So you’ve got some ideas, a decent prototype, and a couple customers to boot…now what? Sadly, many would-be entrepreneurs fail at running a business before they even start. The complexity of a business plan, lack of funding, and an army of competitors all create a standstill that causes those flames of business freedom to flicker. So how do you overcome failure to launch? Get your ideas in traction by following these steps to success.
Take the time to thoroughly explore your product and then define your niche. Read books published regarding your industry, attend tradeshows, visit company websites, join trade organizations, and network at industry events.
Research the market potential, resistance to entry, competitor biographies, and pricing strategies utilized by similar companies. Dig deep and focus on thinking “out of the box” – how can you build it better, smarter, or cheaper? Knowing the history of existing companies in your industry will help you learn from their mistakes and capitalize on their experience. This education is incredibly valuable and will help create the foundation for your business.
Think of a business plan as a “how to” manual for running your business. If you’re a first-timer, start with a Business Plan Tool that will guide you through the process. The goal is to take the research you’ve accumulated from Step 1 and use it to create a roadmap for success. You will outline key strategies for the company including defining the product, competitors, resistance to market entry, customer demographic, marketing plan, operations, and the organizational chart for management. Determine your start-up timeline and set benchmarks to help measure your success as you move along. As you work on your timeline, don’t forget to include an exit strategy as your final stage of the company’s life cycle.
Once you have the business plan, funding, and timeline in place, you are ready to launch. This is a nerve-wracking and exhilarating time for the business and the most important thing you can do is stay the course. Don’t improvise new strategies or add on new products and services-just execute the plan. Maintain focus and aim for the benchmarks you’ve set for yourself. Keep a close eye on ratios regarding profitability, debt-to-equity, and inventory turnover. What happens if you are hitting your benchmarks sooner than expected? Use your time to network and strengthen ties with key professionals such as Accountants, Lawyers, and fellow Business owners. These relationships will become increasingly vital as the business grows.
You have more than traction at this point, you have a business. If your plan has succeeded, it’s a business that encourages you to start each day with a smile. Now is the time to start looking for additional revenue streams, licensing deals, or potential partnerships that will help catapult your company to the next level. If you are a wholesale business, consider selling retail or start distribution regionally.
Key factors such as business self-sufficiency, brand strength, and intellectual property all join to create lasting value for your company. Ask yourself, could the company operate for a month without me? If the answer is no, find out why and initiate new procedures to limit your involvement. Solidify your operations and evaluate your current staff to ensure strong leaders are in place. Another key factor to building value is brand strength. This includes your consumer base, market position, and the prospects and key contacts you’ve accumulated while growing your company.