When was the last time you had a fantastic idea, only to watch somebody else capitalize on it and turn it into a real, live business? We’ve all been there, and it stings.
Now, ask yourself: what kept you from turning that vision into a reality? Were you afraid to branch out on your own? Worried you didn’t have what it would take to be successful? Well, there’s no need to hold off any longer. With this simple guide, you will have everything you need to make your next great idea a reality.
Start Your Own Business
Take Stock of Your Strengths and Weaknesses
First, start by taking stock of all of the things that you know you do well, as well as the things you know you are capable of learning to do. Every new business owner will need help, but you will also need to do a lot of the legwork yourself. What are you capable of taking on yourself? What will it take for you to learn the skills you still need?
Second, be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and any work that you know you don’t want to take on yourself. These are the areas in which you will need to seek outside help.
Come Up with a Great Idea
If you are reading this, then it seems likely that you already have an idea in mind, and you think it’s a good one. If you haven’t come up with a brilliant idea just yet, the questions you should ask yourself remain the same:
- Does my idea fix a real-life problem that people would pay to have solved for them?
- Is this an innovative idea? Does it improve on a solution that already exists?
- Does this idea fit my strengths? Will I be able to deliver once I’ve started?
- Is my idea of going to attract investors? Is it better, faster, or cheaper than the existing competition?
Do Your Research
Market research is a key component in the development of any new business idea. The first thing you will want to look for is any competition in the field you wish to enter. Are there competitors? If so, how many, and how big are they? You don’t want to go into a field where your main competition is a company already headlining the Forbes list. Learn to use a tool like SpyFu to help you gauge your competition.
Once you know who your competitors are, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and look for areas where you think you could improve upon their model.
Then, start to develop your own model. You can do this any number of ways but here is a couple to start with:
- Ask people in your area or within your network about their habits regarding your idea. What are their primary concerns when considering a purchase of (example).
- Ask what they like or dislike about the process of buying an existing product or service similar to the one you wish to offer.
Seek Real Feedback
This is where it can start to get scary. At this stage, you will be seeking feedback from people beyond your network. No one likes to have their ideas criticized, but when you are building a new business every bit of information is valuable. Take these new lessons as a blessing and develop your idea according to the feedback you receive. After all, the people who give you feedback may very well become customers in the future! Heed their advice.
Establish Your Business
Make it a real thing! Plan trips to your City Hall, Courthouse, the local newspaper, and your bank. These are the places where you will make your business official. They will provide all the documents you need to fill out to make your business an official entity, including:
- Business name and structure- At City Hall, you will fill out a “Doing Business As” (DBA) form that indicates your business name and the type of business you are (Sole proprietor, partnership, LLC etc.)
- Business Registration- At the Courthouse, you will register your business and obtain a business license.
- DBA- You will need to publish your DBA with two local periodicals (changes by region) in order to declare your new business to the public.
- Tax IDs and Banking Information- Visit your bank and set up a business account. You will be given Federal and State Tax ID numbers and a new business debit card, to start.
Write a Business Plan
The business plan is the backbone of your fledgling business. It is what you will use to validate your idea to investors and attract funding. Templates for writing a business plan can be found easily online.
Build a Team
Take care with this step. It is often tempting to bring on friends and family to help you build your new empire and share in the spoils, and it is your prerogative to do so. You can also use tools like Lever to help you with staffing. Regardless of who you decide to bring on, be sure that they are reliable, dedicated and have strengths that fulfill a need for your business. Be sure to do a background check on anyone you are unsure of; running an online Transunion background check is cheap and quick, and a great solution for vetting candidates quickly.
Get it Financed
Believe me, there are plenty of resources available to help you get the funding you need. If you know someone with deep pockets who is willing to help, fantastic! If you have absolutely no idea where to start, there are financing resources like Gust that can help.
Make a Sale
Even the best strategy is no good unless you put it into action. Go out and get your hands dirty; go drum up some business for yourself. Don’t let yourself be discouraged when someone turns you down. This is all part of the process; the growing pains of a new business. Stay focused and get some money flowing through the doors.
Voila! You have started your very own business. Doesn’t it feel great? Now all you need to do is nurture it, and watch it grow into the job of your dreams. Have fun!