Get your butt off the couch and start today!
When I finished my business degree this past summer, my mind was teeming with new business ideas and strategies. I had notebooks full of ideas, mock business plans, potential logos, and product names. I was fully convinced that I could start any business I wanted, and realistically I could. And if you keep reading, so can you!
Before starting my business, I had all the tools I needed for success, the drive to succeed, and just a smidgen of desperation for a new way of life free of the stressors from working a soul-crushing 9-5.
Of course, I now know, that I was missing a key ingredient in my concocted recipe for success – I needed direction!
In this post, I want to share how I finally got out of my head, turned my ideas into actionable steps, and built a successful business strategy in just 14 days. You read that right, while I spent months dreaming up the perfect business, it only took two weeks to launch once I finetuned my strategy.
I don’t believe in keep gatekeeping strong business strategy, so I won’t. Keep reading if you’re interested in the steps I took to get my business off the ground and start booking clients from day one!
Good Strategy is an Art
I’m moving in a few weeks, so I’ve been busy cleaning up and packing everything away. Yesterday I found my notebooks from grad school. There were a ton of notes on class lectures and case studies I reviewed. One thing that stood out was a quote from my strategic leadership class. I can’t remember if my professor shared it or I found it in a book and had to write it down, but it comes from Pablo Picasso. You may not think of an artist as the best business strategist, but his words rung true.
“Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”Pablo Picasso
Picasso isn’t wrong – a goal without a direction is just words on a paper. How many times have you set a new years resolution to lose weight only to devour a sleeve of Oreos later that day? We all do it, idealize perfect scenarios of us reaching our goals without ever strategizing how we might get there.
Before I launched my own business, I was just as guilty.
Starting Your Own Business from Scratch
If you’re anything like me, you’ve already searched “How to start a business” on google more times than you can remember. You’ve probably reviewed business plan templates and designed a few logos for yourself. You may have even started networking with vendors to get your idea out to others. You also may have done none of this, and that’s okay!
No matter where you are in your business planning, you can have your business set up within 14 days if you follow these steps:
- Create business idea
- Validate your idea with market research
- Clarify your vision and mission
- Establish a business plan
- Setup your finances and licensures
- Conduct targeted market research
- Develop your product/service offering
- Craft a strategy to reach target audiences
- Establish online presence
- Launch your business!
1. Create your business idea
This is the easiest step and likely you’ve already done it. But if you haven’t, creating your business idea is the first step to getting your business off the ground. It doesn’t need to be perfect either, you’ll narrow down your product/service offerings in later steps. For now, you’re just considering what business you’d like to get into it and what value you can bring to that industry.
Don’t get caught up in the competition. No idea is completely new – all business owners borrow and modify business ideas from competitors. That’s the nature of a free market. If Burger King can open a location across the street from McDonald’s, you can launch your new business no matter the industry.
When you’re considering your business, make sure it’s an industry you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. You should know how highlight hair before you start charging others for your services, but that’s about it. For my own business, I assessed my skills and passions and crafted a business around them. I encourage you to do the same.
Some questions to consider when you’re starting your own business are:
1. What can I do better than anyone else?
2. What skills do I have that can be turned into services (writing, cleaning, tax preparation, etc.)?
3. What do people always seem to ask me for help with?
Starting there is a perfect way to identify your marketable skills and start crafting a business around what you know you can do well!
2. Validate your idea
Once you’ve decided what product or service you can offer, it’s time to make sure people actually would pay for it. Don’t be intimidated, this is easier than it sounds.
When I started my business, I polled my friends and family. I had several ideas bouncing around, but consistently people shared wanted my help with writing. They didn’t give much insight beyond that, but knowing that more than just my parents found value in my writing got my creative juices flowing and helped me narrow down my business ideas quickly.
3. Clarify your vision and mission
Once you know what you want to do, you’ll need to get crystal clear on why. Making sure you’re financially stable is definitely an important goal, but it’s not enough to start a business. If you’re just looking to make money, starting a business may not be for you. Business owners seek to add value to the lives of their customers and their vision and mission is the driving force.
