Are you planning on starting your first company? Building a business is one of the most rewarding things that you can do in your life, but you need to be aware of just how challenging it is and how much hard work is required. While you might hear stories of startups finding huge success overnight, this is the exception and not the rule, and many startups fold in their first year. This is often due to people making the same mistakes, so read on for a few handy tips for starting your first business, hopefully allowing you to hit the ground running and find some success.
Look into the Best Online MBA Programs
First, you should not get started with a business unless you have a qualification from one of the best online MBA programs. The best online MBA programs will teach you everything you need to know to run a successful business, including developing strategy, leading teams, and growing the business. The best online MBA programs will provide flexibility, which means that it can be easy to study while you build the business or continue to earn. Additionally, the best online MBA programs will also help you develop confidence, which is important when starting out.
Make Sure it is the Right Time
In addition to earning a qualification with one of the best online MBA programs, it is also important that you take the time to decide if this is the right time in your life. You should not be starting a new business if you need to be earning more money right now, and it might take a few years before you start earning a healthy salary (more on this below). In addition to your financial position, you should also think about things like if you plan on getting married, having kids, or any other large responsibilities that will require a lot of your time and energy. Starting a new business is an enormous amount of work, so you need to make sure that you have the mental capacity for this and that it will not interfere with your other life plans.
Get Yourself in a Healthy Financial Situation
Leading on from this, you should always get yourself in a healthy position prior to starting a new business so that you are not relying on bringing in money straight away. Many people will continue with a full-time job while they begin to build the business and then try to reduce this to part-time, but you could also look to flexible work in your spare time and/or build up savings. You do not want to be worrying about money on day one, so make sure that you are in a good position before you get started.
Use Business Money Smartly
Similarly, you must also be intelligent when it comes to handling any money relating to the business. A lot of this you will learn with the best online MBA programs, but it will involve aspects like securing enough funding to get the operation running to a high standard, separating business and personal accounts, using high-quality accounting software, and keeping costs down early on.
Become an Industry Expert
One of the most important steps to take, yet one which many first-timers skip through, is becoming an industry expert. You might have a great business idea, but this is not much good if you do not know the state of the industry, who your competitors are and what their strengths and weaknesses are, and who your target customer is. This is why you need to spend a fair amount of time researching the industry so that you know it like the back of your hand. This will be extremely helpful when it comes to establishing your brand, working out your USP, identifying gaps in the market, and engaging with your target customer.
Create a Strong Brand Identity
Following this, you also need to make sure that you create a strong brand identity that will stick in the mind of the consumer. In order to achieve this, you need to think about who your target customer is and what kind of branding would appeal to them. You might find it helpful to work with an expert on this so that you can develop a brand identity that will help you to get noticed straight away - keep in mind that branding is not something that you can easily chop and change, so you want to get it right the first time.
Write a Detailed Business Plan
With the research that you have conducted, you can then use this information to create a detailed business plan that will be helpful for guiding you through the challenging early period. Typically, a business plan will consist of an executive summary, the business description and structure, market research and strategies, management, and personal and financial documents. Critically, a business plan will help you to secure funding for the operation, whether this is angel investors, venture capitalists, or a bank loan.
Create a Strong Online Presence
In today’s day and age, you also need to be easy to find online no matter what industry you are in. Consumers will usually use the internet to find what they are looking for, so you need to be highly visible online as well as have a high-quality website that will convert visitors into customers. In order to achieve this, you will want to use the services of an experienced web design and digital marketing agency. They will be able to create a strong online presence and ensure that you are easy to find from day one, which could play a big role in your early success and make sure that people are aware of your brand from the very start.
Establish Short, Medium and Long-Term Goals
A smart business owner is one who has a clear vision and will know what steps need to be taken to achieve this vision. One of the most effective ways to do this is by establishing short, medium, and long-term goals for the company and revising these regularly. When you are always working towards a goal, it will help you to retain focus and stay motivated. Businesses often plateau or lose out to the competition when they stand still for too long, so you need to avoid this at all costs by constantly be looking ahead.
