Starting a business can be scary because, if we’re being honest, there’s no real guarantee it will succeed. A business’ success is based on a good, desirable concept, but it’s also based on some of the early decisions you make as a new business owner. Here are a few things to consider to help your start-up get off to a solid start.
1. It might feel like you’ve opened up a can of worms
No one said this would be easy, but if you’re realistic about what you’re getting yourself into, it won’t seem like you bit off more than you can chew. Every business owner loves a good challenge, right?
Be prepared to work hard, make difficult decisions and spend more money than you would like. Start-ups take a big investment of time and money. You’ll make hundreds of decisions surrounding branding, how to manage paperwork, the logistics of managing the day-to-day, choosing a location, getting supplies, picking the perfect staff…the list goes on and on (and can be overwhelming). But! If you identify your long-term goals, stay true to your original intentions and approach each individual decision with those things in mind, you’ll make the right call.
2. More money, more problems. Not enough money? Also a problem
You’ve got to spend it to make it. As tempting as charging your credit card can be, that won’t be good for business and will only get you so far. There are plenty of options for outside funding, it might just require that you think outside the box. Yes, traditional business loans are a great option, but there are even more resources you may not have considered. Non-traditional sources, like grants, crowdsourcing or angel investors, can also be a great resource, particularly if your business falls into a very niche market.
3. The art of marketing
Just because you’re in love with the product, doesn’t mean other people will be right away. Think about an initial plan that conveys the benefits of your product or service so people can feel the same way you do. Your marketing plan should also help to identify potential customers. This is not set in stone. This plan will evolve as your company does, but it’s important to think about how you’ll actually sell your product or service to your market. Create a plan right away, adjust accordingly as you go, and execute.
4. Location, location, location
If you’re in the retail business, this is big, but even if you’re not, it’s something to think through. Your space should logistically make sense for what you’ll be doing. So, if you’re business is B-to-C, customers have to be able to find you and get to your location easily. If you’re B-to-B, your location needs to be appropriate for the workspace or equipment you’ll need. Consider all of these things when initially signing a lease. As your needs change, you’ll need to think these same things through when deciding to resign.
5. Leave it to the professionals
You’re the expert on your business, but it’s important to acknowledge where your expertise ends and another professional’s begins. It’s okay not to have all the answers; you just need to be able to refer to someone who does have the answers. Attorneys and accountants can help you deal with the technical parts of running a business and can be a great resource.
6. Listen to those who know
Other business owners are one of your greatest resources. These are people who have been there and done that and can help you work through some of these initial hurdles. Whether you’re talking directly with other business owners in your area, or even looking to your competitors, there’s a lot to take in. These are valuable insights into the operation of your business and the marketplace in general.
Once you’re up and running, you should also be listening to your customers and employees. Customers can tell you their honest opinion and experience, as well as what they want and need from your business. Employees can share observations from a perspective you may not be familiar with.
When you’re starting a business there’s a lot to keep track of, but there are also a lot of resources to take advantage of. Be honest about where you’re starting from, what decisions have to come first, and take it one thing at a time. And, be aware that there are other people rooting for you (especially if you have a great idea!) so tap into any resource available to you. You’ll be up and running before you know it.
Running a business is a challenge, especially when you’re in the beginning stages. Wintrust is proud to offer a variety of tools and services to help support you.