The massive changes brought on by 2020 may have sparked an entrepreneurial boom. Many people found themselves in a situation where they’d lost their jobs. Due to unemployment, though, they finally had the time to finally work on their business ideas. Others may have realized that working for someone else just wasn’t doing it for them anymore. No matter the motivation, starting a business requires a great leap of faith but should also include some careful planning.
If you’re one of the many individuals who’ve been inspired to launch a new business venture, congratulations! You’re in a unique group of people who are putting themselves out there to achieve their dreams. While businesses are often built on those dreams, it’s the execution that determines whether a business is successful. Before you buy web domains and update your LinkedIn profile, consider these five tips to start on the right path.
1. Know Your Customer’s Pain Points and How You Can Solve Them
Chances are, the motivation for starting your business stemmed from your personal experience or expertise. Somewhere along the way, you may have uttered the words, “I can do that better.” Perhaps your unique background positions you to offer something that others cannot.
Problem-solving is an essential part of business. As you consider how your unique skill set or approach can better resolve your ideal customer’s problems, be intentional. Write down the pain points your ideal customers may experience. Get detailed and specific here.
For example, if you’re considering starting a cybersecurity consulting business, write out what you offer that others don’t. Perhaps you have helped government agencies avoid paying ransomware bounties — all while keeping it out of the news. List out the problems and how you’ll solve them until you have a robust service offering.
2. Have the Right Tools in Place on Day One
Have you visited a new restaurant, only to find out that their signature dish wasn’t available? What about being unable to transact on a website because the company’s payment options were so limited? Your first customer experience damaged your perception of those businesses right out of the gate. And it’s likely that the review you shared with your friends — and on social media — was less than glowing.
Avoid this fate for your business and make sure you have the necessary tools in place on day one. Don’t skimp on the right tech. Often, a great place to start is with your ability to connect and analyze your customer profiles and behaviors. For example, the small business solution Plume WorkPass can equip your business with more than just great Wi-Fi. With this platform, you gain customer insights and powerful marketing data that’ll keep you on the path to success.
3. Be Aware of Your Competition and What Makes You Better
You’re starting this business for a reason, and it’s likely that you think you have an edge over the competition. Take the time to review your likely competitors using competitor analysis tools like Semrush and SimilarWeb. Then chart out what you offer that makes you stand out.
Make note of your likely competitors’ price, service, and quality offerings as well as their customer experience. These days, there are many businesses offering the same or similar services. It’s the details like these that set them apart.
Once you have this information in front of you, consult with family and friends and get their take on your product or service. While this group may not be a perfect example of your ideal customer, you should be able to count on their honesty. Keep yourself open to constructive criticism and take it to heart. If there are improvements to be made to your offering, it’s better to make them now, before you’ve launched your business. With this information in hand, you can better identify your value proposition.
4. Price Yourself Fairly, But Know Your Worth
Ah, price — it’s always fun to dream about the income potential of going out on your own. Before you hit publish on your prices, though, make sure you’re charging the right amounts. Review your competitors’ price lists if they are publicly available. If not, send out some noncommittal inquiries to get a benchmark. Once you have this data, compare it to what you were expecting.
As you do this exercise, don’t forget to plan for your overhead costs, taxes, and replacement costs. Now you have enough information to determine whether you’re on the high side, midpoint, or low end of your competitors. If you’re on the high side, make sure you’re positioning yourself in the best light to pair with your price. Premium prices require a premium experience. Differentiate yourself by offering one that is unique, better, or faster than your competition’s.
5. Plan for the Future
Is this new business a side gig or a total career transformation? No matter what this business means to you, it’s essential that you have a plan for what’s ahead. Develop a six-month, one-year, and five-year plan to get started. Log income and profit expectations, consider how many customers you’d like to serve, and think about how you’ll remain relevant.
With this plan in place, you’ll be able to drill down to the tactical level. Ideally, you’ll check in on this plan regularly and will be able to check off what you’ve accomplished. Remember, it’s always OK to adjust your plan as you go. Make informed decisions about the changes you’re considering making. If you don’t, you run the risk of surprising your loyal customers with something they didn’t ask for.
Building a business is commendable. You’re bringing a dream to reality and have the opportunity to transform your and your customer’s lives with your offering. Take the responsibility that comes with business ownership to heart, and your customers will repay you. Devote the time needed to plan before you launch your new venture, and your business will stand the test of time. You just may end up more fulfilled in your life and career — because you built it yourself.