Take Your Time With Recruitment
Even with a qualification from the best online MBA programs, a business plan, and enough funding, you will still need help, and this needs to be an area that you take your time with. The people that you work with will directly impact the success of the business and your enjoyment of running it, so you need to find people that will be a good fit and that you will work well with. The key is to identify exactly what roles need filling and then to take the time to find the right people. Obviously, it can be challenging when you are a new business which is why you might need to focus on those that have the right attitude as opposed to experienced applications and offer plenty of perks like remote working.
Create a Positive Work Environment
In order for your team to work to their potential and to come into work each day feeling good, it is vital that you consider the work environment that you are providing. As mentioned above, remote working is certainly worth considering as it brings many perks, but you may also want to have a central office. This should be somewhere that is bright, attractive, and welcoming with an open plan, economical equipment, and tasteful decor.
Look After Employee Wellbeing
Leading on from this, you also need to make sure that you look after your team in order to keep them happy. This will involve giving regular feedback, encouraging communication and collaboration, regular training and development, and making yourself available for support and advice. You must also make sure that you listen to your staff, encourage them to come forward with ideas, and involve them in the decision-making process.
Listen to Your Customers
Your market research will give you a good idea of who your target customer is, including what their wants, needs, likes, and dislikes are. This will help you to shape your business, but you also need to make sure that you are always listening to your customers and encouraging feedback. They are the ones that will determine your success, so you should always engage with them and take their ideas on board. In addition to helping you to make smarter decisions, this will also help you to create stronger relationships which will be key for continued success.
Make Customer Service a Priority
Following this, one of the most important areas that you need to focus on is customer service. Everyone has had a negative customer service experience with a brand, and more often than not, this will end the relationship. In contrast, if you receive excellent customer service, then you will feel a connection, and you are more likely to recommend the brand and use them again. Small businesses often are able to provide better customer service, so you will want to go all-in on this and always be willing to go the extra mile, get to know your customers, and handle any problems swiftly and professionally.
Encourage Word-of-Mouth Marketing
As a new business, it can be hard to get noticed, particularly if you are in a competitive industry. As mentioned earlier, digital marketing is one of the best ways to do this and essential for any company in today’s day and age. You should also be encouraging word-of-mouth marketing as this remains one of the most effective ways to attract new customers. You can do this by starting a referral scheme, encouraging likes and shares on social media, obtaining customer reviews, and generally encouraging your first few customers to spread the word about your business - you may want to offer an incentive for them to do this.
The road is very rarely smooth when it comes to starting a new company, especially when it is your first business venture. This is why you need to think ahead and try to anticipate what problems might occur so that you can either find ways to prevent these or so that you know what action needs to be taken to mitigate damage. Additionally, you should try to learn as much as you can from any problems or mistakes that are made along the way. The best online MBA programs will teach you what you need to know to overcome problems, and the experience should make you a better business leader.
Protect Your Business
Anticipating problems is one way to protect your business, but you will not always be able to anticipate issues - the pandemic has been a good example of this. This is why you need to protect your business as best you can, and there are many different ways to do this. A few of the key ways to protect your business include:
- Business insurance
- Physical security
- Terms and conditions
- Working with lawyers
- Protecting your intellectual property
In order to find continued success with a business, you need to understand that change is essential. The world changes, and what leads to success one year may not the next, so you need to be able to innovate and be adaptable. Again, the pandemic is a good example as businesses that have managed to succeed are the ones that have been able to adapt and be light on their feet. In order to innovate, you should stay current with what is happening in your industry around the world, stay current with tech developments, engage with your target customer and ask employees for ideas.
Starting your first business is incredibly daunting, and it is a lot of work, but these tips should help you take the right steps and hopefully hit the ground running.