A lot of people have thought about starting a small business at one point or another, but unfortunately most of them aren’t quite sure where to begin. This is especially true for those who have no previous entrepreneurial experience. If you’ve got a great idea, though, and the passion to see it through, then here are some of the most important things to keep in mind.
Do Your Homework
When you start a business, your first priority should be to research the industry, so that you can make every step after that easier. Familiarize yourself with your product, competitors, and potential clients. Make sure that any assumptions you make are valid, that there is a market for your idea, and that you’re truly offering an innovative solution. One good step is to look at established companies in your industry and figure out what they’re doing right.
Build a Plan
Next, you should start creating a business plan. Set long and short term goals, come up with ways to keep track of them, and write out your strategy to accomplish them. Ideally, you should have a goal for what the first three years or so of operation will look like. A business plan helps you to see the whole picture and ensures that you have the direction needed to move forward.
Make Community Connections
You should make an effort to be in touch with your community. Not only will this help create loyal customers who want to help you succeed, it’s also a good way to generate contacts that can help your business grow. Plus, good PR is always a bonus. Get involved with business and commerce groups, non-profits, and other helpful institutions.
Make Corporate Connections
You might be familiar with the importance of networking in the beginning, but it’s very important not to stop. By creating new contacts inside your industry, you can more easily find providers, distributors, and other helpful contacts; by talking with people outside of your industry you can get a fresh perspective and even unexpected clients.
Manage Your Time
Time management is one of the single most important skills that an entrepreneur can learn. Although clichéd, the phrase “time is money” almost always holds true. Figure out how to manage your time efficiently and make your downtime productive. Don’t procrastinate, don’t waste downtime, and don’t let your personal life overtake your business (or vice versa!).
Think About Financing
Don’t rely too much on external financing. Although it can be helpful later on, building a business plan off of it when you’re starting out is a recipe for disaster. Many institutions will not support a new business from day one. Consider what personal resources you have—credit cards, personal savings, small loans, or friends and family who would be willing to lend their support. Create a good track record and then use it to get outside investment later.
Respect Your Clients
Finally, be sure to treat your customers right. Without their support, your business is sure to fail. One major advantage of a small business is that you can give your customer service a personal touch, but it can be difficult to manage their concerns without an effective helpdesk solution. Cloud help desk customer service software like Cayzu is a great way to help ensure that customers come to and stay with your business. With some careful planning, your great idea can get off the ground.