The start of a new business venture is an exciting and busy time, as well as a labor of love. All successful businesses begin as just an idea, but it takes the right mix of dedication and execution to bring them into the world. If you have an idea for a new business, following these 5 steps will help bring it to life.
1. Put the Concept on Paper
Some might call this creating a “business plan” but that term can feel a bit off putting. I prefer to think of it as a big note taking session where you’ll list off all of your ideas for your new business and how you potentially see them coming to life. Seeing your idea spelled out on paper can give you a deeper sense of whether the timing is right or not, and if you are truly willing to put in the hard work required. Be sure to list off all the ideas you have, including the roles everyone involved will play, and who will be responsible for what.
When we started our company, my business partner and I never wrote a business plan. We thought we knew what we wanted to offer, but after trial and error our business went on a completely new path then the one we had originally started on. This cost us a lot of time and wasted resources (buying a ton of equipment that we never ended up using - yikes!). If we had really thought through our business before investing so much we would have saved ourselves quite the hassle.
2. Research the Market
Market research is the most important step when starting a business. How will you know what your potential customers will want or need if you don't get out there and start asking? If your business has a physical location or storefront, scope out the potential competition, customers, and traffic in the area. If your business is solely online, research the same basics through Google. Be sure to ask your friends, family, and acquaintances if they would use your service or product. Knowing why they would or would not, and how they would make any modifications, will help to guide you. If you research your competition and find there are many other businesses offering what you want to offer, consider modifying your plan to specialize in something more specific to your area of expertise.
3. Invest More Time, Not Money
Money is a valuable resource when starting a business. Be sure to make purchases wisely and with thorough research before you pull out your wallet. It’s best to tap into all of your resources which do not require you to spend money before investing actual funds into your business idea. Once your concept has legs, and you feel confident in your idea, then invest finances into equipment, etc. Throwing money at a business does not guarantee success. Time, energy, and research are more sustainable resources for a long lasting and lucrative business.
4. Start with a Small Test Market
Test your idea in a small market, preferably in your local area. This will help you work out any kinks before you commit to bigger endeavors. If your test market falters, consider modifying your plan and thinking outside the box to see where you could improve. Before expanding to other regions, it’s best to have a secure presence in a smaller market.
Our business started off by selling gourmet, organic food at several of our local farmer’s markets. It was at these markets where we noticed our Organic Gluten Free & Vegan Chocolate Cake was a big hit. Customers came weekly to grab a slice and it was here that we realized there was a big need for gluten free products, especially baked goods and baking mixes. Our entire baking mix line was created because of this accidental market research, which cost us nothing!
5. Work as Often as Possible
The best time to start a business is when you are ready to fully commit to it. You are the only person who can make your business dreams come true -- no one will do it for you. Get out there and make it happen! Tell the world about your business, brand yourself and make your business one of your top priorities.
The first few years after starting the business, my partner and I worked about 8-12 hours almost every single day to get our brand off the ground. This included website development, product research, sales calls, answering emails, finding new customers, talking to store managers, mixing and packaging products, and much, much more. Had we not put in this crucial time and energy, our business would not be as successful as it is today.