Some of us will have had that one idea we’re convinced will be the next big thing, and many more of us will have dreamt of building our own business, at least once. What helps entrepreneurs succeed in their start-up journey is not only their passion but also their hard-working nature and resilience.
Whether you are new to the business world or find yourself struggling to grow your early-stage business, these 5 key steps will help you prepare your start-up journey.
Here is a 5-step-checklist for those who are ready to begin their business venture…
1. Clarify your reasons and goals
So, the idea of leaving your 9 to 5 job and starting your own business has crossed your mind many times. The thought floats in while you sit at your desk during another day in the office, or perhaps it’s a dream you’ve had since you were young. Either way, you will benefit from clarifying your purpose and your ultimate goals before you go ahead and start your business.
Let’s take an entrepreneur who wants to start a restaurant as an example.
I’m 100% into this venture because I love food and, to be honest, I’ve wanted to quit my job for a while now. I want to open a restaurant, and my goal is to earn some money without a busy and tiring schedule
Are those sound statements? Do these appear well thought through?
Those reasons are probably not going to be good enough to justify building your business.
Here are some better statements…
I see the potential of opening an Italian restaurant in Gloucester as there are not many independent, authentic Italian restaurants local to the area. I have a passion for Italian food, coming from a part-Italian family, and an in-depth understanding of hospitality management. My goal is to open an authentic Italian restaurant, to raise awareness of traditional Italian food in the area and give local people a new experience. Due to my previous experience in the industry, I understand the level of time and energy I will need to make this a success. In 3 years’ time, I want to see myself as a successful business owner.
⇒ Invest more in your reasons and goals: clearly identify the reasons why you truly want to start the business, define your purpose, and analyse your ultimate goals to enable you to form a detailed plan to get there.
2. Understand your skills and characteristics
Arguably, the most important characteristic of an entrepreneur is determination. It does not mean that you won’t go down the wrong path a few times, or maybe 50 times! Failing fast will help you. It means when you start building your idea, you can reflect on your own attributes and build your skills in patience, attention to detail, and resilience. Don’t allow yourself to give up after a first few attempts.
In the world of an entrepreneur, there won’t be any managers or directors to tell you what to do and to push you to work harder. You are your own manager! And the success of your business is in your hands.
⇒ Regularly update a detailed action plan (this is your one-page business plan, click here to get support on how to create one) to keep track of your progress and ensure you’re reaching your goals. This is an independent working environment, and it’s too easy to say to yourself “I’ll leave everything until tomorrow”.
3. Map your skills and experiences
Bryan Janeczko worked for Morgan Stanley before he founded Nukitchen. Bryan sold his start-up to Nutrisystem two years ago and is now working on his new adventure called Wicked Start.
He believes understanding your own experience and skills is crucial in the early stages of starting up.
Nukitchen is an online diet service. But when Bryan first started, he didn’t have any experience in the food service. This nearly put him out of business after he lost $500,000 in his first year. This showed him that an entrepreneur needs to have had experience in the industry and/or have relevant skills for the industry in which they wish to start their business.
⇒ Involve yourself in a business that resembles your business model, either by volunteering/shadowing or working part-time or full-time in the business. Or, you could team up with a co-founder or mentor who will contribute the industry experience and skills that you are lacking.
4. Do market research
Conducting market research is the first step to test your business idea. Unfortunately, just because you, your friends and family will buy or have bought your product or service doesn’t necessarily mean individuals outside your circle will see the value in purchasing it. It is essential to research your target market while you’re in the very first stages of developing the business.
What are the problems people have that your business will solve? Who will need what you are offering? Is it a niche / new / innovative idea? Is your market growing? Can you define your ideal customer? These are a few questions you’ll need to answer before you consider starting a business.
This crucial step will help you to avoid being one of the entrepreneurs who end up finding out the hard way that there was not enough market share for them to leverage, or that their target audience wasn’t growing in line with how they’d like to grow their business.
⇒ Begin your research by physically writing down your business core values and services, observing your business’ market, interviewing your potential customers and doing a survey for focus groups, identifying your competition, and figuring out your niche. Lastly, remember to keep all your research as this could be helpful in securing funding later on.
5. Write a business plan
Your business plan outlines what your business does and what you are trying to achieve. It explains what the market opportunity is, what makes your business special and how you will make it a success. With a business plan, the aims are to set out your strategy and action plan over the next one to three years, analyse your objectives, and explain how you will achieve them. Writing a business plan helps you to focus on and develop your ideas.
⇒ We use the Business Model Canvas to help entrepreneurs create or recreate their business plan. And there is a great deal of research, guidance, and resources to help you. Check out these websites for more information: GOV website, The Virgin Start-up plan, and Step-by-step guide.
The best way to learn is from others. Start-up Weekends bring budding entrepreneurs together to support each other through their business’s development alongside a qualified business coach. Grow Your Business and Five Steps to Enterprise courses bring business owners together to help each other overcome obstacles they’re facing in growing their business.