Whether you’re bankrolled by venture capital or starting your own business via savings and credit cards, there are certain steps that will ensure you stay on the path to success. Let’s take a closer look.
Have a good idea
The idea for your business needs to be a real solution to a real problem. There needs to be a clear value for the product or service you will provide. Passion is important, but practical purpose is more important.
Know the market
You need to do some research. How big is the market for your service or product? Who are the key competitors? How deep-pocketed are those competitors? Will the market appeal to investors? What are the barriers to entry into the market?
Create the business plan
Your market research will shape a great deal of your business plan. A comprehensive business plan needs to include the following:
- Mission statement – Express who you are and what your company will do
- The concept – What the business is, what market it serves, and what will be sold to whom.
- Financials – Sales, cash flows, profit, and return on investment
- Financial need – Includes start-up costs for equipment and staff, how capital investments will be used
- Market analysis – The compilation of your market research
- Marketing plan – The channels and plans for each to market your company
- Analysis – A candid assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of your company. This demonstrates a realistic, considered approach to the business realities your company face.
- Revenue projections – Where you expect cash to come in and when
Create the business
In this phase, you take the steps to formally start the business. This step involves researching and selecting a name, determining the corporate structure, registering the business where appropriate, creating bank accounts, creating accounting policies and an employee handbook. You’ll need to figure out a location, determine if you will have a board of directors or advisors, and employee professional legal and accounting help.
If you have the capital to hire employees, you need to determine the most critical roles to fill first. Job descriptions, compensation, and benefits need to be established. If company equity is provided, you need to determine percentages and vesting schedules. Jobs need to be marketed, interviews held, and the right people hired.
You have a name and a plan, now you need something to sell. Do you use employees or contractors? Do you have the pricing set appropriately for the market?
Business success means scaling up. Do you have a plan for expansion to new markets? You need to factor in when new equipment or employees can be added, how your role will change as the company expands and how, if at all, the company’s products or services may change.
Business concepts often begin when an entrepreneur has that gleam in his or her eye and a vision that won’t go away, and the confidence and drive to venture forth to turn that business idea into a reality. It’s an exhilarating time. At each step in the process, asking for help for how to start a business is prudent and strategic.