So Your Starting A Business?
Over the years, one of the most frequently asked questions that I receive from friends and customers alike is, “What are some startup tips on starting a business?” There is no ‘cookie-cutter’ answer to this question, as every business startup will present its own obstacles and challenges, but below are a few key steps that I have found that apply to just about every start-up.
1. Dream– The first step to starting a business is to dream. You need to come up with an idea that somehow delivers utility to the consumer, whoever they may be. A lot of people do this, but don’t make it very far past this point. Ironically this is one of the most critical steps. Make sure you at least come up with concepts of what value you are delivering to the market, and who your market might be.
2. Business Plan-Here, we take that ‘idea’ and develop it into an actionable plan. What is your company’s mission statement? What will success look like? What obstacles might you see, and what are the contingency plans in case you do? You will need to do some research on your target market. Try and set goals/forecasts on profitability. This business plan will be important in a few of the subsequent phases. Logistics is also important here. How are you going to get your good or service to the customer? What costs are associated with that? You won’t think of everything at first, but the more tangible action items, the better.
3. Recruit-Find people who can add value to your dream. Diversity is important, and you need people that can provide valuable criticism to help optimize your plan. Your target market is likely to be pretty diverse as well, so having a diverse work group will provide a good test market. Don’t be afraid to delegate, a lot of people give up on their dream as a result of being overwhelmed. It’s important to delegate efficiently so that no member of the team gets burnt out. Start-ups are a lot of work, but can be incredibly rewarding.
4. Brand Marketing-You need to establish yourself and your identity to the consumer. At this point, you have to be confident that there is a market out there for you, but you and the consumer have to find each other. With over 7 billion people on the planet, we at IKONYC believe that there has to be a group of like-minded consumers out there. People who already see the value in your idea, but simply don’t know where to find it/you. With efficient marketing, we can understand where THESE people are most likely to be found, where they shop, what they read; and once we put your product/service in front of them, the rest is just nature.
5. Register with the IRS-Here you need to decide what legal structure you want your business to have and then register it with the IRS. This action item ensures that you can capitalize on the tax benefits associated with having your own business.
6. Finance-It may take some capital to realize your idea entirely. By now you have done enough legwork to know what sort of demand you have, and what type of capital it will take to meet this demand. The forecasting you did earlier will help here; take that and the actual data you have gathered thus far. How close were your predictions? How much funding will it take to meet demand for the next six months? Year? Based on the data how much risk would be associated with financing this? Do you want to borrow or get investors?
7. Grow/Optimize-Now that you are up and running and have made some mistakes, time to learn from them. How can you operate more efficiently? What costs aren’t contributing to the bottom line? How might you increase your market share? Customer feedback is a great resource, some of your best ideas may come from here, and they are completely free. This step is almost the summation of all the rest. You should constantly be dreaming, organizing, recruiting, branding, etc.