If you’re preparing to start your own small business there can be a lot of overwhelming paperwork and checklists of important things to complete. Before you dive into the process there are some things you should know to increase your chances for business success. Read on to learn about the 7 most important things every new business owner should know to prepare for success.
1. Who You Are & What Your Mission Is
Successful business ownership comes down to much more than simply having the ability to make a profit. An owner needs to be able to take charge. You are now going to be making important decisions and regularly leading your business into constant uncharted territory. You might even hire employees who will rely solely on your decisions. YOU are now “upper management” and you need to be ready for that change. One strategic way to be better prepared is to create a mission statement about the impact you desire to have on your customers and/or your community beyond the dollars and attach it to whatever your business sells, keeping careful track to how well you are sticking to it as time progresses.
2. Your Location
A business will not be successful unless there is a market to flourish in. You want to be in a location (geographically & physically) where your business can grow and is relevant to your customer base. Visibility and traffic are key. If you aren’t near where people are, there’s little to no way to attract customers. The appearance of your business also makes a difference so invest time and money into your brand’s aesthetic image. Other things to consider include zoning restrictions, crime rates in the area, rent costs, and the location of competitors in your industry.
3. Your Business Plan
A business plan will help you scope the feasibility of your business. You must know what your day-to-day operations will look like, along with what the bigger picture goals are. A good plan will help you to stay focused on your goals. Your business plan should be reviewed at least once per year to review what went right and where you went wrong. This system of accountability will also help you track specific objectives. Investors and loan officers will also likely want to hear your business plan prior to making an investment in your company so in many ways a well thought out business plan can make all the difference.
4. Your Startup Expenses
In a previous blog I wrote about common expenses to be considered when starting a business. Be prepared for marketing, insurance, licenses, and supplies expenses among others. Don’t be caught off guard in your first year due to poor planning when it comes to high expenses and the possible reality of low startup cash flow.
5. Your Employees
Before hiring any employees decide what type of person you want to hire. You want individuals who will be good for your business both personally and professionally. If you’re customer service oriented you need individuals with welcoming personalities who will treat your customers with respect. If you are hiring people for admin work, be sure that your employees are focused, organized, and can manage their time well. Don’t simply hire family & friends to provide them with a job opportunity and for you to fill the spots. Instead, know what type of people you want to hire and stick to hiring those who meet your criteria. You will also want to be able to provide the resources for your employees to excel in their roles to help your business achieve it's larger goals.
6. Your Customers
The most important aspect of a product or service is the ability for it to provide customer value and benefits that cover current wants and needs of consumers. Sometimes this value can be found in fulfilling a want or need consumers didn’t know they had until they experienced your product. You need to know whether your product or service can fulfill this and whether or not you can provide steady and reliable customer service once your product/service has been sold. Try to view what your business sells from the eyes of a consumer. Think about how they will view your business name, the price you’re charging, and the product/service itself. Know who will benefit most from your product and then market to those customers.
7. When To Ask For Help
Asking for help does not mean that you are incapable, it means that you seek knowledge from someone with more or different experience than you who can help you achieve your goals. It might also mean that you would prefer to do less of a certain task or role. There are so many resources out there which you can benefit from: consultants, CPAs, lawyers, other business owners, family, friends, books, & online resources to name a few. Make sure you are constantly asking for help when you have reached your limits so that your business doesn’t overcommit or underdeliver on it’s mission.