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If you’ve been overcome with the urge to start your own business recently, you’re not the only one. The Great Resignation saw 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August 2021 alongside a boom in small business filings — suggesting people quit to start their own ventures. Approximately 5 million new businesses were launched from January to November of last year; a massive 55% more than the same period two years earlier.
With it being National Small Business Week, we thought it a good time as ever to encourage anyone with a dream of starting their own business to go for it. But before you do, there are a few all-important questions you need to ask yourself.
1. Am I Sure I Want To Do This?
Owning and running a business isn’t for everyone. Sure, you get to be the boss, but you’re often also every other employee too — including the accountant, maybe even the cleaner, and definitely the person everyone complains to. However, if you love your idea, have the passion and drive, and are happy to put in the work to make your company succeed, then starting a business might just be for you.
2. What Is My Business?
You need to know your business idea inside and out before bringing it to fruition. Do you know the answers to these questions?
1. What are you selling?
2. Why are you selling it?
3. Why should people give you money for it?
Beyond that, how are you selling it? Is it a one-off purchase or will it have versions, upgrades, and new releases? Is it a monthly or yearly subscription service? How are you planning to keep your customers coming back?
3. What Makes My Business Different?
Unless you have an idea that has never been done before (go you!), you likely have a product that is similar to someone else’s. So, why should customers choose yours over the competition? In other words: What makes you stand out from the rest?
If you don’t have a “wow-factor” yet, you have to find it. In addition, you should know who your competition is because, quite frankly, you need to be more innovative than them.
4. Who Is My Audience?
Unfortunately, you’re not Coca-Cola, so it’s highly unlikely you will appeal to the global masses. So, you will need to find your audience, whether it’s Gen Z or Boomers. Knowing who your audience is will make it easier to know who to market to — and on what platforms — which means less wasted time, money, and energy marketing to the wrong crowd.
5. How Will I Fund the Company?
Money is a very important issue. Even online companies with minimal startup fees will need at least some money to get started — i.e. website running costs, or company setup fees.
How are you planning on funding your company’s setup? Personal savings, bank loan, or will you turn to investors? Look thoroughly into the pros and cons of each option before deciding which works best for your specific business.
6. What About Marketing?
Marketing is a huge part of business nowadays and, just like having a website, it’s a given that anyone with a new company will also have some kind of a marketing plan. Press coverage, social media, email marketing, and your website and blog will all need to be tended to and regularly updated.
Will you be doing the marketing yourself or will you bring in the pros? Unless you really know what you’re doing on the social media front, bring in the pros. Social media has become an art form in itself and an amateur post can be spotted a mile off.
7. What Will My Launch Look Like?
Many small businesses, especially those online without a physical store, choose to “soft launch” — which means beginning with an online presence and slowly starting to introduce the product. This leaves a little more room for delays and setbacks.
Others, however, prefer to launch with a bang and have a grand opening event. This is referred to as a “hard launch” and, while it can be glamorous and draw a lot of attention, it does mean that you have to be on your A-game and ready for showtime by the launch date.
8. Do I Have a Thorough Business Plan?
There are only two satisfactory answers to this question: One is “Yes”, and the other is “Not yet, but I’m working on it.”
An in-depth business plan is the very first step toward creating a successful company and will include everything from your initial idea and what you will name your company to where you will incorporate it, your product goals, where you fit in the market, growth and financial targets, insurance, funding logistics, business management, website layout and function, marketing strategy, risk assessment, supply chain management, and market studies with research on similar businesses.
Image Credit: Cameron Prins / Shutterstock.com