"I've gone in for a lot of get-rich-quick schemes in my life. But this thing could really get me rich...and quick!" - Homer Simpson
You know it when it strikes you, an idea that will take you from your humdrum life into the American Dream - luxury yachts, fats cars, mansions, and financial security. You start telling your friends and family on the hush-hush. Everyone you tell your idea to LOVES IT. You start thinking, "This website is going to be the next Facebook" or "Everyone will want this doohicky" or "I'm going to be a billionaire." After all, being a millionaire isn't as great as it used to be.
So, now what? Product development, securing investors, naming yourself CEO, hiring staff, start making your billions. NOPE! It's time to stop dreaming and start planning. There's a lot of work to be done before your dream is actually a business.
"When you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Benjamin Franklin
Create a Business Plan
A well-thought out business plan greatly enhances your start-ups chances of success. It makes you think about all the different aspects of a thriving healthy business that go beyond having a great product or service. I'll go into a few of these below. It also helps you set reasonable goals which gives you a way to measure your success during the growth stage. Without a plan and goals, it will be hard to determine if your company is on the right track or you need to go back to the drawing board.
Of course, you don't need a 50-100 page business plan right out of the gate. A business plan is never set in stone, it is a malleable document that changes with your business and the world around it. The important part is that you go through the steps needed to create it and you are truthful in your numbers and predictions.
Also, serious investors will want to see a business plan.
Plan a marketing budget
There are many great ideas out there. People have them everyday. Some people even start businesses on those ideas. Some of those businesses will never make it out of the garage, some will exceed their wildest dreams. So, what's the difference? What makes some companies thrive while others just limp along? That's right - marketing. But not just marketing, well-planned and well-executed marketing.
In order for your business to succeed, you need to get your product or service in front of the people who are potential customers or clients. "If you build it, they will come" is not a marketing strategy. You need a marketing plan and a budget to execute that plan.
Of course, marketing done right costs money - logo and brand strategy, website design, social media, email marketing, flyers, brochures, business cards, etc. It all costs money to have it done right, whether that means hiring someone in-house or hiring an agency like CharmLab.
Protect against risk
No matter what business you are in, there will always be risks. You can minimize risk by understanding and preparing for it. First, find an insurance agent you trust. A trusted independent agent will help you find the right coverage for your business. They will also help you identify risks that even you might not be aware of.
Whether you have already launched your start-up or you are still in the early planning stage, these three steps will help you start your small business on solid footing. You will need it because there is no straight line to success when you are starting a smalll business - there will always be peaks and valleys.
While nothing is as important as having a quality product or service, it won't matter if no one knows about it or you lose it all because you didn't have the right insurance coverage.