Not sure where to begin your startup efforts? The following steps will help you be up and running before you know it.
Starting a business is tough. Whenever we have an idea, others may provoke our self-doubt by asking, “Where will you get the start-up money? How will you market it?”
Create an Instant Impact Message
“When most people hear about a new product or service, they immediately ask themselves “How will I or someone I know benefit from this idea?”
People process this question instantly-usually within 10 seconds. To inspire others to help you succeed, you need to develop an “instant impact message” that helps people immediately recognize the value your business offers. Your instant impact message is a brief, powerful message that’s based on the benefit you offer to your customers. [...]
Discover What Works
Companies pay millions of dollars to professional market researchers to find out what people really want and how they want it. You can uncover a wealth of information by taking field trips to discover how your product or service will satisfy people’s desires.
Get out of your head, unplug yourself from the computer, and speak with others who have succeeded to discover what really works. The real-world information you gather will save you time, money and frustration.
Protect Your Idea and Yourself
Great ideas need protection. You don’t have to register your business name, logo or slogan to obtain copyright and trademark protection. Protective laws work under the first-use rule–whoever uses an item first owns it. However, these rules work more like “No Trespassing” signs. You must be willing to go to court to enforce them.
Consult a lawyer early in the startup process, and obtain his or her advice on how to best protect your business. For great referrals, contact your local SBA office or chamber of commerce.
Stop Struggling to Convince Others
Instead, inspire them with a one-page sales script.
When you speak positively about your business, it inspires others to help you succeed rather than question your abilities. Your one-page sales script quickly generates trust by showing key supporters the value you offer and how you will successfully deliver on your promises.
Conduct a Reality Check
As you begin developing your business, you will uncover unforeseen threats that may shake your confidence. This doesn’t mean you are no longer passionate about your business; it means you are grounded in a new reality. To succeed, don’t dismiss any threats. Reaffirm your commitment, and create a strategy to move forward by conducting a reality check.
Use Focus Groups to Test and Improve Your Idea
Passion sometimes clouds judgment. Thinking that you know what is best for your customers is one of the most common mistakes in starting a business. To avoid “selling only to yourself,” seek real-world advice by holding regular focus groups.
A focus group gathers together potential customers, friends, family and other entrepreneurs who can provide unbiased, objective feedback on how to improve your business. It’s important to obtain these fresh ideas early in the startup process because you can improve your business for a relatively low cost.
During the session, keep an open mind and don’t defend your business. Write down every idea. Afterward, analyze the ideas, and keep and implement those that are most useful. To continually discover new ways to improve every aspect of your business, hold a focus group once every two weeks.
Get Price Quotes From Manufacturers
Your business’s identity begins with those things that need to be created or produced–such as business cards, menus or a product. To get the best price when requesting information from outside entities, prepare a request for quotation (RFQ).
Create Your Marketing Strategy
Marketing is not about persuading people they need something. It’s about telling the right people about the benefit your business provides. You can maximize your resources by using “octopus marketing”–creating one program that reaches lots of your customers. Hit an octopus on the head, and its tentacles stretch out in many different directions. The head of the octopus represents any organization or person who has contact with many of your customers. The tentacles spread out, sending information about your business over and over again
Set Prices for Success
Your product or service must be priced to entice buyers and cover your overhead, production, distribution, labor and marketing costs. And most important, you need to make a profit. To do that:
1] Define your personal financial goals.
2] Investigate market trends.
3] Obtain competitive information.
4] Cover your cost of doing business.
Organize Your Future With Process Sheets
Process sheets define the action steps and resources associated with key day-to-day business activities. They enable you to identify, develop and test your back-end business support systems, saving you time and frustration. Together, they form your “operations manual”–the policies for running your company. Writing your processes down shows people how you will conduct business, which makes it easier for them to offer enhancements.
Stay Motivated With a Business Action Plan
Congratulations, you’ve reached the last step in our 12-step startup plan. Most startup plans ask you to begin with a business plan. Instead, we’ve had you take real-world action to create a business that works. But now it’s time to put something in writing by creating your business action plan.
Your business action plan continually evolves as your business grows. It monitors and allows you to evaluate what has worked to date–resulting in your continual business success.
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