Ready To Start a Business? Ask These Questions.
You have the talent. You have the idea. You have ... well ... some of the resources. When is it right to start a business? How do you know when to take that leap of faith? While sometimes timing is everything, there are some key questions to ask yourself to help you be prepared for a successful transition or launch. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these three important questions to consider from business blogger and CEO of Essay Supply, James Scott.
1. What can I do to get started with minimal funding? As Scott points out, many of us are raised to believe that if we want something, we should get the money together first. If you want to buy that bike, mow some lawns. If you want to start a business, get the funding.
The problem with this is that investors often want to see evidence that you've tried to get started before you seek them out for funding. They also want to know that you've gained some traction, meaning that you've generated revenue. This tells them that you have established "proof of concept".
There are things you can do to get started on a shoestring budget. Some examples are:
Picking a limited selection of products and services. Sometimes the best way to get started on a limited budget is to leave some things behind. Instead of launching with every product and service you want to offer, you may be better off selecting the few you believe will gain the most market traction in the shortest amount of time.
Recruiting friends and family to help with your promotion efforts on social media and elsewhere. Advertising costs money and social media marketing works best after you have established a presence. What do you do to get the word out about your business in the meantime? You recruit friends and family to help. When you share content on social media channels, ask them to like, comment and share. These efforts shouldn't stop where the internet ends, either. If you have loved ones who are willing to help, stock them up with your business cards, and ask them to send you referrals too.
2. Who is my ideal customer? Sometimes, identifying your target customers can be more difficult than it sounds. You may have several different ideal customers, each with different needs, pain points, and motivations. You must figure out how to segment your audience and then how to reach them. Demographic segmentation is always the most obvious – by location, by age and other factors. Then look at other areas of differentiation – by interest or pain points. You can then use that information to begin creating your initial marketing strategy.
3. Who or what are my barriers to entry? It's important that you are prepared for any difficulties that can hinder your ability to make your business successful. Any individual, business, or situation that gets in the way of your success is a barrier to entry. These could be competitors – both existing competitors and emerging competitors. What can you offer that's different or how can you improve upon what your competitors already provide to the market?
Other barriers to entry could be regulations or other administrator details. Do you need a license to distribute in specific states? Do you need to meet certain industry standards? Do you need some level of professional certification? Should you be involved in your industry association [yes!]? All of these are important details that can support or delay your launch.
Don't wait for the perfect environment. Ask these questions and take these key steps to prepare your new business to be attractive to potential investors and ready for growth.
Source: James Scott is a seasoned writer and CEO of the well-known content provider Essay Supply. They are experts in helping small business owners and entrepreneurs leverage content as a business growth tool. Scott launched his first business as a teenager and passed it on to his younger brother when he left for college.