How To Start A Good Business – The excitement of turning your big idea into a new business can quickly become overwhelming. With everything on your plate, you may find yourself in finishing mode at the expense of planning. If this sounds familiar, it might be time to stop and make a plan.
Read on to learn what we think your planning process needs to include. We’ve broken it down step by step so you can turn your big idea into a successful small business in nine weeks. Answering tough questions when you’re just getting started will help you anticipate and avoid common stumbling blocks that can trip up entrepreneurs before they even walk out the door. With a plan in place, you’ll soon be joining more than 500,000 thriving small businesses in Tennessee.
How To Start A Good Business
1. Is your business idea good? Is your business idea good? Is your business idea good? (3 weeks)
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There’s a reason we’ve tripled the question: Your business idea is at the heart of your plan, so it’s important to take a hard look at your business idea before you do anything else. Ask others to take a closer look too. Consider their opinion. Refine, rinse, repeat.
A great business plan built on a flawed concept will give you a false foundation. Your business idea has to be one of two things: one, something people already want but can’t get; one or two, something you can convince them they want. There’s only one surefire way to know if you have any – you have to ask your customers what they want.
Start by asking for feedback from friends and family and expand from there. Take advantage of everyday life, listen to the conversation at the checkout counter, or better yet, start a conversation. Focus on discovering the problem you want to solve and becoming an expert on it so you can refine your business idea by developing a very specific solution to that problem. Understand the challenges your customers face, find out if they have the money to support your idea and understand their objections, especially the ones you cannot overcome. These challenges will help you define who your customers are and who your customers aren’t – and you should adjust your target market accordingly.
Beware of the “set it and forget it” mentality, you’re so confident in your idea that you skip this step. For the same reason, don’t become a victim of “failure to launch”, where you never exit the concept phase. After all, the best test of your concept is to open your doors and start selling.
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Once you have a solid business concept that has been tested and perfected, and you know what specific market opportunity your business will pursue, it’s time to start developing your business plan.
You have your business goals and objectives, but it’s important to get them out of your head and “on paper”. You’ll need to revisit them every now and then to gauge whether you’re on track or need to adjust your course.
First, understand the difference between goals and objectives. Goals indicate where you want to go. Ask yourself: What does success look like to you? Do you want your business to grow fast, or are you content with a small, steady business? Where do you want your business to be in a year? within 5 years? in 10 years?
Goals describe how you plan to achieve your goals. Be sure to create “SMART” goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. At a minimum, set goals to address how much you will charge, sell and earn (revenue and profitability); what resources you will need in terms of staff and materials and related expenses; and describe your target market and how you will market your product through your Or the solution reaches the target market.
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Any successful business keeps a close eye on its competitors. Who are your competitors? How is your business? How are you different? better one? Why would your customers choose your products and services over theirs? How easy is it for competitors to do what you do, and what obstacles might stop or slow them down?
To answer these questions, do research on your target market and determine who your competitors are. Know their strengths, weaknesses and reputations.
Don’t claim you don’t have competition just because you can’t find businesses similar to yours in your target market. Are there similar businesses in nearby markets? Are there cheaper or free do-it-yourself versions of the products you offer? The work you’ve done testing and refining your business idea can help you here.
Market research doesn’t have to be intimidating or expensive. Here are some ready, free and public sources of information you will need:
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Document your findings. You can use hundreds of templates online, but simple spreadsheets are also available. We love the feature comparison matrix (free template from SCORE).
You don’t want to copy your competitors, but you always want to understand them in order to be proactive in your market.
Translate what you’ve learned during the concept testing phase into a “buyer persona,” a fictional ideal customer based on the real-world customers you’ve met and whose problems you’ve designed your business to solve. It’s a way to humanize the data and insights you collect in concept tests and competition studies.
Understanding your customers – their challenges, their goals, time they spend online, their interests, their location and how they spend – will enable you to make critical decisions about product features and pricing, And where and how to promote products based on specific behaviors.
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Remember the objections you couldn’t overcome during the concept testing phase? It may be helpful to create a “negative persona” that describes who your customer is not.
Think about building your audience before building your product. Building your audience first through relationships, content, and events is a less costly and less risky way to build a product you know they want than the traditional model of building a product and then validating it with your audience .
Planning your finances is an important part of any business plan. The first step is to separate your personal and business finances into separate checking accounts and start appropriating funds to pay your business taxes.
Next, determine what funds you have available to invest in your business – personally or through personal and business contacts – and what you need. Estimate how long it will take before you start earning revenue (money your clients pay you) and how much outside funding you might need to get to that point. For example, do you need to purchase equipment or other property in order to open your doors for business? Research available funding sources and consider the ones that are best for you and your business. It is crucial to realize how much capital you will need to start your business and decide if you can invest it yourself or if you will need a business loan or other source of funding.
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You have to calculate forecasts and know when you can expect to start seeing profits, i.e. bringing in more money than it costs you to run the business. When did you start paying yourself? Hire and pay staff?
According to the 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study, 79% of Americans say they are more loyal to purpose-driven brands than to traditional brands. This means that nearly 8 out of 10 people choose a product or service because of what the brand or business stands for. Establishing goals can expand your customer base and even help increase your profits. A few important components to consider are:
Now that you have a plan in place, will you find time to get things done? The brutal truth is that you have to do both: without a plan, you have no way of knowing if you’re doing the right thing, and your ability to get things done is likely what got you started.
There are a few ways to make it easier. Don’t do it alone. Get involved with local resources, events and workshops like Pathway’s The Road Ahead series. We’ve updated our curriculum to help you identify a virtual path forward, including a summer sprint series. Turn on your webcam, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get started!
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If you are a small business in Nashville or Davidson County, you may be eligible for a 2% interest loan from the Nashville Small Business Recovery Fund (NSBRF). Chances are you, the critics are right about one thing: it’s an extremely difficult way to make a living. But if you know the possibilities and are still motivated, there are a few things you should know before you start.
Great ideas are not light bulbs overhead. If you take care of it, it will grow.
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, attributes his extraordinary success to “first-principles thinking.” This problem-solving philosophy dates back to ancient Greece and helped emperors, business tycoons, and physicists solve some of history’s most complex problems.
In an interview, Musk explained first-principles thinking, in which
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