you get it right. Luckily for you, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to create a logo that fits. My brand identity package will let you create one in a snap! Make sure all your other assets are aligned. Your slogan, website color palette, business cards and more should match your brand’s style. Elements like colors and fonts can literally speak more than just words, so make sure that the font you choose stays consistent across your brand’s social channels, website, and other marketing materials.
06. Think long-term
It’s easy to get caught up in the creation of your business (empire). Still, it’s important to think long-term. There’s a famous quote by a musician saying that it’s better to burn out than fade away. When it comes to your business, naturally you want it to thrive, but you should intend on going at it for the long haul and becoming a red dwarf rather than a star who blew up before it’s time. Food for thought: Focus on progressively growing your business without overstretching it (or yourself) instead of trying to get rich quick. In that way, you won’t need to worry about burning out.
07. Grow with your business
Falling in line with the previous section, it’s imperative that you and your business remain flexible in your environment. (What happens to things that don’t bend?) At some point, you may look back at the business plan you created and decide that it’s time to redefine your goals, and this is a great idea. What was once just an idea that has materialized needs reassessment. Once you define a new set of goals, make sure that everything else aligns with them. If your changes are drastic, it could be time for a facelift of your website, logo and other visual branding designs as well as to signify the change throughout.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and make mistakes. If you played it safe this entire time, you were probably dull long before you thought to change. Failing in a well-executed effort isn’t a bad thing if you learned a lesson from it. Several successful entrepreneurs had to fail before they got where they are today. Consider it a part of the ride.
And before I sign off, I look forward to creating so many new blog posts, some video tutorials, free templates, and resources to keep you creative as well!Stay tuned my friends ;)