Updated: Apr 23
Are you dreaming of writing ‘Entrepreneur’ or ‘CEO’ in your social media bio? If you’ve got an awesome business idea but don’t know where to start, then you’re not alone. Each year, thousands of us dream of leaving our careers and starting up on our own. The benefits of becoming your own boss are many, think uncapped earning potential, total career control and greater job satisfaction.
Are you ready to quit your 9 to 5 and take the plunge into self-employment? Then this article is for you.
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5 Steps to bring your brilliant business idea to life
1 - Define your business idea
Starting a business is no easy feat, but it helps to have a strong foundation of ideas, beliefs, and goals from which you can build a solid business plan.
Before you rush in, ask yourself some important questions. Think of the ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘why’, ‘when’ and ‘how’. There are many things to consider, but here are a few questions to get you started:
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Once you’ve answered these questions by yourself, you should share your ideas with your family, friends and peers. Only consult people you trust to give you honest feedback, this isn’t the time for ego boosting.
Try and get advice from a business mentor or someone who has been in a similar position to your own. If you’re lucky enough to have business contacts, make the most out of them at this stage. If you don’t, reach out to people you admire on LinkedIn or Facebook. Or check out free resources for entrepreneurs in the form of books, whitepapers, and podcasts.
2 – Identify your Unique Selling Point (USP)
It’s important to differentiate your business from others in the competitive landscape. Research the market you’re entering into to get a sense of your competitors, your audience and where your business could fit in the marketplace.
Search for products or services similar to yours, then identify how yours is different. It’s highly unlikely your idea will be completely unique, but that means there’s a demand for your offering and you’re on the right track.
The key to attracting customers and standing out against your competitors is to find your unique selling point, or USP. Your USP can be your product or service, your pricing model, the sustainability practices within your business, or simply how you market your solution.
Once you’ve found your USP, find out how to market it to your audience. Your unique selling point brings great value to your business, so shout it from the rooftops.
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3 – Research your target audience
Every great business fulfills a want or need of its customers. Researching your target audience is key to your success. It might be tempting to try and attract everyone. A wider audience means more customers, right? The truth is, by trying to appeal to everyone, you’re likely to appeal to no one. Targeted marketing lets you focus your message on the people who are most likely to buy from you.
If you aren’t sure where to start, create a customer profile of the ideal person you want to attract. Think of their age, location, income and interests. Look to see who your competitors are targeting and the strategies they’re using to appeal to them.
Speak to people who fit your demographic, whether online or in person. Consider creating short questionnaires or surveys or test your offering on a sample group. Find out your audience’s key problems and identify where your business offering provides a solution to one or more of them. If your offering matches what your audience is looking for, you’re more likely to gain a customer. And the more you understand your target audience, the easier it will be to reach them through your marketing efforts. This is where you can create a brand tone of voice that really speaks to your customers.
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4 - Draft your business plan
Now you’ve brainstormed and researched all aspects of your business, it’s time to lock down the details with a clear business plan. Think of your business plan as a road map for the direction of your business, something with clear actionable goals and reachable milestones.
Your business plan needs to have distinct categories. These will differ depending on the nature of your business, but there is a list of the more common categories to consider.
Most businesses in 2020 will be feeling the pressure from the public to improve their sustainability practices. As a new business, you can use this opportunity to set a benchmark for all your business operations. Sustainability in business covers the effect your business has on the environment and society.
Look at your waste management, your carbon footprint, the impact on your local community, your supply chain management and the production processes for your product or service. You’ll need to conduct in depth research on green practices and sustainability, but it is time well invested. Not convinced? Check out why creating an eco-friendly image should be your priority.
If this seems like a lot to wrap your head around, you can find many business plan templates online. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so experiment with different structures to see what works for you.
5 - Make it ‘official’
Now you’ve come up with a solid business plan, it’s time to make it official. This next stage is crucial to setting up a legitimate business. The following steps will vary slightly based on the country you’re operating in, so make sure you check out the legal requirements in your country.
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Here comes the exciting part. You’ve put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and nailed down all the details. You’ve put in countless hours of brainstorming, researching and setting up your dream company. Now it’s go-time!
If you’ve followed these 5 steps, you’re already on your way to starting a successful business. If you want to get a head start on your company marketing efforts, you can get some inspiration from our blog: Top marketing geniuses from 2019 and Top digital marketing trends for 2020.
Work hard, have fun and don’t forget that the path to success isn’t always a straight one.
By Shelby Hedges for JOLT_