Are you working for Corporate America and suddenly know that is not where you want to spend the rest of your life at? Do you have a brilliant idea or a passion for a new business? Well as we get closer to the New Year, now is the time to start putting your plans into place so you can move forward.
It is scary when you step out of the box of a safe secure position for something that is unknown and no checks coming in every payday. But believe me the end result is that you will achieve more, live longer and be happier.
Back in the 1980’s when I stepped out of a high paying position to start my own business I was totally scared and I was a single parent with three children and when I quit I had no additional income coming in and I had no reserve monies as well. But I knew that if I did not leave I probably would die from the stress of the job as at that time I was supervising over 800 people in Washington, DC in a job I hated. So I took the steps and quit and then started to set up my Marketing/PR Consulting Business which I am still running today and have expanded to include speaking, seminars and coaching. It was not easy from the beginning and there were days my children said, "Mom why don’t you get a regular job?" but I never gave up believing that I could do it even though many around me were not there cheering me on. Back in the 80’s there were no mentors, no coaches and no support system so one had to go it alone, but it can be done and I am going to share some tips that I think are important if you want to start a business.
Here are some tips:
- What is your passion is that passion something that can be turned into a business, as going into a business that has your passion will make it so much easier for you to make it happen faster. My passion was people, so helping them with Marketing and PR was a natural for me.
- Can you afford to quit totally what you are doing and go full time into the development of your business or would it work better to keep the job and start putting the business together that you later can than move into. As if you have to worry about money it sometimes stresses you out and can slow you down in moving forward.
- Who will your customers be and what will your product or service do for them that will help them? Remember in today’s world it’s not what’s in it for us but what we can do to help them succeed or ease their pain or move them forward. So this is a very important step.
- Are you going to run this business from your home or set up a traditional office some where? If at home what space will you be using and what tools will you need? If a regular rented office, where will it be and what can you afford, do you know someone that can share an office with you until you get started? Remember usually in renting an office there is some sort of a lease required. When I started my business I started it at home then later rented office space but then later took it back home again as I found that when I left the office I was taking work home and so it just seemed easier to run the whole business from a home office and over the years it has worked well for me. What I tell my clients is that since I don’t have a large overhead I can pass the savings on to them and they like that since most of my clients are small business owners and/or entrepreneurs.
- Now you have your idea, you know who your market is; the next step is a business plan. It does not have to be fancy but everyone needs a business plan. June Davidson President of American Seminar Leaders and Coaching International email firstname.lastname@example.org teaches a simple one page business plan that works and is so simple to be put together.
- Who else has a business like what you want to start? Look at what they are doing; see who they market to and look at their pricing, customer service and what are they doing for their customers. Implementing good customer service from the beginning is important. Remember people buy from people they like and who they trust and whom they know cares for and supports their customers.
- What skills will be needed for this business? Which ones are you great at? Which ones do you hate? Who do you know that has the skills you are weak in that might be willing to help you in return for your helping them with the skills you are great at that they might be weak in? Or perhaps they can share knowledge of people they know that can help you in the areas that you will need help in.
- Ask for help! Women tend to be helpers and never ask for what it is they need. If you don’t ask you are not allowing people to help you. But be prepared when you ask that the people will come, allow them to help you, but remember they are not mind readers so if you do not speak out as to what you need the help will not come..
- So now you have a business idea, you have researched who your customers will be, and you have a business plan and you have talked to others in the same field to learn what they are doing. You know whether you will be working from home or renting an office so now you are ready to get your marketing materials together. Good materials are key and must totally focus on what it is you do, and how you can help them.
- Find a good graphic person to Brand You and Your business, so many times when individuals are starting out they makes their own business cards and brochures. Remember your image is important and building the Brand from the beginning is important, so do not skimp on this step, spend some money and do it right build that image right from the beginning.
- Have a great website and that way you can send people to your website to see your product or services. If you are selling on line then decide what type of a system you are using to capture their payment information, look at what others are using and see what works best for you. Make sure it is a secure site if you are asking them to buy on line. Also see who is coming to your site and what pages are they landing on and how long are they staying there. This information can be built in when setting up the website.
- On the website be sure to have information on your company and the people working for the company as well as the product and/or services you are offering. Also set up a media page that is downloadable with background information on you and the company and also photos and as you establish a client base and start receiving testimonials from clients build a place to capture that information as well. Make sure to keep your website updated at all times always adding some new materials to keep it fresh so people keep wanting to come back to see what has been added.
- What other type of marketing materials will you need? Brochures, Business Cards, price sheets etc. Remember people don’t like to read a lot so be sure you use bullets to best describe what you do and/or the product or service you provide.
- Put a team of people together to do a market research project for you. Give them your marketing material and ask them to tell you as they read it what do they think you are offering or selling and have you covered everything they as a consumer would like to see. If they give you some great ideas then go back to the drawing board and implement them and then you are ready to get these brochures printed and out.
- Do a Press Release on the launch of your company and submit it to the media in the areas that you will be first focusing on, you might want to launch close to home so that you can implement it quickly and then perfect it as things change and then implement it again and then once you feel it is as you want it to be than get it out everywhere that you feel your market is. This constantly changes as you will learn many things as you do these launches and add new things and launch again and this is all perfectly okay to do.
- Start “showing up” and letting people know what it is you do as networking your product or services is one of the most powerful tools you can use. When giving your 30 second elevator speech be sure at the end you add “and how you can help me is”. This is powerful as I have seen it in action. Or you can also say “I need to meet so and so and would appreciate someone opening the door for me to reach that person or persons”, that too can be a powerful statement and make things move quickly for you.
- Never give up tenacity is one of the strongest tools you will have, and it’s important to surround yourself with positive individuals that will be there to support you and your business. If you have negative people in your life, move them out.
- Having a coach to keep you on track is very important as they will hold you accountable to make sure that you stay on track and complete the things that you must do in order to move ahead. Even people who have coaching businesses need coaches. I know I coach many individuals who are coaches and they tell me that having their own coach has made a big difference in their own business. Even though I am a coach I also have a coach who coaches me and holds me accountable.
- Make sure you have a great customer service program in place as this is very important for your company’s growth. Be sure and answer calls and emails the same day it’s received. Go that extra mile to thank customers who buy from you and stay in touch. Also thank individuals who have opened doors for you to meet the right connection or shared important information with you.
- Go for your dreams, but your business goals on CD and listen to them everyday when you are driving somewhere as this makes the goals so much easier to reach when you hear your voice saying you will achieve so and so or want to do such and such.
- Never give up, as you start to add staff, hire the best, listen to your gut feeling when doing the interviewing, and keep “Showing Up”. Most important is to keep your passion alive by doing what you want to do and knowing that having your own business will bring you much satisfaction even though at times it will mean long hours and hour work, but the end result is that you will be happier, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and you will live longer. So start today and put your plan together and step out of the box and begin NOW!