Starting your own business can be the best decision you’ve ever made, but it isn’t necessarily easy. From finding the right market to taking care of all the legal paperwork, there are plenty of pieces that need to come together before you start earning profits and becoming your boss.
In this beginner’s guide to starting a business, we will walk you through how to get started with creating your own company, from putting together your initial idea to setting up the infrastructure that will keep it going for years to come.
Get a Degree
If you plan on running your business full-time, it’s generally recommended that you get an accredited bachelor’s degree. That way, potential employees will take you more seriously and investors will be willing to fund your ideas. When it comes time to write your resume and put together a strong pitch deck for investors, having an education from an accredited institution goes a long way in making those tasks easier for you.
How do you get into good colleges? Many online universities offer great bachelor’s degrees in business administration at affordable prices; some even offer associate degrees or programs that allow you to work towards completing your bachelor’s at night or over weekends.
Think of What Your Business Can Do
Before you dive into your business model, take some time to think about what your product or service can do for your clients. Thinking about it will solve problems for customers, which can make you create a valuable business. It will also help with brainstorming and communication once you launch and start marketing.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are five questions that can guide your thinking:
- Can my business provide convenience?
- Will it make things easier or faster?
- Will my idea be easier than whatever people are currently doing?
- Am I providing an exclusive experience (or access to something unique)?
- Do I have domain expertise that could be useful for my customers?
Once you can answer these questions, you’ll see if your business is something people will want. If it isn’t, try thinking of other ways to address your customers’ pain points with your products or services. Make sure that when you’re looking at competition, too, you have a distinct advantage that sets you apart from everyone else.
Know Your Target Market
Your business idea may be terrific, but if you can’t identify your target market, you may end up sinking. Start by writing down everything you know about your customers, and make it as specific as possible: Where do they live? What are their average incomes? What’s their average age? Which online communities do they frequent? How much time do they spend online each day?
On top of that, map out which groups they fall into based on demographics (age and gender are just two factors) and behavioral traits (what kinds of websites they visit). This analysis should help you figure out how best to find them once your product is ready.
Come Up with Products And Services
Making money means coming up with products and services that people need. This can be an intimidating process, but it’s one of the most important steps in starting a business. To help you brainstorm, think about what you already use and love, what your friends and family use, what your customers pay for, and any other resources available that are relevant to your chosen industry. Remember that even if there isn’t demand right now, there might be in five years —especially if you stay on top of market trends and adjust accordingly.
One particularly helpful exercise is writing down what you want to do for your business. You should list everything from how much revenue you want to make per year (and over how many years) to how many employees you’d like working under you.
Think of How to Sell Them
The first thing you’ll want to do is spend some time brainstorming ideas for how you can sell your services. The key here is not to get hung up on executing or having all of your details figured out. You’re just trying to come up with a few good ideas in order of potential revenue.
This can be as formal or informal as you want it to be. You could go into Google Docs and create an outline of your ideas, sit in front of a whiteboard, or get together with your friends over drinks and come up with some crazy schemes. The important thing is that you spend time trying out different ways to generate revenue, ranking them by how realistic they are and how much money they might make.
When it comes to earning a living, sometimes you have to take risks. Whether you’re jumping into an exciting new venture or trying something new within your current job, be bold and don’t lose sight of why you do what you do.