OK, so you have come up with a wonderful idea for a new business and are ready to get to work? Congratulations! I wish you all the success in the world. But I would also advise this: there are a lot of things you need to consider before getting to work.
Your idea might have legs, but unless you give it a solid and strong foundation, the chances are you will fail. With this in mind, I’ve put together this ultimate checklist for all new businesses. It includes everything you need to have in place before you can consider taking a product or service to market. Let’s get started right away.
Is there a market for your product or service?
First of all, your bright idea might be fantastic in your mind. But what about everyone else’s? You have, to be honest about whether or not your product or service is going to be viable. Will people want it, or do they need it? If not, will you be able to persuade them? Never spend a penny on a business idea until you can justify the numbers. There are many business ideas out there at any given moment. But few will last past a thorough market research stage without significant changes being made.
Decide on a business name
Your business name will be critical to your success – so don’t underestimate the process of choosing it. A great business name will help you form pictures in your prospect’s heads – and it has to be unique. You’ll need to do a trademark check on your business name to ensure you aren’t treading on other people’s toes. Don’t forget to check for trademarks abroad, either, if you plan to trade to other countries.
Write your business plan
Once you know there is a demand for your idea, it’s time to create a robust business plan. Don’t underestimate how important this will be. A good business plan will outline your vision, and measure it up against stone cold numbers. If things balance out, you will find it much easier to find investment, focus on what needs doing and turn your idea into a real entity. Once you know your name, you can start applying for domain names and claiming your social media channels.
The legal stuff
Next, you will need to decide on your company’s structure. Company formations can protect your personal assets and will give your business a legal identity. There might be licenses to look at, too, and any agreements between you and your potential partners need to be in writing. A business lawyer or accountant can help you get through this tricky stage and provide you with a solid legal framework.
You can’t start a business with nothing. It is critical that you have a long, hard think about where you are going to find funding for pretty much everything. You’ll need to work out your initial expenses, ongoing costs, production prices – everything that will turn your idea into a reality. Could you tap up a family member and borrow some money? Will your bank manager be willing to give you a small business loan? Is your business plan strong enough to land private investment? I’m not just talking money here, either. You will need to take time out of your work – and life – to get things up to a point where you can go full-time on your project.
Get buy-in from your family
Don’t underestimate how hard starting a new business can be. You will be living it 24/7, and that can be tough on you and your family. It is critical that they are on board with your plans, or there could be some pitfalls in the road ahead. It can take some doing to sell your dream to concerned family members, as they will have many concerns. All of a sudden, the future is a lot riskier than it was before. Where will you find the money to live? How much time will you take away from them? And will your quality of life suffer as a result?
Open a business bank account
At this point, things will be moving along nicely. And it’s also the time that you started making this more of a reality, by opening a business bank account. You don’t need anything flash, just look around for the best account for your needs. Make sure you look at things like charges, however, and choose the most suitable option. For example, if you envisage being paid by cheque on a regular basis, it makes sense to choose an account with small cheque charges. Pick the right account for your needs and you can expect to save a significant sum of money.
If you have a product idea, now is the time you should be getting to work. A product designer will help you create a strong design, and then you should consider manufacturing a prototype. Give it to people to test and take a note of their reactions – it will help you iron out any kinks. If you are offering a service, you should be starting to think about creating your website. There are some excellent templates out there these days but avoid the free ones. If you can afford it, however, you should try and find a designer for your site. Make sure you include plenty of results-based examples of your previous work. When people look for services, they want to see those results – not page after page of generic sales pitches.
Get hold of some business cards
Once you start running a company, business cards will prove invaluable. It is the first line of your marketing, and you can hand them out to anyone who is showing an interest. Don’t forget, you will be doing a lot of networking, so business cards will improve your credibility.
Finally, you can begin marketing in earnest. Of course, this is a whole other subject entirely, and a few words on marketing new products won’t help. Take a look around at my blog to find some great tips on marketing your business. Good luck with the business idea – let me know how it goes!