I have had several people tell me that they want to start a business but do not even know where to begin. Honestly, it can be pretty overwhelming if you don’t have any steps to follow. Thus, what I am going to share with you here can serve as guidelines for you.
Be sure that what you intend to do is your passion.
Don’t just jump into any business because it’s a fad, your friend made money out of it, you think it’s going to make money, or whatever reason other than it being your passion. So before you even think about setting up your own business, ask yourself the following questions: What do I love to do? What do I enjoy doing? What am I really good at? What am I most experienced in doing? From here you will know what your passion really is. And if the business you are thinking of setting up does not fall in this category, forget it. It is not going to work.
Work with what you got.
Do not even attempt to think of thousands or hundreds of thousands if all you have are hundreds. I am not talking about financial projections here but where you are to begin. If all you can spare is $500, then work on that. If all you have is a computer and phone, then work with what you have. Start with what you have, not with what you don’t have. Then work your way from there.
If you need top-of-the-line equipment, look for slightly used ones for sale instead of buying it brand new. Keep your costs low.
Whether you plan to borrow money or you have enough savings to start with, learn to invest wisely. Write down everything you need, and prioritize.
Your priorities should be your main business tool or equipment, as well as your promotional tools.
Find out what business laws you have in your city/state.
Some cities/states do not require you to register a business unless your gross yearly earning is over $12000. If this law applies to your location, and if you are not sure how much money you will be making on the first year, then don’t register your business yet. Test the waters first and work your way from there. As far as I know, if your business is not legally registered, you are only allowed to use your name and not any other name for the business.
One way to really start low is to experiment first. If you plan to venture into a food business, try cooking from home and sell your food to your neighbors and friends. If you want to do wedding planning, then let your friends know and do their wedding planning for them, for a very minimal cost. You can even do it for free. This is a good way of building up your credentials.
Get all your tools ready.
Other than the equipment, furniture, supplies, and other things you need for your business, the ‘tools’ that you need to prioritize are your “promotional tools”. These include your business card, website, flyers, business sign, letterheads, brochure, social media, etc. The kind and extent of promotional tools you need will depend on the type and size of business you are thinking of. The basic promotional tools for any type and size of business are business cards, website, brochures, flyers, and social media. Do not even attempt to start a business without these tools ready; otherwise you will be like a soldier in battle without his ammunition. Likewise, do not attempt to do all these yourself unless you have the skills and experience in doing so.
And don’t forget the most important tool of all: your business plan. This is your blueprint – where everything about your business lies. It is what you will need to apply for a loan, to apply for a grant, and to create your promotional tools.
Leave your promotional tools in the hands of those who are more equipped to do it. This is where I can be of help to you.
Promotion is the key.
Once you have all your promotional tools ready, it is going to be easier to promote your business. Have your business cards with you at all times and give it to anyone you meet. Your business card should already have your website and social media addresses. Flyers help a lot when you are promoting a product or a service that is better presented through visuals such as photography, weddings, flower arrangement, etc. Brochures are most effective if your target audience are groups of people such as church, organizations, corporations, etc.
Utilize every opportunity and connections you have. Keep promoting!
Repeat business is the biggest indicator of a good business. And the only way people are going to refer you to others, or do business with you again, is if they are satisfied with what you provided them with. Customer satisfaction is not so much how good your product or service is but how good they felt about you and what you did for them. It is all about the relationship that you build with people.
Integrity counts the most.
Integrity is more than trust. It is the result of consistent trustworthiness. It means that you walk your talk… you deliver what you say you will do… you stay committed to your commitments. When you have integrity, customers will prefer you over your competitors. They will choose you because they know that they can rely on you, whatever happens.
Work harder than an employee.
Some people who are considering setting up their own business think that if they do this, they can relax and act like the big boss who seems to do nothing but walk around. The opposite holds true. Since you are your own boss when you have your own business, you really have to operate like a boss. And bosses are not just walking around. They are the ones who do almost all the thinking, problem solving, decision making, financing, networking, and all the more difficult and tedious mental tasks. Add to this working like the hardest working employee you can ever find. In short, you are the boss and employee at the same time, unless you plan to hire people under you.
Stay committed and consistent.
Once you start a business, you have to remain committed to it. It’s not an experiment that you can just start, and then end when it does not work in a few months. You can’t be dictated by your emotions. You have to get going no matter what happens. This brings us back to what I said in the beginning of this article — find out what your passion is.