If you are seriously thinking of starting your own enterprise there are a few valuable questions you should mull over and answer before you take any physical action. Get this phase right and you will save yourself a great deal of time and hassle correcting potentially expensive mistakes later on.
1.What is your motivation?
- Providing a solution to a problem that I have experienced and believe I can do better?
- I’m looking for a better life/work style?
- It’s an area I’m skilled and experienced in and can provide better value proposition than others?
- My product will improve the life/work style/finances of other people?
- I have a hobby or passion, that if I turn it into a successful business, will develop into my dream job.
Whatever the underlying reason, if it is to become more than a hobby, your project will need to be financially viable too. On the other side if your answer is purely “to make money” then you might like to spend a few minutes imagining yourself working on this idea in five years-time. Ask yourself if it will make you want to jump out of bed in the morning to get started on a day’s work. Money is always important and there is no shame in wanting to be financially comfortable, but don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire. If you can find something you enjoy doing, or even your passion, and build your business around that idea, your daily tasks will be much more fun, your enthusiasm will attract more customers and good staff will want to be part of your venture.
2.Who Will be Your Customer?
It’s an important question and will guide a lot of the decisions you will need to make in the future.
- Who will find my product or service attractive/useful?
- Why will people want to to buy/use it?
- Where do they live/work?
- What is their financial status
Identify your targeted customers, their characteristics, financial status and their geographic locations, commonly, their demographics. You may have more than one customer group. Identify the most important groups. The better you understand your potential customers the easier it will be to tailor your product and your marketing efforts to their needs.
Just remember If you create a very niche product you should know exactly where to find your customer but if it’s too niche the audience might be so small there won’t be sufficient profit. If you cast your net too wide you will almost certainly waste a great deal of money on your advertising and marketing competing against bigger players.
- Will people want to buy/use it?
It’s important to check that there really is a need out there and that people are willing to part with their money for you to solve it. Feedback from a focus group to check viability is invaluable, even if it’s initially friends family and people you meet down the pub. Just make sure they are people who you can trust to be honest with you.
3. Where Will Your Customers Find You?
- Social Media -do you need FB/Pinterest?
- Your Website
- Will you sell your product on an auction site or Amazon?
- Can you operate via the internet or will you need a face to face contact?
- Why will people want to buy/use it? – It can give you a clue where to promote yourself
How you are going to make people aware of this new product or service? Whether it’s a shop front or via the internet you will still need to let people know you are there.
4. Building Your Brand
This is the personality of your company. Your brand is far more than your logo, website and letterhead. The brands identity is comprised of several different elements that all feed-back to create the image that the world perceives. This image is instrumental in triggering the customers buying impulse – or not.
- Brands should embody ‘relationships’, ‘values’ and ‘feelings’
- What makes your offering special?
- People buy based on emotional needs or wants, and then justify their purchase logically
It is really important to build your personal brand too. People will want to know your story. Particularly if you are an artisan making something unique or offering a service that involves you spending time with your customers face-to-face. Why should they trust you? What is your background and why are you passionate about what you do?
It’s important to acknowledge that there will be cost involved before you start your business. It may just be making sure you can pay the rent, bills and buy essentials to survive. Be realistic.
- Do You need specialist equipment or machinery?
- You will have to pay to register a website.
- How much will materials cost to get started?
- Will you need transport or couriers to deliver goods?
- How long will it be before anyone pays you for your work?
Map out the basics you need to live for the first few months on a low or no income. Then add the cost of any supplies you will need to get started.
Write your answers down and keep them somewhere safe. They might just guide you through a difficult patch or hard decisions you need to make later on.
Like so many of our dreams, one of the hardest things about starting a business is taking that first step. By following the 5 points above you will have moved a little closer and it will reinforce your confidence to take the plunge.