Many think that starting a business is a big undertaking that requires money, education, and other resources. However, you can realize the goal of working for yourself with fewer hurdles than you think. You don’t need a fancy degree or a huge financial backer. All that you need to be successful is the drive to build something, create something, or do something that you are passionate about.
Orville and Wilbur Wright were the ultimate inventors and entrepreneurs. Despite the fact that neither brother had a high school diploma or were known to be particularly well-off, the history books record them as the first Americans to invent a motor-operated plane and operate the Wright Company, an aviation business. The Wright Company applied for patients, collected royalties, built and sold aircrafts, and cemented their impact on the aviation industry for generations. But the Wright brothers were not the only ones to have the desire to create flight for man. This desire was shared by many others, including Samuel Pierpont Langley, a highly educated man who, unlike the Wright brothers, received financial backing from the Department of Defense and the Smithsonian Institution. Despite his funding, scientific awards, degrees, and reputation, Langley was never successful in his attempts. It just goes to show that it takes more that just an idea to be an entrepreneur.
Nothing comes easy when you are building something new. While funding and education can help greatly, these are not the only factors you need to get through the challenges you will face. As the Wright brothers example shows, drive and passion can sometimes be more beneficial to a developing company. The good news is that, if you are reading this article, chances are that you have the drive and passion to turn your idea into a business. Now, you just need to act on an idea. Here are six steps to get you started.
1. Have a plan
First, create a written plan. Write down your idea. Keep it simple, limiting your thoughts to a few key sentences encompassing the core concept your business will be built upon. The more focused your idea, the easier it is to forge a straight path to execute the idea. This will also help you to stay focused and ensure money will go toward what is really important. Each time you need to determine if a cost or initiative is worth it, revert back to that original core concept and ask if the cost services that original concept. If not, then maybe it is a cost that can be expended when your budget isn’t quite so tight.
2. Be prepared to fail
You will encounter challenges as you start and grow your idea. One of the biggest hurdles new companies face is profitability and figuring out how to grow a company or even stay in business with minimal capital. Confront each challenge head-on with gratitude. After all, if your company isn’t facing challenges, it probably is not growing either.
3. Do your research
It’s always a good idea to know your competition. Take the time to make a list of all your local, national, and international competitors and the exact services and costs associated with each. This will put you in the best position to determine what exactly your company will offer that will make it stand out from the others. The more you know about your competitors, the better you are able to promote your products or services. Also: when the time comes to compare offerings, you will be able to explain the benefits of choosing your product over the competition’s.
4. Get feedback
Testing your product and getting unbiased feedback can always help to fine-tune the product and assist in marketing. Look for opportunities to present your company to an audience who can ask questions. The more you understand how your target audience perceives your business, the better equipped you will be to address your market.
Audience feedback can also help point out any parts of the company you haven’t explained adequately. Sometimes, we are so close to something, the big picture becomes obscure. For this reason, it is important to get feedback from people who are experts in the industry as well as from outsiders. By soliciting feedback from both, you will position yourself as someone who can talk to anyone about the value of your company’s products and services.
5. Have an online presence
In this day and age, if you do not exist online, you do not exist. So regardless of what type of company you plan to open, whether it’s a virtual company or a bricks-and-mortar store, a website is an absolute must. Furthermore, you want to build other social media profiles on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Embracing these platforms will provide you with means to advertise your company as well as to engage your customer base. For example, if you are contemplating rolling out a new product, you can ask your followers to weigh in on what they think of the product and how likely they are to purchase at various price points. Traditionally, lots of money and resources had to be extended to obtain this kind of information through focus groups, but now social media has allowed businesses to conduct impromptu virtual focus groups on a dime.
6. Find your market
In any industry, there is a primary market as well as niche markets. When starting out, you need to know exactly who your target market is and the demographics of that market. Many businesses struggle trying to make a product or service that is accessible to an entire market, when it is better to market to a niche market first, then expand. This strategy will allow you to develop a loyal customer base and grow your company at a controlled rate while expanding your products or services to include larger percentages of the total market.
Starting a business is something almost anyone can do in this day and age, but growing a successful business is another matter. This is why 50 percent of small businesses fail within their first five years. However, you increase your odds of success when you take the time to develop your business concept thoroughly, do your research, and align your expectations. There is no magic formula for getting you to the top, but with the right attitude and work ethic, you can fly as high as the Wright brothers.