Starting and building a business is both exciting and demanding but, armed with a clear plan and a level-headed approach, your endeavors stand a far better chance of being successful than if you jump in without thinking hard first.
There’s a lot to consider even if you’re crystal clear about what business you’re going into, what specific service or product you’ll be providing, and who for.
Factors such as what systems you’ll use to streamline regular business tasks and maximize your time such as accounting packages to take care of tax admin, what marketing methods to use, where to ‘set up shop’ etc need careful thought.
Here are some pointers to help build your successful business:
1. A clear vision
Of course things can change in business but a clear vision of what you’re offering, to whom, and how you’ll reach them is pivotal.
2. Desire and dedication
A desire to help your customer solve their problem will help keep you strong and motivated when you occasionally hit road blocks.
It’s not necessarily saying you must ‘do what you love’ but a desire to help will stand you in good stead.
3. An understanding of finances
Knowing how your business is doing at all times is important, so ensure you understand accounting basics such as profit and loss statements and especially cash flow.
Commit to spending time reviewing ‘how things are’ financially on a regular basis.
4. Keep accurate records
Partly linked to ‘understanding finances’ above, accurate record keeping is important so as to avoid wasted time searching for information or – even worse – not recording it in the first place.
Decide on what systems you’ll use to facilitate this such as good accounting software, filing systems and so on.
5. Realistic planning
The old maxim ‘it’ll cost twice as much and take twice as long as you think’ can prove very true much of the time.
When planning be realistic about the time and money it’ll take.
Draw up a coherent business plan if you haven’t done so; it’ll act as your road map and is a key document if you’ll be seeking commercial funding or investors.
6. Budget carefully
Always ensure expense and investment is pushing you towards your business objectives and not just a drain on resources.
For example, do you need fancy premises when a basic office or even working from home initially will do? Is the expensive color brochure the best use of marketing resources?
7. Build a financial cushion
It may be hard at first before revenue kicks in properly, but having a financial cushion can help provide against an unexpected expense or disaster and help keep things going if income drops for some reason.
As with ‘budgeting’ above, run your business as lean as possible to avoid wastage.
8. Don’t spread yourself too thin
It’s tempting sometimes to try and offer as many products or services as possible in the hope of maximizing sales, but doing so can make life difficult at least initially as you try and spread yourself too thinly.
Focusing on one or at most a few lines is ideal; later these can be developed and other products or services added as you look to scale.
9. Focused marketing
Similar to the above, don’t try too many different marketing methods at first. Build a strategy based on a handful of methods that are most appropriate for your business type, and put more focused efforts into these rather than trying to cover too many.
10. Monitor customer feedback and research
More developed ways to gather and process data and communicate with your customers and market mean it’s easier than ever (though it still takes work) to gain valuable intelligence and feedback to enhance your service and point the way for development.
You don’t have to guess what your market wants; it’ll tell you and you can simply serve the need based on facts.
Once you have a clear vision, know what your market needs, and you’re confident you can supply it at a profit, then you have the basic ingredients for business success.
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