This is a very big question that can be answered in multiple ways, but at a high level I would say that the following things need to be in place:
1. Have a very clear idea of what your business does - Describe in one or two sentences exactly the products / services that you provide (e.g. my business provides clear, easy to understand guides to other businesses and freelancers on the nuts and bolts of running a business)
2. Establish who your audience / potential customers are - Who are they, where do they hang out, what do they want? Understanding your audience is critical to creating products and services that can meet their needs and serve them.
3. Work out the 'value add' or what is unique about your business. There are almost countless businesses providing very similar offerings now - what makes you stand out and will ensure your customers come to you, instead of a competitor?
4. Get efficient business processes in place - You want to spend your time building and growing your business, not dealing with the minutiae of business processes. This means either setting up the processes to be very efficient in the first place (invoicing, HR, stock control, payroll etc.) or finding a reliable supplier that can provide these services to you.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan! A classic mistake in business is running right in, without an overall plan and strategy of what you are doing and where you want to be in a month, a quarter, a year or 3 years. Think about your longer terms objectives and ensure that you're doing something every day to help you move towards them.
This was just a quick idea dump and there are undoubtedly things that could be added, but I hope it at least provides some food for thought.
I'm currently developing blog articles and guides designed to help people start up and run their small businesses, please feel free to drop by and take a look:
October 22, 2012, Edited October 22, 2012
1. Make sure you do not start a business in order to “buy” yourself a job
2. Work with other people money i.e. banks, investors. Do not put your saving and your kids saving into the business, not at first as least.
3. Make sure you have the know-how. Hard work is not a substitute for business knowledge
4. Know that if you are thinking about it so as others in the world.
5. Over estimate what it will take vs. under estimate
6. For the first 1-2 years your life will be about the business, only the business and nothing but the business.
7. Hire a coach!
1. Develop a business strategy. The success of your business begins with developing strategies that work well within the market and industry you serve. Strategies will help you to assess the opportunities and threats of the market and match them up with your businesses strengths and weaknesses.
2. Define your mission. Every business needs a mission that defines its purpose and answers the question: What is our reason for being in business? Since no company has the resources to be all things to all people, a business needs to identify the scope of its products or services.
3. Plan. Since businesses exist to achieve a purpose, it is important to define that purpose and the means for its achievement. Planning helps to determine what you need to do and how to best get it done. Composing a business plan is the ultimate planning tool to help establish strategies for achieving the goals and/or objectives of your business.
4. Analysis the Market. Market analysis is the key process for determining customer wants and needs, and enables you to provide those customers with goods, services, and ideas that satisfy their expectations. Long-term business success is achieved by being consumer-oriented.
5. Promotion. Inform, Persuade and Influence. Promotion is essential for communicating information about your product or service and helps shape the image of your business by creating brand identity. With Today’s technology there are a ton of cost effective promotional resources such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more that will help you achieve more visibility for your business and the products or services you offer .
You are looking to start a business and want to build it into a successful enterprise.You must follow some rules and regulations and make your business a success.
Make your business plan shine with these points to success:
1. Be Concise: A concise plan provides a simple explanation for why the business is great idea, as well as how it will be executed.
2. Be Compelling: The goal is to make your company appear to be deeply compelling.A compelling opportunity is optimized by the right deal, with the right price, at the right time, with the right product or service, and the right team.
3. Be Complete: You must have a trusted third party review your plan to ensure it addresses all possible issues an investor may have. Be complete - It will help you gain the trust of all who read your plan.
4. Be professional from the get-go: Everything about you and the way you do business needs to let people know that you are a professional running a serious business.
5. Get clients or customers first: Don't wait until you've offically started your business to line these up, because your business can't survive without them.
It will cost more time and money to get your business off the ground than what you originally anticipated; Don't let your emotions get in the way of your success; Don't listen to negative criticism; Do listen to constructive criticism; Plan B is the new Plan A.
1. Research your market, Paul is right on in his point #3. Know how you will stand out and be the obvious choice for your customers. How will you fill a filled need better or fill an unfilled need. You'll fail if you start out competing on price.
2. Know how you're going to communicate your unique selling proposition to your target market. I don't know if a tree makes a sound when it falls in the forest but I do know nobody notices.
3. Put together a stunning business plan. It will help you borrow money and build your confidence. Lack of a good business plan is the #1 reason small businesses fail.