Your vision will tell customers why you do what do and your mission tells them how. In other words, your vision is the goal and your mission is your plan to get there. Your mission is a roadmap to your vision, and if you nail this step, your business is more likely to succeed. Think back to Picasso, our goals, or vision, are useless without a vehicle, or mission, to get there!
Need some inspiration? Check out how top companies have captured their message.
4. Establish a business plan
Next to clarifying your mission and vision, this is the most important part of building your business.
A business plan is necessary for all businesses regardless of industry or size. Business plans are a living document that provides an overview of your business, your product/service offerings, annual and quarterly goals, and your strategy for success. It may seem like tedious work, but you cannot skip this vital step!!
Your business plan will have 7 key elements, each aiding in better defining your business goals, target audiences, and strategy for growth. Anyone can build a business plan, but it is recommended you get professional help developing and implementing one. This document will guide all business proceedings so you want to ensure your plan is concise and easy to implement.
If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of getting your business plan together, I highly recommend hiring a consultant to help. A consultant can help you build out your strategy in a professional manner and exponentially increase your earning potential.
Consultants can get pricey, but consultants can be found on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr for smaller budgets. Just remember, investing in a solid business plan is well worth it if you want to grow or scale your business quickly.
5. Setup finances and licensures
After writing your business plan, the real fun begins! You’re going to want to establish your business to accept and make payments before you can launch so this is another vital step in the process.
It’s not nearly as glamorous but setting up your finances and ensuring your business meets all regulations within your industry is necessary for success. Most of your finances can be set up by yourself, like getting a bank account and filing for a tax ID, but for other dealings, like choosing your business structure and bookkeeping, I’d recommend hiring a professional.
Again, this is an investment in your growth. If you struggled through HS algebra like me, it’s best to leave this one to the pros.
6. Conduct targeted market research
Okay, I may have spoke too soon – this is the real fun! Before you can start designing products and services, you’ll need to make sure you really know your audience. Part of your business plan will be defining your customers, and in this step, you’ll start to learn how your customers think and act.
Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and the key to success is solving their problems. During your market research you’ll identify how your product or service is going to serve your customers and fill their unmet needs. This is going to help you narrow down your product/service offerings.
7. Develop your service offerings
Now that you know what your customers want, you get to do what you best and outline your offerings. Design your menu or inventory and get to work setting prices. Remember bigger isn’t always better. When you’re just getting started, keep your offerings small. It’ll help prevent burnout and build a loyal base. It’s much easier to scale up and expand your offerings than it is to cut someone’s favorite product or service because the demand exceeds your bandwidth.
When setting your prices, don’t undervalue your time. Keep prices at or around industry standards. Instead of starting out with low prices, consider launching with a promotional discount or small freebies rather than undercutting yourself and the competition.
8. Craft a strategy to reach target audiences
If you made it this far, congratulations! You’re so close to getting started. You know your customers, decided on a stellar product or service to order, set your prices, and now you just need to figure out your marketing strategy.
For this step, you’ll need to identify where your target audiences are looking for your product or service. This will mean networking with complimentary businesses, building out engaging ads, and meeting your audience where they are.
9. Establish online presence
Knowing is half the battle! Once you figured out where your customers are, it’s time to build an online presence. Some businesses can rely on social media marketing alone, but most will need some sort of website to direct potential customers.
This is another step I wouldn’t recommend going at alone. You can build your own website and manage your own social media, but investing in a strong website designer and creative social media manager is a well worthy investments to establishing an online presence.
While it’ll take time to build credibility with the algorithms and boost your page in Google searches, having someone overseeing and managing this will free you up to focus on growing your business and offering quality products or services.
10. Launch your business!
And that’s all folks! Once you’ve completed these steps your business is ready to go. Make sure you spread the news far and wide that you’re open for business because you are! Drop me a line, too. I can’t wait to hear all about it.
Start building your business plan today!
If you’re feeling like you’re finally ready to get off the couch and launch your business today, you’ve got my full support! I offer a variety of services that can help you architect and build your business from the ground up today.
Book a free consultation and get your business started in just 14 days!
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