Creating a successful and profitable business is no easy task. It’s reliant on many outside factors, including competition, timing and demand, which you have very little to no control over at the beginning. Assuming all of these outside factors are in your favor, having a sound business plan can lead to having a successful business. Here are five steps to consider when you’re building your business from the ground up:
1. Determine your business. What are you selling?
This question isn’t as easy to answer as you may think. For example, Nike is in the sportswear business, but the truth is that when you buy a pair of Nike shoes and a t-shirt at the mall you’re buying a lot more than sportswear — you’re buying an image, a feeling. You’re buying the Nike brand. Richard Thalheimer, the former CEO of The Sharper Image and the founder of RichardSolo.com, has worked in specialty retail for more than 30 years. When asked what business he’s in, he’ll tell you “convenience” or “innovation” before he specifies any particular industry, and he’s built one of the most powerful brands in America. Keep in mind, there’s more to a product than, well, the product. Your brand is what sets your product apart from your competitor’s.
2. Select your market. Who are you selling to?
This step is a bit less interpretive as the first, though equally important. Who are you selling to? or more importantly, what do you know about this person? Understanding your consumer is a key to success. What do they do? Where do they hang out? What do they watch on television? These are just a few of the questions that you should be able to answer about your consumer. Knowing the answers to these questions can answer a lot of questions of your own when it comes to a devising a marketing strategy. Richard Thalheimer understood his market for The Sharper Image, probably as well as they understood themselves. From an article in the LA Times, Tracy Wan, who was president and chief operating officer under Thalheimer says “Richard has the amazing ability to figure out the things that people want to have.” This ability to perceive your consumer’s desire can only be a result of knowing them like your neighbor.
3. Create a marketing strategy. How do you speak to these people?
This is a culmination of understanding your brand and your consumer. As mentioned in number two, understanding your consumer can answer a lot of questions concerning your marketing strategy: Where should you advertise? What’s the voice of your brand? What kind of prices are reasonable for this demographic? In order to engage your consumer, a.k.a. sell your product to them, you must know where your advertisements will be noticed, how to speak to them, and how much they will be able to spend, among many of things. Really, this step should have been combined with the last because who your market is dictates your marketing strategy entirely.
4. Learn by example. Seek advice from those who have done it.
There are many books written by professionals who have already started their own business and have been successful in doing so. One that comes to mind immediately, as we’ve already mentioned him a couple of times, is Richard Thalheimer. “Creating Your Own Sharper Image” shares the story of how he grew his tiny office supply company, The Sharper Image, into the thriving enterprise that it has become today.
Remember, building a successful business in not all about the dollars and cents. Equally as valuable is you brand equity and your ability to engage your consumer, which is only attainable by understanding them. Assuming there is a demand for your product, and you can compete with the other brands, following these four steps shall guide you in the right direction.
Grabbing opportunities with open arms is often easier to talk about than to actually do. Most people find themselves dreaming about being rich but never actually doing anything about it. A combination of procrastination and ‘what if’ syndrome can cripple your creative spirit and might mean your idea will never become a reality.
Socrates said “Action equals knowledge’. He was one of the greatest philosophers of our time. What he meant was that it is through action that we achieve results.
For example, you could think about learning Spanish for months, imagining the holidays you will take and the people you will communicate with. You can dream forever but accomplish nothing unless you actually make the effort to start taking lessons.
Much like the martial arts approach – the idea is to take action immediately and avoid over analysing the situation.
Do you want to start your own business but are afraid of what kinds of things can go wrong? What if your initial investment doesn’t pay off? There are millions of things that could go wrong but likewise there are many things that can go right! Fear can be paralysing. When thinking about starting a business particularly if you keep waiting for the right time. There will never be a perfect time. It’s now or never when it comes to starting your own business.
Overcoming your fear is a step by step process.
– Do you have a clear idea of what kind of business you want to start? A clear plan will help keep your worries at bay.
– Do you have access to the resources you will need? This includes the necessary start up cash as well as anything else you will need.
– Do you have access to clients or do you know enough about marketing basics to ensure you will have enough interest in what you are offering?
Just like anything – taking action is the most important part. Make an itemized list of what you feel needs to be done in order for you to start that business you always dreamed of.
Prioritizing your list will help too. Don’t wait for all your ducks to be in a proverbial row before you begin but make sure you have all the basics covered. Don’t wait for that ‘perfect someday’. Make an imperfect start.
Don’t over think everything. Sometimes the best approach is to just jump into the deep end.
Don’t wait to start discovering your own entrepreneurial spirit. Take action today!