4. Have twice the initial working capital you think you'll need. Sales will grow slower than you think, competitors will react quicker than you think, and customers will show up less than you hope initially.
5. Last , but most important, Meg has it right but I would take it a step farther. You not only have to love what you do but the successful achievement of your goals should TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY. It will be hard, it will take longer than you thought, there will be days you doubt yourself and think about quitting. If what you're trying to accomplish isn't awesome in your mind you might just give up.
I would boil it down to the following:
1) Have an idea. (usually a product or service)
2) Have a customer. (not a hypothetical one, but at least one substantial customer ready to pay for your idea)
3) Build your business with savings and cash flow as much as possible.
4) Avoid banks, VC and other investors/lenders until Phase Two (unless the idea is really good, the customers are seriously interested and you can't get started without the extra money)
The previous posters all give solid advice. I would add only that there is no substitute for experience. Most first-time entrepreneurs/business owners fail, and their second or third businesses have a higher success rate. I would encourage any business founder to get a co-founder who brings startup experience, contacts and skills that complement (not duplicate!) their own. Ideally, your co-founder is different stylistically and will challenge your assumptions and comfortable notions (as you challenge hers.) If not a co-founder than hire an interim co-founder, a.k.a. a venture consultant or (less ideally) a coach. The cost of such a person will be more than recouped in the mistakes you don't make and the time you don't waste making them.
Make sure you LOVE what you're doing. It will take more money and more hard work than you anticipate, and the love of the journey itself will keep you going. Best of luck! Meg Bertini, www.goalshappenhere.com
While some things are definitely more important than others, I don't easily fall into the "top X things... " mode. I believe that all of these things are strongly contextual and based on the situation and environment, different things will have different impacts.
Having said that, it is important to have a strategy. This allows an individual to connect resources and efforts within the context realities that entail.
For example, these "5-things" will change depending on what is going on. An important aspect is attitudinal. If you intend to start your business and figure that you now can do anything because you are the boss, you will be in for a shock!
1. Get your credit in order
2. Get a good business plan
3. Get your financials in order
4. Test your product with friends and family first
5. Get the funding you need through lenders that won't affect your personal credit. The biggest mistake someone can make in is this economy, is get a loan from a bank. Big mistake!
Any questions, let me know.
I believe that you have to be in purpose to have success therefore, when starting a business:
1. Understand why you are in business and who are you helping?
2. Plan to focus on success because you only achieve success when you are on purpose, passionate about what you do and growing financially.
3. Be in a position to learn from others who have done what you are purposed to do at a higher level.
4. Be teachable, learn your trade, industry and master what you do
5. Share the wealth with others when you reach a level to show favor to others.
1. Clarity of Idea: The idea should be simple and clear. Need + Offer
2. Startup Fund: Depending on Scale and startup cost of business, you can chose source of funding. For a business like IT prodduct, the investment sometimes can be low. You can invest yourself, else get investors. However, getting investors early may not be always feasible.
3. Team: Find RIGHT team. Your partners should be experts in their field and should compliment your weaknesses. They should share your commitment and be equallu passionate. Checkout their long term goals and should be healthy.
4. Prototype: Validate your idea early by sample target audience
5. Plan: Keep yourself some money to sustain for a year. Chances are you will not achieve anything in a year... but you should be able to pull those "low" days off.
Have a plan and include on that plan a budget for marketing. Two things that kill a business; having no business plan and lack of capital. For the business plan go to the national score website. Download a template and design your business plan using this template. Make sure you're passionate about this business because your going to breathe it for a long time.
Visit your local SCORE/SBA office or go to score.org We have a network of over 13,000 retired executives on staff covering everything from startups to reorganizations. finances to transportation. And its free!
Then there is your local SBDC Small business development centers.
Honestly there are a never ending list of answers for this question and they all might be right depending on the industry and the way this start-up is jointed to that industry. But what I find universal for any start-up is:
1.- How easy is to find customers?
2.- Do you enjoy the process of finding your customers and is it easy to train other people to do it?
3.- What are the margins that you would like to have? Are these margins realistic with what your competition is charging?
4.- What do you need to support your customers? Is it in line with the margins and talent available in your area/industry?
5.- Do you like what your business day to day operation?
Good Luck you are on the way!
The comments all provide value but the key to success is knowing your values and the culture you want to or have built and finding employees that align to those values and can perpetuate the culture. Without that as a foundation of the business all else is just commentary.