A great recipe is priceless. Many families, like mine, consider our cherished family recipes, passed down through the generations, amongst our most valuable assets.
The value of a recipe is its proven success. This specific set of cooking instructions guarantees that if you follow it you too will get good results.
To help inspire and guide new business owners, I have listed my top startup tips as a recipe for your commercial success. I have launched, built and sold many companies and these are some of my best cooking, er I mean, business recipes 🙂
To get the best baking results, you must preheat your oven. For excellent business launch results preheat by testing your business ideas and researching your competitors.
Begin testing your business idea by identifying and understanding your potential customers. Start by creating a persona, a description of your ideal customer. Include information about what they do for a living and their amount of disposable income. What problem does your new product solve for them? Do they want, or need, to solve that problem and are they willing to pay for it? How much is the solution to their problem worth to them?
Find out who your competitors are and determine why customers should buy from you instead. Analyze those competitors position in the market and be sure that your product has a USP (Unique Selling Proposition). This is your company’s point of difference that will attract people to your product instead of your competitors.
All good cooks use the best practice of gathering and measuring all their ingredients before they start cooking. This ensures that they have all the needed items on hand and prevents forgetting to add a crucial element or two (in my case!).
In business, the equivalent system is the adoption of regular, and detailed business planning. In my consulting work, I see many business owners who never wrote a business plan for their venture and don’t regularly plan their work activities. They are losing money and often fail due to this simple, and easily remedied, lack of foresight. Poor planning and preparation could cost your small business money, time and lost opportunities. If you fail to plan – you plan to fail.
Instead write a business plan, not only for the bank or investors. Do it for you to both work out issues on paper, where than can be resolved ahead of time, and to become your roadmap for operations. Every month review your sales reports, expenses, and your operational business plan then adjusts your forecast and activities for the following month. My insistence on this level of granular review and planning has saved many of my ventures. I was able to see issues when there were small and manageable before they got out of hand and sunk my venture.
Also be sure to have all your materials and systems in place before you launch. Otherwise, you will be scrambling when you are asked to send an electronic invoice or your logo files for a trade show brochure. Here’s a checklist of the minimum items you need to have ready to go when you open your new business:
- Business formation completed – LLC, INC or DBA
- Bank Account – Checking
- Electronic Invoicing and Credit Card Processing System
- Logo design and Stationary
- Website with matching email address (Domain name)
- Business Cards
Once you have your business plan set and your materials gathered it is time to stir continuously by taking action. Write your plan and then work your plan. Follow the tasks you have set for yourself such as contacting customers, exhibiting at trade shows, calling distributors, placing ads and partnering with industry groups.
Beat and whip up your sales success by taking non-stop continuous action even when you are rejected and are tired, bored or feeling discouraged. The most significant business breakthroughs have come to me when I worked through tough emotions and kept taking action daily.
Just as it takes times to bake a cake, it takes time to build a business. Expect to “invest” a lot of time, money, effort and determination before you see profit and success. Don’t fool yourself, and set yourself up for failure, by thinking that you will instantly get sales and customers. This is unrealistic and an excellent way to get discouraged when that does not happen. Owning a small business is more like a marathon than a sprinter race. Patience and hard work are what builds good entrepreneurs and great companies.
After your smart planning, sound preparation and hard work, both physically and mentally, enjoy your success.