A good business idea comes from finding a need in a market and discovering a unique way to fill it. Who among us hasn't had an "ah-ha!" moment where they spotted a hole in a market, and then a brilliant solution? I know I have. The sad thing is, most of us don't have the time, the resources, or the energy to act on these ideas.
Maybe we already have jobs, can't imagine finding any investors, or are afraid to strike out on our own as business owners or founders. But if you've been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, the best time to start is now.
Here are five ways to get a jump on your new business idea:
1. Make sure your business idea is solid.
Some of get ideas in the middle of the night, when we are feeling the most creative, and others, by pure serendipity. Before you get carried away with getting business loans, make sure that your idea is indeed a valid business idea and that there is a market. Do a little search online to see what competitors you have, and what they are offering and for how much. Make sure that it is worth your time for what you can charge.
So many times I have had a brilliant business idea, only to start researching online to discover that it's already been done before. Do not skip this important step, it could cost you wasted time and resources. If you decide it is valid, high five you've found a winner.
2. Call in some favors.
This is where your friends and family come in. You can have all your resources, in place, but the support of your family and friends in your endeavor is invaluable. Not only do you want people to back you and listen to you when things are not going right, you can use your friends to help you spread the word about your business and to help you build contacts and business relationships. Word of mouth is valuable, and it's absolutely free.
I asked my friends to support Bikini Luxe by following it's social media accounts, and enticed them to buy with a discount code for first time customers. This helped me to gain a few hundred followers from the get go, which surely is better than nothing.
3. Get your financial ducks in a row.
Keep track of what debts you have, and how much you have to put into your business. Then make sure you have all the paperwork to apply for a business loan, should you need one. Once expenses and costs start rolling in, make sure you have a good way of tracking them. You should also find a good accountant, who can tell you where you can find write-offs for business expenses.
I bootstrapped my business and continued to reinvest all profits into it for years. This helped me to stay out of debt, and grow quickly but not at an overwhelming speed. I generally recommend doing this, instead of taking on investment because I personally don't like debt, imagine that.
4. Plan, plan, plan.
This is the crucial stage of any business startup. You need a business plan that involves setting up the strategies, stages and how you plan to deal with everything. You also need to list what manpower or staff you need, and how you are going to pay them.
Where will you source your supplies? How much will you spend on advertising? All of these things should be outlined in your business plan. Next, find a business owner or a mentor to help you look over the plan and evaluate it with a critical eye. It's better to find out any shortcomings for your business now than in six months, when you've already sunk significant money into your business.
5. Register your business.
Once you are happy with the details of your business and your business name, it's time to take it to the next level. Consider registering your business name, and looking into intellectual and trademark laws. If someone else holds the rights to the name you've fallen in love with, find a new one.
Don't waste your time building up a brand name that you can't keep long term. Personally, I have shut down over 100 websites and social media profiles which were infringing on my trademarks. It wasn't worth it for them, and it won't be for you. Do your due diligence to ensure you aren't stepping on any toes getting started.
Starting a business can be a rewarding experience, but also a stressful and mentally straining one. My best advice is soak up as much knowledge as you can each day, and best utilize it to your advantage from there forward.