Congratulations! You’ve decided to start your own business. In today’s modern age more and more people, particularly women, are turning to entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses rather than working for traditional employers. So how do you go about starting to plan your own business? We’ll break it down for you in five easy steps:
Begin with a General Outline
The first step is to come up with a concept for your business. Think about what product or service your business will provide and what problem, or need, will be addressed for your customers. Decide who your target market will be and what competitors you will have. Your outline does not need to be remarkably detailed just yet, but you need to at least have a general idea of what the purpose and goals will be for your business. You can develop a formal business plan later.
Evaluate Your Proposition
Next you’ll need to do some research. Begin by determining if there actually is a market for your product or service. Ask your friends, family and colleagues, but make sure that they will be brutally honest with you. You can also ask potential customers or strangers to give you feedback about your product or service. Social media can be another great way to test the market’s response to your idea. If the response isn’t as positive as you would have liked, go back to your original outline and make changes accordingly. Once you think you have a viable business, it is time to crunch some numbers. Don’t just make up numbers out of thin air; try to be realistic in estimating your costs, selling price and volume of sales. Put together a basic budget, sales forecast, and cash flow forecast. Don’t worry if the numbers aren’t exact. You can always update them later as you gather more information.
Create An Advisory Board
Even if you intend to be the sole employee of your new business, no one expects you to have all the answers, particularly at the beginning. It is a good idea to build up an informal team of advisors who can help coach you through the difficult decisions to come. This could include someone who has a sales background, your former colleague who is a whiz at social media, your accountant and anyone else who has expertise in areas you aren’t familiar with. You could even enlist the help of a mentor, like those in the Behind Closed Doors network. Make sure, though, that you don’t rely too heavily on your advisors. Remember, they are there to offer suggestions and advice and are not actual employees of your business.
Now is the time to start planning for the business itself. It is helpful to start from the end goal and work your way backwards. What is your ultimate goal and what steps are necessary in order to get there? Be as detailed as possible, breaking down complex tasks into smaller action items. Assign a due date to each action and hold yourself accountable for meeting them. Once you get your business up and running, don’t forget to keep a running list of actions to keep you on track towards achieving your business objectives. Make sure that your goals are measurable so that you can track your progress and determine whether or not you have met them.
Review Your Plan Regularly
Include time in your schedule to review your progress at regular intervals. In the early stages, you may wish to check in every week to keep yourself on target, but this can be extended to once a month as soon as you get your business going. Evaluate your progress towards your goals, and determine which of your efforts are working and which aren’t. This is where having measurable goals is critical. If something isn’t working, determine why not and make changes accordingly. Refer back to the original plan you made in the first step. Keep making necessary changes, get focused on your core product or service and you’ll achieve success as an entrepreneur.
At behind closed doors, we understand how challenging starting a business can be. For many, this stage can be extremely daunting and can result in someone giving up on their entrepreneurial ambitions. By following these five steps, you can focus on establishing your business and achieve success. Take some risks, take charge and conquer your challenges.
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