Starting and running a business can be quite challenging- it is not for the fainthearted. For most of us, starting a business is often the first step on the path to personal and professional fulfillment, after all, nothing ventured, nothing gained- right?
It is for this reason we have compiled 7 surefire tips to help bring your dream business to reality.
- Interrogate your Idea
A lot of literature has been written on the power of ideas. Even though ideas rule the world, let’s face it, not all ideas are viable or financially profitable. Naturally, the starting point for all businesses is that your idea must create value and meet an existing need. If no one needs your services, you might find yourself out of business before you even begin.
Once you have clarified that question in your mind, you’ll need to ask the following questions:
What am I selling?
Who will I be selling to?
Where will I sell my product/services?
When will my services or products be sold, and
How do I make profitable returns on my investment?
If you answer these questions honestly, you would have found your business idea.
- Draw up a business plan:
Many people get scared when they hear the words ‘business plan’. In reality, a business plan is just a layout of how you intend to operate your business. You don’t need any special format or template. Think of it as a roadmap; a business plan tells you where you are, where you’re going and how to get there. Your business plan should describe some key points including:
Legal: what sort of business registration you need, how you intend to structure your business, special requirements by the law.
Financials including the cost of starting up, operating cost, your estimated profit over a period of time and so on.
Operations including a list of potential competitors, description of you competitive advantage, marketing and public relations plans, strategic partnerships with other businesses, use of information technology and so on
If you intend to get sponsors or investors, you will need to prepare a more formal document that can be presented to potential investors.
- Think global
Whether you like it or not, the world is now a global village. Take advantage of the internet and expand the scope of your business. Study competitors in other countries, look for partners outside your geographic location. Look for markets that will need your products or services. This may require that you develop an online presence on social and business networking sites. Think of ways to utilize social media to market your product or service.
- Choose a business name:
Once you have clarified your business idea, you should pick out a name for your company. A good brand name is an asset that resonates with your target market. For example, the Coca Cola brand is worth billions of dollars, other brands like Toyota, Samsung, Dangote and so on, have unique characteristics. They are easy to remember and evoke some emotions in us. Some industries also have certain customs and rules regarding the names of businesses and companies.
- Contact a lawyer
Your Lawyer is your best friend. Talk to a lawyer about your concerns. Legal practitioners are trained to know what special requirements are needed for businesses in different areas. Another important reason to contact your lawyer is for the protection of your business name. This point cannot be overemphasized. Some words require special approval from government, or the name you may have thought up may already be in use by another person. Your lawyer will also advise you on the ideal business model to adopt and the legal implications of some agreements such as franchise and partnership agreements.
- Develop a marketing plan
Operating without a marketing plan is like smiling in the dark. You might not be seen. Take advantage of social media, blogs and internet forums to market yourself to your target audience. You should also plan to save some income for adverts in the papers or on TV and radio. Marketing and Advertising are the lifeblood of any business, take your business directly to your market.
- Learn from others
There is no reason why you should repeat the mistakes of others who have gone before. Identify leaders in your industry and find out how they started. Invest in books and read biographies online. The lessons you will learn will save you valuable time, money and effort as you chart your way to financial freedom.
These tips are neither conclusive nor exhaustive, in fact, you may find yourself skipping or repeating one step or the other; don’t be too hard on yourself, success is a journey, enjoy the ride.