It can be incredibly exciting to have a business idea. It might have suddenly popped into your head while driving, or it could be something that’s evolved over the past several years. Either way, it can feel pretty daunting to bring that idea from dream to reality.
Starting a business can seem both complex and overwhelming, but if you take a methodical approach to it and follow certain steps, it can be managed with surprising ease. In this article, we spoke to the Mercator team to take a look at some of the basics in order to help you get started on your entrepreneurial journey.
Before you start your business, it’s important to carry out some preliminary market research. Look at other similar businesses, both to see if there’s anything that you can copy from them and to see if there’s anything you can do better.
For your business to be viable, you need to have a unique offering; that can either be a unique product or service or a unique brand and approach to marketing. If the niche you’re looking to enter is saturated with competition, it’ll be a lot harder to get started. The ideal situation will be a niche that is rapidly expanding but still has room for new businesses.
Make a business plan
You’ll need to make a plan on how you start your business, with a timeframe for each specific stage. Not only is this helpful for you to better understand how each step of the journey will work, it will also likely be necessary to get a business loan or funding from a variety of sources.
You’ll often need to be able to show potential partners and investors that you have more than just an initial idea, and a business plan is a great way of illustrating this.
An integral part of your business plan will be your P&L, your profit and loss spreadsheet. This will bring together all your prospective incomes and outgoings over, for example, a five-year timescale to see if and when the business will become profitable.
Develop your product or service and market it
Once you’ve proven that your idea is realistic and attainable, the last stage will be to develop your product or service to a stage where you can offer it to potential customers. This will likely be a tricky process as you work through all types of issues as they pop up. It’s likely that you’ll have to develop it further as you go along, responding to customer criticism in a productive manner.
Once the product or service is ready to be offered to the public, you’ll need to market it. This is arguably the most important stage of starting a business; you can have an amazing idea, but if people don’t know about it, they won’t buy it.
Develop a marketing strategy, either alone or with help from a marketing expert, and put it into place. This will likely involve having a website and maintaining a presence on multiple social media platforms.
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