Starting a business can be a daunting task. Even if you do have a business idea—it is only one of the first steps to starting a new business. A lot can go wrong if you do not plan well and implement the plan even better. But, as long as you follow certain basic steps to a T, you should be well on your way to starting a spanking new and successful business from scratch.
So, without further ado, here are the basic steps to starting a new business from scratch:
1. Put Effort Into Research
Any business begins with an idea. So, if you are someone who already has some inkling about what kind of business you want to build, you already have the first basic step taken care of. But don’t rest easy yet. Chances are there are a billion and one brands out there selling the exact product or service you have on offer. So, what is it about you, your brand, and your product that sets you apart from the crowd? This is where the research comes in.
If you have a business idea, it is time to start researching it. Market research and competitor analysis are arguably one of the most important steps to starting a new business. So, remember to put effort into it. Look up which brands are selling the same products and services you are and see what they are doing, what demands they are meeting, and which demands they are missing out on. If you can cover that gap that your competitors are failing to, you have your unique selling point (USP for short). And the moment you have your USP, know that you are officially part of the game.
2. Set Your Goals
You know what your idea is. You hopefully also have your unique selling points. Now it is time to note down the who, what, how, and why of the business plan. Who is your target demographic? Knowing your target customer base is the most important bit of information you will need while choosing your location, deciding your budget, and planning your marketing campaign. You already know what you are planning on selling and how you are going to sell it (which is basically the USP of your product or service). Finally, settle on the why. Why this business idea? What is its purpose? What gaps does it fill?
Once you answer these questions, you will have your business goal.
3. Write Down the Business Plan in Detail
You have already done your research. You know the why, how, who, and what of your business plan. Now it is time to get it all together, jot it down on paper, and give it structure.
As part of your business plan, you will decide the vision of your business i.e. what are your goals? Where do you want to be in 5 … 10 years? Write this down before moving on to the mission. The mission is where you note down in detail the features and functionalities of your product and service, the details of the demographic you are planning on targeting, the unique selling points that you discovered in the previous few phases, etc.
Next comes the pricing. How are you going to price your items? The product prices need to be competitive enough so customers feel inclined to choose your brand over the competitors’. And it also needs to be able to help you profit off of it. The target here is to hit that sweet spot between affordable and profitable. The final few sections of your business plan should focus on market promotion, aims and objectives, and action plans. Once you decide how and where you want to market your product, the business milestones you want to hit, and the actionable steps you plan on taking to achieve the same—you have your business plan.
4. Design a Budget
Creating your budget is again one of the more important steps to starting a new business. It lets you understand what you are getting into. Your budget should ideally be part of your business plan and include all the estimated charges—from the cost of production, marketing, overhead, etc.
5. Plan the Structure
This is the step where you work on the nitty-gritty of the business—from choosing a name to deciding on a business structure. Is it going to be a single-owned business? Do you need partners? This is also where you register your business, get the appropriate licenses, and buy a website domain.
6. Work on Your Funding
How are you going to fund your business? If you do not have enough savings to spare, you will need to work on getting your business funded by investors. Your business plan will come in handy here. Include an estimated budget—with production costs, overhead, marketing, etc.—and start pitching your idea to investors.
7. Find a Location That Works
This may seem like a no-brainer but, if you are investing in physical stores, put effort into researching your location before finalizing on it. Getting the appropriate permits and license to have a store at a particular location may prove far costlier than others. But then those same locations could be prime ones where a large section of your demographic shops are. If you are lucky and if you put effort elbow grease into it, you may just find a location that is not just affordable but also extremely underutilized.
8. Create Prototypes
One of the basic yet most important steps to starting a new business is knowing that nothing is more important than feedback. Customer feedback will not only let you know what you are doing right but what you are getting completely wrong. But do not fret if your product seems to have more flaws than you expected. This is what the beta testing stage is for.
Before you settle on the final design of your product or service, create prototypes of the same and hand it out for beta testing. This part of the market research is extremely important because it can point out problems in your product—if any—before you have officially invested all your dollars into the final version of the product. Collect the data from the feedback you receive from beta testers and use it to cover the flaws and failings in your business plan and product design before deciding on the final version. Chances are, this stage will not only help you recognize problems, but also certain product USPs you were not previously aware of.
9. Work on Your Online Presence
The world has moved online and brands are doing all they can to keep up. The digital world—with its million eCommerce platforms and social media channels—can help decide the fate of your business from the moment of its conception. So, work on creating an online presence for your brand—from Instagram accounts, Facebook pages, to dedicated websites that put forward in clear and concise detail the tone, style, and standing of your brand. Remember, your brand’s online presence can create an indelible image of your brand in the minds of prospective users. Use social media channels well and you may just find your business going viral from the day you first throw open your doors.
10. Invest Into the Marketing
There is a reason all brands—big and small—have a separate fund for promotions and marketing. The quality of your product is secondary. What is primary is the image you create of it in the minds of prospective clients. And marketers can help you build just that. They can predict market trends and help you build USPs—creating a market demand for your product from nothing more than a simple Instagram carousel post.
By Vinod Janapala