Are you ready to start a fresh, new business? You may be just at the idea phase, thinking about what to do next. Maybe you’re down the road a bit but not quite ready to launch. You might have your brilliant idea set to go but are stuck for finance. Here are a few tried and true tips to help your start-up business no matter what stage you’re at.
Find the business concept that is the right fit
It’s important when starting a new business enterprise that you stick to what you love, what you enjoy and are passionate about. Your business ‘why’ should be at the core of what you do. However, a successful business requires more than just passion.
Do you have what it takes?
You’ll want to consider what you love doing, take into account your personality type and how you work, the skills and abilities you already have. It’s also important to know what makes you tick, what motivates you, whether you buckle under pressure and if you can handle the many obstacles that are a day-to-day part of every business.
Consider all the practicalities
Now you’ve determined that your heart is in it and you have the skills and talents to make it work, it’s time for a reality check. Are you prepared for some hard work?
You’ll need to create a strategy and obtain (or manage) your start-up finance. You may need to lease and fit-out premises, source your products, plan your marketing and perhaps hire staff. Then there are a hundred routine tasks like payroll, sorting out your taxes and paying your bills (and yourself.) It takes a lot of effort, determination and sheer stamina just to get started.
Do your research – thoroughly
You’re still in this? Great! Now it’s time to do some research. It’s vital that you know whether your business idea is marketable and will convert to sales.
Many businesses fail simply because they skipped this important step, or fluffed over it. They are so passionate about their concept they don’t bother to see if the market actually wants it! Research is critical to test the feasibility of your business idea, especially in today’s crowded market, where you need a solid point of difference to help your business stand out.
Here are three tips for getting your market research right
- Define your market – find out as much as you can about your customers. Who are they, where do they live, how do they think, what do they like, what challenges do they face and what solutions can you offer? Once you have a profile on your ideal customers you can create strategies to attract them to your business.
- Research your competition – put on your investigator hat to learn about your competitor. Who are they, what do they do, what are their strengths and weaknesses and how do they price their products and services? From there you can establish your point of difference which will be your key marketing tool.
- Plan it all out – next look at your own business. Do a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Identify the gaps in the marketplace. Clearly define the reason you’re in business – your ‘why’ and fine-tune your market position or unique selling point.
You should now be able to clearly state why you’re in business, what you do differently and how you intend to stand out and attract customers.
Stay true to your core values and beliefs
When times get tough – and they invariably will – it’s tempting to stray into areas that promise a quick return or the slice of a new market segment. That’s fine, as long as it lines up with your core values. Only you know whether you are being authentic but your customers will quickly see through a business that has strayed and is out to grab a fast buck. Remain consistent and congruent across every aspect of your business.
Have a strategic business plan in place
You need to know where you’re going and have an idea of how to get there. If you’re planning a camping trip you’re not going to back the car up to the garage, throw in whatever fits, drive off and hope for the best!
A business plan becomes your business blueprint. It’s not something you create once and never look at again. A business plan should be something you review and adjust along the way. It’s worth spending the time to map out your journey to business success.
Your strategic business plan should include:
- Cover page with contact details
- Executive summary – describing your business and the problem it solves;
- Company overview
- Industry analysis
- Customer analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Marketing plan
- Operations plan
- Management section outlining the key company personnel and positions
- Financial plan
- Appendix including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
Seek alternative sources of finance
Unless you have a bit of cash behind you when you start your business venture you’ll need to look at finance options. These can include business loans, overdrafts, lines of credit or fully-drawn cash advances. All these options come with the added pressure of high-interest rates and inflexible terms and conditions.
You can also seek out private investors such as venture capitalists but you’ll need to have a cracking business idea and guaranteed return before they’ll even look at you. Similarly, there’s crowdfunding where funds come from hundreds or thousands of micro-investors. You won’t have to pay the money back, but it’s become a fine art to actually get your new idea seen, let alone funded.
Bartercard offers easy finance which is ideally suited to start-ups. Bartercard members have access to an advance on trade dollar sales. This can cover many of your start-up expenses and free up your cash.
Learn from the experts
Seek out a mentor – someone who has been where you want to go in business. It may cost you a fancy lunch once a month, but the investment will prove invaluable. You may also book the services of a coach – just make sure it’s someone who has solid, relevant, up-to-date business experience.
You can also source a wealth of business tips and ideas online. Find the blogs, podcasts and newsletters of business people you admire. You will learn as much from their failures as you will from their successes… and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Let Bartercard help build your business
Bartercard is the world’s largest cashless business networking platform designed specifically to expand your business and your profits. As a member, you use trade dollars to keep more cash in your business. You also have access to an online marketplace of national and international customers looking for your product or service.
Let Bartercard help your business grow! To find out more, contact us today.