Building a business is something many inspired entrepreneurs have long desired, but following a process to make your dream a reality is another thing. Developing a plan, embracing a process, and then taking deliberate steps to make your dream a reality is the best way to build a business you can be proud of.
Step One: Find a gap in the market and find a way to fill it.
In any given industry, there are always unmet needs in product, process or service. Sometimes you may also find that needs and wants are only partially fulfilled or have alternative ways of being met. All of these provide business opportunities for you when you are innovative enough to find methods to improve, modify, or reinvent something that has a realizable market attached to it. Achievable goals can be set when you fully understand what is required in a particular business or industry.
An important part of finding a market gap and filling it is doing the research necessary to see what has already been done. Sometimes there are others who have determined that need and are currently working toward a similar goal or attempting to target the same demographic. Niche markets are especially popular and lucrative right now because audiences find themselves seeking products or services that are currently unavailable but are desirable. Niche market businesses fill these needs and wants, and there are many excellent niche markets to choose from if you’re looking to start a business right away.
Step Two: Conduct initial market research.
Initial research will help you decide what types of products or services you will offer, as well as describe the consumers that will use them. It will outline the basic benefits of your product or service, and, if it applies, will address other products on the market that are similar, showing the ways your products will be different. The initial market research will also consider the type of marketing tools you will use to reach your potential consumers, and how much money can be earmarked for that purpose.
Effective market research is pivotal for understanding both existing and new markets. Failing to complete this step lowers the chances that your business will be a successful expansion of a market. Often, it is not enough to have a great product or an efficient supply process. For long-term success in market expansion, one must do their homework.
Step Three: Develop a business plan.
A written business plan will delineate the concrete steps in your process that will be required to realize your dream. Business plans help you turn an idea into a real opportunity by setting for the steps you need to succeed. More importantly, a written plan helps you look objectively at the criteria you have set for yourself and be honest about the progress you are making when you compare it to what you are doing. Both traditional business plans and lean startup plans can be useful in articulating objectives and goals, but they are separate and distinct.
A traditional plan will take longer and require more detail and effort, but it will also garner more information that will guide you in the months that lie ahead. Your business plan helps you decide the amount of start-up capital you will need, what the workflow process will look like, what responsibilities belong to the employees you may need to hire, and what your break-even point will be. It includes specific sections including an executive summary, a company description, market analysis, marketing and sales, organization, funding, and financial projections. A lean startup might be more feasible for volatile or innovative markets, especially if your industry involves a great deal of change over time.
Step Four: Plan and develop your startup.
Planning is important, and many entrepreneurs will expend a great deal of time, effort, and energy in the planning process. But all of this will mean nothing unless you set about getting things done. Opening a real business means you are preparing to start selling, either in a brick and mortar retail shop or through an ecommerce setup. You are developing a product, making decisions about shipping through traditional or dropshipping methods, and are organizing everything related to excellent customer service.
Step Five: Sell, Sell, Sell!
After you start your business, your job is to sell. It is the most important function in the early startup stage. Keep in mind that sales include not only the actual purchasing of the product but also the building of your brand and the connection you make with consumers you hope will be loyal and repeat customers. Understanding your target audience, knowing the demographics of your consumers, and learning what they have to say about what they want, need, like, and dislike are all critical parts to selling.
Selling an idea, product, service, or a plan means you can speak to questions about it intelligently. It means you are passionate about it and can generate enthusiasm in others. It means you know your employees, your customers, and the industry as well as you possibly can. It means making changes and adapting quickly and efficiently. Learning the things every sales superstar knows and you can make a fortune!
Building your business is a process that includes important, but discrete steps. If you’re willing to take those steps, you will find you’ve created something lucrative. What steps have you taken to build a business? Do you have any advice for beginning entrepreneurs?