Starting a business can be a wonderful adventure where you learn and grow and create a lasting company that provides something of value to other people. Of course, a business can also be a time and money drain that leaves you with nothing but headaches. The following will explore a few things that you can do to start your business off on the right foot and increase your chances of being successful.
Almost nothing is going to reveal your own faulty thinking more than starting a business. Beliefs about what kind of person you are and what sort of successes you’re entitled to can have a dramatic effect on your work. Some beliefs like: if I work hard with a smile on my face, I can accomplish things that are positive and will help encourage your business growth because they’ll result in you doing good work. Other beliefs like: well, it was easy for her because her parents gave her the money to get started; I don’t have that option, so I won’t be as successful are self-limiting and dangerous. Bitterness, boredom, desperation, and misery are feelings that people can pick up on when they’re considering doing business with you, and often, these sorts of things scare people away.
The bad news is that everyone has self-limiting beliefs instilled in us from our childhoods, past relationships, or educational experiences. The good news is, you can change them. Whenever a negative belief arises like people like me don’t succeed or I’ll never be able to do x for whatever reason, take a step back. Stop what you’re doing and ask yourself whether you know the thought is true. Then find an example that proves the thought wrong; there’s going to be someone who was less privileged than you who started a business with less money and thrived. There’s going to be someone who started later in life than you and still made it work. There is going to be someone that proves to you the thought is nonsense. Thoughts aren’t always accurate; the sooner a person realizes this, the easier it will be for them to stop holding themselves back.
Running a business involves homework, probably for the rest of your life. Study your industry; if you want to be a contractor, learn about how to become a general contractor; if you want to start a flower farm, learn about how to start a flower farm. Read books on your industry and business more broadly—not just articles but full-length books written by people who have successfully done what you are aiming to do.
Business owners make decisions all day long. If you aren’t consciously making these decisions align with your long-term goal, you might wake up one day and realize that you’re running a business that isn’t what you set out to do. Take the time early on to create a business plan that you can refer back to whenever you’re faced with a tough choice. It should include your elevator pitch (a two to the three-sentence explanation of what you do, who it helps, and what it helps them do), a breakdown of your place in the market, an exploration of your target audience and their needs, and an exploration of your mission (the reason why you do your work). You also want to include your long-term business goals with measurable milestones and the dates by which you’re hoping to hit them. Finally, your plan should include a breakdown of your competition and how your product or service differs from that competition. If your work doesn’t differ, keep working on what you offer until it is.
Test The Market
No one should simply start a business, investing a ton of time and money into the process if they haven’t yet tested the market. Testing the market involves finding ways to feel how needed your business actually is. Some people have what they think is a great idea, but when they launch, they discover the market is incredibly saturated already, or they discover that the group of people who need their service is too small to make the business viable. If you don’t like the results of your test, rework your business plan, adjust your product or service and test again.
The above tips should help you start a business with the right foundation. It might take a little bit of time to work through all of the above, but if you do, your business will be better for it. It’s a good idea to regularly return to this list and revisit each step to see if there are improvements that can be made.