Starting your first small business is an exciting venture into a new world of business and marketing that you haven’t experienced yet. However, there are many factors that you need to keep in mind when you are beginning your business. Below are some key ideas that you should think about and explore before opening your business to customers.
Keep It Simple
If you try to overcomplicate your product or service, you could end up losing customers and profit. Think of the most simple, streamlined way to run your business, and act on that. If your ideal customer won’t be able to understand what your business is selling, they will likely turn away and go elsewhere that will fill their needs. Remember: simplicity sells.
What Is Your Market?
Your market consists of both your target customer base and the overall climate of your industry. Make sure that before you start to really lay out your business plan you do your research into what your current market is going to be like. Although you should be occupying a niche of that market and not mimicking a pre-existing company, you should still know who has similar products and services to you. Paying attention to competitors is key to making yourself stand out from them.
Your Marketing Strategy
Depending on your target audience and what market you are a part of, you should adjust your marketing strategy. If you’re launching a clothing brand that is selling towards teenagers, you’ll probably want to focus more on your marketing material on Instagram posts and stories than if your target audience were older.
You should definitely include a blog on your business’ site, no matter your target demographic. It’s been shown that if you have quality content on your blog, you can increase your traffic by 2,000%. If someone comes to your site to read an article on the current clothing trends, they may end up looking through the clothing you’re selling and purchasing something from you. Make sure that you have different marketing tactics so you aren’t focusing all of your energy on one avenue of marketing and completely missing another one.
Spend Money to Make Money
When you’re starting a business, you will likely need money to get off the ground. However, if you are planning on taking out a loan, you should make sure that you don’t take out any more than is strictly necessary. If it’s possible, try to take out no loans. If your business is not turning much of a profit when you first start out, it can make it very difficult to pay back your loans, which can impact your credit score and your ability to get any type of loan in the future. A large part of your credit score — 35% to be precise — is determined by how timely your bill payments are. If you fall behind on your loans and other bills, you will be hurting your future self, so make sure to only take out a loan if you have no other options.
Have a Strong Business Plan
A business plan can be very helpful in finding investors and ensuring that you have a strong foundation for your business. A business plan lays out your mission, what you need to start your business, your marketing strategy, your financial planning, your budget, and what employees you have or need. You don’t need to make the document extremely detailed, but you should include enough information to make everything clear. This is a place where you can work on keeping your approach simple, and if things begin to get too complicated, you can always refer back to your simple business plan.
The key to keeping your business running smoothly and staying on track is to keep your business materials well organized. This will look different for every person based on how you function best and what kind of business you’re running. If you know that you function best when you schedule out what you’ll be posting on social media, then you should make sure that you take time once a week or once a month to plan out all of the posts that you want to make. You can try out a few different organizational methods, but make sure that the one you choose is the best one for you.
Understand Your Personal Ability
It’s easy to want to put everything you have into starting a new business venture, and it can be easy to put in all of your time and effort into your business, leaving no time for anything else. However, this kind of behavior will not work out long term, and you have to ensure that you are running your business in a way that’s sustainable. Although it’s great to put all the passion you feel about your business directly into action, if you burn yourself out, that passion may go away.
It’s also important to know when you should be asking for help. Try to find a mentor or advisor that you can trust and that can help you make key decisions for your business. In addition, you should be sure to call in other professionals to help you when you need them. For example, if you have no idea when the fiscal year is for the IRS, the odds are that you will need an accountant to help you out (by the way — it’s October 1st to September 30th). You are or will become, an expert at your business, but that doesn’t mean that you will understand the intricacies of legal rulings or how taxes work. That’s why it’s important to hire the people that you need.
When you’re starting a small business, there are many different factors that you need to consider. Although this list touched on a few key things to think through, you should make sure to continue your research. Although you may never feel completely ready to start a business, you can be if you properly consider all of your options and pick the ones that will work for you and your business the best.
What do you wish you’d known before starting your business? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? Let us know in the comments below!