A Guest Post Article by Patrick Foster: EcommerceTips.org.
5 Key Things to Consider Before Launching Your Own Business
It’s not uncommon to dream of starting of your own business. The prospect of being your own boss and building a business from the ground up naturally holds a lot of appeal to aspiring entrepreneurs.
But starting a business is no walk in the park. There are several things you should consider before you decide to send that resignation letter to your boss. Here are the five key things you need to consider before starting your own business.
Where will you get the cash?
You need money to launch your business. You might only require a small amount, or you might need a lot — it will depend on what exactly you have in mind.
If you are planning to launch and run a business from your home, your initial expenses might be limited to a computer and a website.
When it comes to the technical aspects of your business such as building a website and SEO, you might need to lean on an expert. And for everything else, the internet provides plenty of excellent resources to help you set up a business on a shoestring.
But even so, you will need some cash. At the very least, you’ll need to feed yourself (and maybe your family) while you are building towards your first sale. To cover your costs, you might need to dip into your savings, take a personal loan, get assistance from friends or family, or even find flexible temporary work.
However you go about it, make sure to plan carefully for your startup costs. Calculate not just how much money you’ll need. But how you can secure it too.
Who is your competition?
Before you invest your life savings in your business and quit your job, it’s important to find out whether your business is viable. One of the essential components to this discovery process is competitor research.
Even if you’re convinced that your idea is wholly original and unprecedented, you’ll have competitors in your general industry — food sellers compete with food sellers, even when they have totally different menus.
Commit a good amount of time and effort to researching your competition thoroughly. If you’re looking to enter a crowded market, you might need to spend months on research before finding a workable business model.
Will you try to compete on price, offering a cheaper product or service than your rivals? Will customer service be your unique selling point? What can you to stand out and carve a niche in your industry?
Know your competition, and you’ll know how to run your business.
Who is your target consumer?
You can’t effectively run a business if you don’t know your target consumer. This is why it’s essential that you identify your target consumer, figuring out what will appeal to them and how you can convince them to buy.
Start by creating a buyer persona, a highly-detailed description of your ideal customer. Go into as much detail as you can, which means going beyond basic descriptions such as “male, mid-forties, high earner.”
Work out what they do, how they travel, and what they want from life. Spend a lot of time learning about their specific needs and how exactly you can meet them. To do this, you can:
- Research social media activity.
- Participate in forum discussions.
- Make contact with them and ask them directly.
This is a long process, but an invaluable one. Once you know all about your target audience, you’ll have a much stronger idea of how well your business could work.
How will you get your first customers?
Once you know your target audience and how you will differ from your competition, you’ll need to decide how you will find your first customers.
You can’t make a sale without them, but getting them (particularly when you have no established presence) is not easy. That’s why you need to devise a marketing strategy.
There are so many ways to market a business, both online and offline, that we cannot go into too many details here. One of your primary tasks before launching will be to review and choose from all the options, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Setting up a social media presence.
- Creating a blog.
- Running social media ads.
- Launching an AdWords campaign.
- Guest posting on popular blogs.
- Building backlinks for SEO.
There are a lot of solid choices, so you don’t need to pick just one and stick to it. In fact, the best thing you can do is choose a few methods and experiment with them.
If something doesn’t seem to be delivering any value, drop it. If something is starting to work, focus on it. It’s really a matter of learning, adapting, and improving.
How will you handle growth?
You may not need to go into the details of this before you start your business — it’s something you can easily put off until you reach the point of major growth — but it’s worth considering now so you’ll be prepared for that situation.
Even the most dedicated and efficient one-person operation needs assistance of some kind, and thankfully the internet makes it fairly easy to get that assistance. You should be ready to make full use of:
- Productivity-boosting automation tools.
- In-house or outsourced staff.
Start by researching automation tools that will help you work smarter and not harder. These could include project management tools like Basecamp and Trello, video conferencing tools, and accounting software suites.
This should also factor into your choice of website technology when you reach the setup phase — WordPress is a solid option for any type of site.
The more elements you can automate, the more time you can save. And just because you’re building a business from scratch doesn’t mean you can’t take shortcuts either.
Rather than setting up your online presence from scratch, why not buy an existing business to repurpose? There are lots of websites for sale online which have automated systems already in place that you can easily strip down and repurpose for your own needs.
Once you’ve created fluid business systems, try to outline all the responsibilities that you expect to have when the business grows to the level you’re hoping for.
If you can recognize at this point that you won’t be able to handle the growth by doing everything yourself, and that you don’t want to try, you’ll need to think about how best to delegate some responsibility. You can do this in the following ways:
- Hire in-house staff: This is relatively expensive, but rewarding in the long term. You can communicate directly with them and easily find common ground. You can also more easily train them up to assume more responsibilities eventually.
- Outsource tasks to remote workers: This is fairly cheap, but the value of a remote worker doesn’t compound over time. If you want to outsource work, make sure you choose the most dry and repetitive tasks that would not benefit from added experience.
However you go about it, the important thing is that you’re prepared to make good use of support, whether through using automation tools or remote workers, to grow your business.
Forewarned is forearmed, and the best businesses start with a solid, considered strategy. While this list is by no means exhaustive, these five key things are still important considerations when you’re launching a business. Take your time with each and you’ll give your business an excellent chance of succeeding.
Patrick Foster has been featured on Forbes, Digital Marketing Magazine and Google’s Startup Grind, among others. Learn more about Ecommerce and Patrick Foster at EcommerceTips.org.