Starting a new venture is scary and with so many uncertainties there is always a lot of risk and possibilities for things to go wrong. Here are some tips to help you start off strong, which are intended as a checklist or guide to indicate what areas you need to work on more.
1- Fill a gap in the market
Too often business ventures fail because entrepreneurs commit to an idea of what they want to sell as opposed to considering the specific situation in which they operate. For example, selling hand-made luxury pet costumes might be really interesting to you but is probably going to be difficult to foster demand year round. Instead, it might be better to open a pet supply shop. Consider your options and offer what people will actually want to spend their hard-earned money on- not just what you want to sell.
2- Always keep costs low
When you are starting, money is everything- it’s what keeps your business alive. So after going through the painful process of securing loans or other funding, don’t pay more than you have to. This means buying pre-owned, gently used furniture for your office or work area and paying vendors upfront to get better prices on supplies. Whichever ways your business is going to cost you money, invest your time to research prices. Ensure you are getting the best deals and not spending more money than you can afford to pay.
3- Overestimate costs and underestimate revenues
Smart financial planning can make or break your business. In a majority of cases unexpected costs will arise during the start of a new business venture and revenues often take a longer time to manifest than expected. Therefore, brace yourself for these situations by overestimating how much money will be flowing out of the business and underestimating the amount coming in. If things are better than expected, that’s great; but if they aren’t, you’ll be prepared for it and be able to cope and respond accordingly.
4- Focus on sales
Even the best business offering in the world will be unsuccessful if no one knows about it. Realistically, your business only starts once the first sale is made. Therefore you need to make sure that you:
-make the right audience aware of your business
-can generate leads
-are able to process sales professionally
-turn customers into repeat customers
These are very important to keeping your business going in the short and long term so invest a healthy amount of resources into perfecting them.
5- Learn from your competitors
If your business idea mirrors that of an existing one, study all possible competitors. You are at an advantage here because you are able to learn from their mistakes and analyze what has lead to their success thus far. Find out everything you can, analyze it, and then build upon your knowledge to build your business successfully.
6- Keep detailed records
In the beginning, even small changes will dramatically impact your business. But for changes to be strategically valuable, they need to be based on data that are relevant to your business. Recording relevant metrics and their changes over time will give you valuable insights into what needs to be changed or readjusted. Such information will also indicate which changes have been effective and which have been a waste of money. Recording this information from the start can give you an advantage in maintaining success in the long term.
7- Never stop investing in learning
It is critical that you invest in continuously learning everything you need to know for your proposed business venture, from marketing and sales, to accounting and customer service. It will be a time-consuming effort and can be overwhelming at times but it will help you make the right decisions for you business – nowadays, very few businesses become successful based on guesswork. This can also help you decide which areas you are weakest in and therefore help you decide where it is worth hiring someone to help you.
8- Don’t discount, add value instead
Discounting your products takes money directly out of your own pocket. Instead, develop the services associated with your offering that you can provide at no extra cost. Your business will pocket the same amount but will likely gain favourable word-of-mouth which can do wonders for a new business – it’s a win-win!
Hopefully this will help you get started in your successful business venture or give you an idea of areas to improve upon or invest more time and money into. Good luck!