Steps to Take Before You Start a Business

Got a business idea but don’t know where to start? Before you start developing a product and trying to make sales, here are a few steps to get your business started.

1. Conduct Research

First, you need to establish what your business is going to sell: a tangible product or service. Then, you need to figure out who your target audience is. Your target audience is consumers who are most likely to buy your product. This can be determined through market analysis. Through this analysis, you will be able to see how likely you are to sell a product or where there is room for improvement.

2. Write a Business Plan

How are things going to work? In the business plan, you should write out what your startup costs will be. These costs depend on whether you need to lease space for an inventory, set up a website and place ads, and other operating expenses. Also, your business plan should include:

  • An overview of your business
  • An in-depth description about your business and why it exists
  • Market research that helps determine your target audience
  • What you plan to offer
  • Your promotional strategy to drive business
  • Logistics – how it all is going to happen from Point A to Point B
  • A financial plan that outlines your cash flow and points of profitability
  • What you bring to your community – lenders and investors are more likely to find worth in businesses that contribute to their local scene

3. Choose an Identity

Also included in your business plan should be your brand’s identity. You need to choose a name, mission, and logo to develop the face and voice of your company. The name you pick should encapsulate who you are and what you trying to sell. When companies don’t identify what kind of restaurant they are through their name or logo, it is difficult to attract consumers.

For example, let’s say you own a chicken sandwich shop. If your business name is Scrappy’s, your customer base may not realize what you offer. If you have a logo or add “Chicken Sandwiches” to the name, you may be more recognizable.

4. Set Up an Account

Before you start making sales, you need a place to deposit the money. Credit unions have specialized business accounts and some even help you register your company to make it official. When choosing a financial institution, find one that specializes in working with and understanding your business, and is ready to help grow it with you.

5. Keys To Success

Many businesses fail within their first year. Before the doors open, have a success plan outlining the key parts of your business that matter the most. When you recognize what you are good at, you can excel at it. Some places to look at are:

  • Customer interactions – customer service goes a long way. If customers get the help they need, they are likely to have a positive experience and become a repeat customer
  • Hiring – You need the right people on your team who share your passion and offer the skills and experience your business needs to be successful. Every person you add should be an asset, not a drain on your operation expenses.
  • Fun! – This is your passion. If you aren’t having fun, it may be time to reevaluate the business and look for ways to improve or grow.

6. Market Your Business

The key to growing your business is getting the word out there. This can be done through marketing campaigns. Marketing campaigns are strategically placed advertisements and brand awareness promotions that get out in front of your potential customer base and tell them what they are missing by not shopping with you. Before the doors open, you should have a marketing strategy, including your website and social media content, in place; this can be done in-house or outsourced to a marketing agency.

Once you have done these steps, you are ready to get your business going. Of course, not all the steps were outlined here, so if you get stuck, ask a professional. Especially, when it comes to setting up an account and registering your business. Some credit unions have a business services team that is ready to build your business with you.