When you have a dream to start up your own business, it can feel like everything is conspiring to stop that dream from becoming a reality. Whether it’s funding, hiring the right staff, getting the right small business insurance, or the market remaining stable enough to accommodate your idea long-term, there are lots of stumbling blocks that stand in the way of realising your vision. This is just one of the unfortunate facts you need to face up to as a prospective business owner; life in the world of business is harsh, and you need to be strong if you want to overcome these difficulties. Here’s how you can get your small business idea off the ground and start living your dream instead of just dreaming it.
Do as much research as possible
As a budding entrepreneur, you’re far from the first person to start a small business; you’re probably not even the first person to have the specific idea you’ve had. As such, there are lots of guides out there from successful business owners and analysts that teach you all the best ways to get a business off the ground. Platforms like bizop.org contain lots of sage advice and wisdom that you can and should use to boost your own business profile; although your own personal process will, of course, vary, there are so many commonalities between new businesses that there’s always going to be something you can take away from the research you conduct.
Create a bulletproof business plan
Any successful business owner will tell you that the most important aspect of their operation is the business plan. In essence, this document is a bible for your business; it sets out the parameters of what you’ll do on a day-to-day basis, how you’ll achieve success, and what your methods will be along the way. A great business plan is holistic and comprehensive, but not incomprehensible. It should be clear, straightforward, and concise, but it should contain all the pertinent information necessary to understand what your business is about at a glance. Perhaps most crucially, it should also be subject to regular change; after all, when the market changes regularly, so should you!
Consider different investment opportunities
Sometimes, a small business loan is the best way to get funding for your idea. However, this is not always the case, and there are lots of different alternatives if this doesn’t turn out to be the right avenue for you. For example, you may wish to seek the help of venture capitalists, who will often fund promising-looking business ideas in exchange for a percentage of profits later down the line. Alternatively, you could even think about crowdfunding, which isn’t the right option for every idea but is perfect for highly customer-facing ventures with lots of grassroots appeal. If you get turned down for one kind of funding, don’t get disheartened; there are always alternatives.
Focus on your brand identity
As part of your business plan – and, ideally, during the initial planning stages for your business – you should codify exactly what your brand is all about. What service are you intending to provide for your customers, and how will you provide it in a way that’s different (and, ideally, superior) to your competitors? Everything about your brand identity should pervade your business to its very core; the way you deal with your customers or clients, the way you address complaints and feedback, and the way you grow and integrate new ideas should all revolve around your brand. That’s why it’s important to get branding right the first time.
Market yourself aggressively
Thanks to the hyper-aggressive and fast-moving world of social media marketing, your business really needs to stay with the times if you’re going to create a lasting image in prospective customers’ minds. That’s why you need a marketing department (or, if it’s just you, a marketing strategy) that heavily emphasises staying relevant and keeping up with trends. Observe all the major hashtags and trending topics on social media and – when it’s tasteful to do so – jump on them with your own unique take. Create content themed around what’s going on right now and link it back to your business. That way, you’ll always be visible when people are searching for what’s trending.
Always think solutions, not problems
As a small business owner, you’re definitely going to run up against some problems during the day-to-day operation of your venture, no matter what it is. The measure of your success and your character is in how you approach and surmount these problems. Always try to think of ways to overcome difficulties rather than letting them get you down. This way of thinking isn’t easy to adopt; it’s likely to come with time rather than immediately, but if you keep trying to apply yourself to coming up with solutions, you’ll become a better business owner into the bargain. No matter the magnitude of the issue, always trying to think of solutions is a good habit to encourage in yourself.
Be competitive, but don’t be belligerent
The myth of the “aggressive business owner” has probably done more harm than good over time. If it’s not in your nature to be confrontational and belligerent when you’re running a business, then it’s only going to harm you and your brand image when you do engage with clients or with other businesses. You should always remain true to yourself and what you wanted from the business when you started it, because in the end, owning a business isn’t worth it if it eventually becomes a betrayal of what you started it for. This should also be encapsulated in your business plan and your brand image, and if it isn’t, make sure to rectify that as soon as you can!