Starting a business from scratch is very exciting, but also a great challenge. Many startups fail — according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 20% cease trading in the first year. A new business starts with an idea and runs on ingenuity, passion, and hard work. But to make all that easier, and increase the chance of your business’s success, it’s important to know what steps to take to tilt the odds in your favour. Many have tried, and with failures and successes in abundance, there are numerous lessons to be learned. Here is a roadmap to help you get your new business up, running, and turning a profit.
Identify Your Business Idea
The first step in starting a business from scratch is to identify a viable business idea. This idea should be something you are passionate about and have a deep understanding of — you need to know your product, industry sector, and likely customer base inside out. Start by brainstorming and researching various industries and niches to find a concept that aligns with your interests and skills.
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You may have an idea for a fantastic-looking product, or a groundbreaking service, but it must have market potential, so research is invaluable and an essential part of the process. This information will help you refine your idea and create a unique value proposition, and will also help define many other aspects such as branding and marketing.
Create a Business Plan
With so many factors in play, and more potential bumps in the road than you can shake a stick at, any new business venture needs a watertight plan. Such a thing, sadly, isn’t possible, but the old adage is true — hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Your business plan should include details such as your business’s mission and vision, a description of your products or services, target market analysis, competitive analysis, marketing and sales strategies, and financial projections.
Creating a plan will not only guide your business’s growth but also help you secure financing from investors or lenders, and it should be a fluid thing that you update as circumstances develop and change.
Another area of great importance is your budget. Without it, you’ll easily lose track of your finances, and overspend on certain things leaving little to spend on other essentials. Be realistic — research into costs for everything your startup needs, from marketing to office stationery, and leave some extra on the side for inevitable, unexpected expenses. Again, this budget must have a certain fluidity depending on circumstances, and must leave room for potential investments from other partners or lenders.
Before you launch your product or service you need to conduct some careful research. Market research should tell you many things — the demand for your product, the regularity of updates, customer expectations, etc. You should also check out what your competitors are up to. They may have a cheaper product similar to yours on offer — if so you must find out what makes it cheaper, if it is inferior or if they have a good relationship with suppliers.
So, you’ve got a great idea for a product or service. Excellent — but absolutely useless if you can’t get the word out to the right market demographic (which, of course, you’ve researched extensively). Digital marketing channels are the most popular by a long way, and these should be exploited. But don’t forget about old-fashioned marketing materials and strategies — printed fliers, leaflets, brochures and more are still a great way to get your message out, and your branding.
Another method which is now an essential part of any marketing campaign is social media. It’s a cost-effective way to reach a vast audience, and can be as simple or complex as you like. You can easily share photos or videos, advertise new products or discounts, and promote events. If your budget allows it, a social media manager is a valuable member to have onboard your team.
You may need an exit strategy for various circumstances, whether you’re selling the business or — hopefully not — facing liquidation. The choice of exit strategy depends on factors like the business’s profitability, industry conditions, the owner’s financial goals, and personal preferences.
It’s essential to plan your exit strategy well in advance, ideally when you start or purchase the business, and to continually reassess and adjust it as circumstances change. Seek professional advice from lawyers, accountants, and business advisors to help you navigate the complexities of exiting a small business.
Making a roadmap to help your business launch will help you get through the turbulent stages that plague startups. With these steps, you put yourself in the best possible position to make a success of your venture, and bring your product to the world.