Every great business starts with an idea. That idea is nurtured, hammered, and perfected before it is brought to life, and even once that business is launched it is refined through an ongoing process.
Businesses must be fluid in order to develop and evolve. A great foundation can make all the difference to how well your business launches, and also how flexible it can be when necessary.
Having an idea is just the start. You will then need to workshop it, develop it, and then take steps to truly bring it to life.
What You Need to Start a Business
There are a few key factors that you will need in order to successfully start a new business.
1. A Great Idea
To begin with, you need a great idea. This great idea does not have to be unique. If there is a new market you can carve out a little piece of it for yourself and make a name for yourself that way.
You will want to know who your competitors are and how you can market or even conduct yourself slightly differently than them in order to win over the audience base.
2. A Plan of Action
You don’t need to have certain skills, experience, or even a product to start a business, but you do need a great idea and a realistic plan of action. A great place to get started is with a business plan. Business plans require a lot of research and brainstorming to create, even though they should only be one or max two pages long.
The good news about a solid business plan is that it will help keep you focused as you set up your company and can also help you secure more funding. A completed business plan showcases a fully formed idea and strategy that can convince friends, family, and outside investors to help support you while you bring your business to life.
3. The Right Partners
Businesses cannot thrive on their own. They need many different people and different skills to get off the ground running. While you can do a lot of the work yourself there is no need to do it all. You don’t even need to hire a team in-house. Instead, you will need to outsource.
If you have a great idea for a web application, for example, you don’t need to even be able to develop it yourself. Thinking about outsourcing web development to agencies like Scrumlaunch is a common practice and can help turn a great platform idea into reality.
You can have a team architect and then build scalable software applications, handle your UI/UX design needs, and bring your business idea to life.
Funding can be difficult, especially if you don’t have a winning portfolio of previous projects to work with. The good news is that there are multiple avenues for funding to consider and draw from:
i). Personal Savings
Personal savings are an easy, no-strings-attached financing option. While you will never want to use all of your personal savings to bring your business to life it can help support you, especially during your first year.
ii). Friends and Family
Personal or peer-to-peer lenders are another great way to gain the funding that your business needs. Some may want to be paid back for their loan, others may gift you some funding, and some still may want in on your business idea.
iii). Angel Investors or Venture Capitalists
Angel investors and venture capitalists are two sides of the same coin. Angel investors typically use their own money to invest in your business, while venture capitalists invest on the behalf of a capital company. Both typically expect the money back in some agreement. Usually, this will be in the form of dividends.
iv). Bank Loan
When in doubt go to the bank. Getting a loan from the bank can be an excellent idea to cover a few of your upstart costs.
v). Small Business Association
Going to the SBA for a loan is another excellent idea for small and startup businesses. It is highly competitive, so while you should absolutely apply for the support you shouldn’t rely solely on this option.
Crowdfunding platforms mean that you can create a business or product pitch and have everyday people support your efforts. They may pay for preorders or they might simply donate to help support you.
A few dollars here and there from a large number of people can make a huge difference.
You may be able to apply for a grant if your business applies. There are art grants, for example, that can help you bring your project to life so that you can then enrich the lives of those in your hometown culturally.
These also tend to be very competitive, and the requirements can be strict, but if your business can apply there is no harm in putting in your bid.
How to Market Your Business
While you set up the behind-the-scenes components of your business you will want to start marketing. This applies even if you are not yet done with development.
Bring your audience through the development process (do keep in mind you will want to create a patent or work to otherwise protect your IP).
1. Market Using Your Behind-the-Scene Content
You can get started with marketing both with the concept that is driving your business and also behind the scenes content. You can do this on social media, on search engines, and more.
For social media highlighting, behind-the-scenes content and updates are a great way to keep people informed. When it comes to paid advertising focusing on the concept of your business is a better option.
You should aim for soft sales first and foremost. Instead of selling you will want to build up your email newsletter list and work on getting people to follow your business. Done right you can have a very engaged audience before you launch.
2. Get Great News Coverage for Your Business
You want your business covered as much as possible. You can do this by sending out press releases, or you can write out guest posts of your own.
Public relations is one of the best ways to go about building up your name while simultaneously improving your SE ranking right out of the gate. The good news is that news agencies can and will likely cover your business before you launch, so long as the story, product, or service that you provide is interesting enough.
3. Presales and Bookings
Selling tickets, services, or products in advance can be an excellent way to launch with a bang. You do need to be careful, however. You will need to place the money you earn from presales in an account that you cannot touch until your customer gets their product or attends the event in question.
Your business could still technically fail, and if you cannot refund the money that your customers paid you for a specific product or service down the line then you could be in legal trouble.
You can get presales and bookings by advertising them. Many events sell out before the event begins, many products are ordered in advance so that customers can get their hands on the item on day one. Not only can presales and bookings help you launch well, but they can also immediately help you build up your name and reputation.
Final Tips to Help You Bring Your Business to Life
Every business is unique, which is why to really bring it to life and give it the chance at success it deserves you will also want to invest in these final tips:
1. Automate Where You Can
Automation is incredibly easy and even small, new businesses can get it up and running. To get automation working for your business you are going to need to ensure that the programs you are using to run your business can talk to one another. Your entire system should know that action, like a sale, has occurred.
There are many great tools out there. You will want to investigate to find the best ones for your business, business type, and industry. Some might be very popular, fan-favourites. Others might be incredibly niche options.
2. Ensure Your Business is Legally Up to Code
It can be difficult to navigate the latest laws and regulations. You need to ensure that your business is set up and running smoothly without any issues.
A good way to do this is to hire a business consultant that specializes in your industry or niche. This way you know not only the bare minimum but also how to maximize your business operations for the greatest chance at success.
3. Have a Plan for Growth
Every business needs to grow, so have a plan in place. A few new service offerings that you can add once you get your business up and running, or a new product line.
Keeping things fresh is a great way to bring customers back, and having a plan in place can help you prepare and keep to a healthy schedule.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.